"It is my opinion that the only accurate source of information on which to make a proper historical assessment of the performances of past Presidents is in the Presidential files. This is why I think these documents not only ought to be preserved but should be placed and arranged so that they can be used."
Harry S. Truman, Mr. Citizen, 1960.
The Student Research File is composed of copies of what historians call primary sources-memoranda, letters, reports, speeches, notes, cables, and published material (newspaper and magazine articles and other printed items) that are either contemporaneous with the events they describe or which are based on personal memories of the events described. Primary source materials are usually (excepting retrospective primary sources such as memoirs and oral history interviews) records of personal and organizational activity that were created as the activity was occurring. They are the essential evidence for the day's events when the day itself is long gone and swallowed up into the past. They are always fragmentary in character, documenting individually only small pieces of past activity, and they are always challenging to use. They are the best things we have-together with evidence of material culture-to allow us to recover and understand the past.
The Student Research File is currently divided into 55 topics, which are listed below. Each topic is focused on an event or issue from Truman's life and presidency and contains between 500 and 1500 pages of documents selected from the Truman Library's collections by its archives staff. The selected documents do not represent all of the library's holdings on any topic, but the archives staff believes them to be the most interesting and informative documents on these topics. Students may carry their research beyond the Student Research File into the library's entire manuscript collection if they wish, and perhaps as well into the collections of other archival repositories and libraries.
Accessing the Print Student Research File
Three institutions in the greater Kansas City area hold complete sets of the Student Research File:
Truman Presidential Museum & Library can accommodate individuals anytime during normal research room hours. Class groups of up to 50 students can also be accommodated; teachers should call the library at least two weeks prior to a visit (816-268-8272).
University of Missouri-Kansas City can accommodate individuals at the Miller Nichols Library Special Collections Department during normal hours and by appointment. Class groups of up to 40 students can also be accommodated; teachers should call the Department at least four weeks prior to a visit (816-235-5712).
Graceland University, Independence Campus can accommodate individuals during normal hours. Class groups of up to 25 students can also be accommodated; teachers should call at least a week prior to a visit (816-833-0524), ask for the staff of the Center for the Study of the Korean War).
Thirty-five of the topics from the Student Research File have been published in book form under the title, Documentary History of the Truman Presidency (Dennis Merrill, editor, University Publications of America). The volumes include most of the documents from the original Student Research File topics-all except published materials such as newspapers and magazine articles.
Complete List of Topics
The Student Research File topics are listed below. They are arranged in an approximate chronological order.
- The Personal Life and Views of Harry S. Truman.
- Harry Truman's World War I *online only
- From Soldier to Senator: Harry S. Truman, 1918-1941 *online only
- Renovation of the White House, 1945-52.
- Planning for the Postwar World: President Truman at the Potsdam Conference, July 17-August 2, 1945.
- United States Policy in Occupied Germany After World War II: Denazification, Decartelization, Demilitarization and Democratization.
- The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan
- The War Relocation Authority and the Incarceration of Japanese-Americans During World War II.
- President Truman and the Plight of Displaced Persons in Europe Following World War II.
- Demobilization and Reconversion: Rebuilding a Peace-time Economy Following World War II.
- The War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg and Tokyo, 1945-48.
- The United Nations, 1945-53: The Development of a World Organization.
- Creating a Pluralistic Democracy in Japan: The Occupation Government, 1945-52.
- The Development of an Atomic Weapons Program Following World War II.
- The Chinese Civil War: General George C. Marshall's Mission to China, 1945-47.
- The Quest for the Peaceful Atom: The Baruch Plan and the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.
- The Attempt to Achieve Stable Economic Gr owth During the Truman Administration.
- The Debate Over Labor Policy: President Truman's Battle with Congress Over Passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, January-June 1947.
- The Truman Administration's Agricultural Policy, 1945-48.
- President Truman's Fight to Unify the Armed Services, 1945-49.
- The Truman Administration's Civil Rights Program: The Report of the Committee on Civil Rights, and President Truman's Message to Congress of February 2, 1948.
- The Truman Administration's Civil Rights Program: The Desegregation of the Armed Forces.
- The Ideological Foundation of the Cold War-the Long Telegram, the Foreign Affairs "X" Article, the Clifford Report, and NSC 68.
- The Truman Doctrine and the Beginning of the Cold War, 1947-49.
- Establishing the Marshall Plan, 1947-48.
- The Central Intelligence Agency: Its Founding and the Dispute Over Its Mission, 1945-54.
- The Truman Administration's Loyalty Program
- The United States Recognition of Israel.
- Running From Behind: Truman's Strategy for the 1948 Presidential Campaign.
- The Fair Deal-President Truman's Vision of the American Future.
- The Point Four Program: Reaching Out to Help the Less Developed Countries.
- Containment in Latin America: The Truman Administration's Policies Toward Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico.
- The Emergence of an Asian Pacific Rim in American Foreign Policy: Korea, Japan and Formosa.
- The Emergence of an Asian Pacific Rim in American Foreign Policy: Indochina, Thailand, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines.
- Cold War Confrontation: Truman, Stalin and the Berlin Airlift, June 1948-May 1949.
- The Brannan Plan: The Truman Administration's Attempt to Achieve Full Production Agriculture, 1949-50.
- The Origins and Establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 1948-52.
- The Truman Administration's Policy Toward Native Americans.
- The Development of an Energy Policy During the Truman Administration.
- The Problem of Migratory Farm Labor in the United States, 1948-52.
- President Truman's Fight for National Health Insurance, 1949-53.
- Creating a New Balance of Power: The Integration of Western Europe.
- President Truman's Response to Women's Issues.
- Preparing to Survive Atomic Attack: The Truman Administration's Civil Defense Program.
- President Truman's Confrontation with McCarthyism.
- The Korean War
- Oil Crisis in Iran, 1950-52.
- The Truman Scandals: The President Confronts a Political Crisis, 1951-52.
- Waging Psychological Warfare Against the Communists, 1951-53.
- The Constitutional Crisis Over President Truman's Seizure of the Steel Industry in 1952.
- Immigration Policy: President Truman's Veto of the McCarran-Walter Act.
- The Old President as Political Campaigner, 1952-1972.