1. Harry S. Truman
  2. Library Collections
  3. Research Procedures

Research Procedures

Research Room Regulations


Everyone who is at least 14 years of age, or who is accompanied by someone who is at least 14, is welcome to use the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Library. While we do require an appointment, we do not require any kind of certification letter from a dissertation director or other mentor. Please contact us at least two business days before you would like to visit. Every new researcher will be asked to complete an application.


The Truman Library's collections are available to all researchers on an equal basis. A small portion of the library's manuscript collection, less than 1 percent of the total volume, is restricted and not open to research. These restrictions are required by federal law and regulation or by the provisions of the deeds of gift of the donors of the manuscripts.

Most restricted documents contain either national security information or information the release of which could injure, embarrass, or harass a living person or the living members of the family of a deceased person. All restricted documents are clearly described and identified as withdrawn from the open file on Withdrawal Sheets (National Archives Forms 1429, usually referred to as "pink sheets") that are filed in the front of the folders from which restricted documents have been withdrawn.

Researchers have the right to appeal the restriction of any document in the library's holdings. The staff will describe these appeal rights upon request. In general, appeals involving documents restricted according to the provisions of donors' deeds of gift are handled either by the Director of the Truman Library or by a board of review composed of National Archives and Records Administration personnel.

Appeals involving documents restricted because they contain national security information are administered according to the mandatory review procedures contained in the prevailing Executive order governing the handling of classified information. These procedures involve the agency or agencies that originated the classified information, and are usually slow in operation.

The library also currently has a small volume of material that is not open to research because it has not yet been processed - that is, it has not yet been reviewed, arranged, described, and given necessary preservation treatment. It is the library's policy to process and open all newly arriving materials as soon as possible.


Citations should identify items clearly, specify their file locations, and end with reference to the Harry S. Truman Library. Citations to Truman's Presidential papers typically require some information about series and subseries. Researchers are encouraged to use several abbreviations to simplify their citations to Truman's papers. These are:

  • WHCF (White House Central Files)
  • OF (Official File)
  • PPF (President's Personal File)
  • CF (Confidential File)
  • PSF (President's Secretary's Files)
  • SMOF (Staff Member and Office Files)
  • PPP (Post-Presidential Papers)

Some sample citations to the library's collections follow:

  • Matthew J. Connelly to Thomas J. Lane, April 11, 1947; WHCF:OF 151; Truman Papers,Truman Library.
  • Harry S. Truman to Luther C. Steward, April 19, 1945; WHCF:PPF 206; Truman Papers, Truman Library.
  • W. Stuart Symington, Memorandum for Mr. Forrestal, January 28, 1949; WHCF:CF; Air Force, Dept. of the, July-December 1949 [2 of 2]; Truman Papers, Truman Library.
  • "National Security Council Progress Report...on the Implementation of Internal Security (NSC 17/4; 17/6)"; PSF: National Security Council Meetings; Truman Papers; Truman Library.
  • Charles E. Johnson to George A. Morgan, October 31, 1952; SMOF: Psychological Strategy Board Files; 319.1 File #2 - Report by PSB on the Status of the Psychological Program; Truman Papers; Truman Library.
  • Harry S. Truman to John Snyder, December 14, 1943, Export-Import Bank folder, Senatorial and Vice-Presidential papers, Truman Papers, Truman Library.
  • Dean Acheson to George C. Marshall, June 26, 1948; Germany folder; Acheson Papers, Truman Library.
  • Report, "Economic Outlook for 1951," not dated, Reports, 1951 folder; Keyserling Papers, Truman Library.
  • Oral history interviews should be cited in this way:
    • Oral history interview, E. Allan Lightner, Jr., October 26, 1973, p. 51, Truman Library.


The staff accepts email, mail, or telephone requests for easily identifiable items and can order copies on the requestor's behalf. The staff, for example, can locate and copy a particular Truman speech or series of speeches, a particular National Security Council report, or even the entire contents of given files, folders or boxes. The staff generally cannot identify for mail and telephone researchers everything on a given topic.

The audiovisual collections, unlike the library's manuscript collections, are controlled almost throughout by several item indexes arranged by subject, date, and accession number. The audiovisual archives staff is usually able to answer requests for particular photographs and photographs of specified subject or type. The same is true for the library's sound recordings and motion pictures.

Photocopying and other duplication services are available at fees set by the National Archives and Records Administration. Fees other than those for self-service copying done in the research room should be paid prior to the processing of orders. Copies not carried away are sent by regular mail unless the customer requests and pays for a different service, such as overseas air mail or special courier service. Self-service copies are $.25 per page. Library-made digital copies are $.80 per page. Due to staff limitations, we cannot accommodate reproduction orders over 500 pages. If your request exceeds 500 pages, you have the option of scheduling a research visit or hiring an independent researcher to conduct research on your behalf. Information regarding independent researchers specializing in Truman-era materials is available here. High resolution scans of photographs and documents are $20.00 per image. Digital copies of sound recordings are available for $20. SD-quality copies of already digitized motion pictures are available for $20, and HD-quality copies of already digitized motion pictures are $50. Copies of motion pictures not already digitized will incur additional costs.

Returns of copied material are not accepted unless the staff has made an error in completing an order, and refunds are not made.

To order reproductions, please call the research room at 816-268-8272 or email


Finding aids are available online and via public access computer in the research room for manuscript collections.

Finding aids for manuscript collections provide folder titles that were assigned by the originator of the files or provided by the archives staff. 


Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different kinds of materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the library are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way.

President Truman and the majority of the library's donors, for instance, have donated their copyright interest in their papers and other historical materials to the U.S. government. Other materials in the library, however, do carry a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code.

The library issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted materials. The staff generally cannot answer questions regarding the use of copyrighted materials, unless the materials in question can be clearly determined to be in the public domain.