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Harry S. Truman Papers: President's Secretary's Files

Date Span: 1800 - 1960; Bulk Date Span: 1945 - 1953

President Truman instructed his personal secretary, Rose Conway, to keep several categories of documents, including the most sensitive ones that came to his desk, in special files located near the Oval Office. The President's Secretary's Files include national security and intelligence information, the President's most sensitive correspondence, his speech file, records of his daily appointments, and the miscellaneous notes and memorandums that constitute his diary.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series and Subseries Descriptions | Folder Title List]

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 127 linear feet, 9 linear inches (ca. 233,600 pages).
Access: Open, with the exception that some documents that are closed for national security reasons or in accordance with the donor's legal instructions.
Copyright: Harry S. Truman donated his copyright interest in any of his writings in this collection to the people of the United States. In addition, documents prepared by government employees of the United States, in the course of their official duties, are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents, which do not fall into the aforementioned categories, is presumed to remain with the writers of the documents or their heirs.
Processed by: Dennis E. Bilger, Harry Clark, Erwin J. Mueller, and C. W. Ohrvall (1974-1987); Cynthia G. Edwards, Tammy Kelly, David Clark, and Randy Sowell (2004); Jan Davis and David Clark (2013, 2018).

The creation of this online resource was made possible in part by funding from the William T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series and Subseries Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1884 (May 8)

 

Born, Lamar, Missouri

1887

 

Moved with family to farm near Grandview, Missouri

1890

 

Moved with family to Independence, Missouri

1901

 

Graduated from Independence High School

1901-1906

 

Lived in Independence and Kansas City, Missouri; held various jobs, including clerk at two Kansas City banks

1905-1911

 

Served in Missouri National Guard

1906-1917

 

Worked on family farm near Grandview, Missouri

1917-1919

 

Served in 129th Field Artillery; commanded Battery D during World War I; promoted to rank of Captain

1919 (June 28)

 

Married Bess Wallace at Trinity Episcopal Church, Independence, Missouri

1919-1922

 

Partner with Eddie Jacobson in Kansas City haberdashery

1923-1925

 

Eastern District Judge, Jackson County (Missouri) Court

1924 (February 17)

 

Daughter, Mary Margaret born

1927-1935

 

Presiding Judge of the Jackson County (Missouri) Court

1935-1945

 

United States Senator from Missouri

1945 (January 20-April 12)

 

Vice President of the United States

1945 (April 12)-1953 (January 20)

 

President of the United States

1953 (January)

 

Left presidency and retired to Independence, Missouri

1957 (July 6)

 

Helped dedicate the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri

1972 (December 26)

 

Died, Research Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri

     

A more detailed timeline of Harry S. Truman's life and Presidency is available on the Truman Trivia Page.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series and Subseries Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

 

The President's Secretary's Files consist of thirty-two series. There are also multiple subseries in the collection. The first series, the 1) Speech File, is comprised of nine subseries. The first two subseries contain the originals (reading copies) of President Truman's 1948 and 1952 campaign speeches. The third and fourth subseries contain press releases and drafts of these campaign speeches. The fifth and sixth subseries contain the originals, press releases, and drafts of other speeches delivered by Truman during his Presidency. The seventh subseries contains drafts of speeches and related notes in Truman's handwriting. (The President personally wrote drafts of some major speeches, but more frequently, he edited drafts prepared by Clark Clifford or other speechwriters on the White House staff.) The eighth subseries contains miscellaneous information relating to speeches, and the ninth includes speeches delivered by others.

The 2) Political File consists of cables, charts, correspondence, financial records, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, printed materials, speeches, and minutes of meetings pertaining to the Democratic National Committee, elections, Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners, campaign gifts, candidates, platform strategies, state politics, and the 1948 Presidential campaign. Correspondents include Alben W. Barkley, India Edwards, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Clayton Fritchey, W. Averell Harriman, Adlai Stevenson, Louis Johnson, and Frank McKinney. Notable records within this series include material received from Frank Parks relating to the financing of Richard Nixon's 1950 Senatorial campaign, and requests that President Truman accept the 1952 Democratic nomination for President.

The 3) Press Conference File consists of two subseries, which contain transcripts of President Truman's press conferences from 1945 to 1953 and transcripts of press conferences held by the Secretary of State from 1948 to 1953. The 4) Press Release File also consists of two subseries. The first contains Presidential statements, proclamations, executive orders, appointment announcements, directives, remarks, and texts of letters issued as White House press releases from 1945 to 1953. The second contains press releases of President Truman's radio speeches from 1948 to 1952.

The 5) President's Appointments File is comprised of three subseries. The first subseries contains the President's desk calendars-schedules of his daily appointments that were placed on Truman's desk each day from 1945 to 1951. The desk calendars list the date and time of each visitor's appointment, with handwritten notations concerning additional visitors, cancellations, or time changes. Mrs. Truman's appointments from 1951 to 1952 are also listed. The second subseries contains the President's "daily sheets" from 1945 to 1953. The daily sheets are more detailed than the desk calendars, usually including information about the background of the appointments and the subjects to be discussed. Truman sometimes wrote diary-like notes on the daily sheets describing his day's appointments. Filed along with the daily sheets are correspondence, newspaper clippings, press releases, printed materials, reports, and other documents relating to the appointments. The third subseries contains appointment books listing the President's daily appointments from 1945 to 1953.

The 6) Department of State Radio Bulletins File consists of State Department press releases of foreign policy speeches delivered by the President and the Secretary of State in 1945. The 7) Trip File contains cables, handwritten notes, itineraries, schedules, memorabilia, memorandums, newspaper clippings, digests, photographs, printed materials, and speeches relating to the President's trips from 1945 to 1953. Included is information about Truman's trips to Missouri, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, the Caribbean, Wake Island, and Key West, Florida. Notable items include the trip log of the President's airplane, the Independence, and documentation of the controversy that resulted when the President's motorcade was allegedly stopped for speeding in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The 8) Gift and Greeting File consists of three subseries, relating in turn to birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and gifts in general. Included in this series are cards, letters, handwritten notes, and memorabilia pertaining to gifts to the President, Mrs. Truman, and their daughter Margaret from 1945 to 1953. Also included are lists of the gifts received and of those that were shipped from the White House to Missouri when the Trumans returned home.

The 9) General File contains correspondence, charts, graphs, handwritten notes, memorabilia, memorandums, newspaper clippings, photographs, press releases, and printed materials pertaining to a wide variety of topics, including atomic energy, Winston Churchill and his meetings with the President, floods, food, the Inauguration of the President, labor, legislation, meetings, the North Atlantic Treaty, personnel, reorganizations, resignations, security, steel, strikes, taxes, the United Nations, and veterans. This series includes Truman's correspondence with such prominent figures as Omar Bradley, Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, James Forrestal, W. Averell Harriman, Robert Landry, Max Lowenthal, Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall, Matthew Ridgway, and other Cabinet members and Presidential advisers.

The 10) Subject File is the largest series in the PSF, comprising more than one-fifth of the collection. It contains cables, correspondence, handwritten notes, itineraries and schedules, legislation, maps, minutes of meetings, memorandums, newspaper clippings, photographs, press releases, printed materials, reports, speeches, telegrams, and transcripts. The Subject File is comprised of twelve subseries.

The Agencies subseries of the Subject File contains information concerning Congress and various agencies of the Executive Branch, including the Council of Economic Advisers, Economic Cooperation Administration, Economic Stabilization Agency, Federal Security Agency, National Security Resources Board, Office of Defense Mobilization, Office of Price Administration, Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and Securities and Exchange Commission. The subseries also includes information pertaining to government advisory boards and commissions, the military, and the United Nations.

The Bureau of the Budget subseries includes documents relating to budget projections, recommendations, appropriations, and expenditures for government agencies during the Truman administration.

The Cabinet subseries contains material pertaining to the Departments of Agriculture, Justice, Commerce, Air Force, Army, Navy, War, Interior, Labor, Post Office, State, and Treasury from 1945 to 1953. Correspondents include Cabinet members and sub-Cabinet officials such as Dean Acheson, Clinton Anderson, Charles Brannan, James Byrnes, Oscar Chapman, Tom Clark, Jesse Donaldson, William Fechteler, James Forrestal, William Foster, Robert Hannegan, W. Averell Harriman, Harold Ickes, Louis Johnson, Julius Krug, Robert Lovett, George C. Marshall, J. Howard McGrath, James McGranery, Robert Patterson, Anna Rosenberg, Kenneth Royall, Lewis Schwellenbach, John Snyder, Edward Stettinius, John L. Sullivan, W. Stuart Symington, James Webb, and Francis Whitehair. Other documents in this subseries relate to the civil service, prisoners of war, the Medal of Honor, personnel, and the transition process from the Truman to the Eisenhower administration.

The China Lobby subseries contains information about American anti-communists who were strong supporters of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist regime in China. Known informally as the "China Lobby," this influential group was highly critical of the Truman administration's policies in the Far East. The subseries includes correspondence, financial records, legislation, minutes of meetings, memorandums, newspaper clippings, press releases, printed materials, reports, speeches, and transcripts relating to the activities of the China Lobby.

The Conferences subseries includes correspondence, maps, memorandums, minutes of meetings, press releases, printed materials, reports, and telegrams pertaining to important conferences and meetings with foreign leaders. The conferences documented in this subseries include the United Nations Conference in San Francisco and the Potsdam (Berlin) Conference in 1945; the Paris Conference of Foreign Ministers in 1946; the Moscow and London Conferences of Foreign Ministers in 1947; and the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco in 1951. Also included in this subseries is information concerning President Truman's meetings with British Prime Ministers Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill, French President Vincent Auriol, French Prime Minister Rene Pleven, and Italian Prime Minister Alcide de Gasperi. Among the topics discussed in the Conferences subseries are European recovery, Germany, reparations, peace treaties, the Berlin Blockade, the atomic bomb, trade, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Korean War.

The Council of Foreign Ministers subseries consists of bound reproductions of documents pertaining to subjects discussed at the meetings of the Council, including postwar recovery, reparations, peace settlements, disarmament, occupation, demilitarization, denazification, displaced persons, and economic issues.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) subseries includes correspondence, memorandums, newspaper clippings, reports, and printed materials relating to the atomic bomb, communism, criminal activities, espionage, and intelligence activities. This subseries contains many reports submitted to the White House by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was especially preoccupied with the threat of communist subversion.

The Foreign Affairs subseries contains many important and sensitive materials documenting U.S. foreign policy as it was conducted at the highest level of the government during the Truman administration. The subseries includes cables, correspondence, handwritten notes, itineraries, maps, memorandums, minutes of meetings, newspaper clippings, photographs, press releases, printed materials, reports, schedules, speeches, telegrams, and transcripts pertaining to Asia, statehood for Alaska, military bases, the Berlin Crisis, the occupation of Germany, the Palestine issue, reparations, the Truman Doctrine, the United Nations, the Suez Canal, Latin America, Lend-Lease, and Puerto Rico. Also included is correspondence and documents relating to meetings with government officials from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, France, India, I