The Confidential File includes, together with the President's Secretary's File, the most sensitive of Harry S. Truman's presidential papers. It is composed of materials that were retired by the President and his staff to the White House Central Files, and were felt by that office to require special protection. Defense and foreign policy related topics are particularly strongly documented by the Confidential File.
Size: 24 linear feet, 11 linear inches (ca. 45,600 pages)
Access: Open, with the exception that some documents are temporarily restricted in accordance with President Truman's letter of gift of February 12, 1957, his will dated January 14, 1959, and the requirements of the Executive Order governing the administration of classified information.
Copyright: President 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 United States Government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents which do not fall in these two categories is presumed to remain with the writers of the documents.
Processed by: Dennis E. Bilger and Erwin J. Mueller (1976); Erwin J. Mueller, Raymond H. Geselbracht, Sharie K. Holbert and Mary Jo Colle (1989); Jan Davis and David Clark (2017).
The Confidential File was maintained by the White House staff as a component of the White House Central Files. It consists of those documents in the custody of the White House Central Files that were considered to have a special sensitivity and thus to require greater protection than was accorded the rest of the files. It includes, among various other categories of sensitivity, documents which contained security classified information, and those concerning appointments to Government positions and other personnel matters.
When President Truman left the White House in January 1953, the Confidential File was moved along with the rest of the White House Central Files to the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri. On the recommendation of his aide David Lloyd, who thought he should have the Confidential File near at hand when he was working on his memoirs, Truman ordered it moved to his office in the Federal Reserve Building in Kansas City. When all of Truman's papers were moved to the Harry S. Truman Library in 1959, the Confidential File was placed in Truman's office suite in the Library and was not included in his initial donation of his presidential papers to the Government. It finally came into Government custody after Truman's death in 1972, according to the provisions of his will. It was opened for research in 1976.
The Confidential File consists of three series, a Subject File, a State Department File, and a Cross Reference Sheets file. Topics covered in the Subject File include lend-lease, the mutual defense program, the unification of the armed services, the coal strike of 1950, and the Korean War. The subjects are arranged alphabetically.
The large amount of material relating to the State Department which the White House Central Files office chose to place in the Confidential File has been separated into its own series, the State Department File, which consists of four subseries. The first is the Correspondence File, including folders of correspondence arranged chronologically.
Second is the Myron C. Taylor File. Taylor served as Personal Representative of the President at Vatican City from 1939 to 1950. The subseries includes correspondence between Presidents Roosevelt and Truman and Pope Pius XII, and correspondence concerning Taylor's assessments of conditions in several European countries. The files are arranged chronologically. Also included in the subseries are files from the office of William D. Hassett. Hassett, who was Truman's correspondence secretary, served also as his unofficial liaison with Myron Taylor's embassy in the Vatican. His files are arranged in alphabetical order.
The third subseries in the State Department File is the International Trade Agreements File. This file is arranged chronologically and includes material on specific countries, commodities and international agreements.
The fourth subseries is the Reports and Publications File, which is dominated by galley proofs for a report on China.
The Confidential File's third series is the Cross Reference Sheets file. This series, consisting of cross reference sheets, is in effect an index, created by the White House Central Files office, to the Confidential File. The cross reference sheets include abstracts of the documents referred to and indication of the documents' locations within the Confidential File. The reference to location is often not very precise, to "State" for example, which identifies only approximately where the document may be found. In such cases, the documents are probably located in a series or group of folders in which material is filed chronologically. A document whose location is described in a cross reference as "State," for example, is probably located in the correspondence subseries of the State Department File. There is no cross referencing between the Confidential File and the rest of the White House Central Files. The Cross Reference Sheets file is arranged alphabetically.
|SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1953
Correspondence, memoranda, reports and press releases relating to such topics as the individual Executive Branch departments, the coal strike of l950, Latin American affairs, the Korean War, lend-lease, labor, the loyalty program, the mutual defense program, the Pearl Harbor Investigation, the reorganization of the Executive Branch, Secret Service reports, the Soviet Union, selective service, speeches of Executive Branch personnel, subversive activities, the unification of the armed services, the United Nations, universal training, and World War II. Arranged alphabetically.
STATE DEPARTMENT FILE, 1938-1953, consisting of four subseries, as follows:
|CROSS REFERENCE SHEETS, 1945-1953
Cross reference sheets, serving as an index to the remainder of the Confidential File. The cross reference sheets identify the document referred to by correspondent, date and subject, and identify its location, more or less precisely. Arranged alphabetically.
- Ad-Hoc Committee on the Need for Further Economic Controls 
- Agriculture [Department, 1948-1950]
- Air Coordinating Committee [Department of Commerce, 1951]
- Air Force, Department of the, April-December, 1948 [1 of 2]
- Air Force, Department of the, April-December, 1948 [2 of 2]
- Air Force, Department of the, January-February, 1949
- Air Force, Department of the, March-June, 1949 [1 of 2]
- Air Force, Department of the, March-June, 1949 [2 of 2]
- Air Force, Department of the, July-December, 1949
- Air Force, Department of the, January-July, 1950
- Air Force, Department of the, November 1950-July 1952
- Alaska [development of, 1949-1952]
- Allied Reparations Commission [Germany, 1945]
- Army, Department of the, May 1945-September 1949
- Army, Department of the, Trial of Ilse Koch--report--1948
- Army, Department of the, War Crimes Office, Judge Advocate General's Office, U.S. v. Josias Prince Zu Waldeck et al (Extracts from Record of Trial of Ilse Koch) Part I
- Army, Department of the, War Crimes Office, Judge Advocate General's Office, U.S. v. Josias Prince Zu Waldeck et al (Extracts from Record of Trial of Ilse Koch) Part II
- Army, Department of the, War Crimes Office, Judge Advocate General's Office, U.S. v. Josias Prince Zu Waldeck et al (Extracts from Record of Trial of Ilse Koch) Part III
- Army, Department of the, War Crimes Office, Judge Advocate General's Office, U.S. v. Josias Prince Zu Waldeck et al (Extracts from Record of Trial of Ilse Koch) Part IV
- Army, Department of the, September 1948-August 1949
- Army, Department of the, Sorge Espionage Case--1949-1950
- Army, Department of the, July 1950-November 1952