U.S. State Department Central Files
The U.S. Department Central Files are perhaps the definitive source
of American diplomatic reporting on political, military, social, and
economic developments throughout the world in the twentieth century.
Each part of the Central Files contains a wide range of materials
from U.S. diplomats in foreign countries: special reports on political
and military affairs; studies and statistics on socioeconomic matters;
interviews and minutes of meetings with foreign government officials;
court proceedings and other legal documents; full texts of important
letters, instructions, and cables sent and received by U.S. diplomatic
personnel; reports and translations from foreign journals and newspapers;
and translations of high-level foreign government documents.
The Central Files also illuminate the internal affairs of foreign
countries. For each country there are thousands of pages arranged
topically and chronologically on crucial subjects: political parties
and elections, unrest and revolution, human rights, government administration,
fiscal and monetary issues, labor, housing, police and crime, public
health, national defense, wars and alliances, education, religion,
culture, trade, industry, natural resources, etc.
U.S. State Department Decimal Files
Most of the records belong to class 7 C Political and Treaty Relations
of States C and class 8 C Internal Affairs of States. The documents
are mostly instructions to and Despatches from diplomatic and consular
officials. The Despatches are often accompanied by enclosures, such
as diplomatic notes exchanged, pamphlets, and issues of newspapers.
They also contain letters and telegrams from private individuals and
from officials, notes from foreign diplomatic representatives in the
United States, and memoranda prepared by State Department officials.
Many of the records show popular opinion regarding relations between
the United States and other states. At the beginning of many decimal
file microfilm publications is a list of documents containing brief
abstracts of the contents, which serves as a finding aid.
The following titles constitute the Center's holdings of U.S. Department
of State General, Central, and Decimal Files: