Minutes of Historical Advisory Committee Meeting, November 1962

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Source: Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian, Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation Files, 1957-1990 (Lot File 96 D 292), Box 2, 1962—Minutes. Limited Official Use.

Minutes of the 1962 Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States

The morning session on Friday, November 2, began at approximately 9:15 a.m.


  • The Advisory Committee:
    • Clarence A. Berdahl
    • Leland M. Goodrich
    • Fred H. Harrington
    • Richard W. Leopold
    • Dexter Perkins
    • Philip W. Thayer
  • Officers of the Historical Office:
    • William M. Franklin
    • E. R. Perkins
    • Richardson Dougall
    • E. Taylor Parks
    • S. Everett Gleason
  • The Foreign Relations staff:
    • Newton O. Sappington
    • Rogers P. Churchill
    • Fredrick Aandahl
    • John G. Reid
    • Almon R. Wright
    • Ralph R. Goodwin
    • Herbert A. Fine
    • Velma H. Cassidy
    • William Slany
    • John P. Glennon
    • George Kent
  • G. Bernard Noble, former Director of the Historical Office

AGENDA ITEM 1: Opening remarks:

Mr. Franklin welcomed the Committee with appropriate opening remarks.

AGENDA ITEM 2: Report on status of the series:

Mr. E. R. Perkins stated that Foreign Relations had not made rapid progress in 1962. An American Republics volumes for 1941 was still beset by clearance difficulties. In one instance, we had even retrogressed, for despite FE commitment on the release of 1944 China, voices of protest from Taipei and second thoughts in FE had again resulted in shelving the series. Mr. Perkins expressed great optimism on our forthcoming publication program. He predicted that five volumes would be published during the remainder of the fiscal year (American Republics, 1941, vol. VII, and 1942, vol. VI; General, 1943, vol. I; and Near East, 1942, vol. IV, and 1943, vol. IV) and that one additional volume (American Republics, 1941, vol. VI) would possibly be published. The compilations for 1944 soon be in galleys, opening the way to undertake clearance activities. Manuscript for two volumes of 1945 was being readied for transfer to PB.

Mr. Franklin noted that two or three conference volumes would be in galleys by the end of the fiscal year--one or possibly two volumes on the Washington and Casablanca conferences (depending on the amount of material) and one on the Quebec conferences.

AGENDA ITEM 3: Report on clearance problems:

Mr. Sappington discussed the clearance problems facing the American Republics area for 1941, the most protracted clearance problem (over 18 months) faced by Foreign Relations today. ARA, a year ago, had raised the issue of clearing memoranda of conversation with foreign Governments but had recently withdrawn from this position after opposition by HO. The chief obstacle remaining was the dilatoriness of ARA in clearing the proclaimed list of compilation (1941, vol. VI). Mr. Sappington was puzzled at the ARA position inasmuch as only broad policies and principles were documented and the names of individuals and companies were not cited. Mr. Thayer, who, as a State Department officer, had been closely connected with the administration of proclaimed list activities during the war, gave his opinion that ARA objections were unwarranted.

Mr. Franklin then discussed clearance problems of the China series. He outlined three possibilities regarding publication of the series--rapid release of the entire series in the relatively near future, which Secretary Rusk opposed because of the political implications; release of the volumes at the same time as the regular annual volumes, which Mr. Franklin regarded as a waste of the vast efforts put into their preparation; and a compromise arrangement of getting out one year’s compilation each year, permitting release of the volumes from 1944 to 1949 in six years. The Committee agreed to support the last alternative.

Mr. Sappington discussed a further clearance problem with disturbing implication--the failure of the Portuguese Government to take positive action on three representations over a period of two years for permission to print. We inquired whether we might publish certain Portuguese documents without the consent of the Portuguese Government under these circumstances. Mr. Franklin noted that in connection with the Cairo-Tehran volume, the Turkish Government had not responded to clearance requests and that relevant documents had been published, finally, after NEA approval. No reaction had been heard from the Turkish Government. He also noted that one foreign government official had indicated to American authorities that it might be better for the Department to publish documents originating with foreign governments without asking permission. Mr. Churchill observed that we had notified the Ethiopian Government in 1960, after non-receipt of replies to clearance queries, that the Department would print certain Ethiopian documents unless the Ethiopian Government replied within a given time and that we had printed them when nothing was heard from that Government. Mr. Franklin expressed his view that there should be no time limit of foreign clearance but that we reserved the right to publish if there was no substantive reply.

Mr. Berdahl raised the question as to whether there should be a three-month time limit on Department clearance. It was the sense of the Committee that this would be most desirable. Mr. Franklin agreed with the concept but was willing to accept up to a six-month limit as a fallback position. It was noted that several years ago Deputy Under Secretary Robert D. Murphy had called for a month’s deadline but this had not been enforced.

Messrs. Goodrich and Leopold cited the President’s letter of September 6, 1961, as an aid in stimulating more rapid clearance. During the discussion which ensued, Mr. Franklin pointed out that the letter had not received the personal approval of the Secretary. It was the sense of the Committee that the matter not be raised with the Secretary when the Committee had lunch with him the following day.

AGENDA ITEM 4: Report on review of volumes for 1945:

Mr. E. R. Perkins noted that the end of compilation was in sight, with Eastern Europe and Germany as the chief area farthest from completion. He stated that pressures from above to reduce the number of annual volumes for 1945 to eight had forced the staff to reevaluate compilations already bearing his approval, with a view to cutting down or eliminating them. The Committee queried whether it might profitably give its judgments on cutting down or eliminating compilations along the lines of the 1946 priorities program. Mr. E. R. Perkins gave his opinion that there would be insufficient time for this to be done profitably.

In response to a question from Mr. Goodrich regarding the type of materials to be used in the UNCIO compilation, Mr. E. R. Perkins stated that Foreign Relations would not duplicate materials included in the published record of the conference.

There was a lengthy discussion of budgetary matters, centering particularly on the problem of scheduling publication of the Foreign Relations volumes. Mr. Noble gave an interesting budgetary history of Foreign Relations, dating from the early 1950’s. Mr. Franklin cautioned against raising directly budgetary problems with the Secretary the next day, since if the Secretary went along with the Foreign Relations program, the budget official of the Department would also go along. Mr. Harrington asserted that since the budgetary stringency was in the Department, the budget problem should be discussed with the Secretary.

As a corollary, discussion ensued as the usefulness of the Foreign Relations program. Mr. Dexter Perkins noted that in speaking to the Secretary, the Committee must show concretely the utility of the program to the scholarly world.

Mr. Harrington commented concerning the Department cutback of the number of 1945 volumes and suggested the possibility that the Department might decide to reduce the series possibly to five volumes in the future. He stressed that such administrative determinations might become a menace to the continuation of Foreign Relations as a useful series. He urged the Committee to press for ten volumes as a reasonable figure and get the backing of the scholarly community for this effort.

In connection with the personnel situation, Mr. Franklin stated that HO had requested three additional Foreign Relations positions and two Historical Studies positions but that these had been “washed out” in P. Mr. Goodrich asked why HO was placed organizationally in P. Mr. Franklin replied that for practical and other reasons, HO was more advantageously situated in P than elsewhere in the Department and that publication problems had been sympathetically treated by the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.

AGENDA ITEM 5: Report on planning of volumes for 1946:

Mr. Harrington commented that the concept of priorities was being introduced for the first time for 1946 and commended this as an excellent approach. Mr. Dexter Perkins and Mr. Leopold concurred.

Mr. Gleason discussed the background and principles under which planning for 1946 had been accomplished by him, with the special assistance of Mr. Goodwin and the general assistance of Mr. E. R. Perkins and the Foreign Relations staff. He had reviewed a large number of the completed 1945 compilations, making estimates of the sort of material that might safely be cut or eliminated. He had studied the Advisory Committee Minutes and Reports for 1961 and Mr. Berdahl’s report in the same year, and had had conferences with each staff member. The staff had prepared for him listings of possible compilations for 1946 and he had established a system of priorities for them. Finally, he had had a further series of conferences with the staff regarding the system of priorities and the organization of the material, so that the paper finally turned out for the use of the Committee was in considerable measure a consensus of the staff.

Mr. Franklin emphasized that a question of the philosophy of history was involved in planning of this sort. Should priorities be based on the importance attached to issues by the Department at the time they were happening, or should priorities of importance be based on the hindsight given to us by the passage of time? He concluded that we would use primarily the latter approach but not be oblivious to the former. Thus, for example, greater priority would be given to the question of access to Berlin than to the question of Safehaven--although the latter would not be ignored.

After the point was raised by Mr. Goodrich, Mr. Franklin agreed that in the paper on Foreign Relations planning for 1946, the bracketed note approach was reserved for subjects of third-priority interest. He stressed, however, that bracketed notes might well be used also for subjects of higher priority and to condense pertinent sections of major compilations and that brief documentary treatment might even be given to third-priority subjects. Mr. Berdahl noted that subjects that might be of special interest to international lawyers had been relegated to third-priority status.

Mr. E. R. Perkins stated that he and Mr. Gleason agreed to treat the Council of Foreign Ministers meetings in 1945 and 1946 as distinct compilations rather than to divide the various subjects discussed among the compilers of bilateral subjects. On the other hand, problems discussed at the United Nations but whose chief locus was elsewhere (e.g., the Iranian question) would be treated as part of bilateral compilations.

Another general decision on planning was that larger numbers of related subjects would be grouped into a single compilation than heretofore, e.g., Mr. Reid’s major compilation on Japan for 1946. This will result in fewer stories and fewer documents overall.

Mr. Slany suggested that some type of narrative device might be introduced in order to cope with the ever-increasing volume of documentation in Foreign Relations. One possibility would be for each compilation of documents to be preceded by a brief narrative chronology of documents relevant to the compilation, including those not printed. He observed that the voluminous documentation of the essentially parallel development of policy towards the various eastern European countries raised the question of giving consideration to some sort of narrative treatment as a means of curbing the size of future compilations for the area. Mr. Franklin stated that if the administrative restriction on the number of volumes continued,Foreign Relations might feel constrained to use this approach.

Mr. Leopold asked how the subject of the formulation of Department policy would be handled in the 1946 compilations. Mr. Harrington suggested that policy planning should be documented, even though such planning did not eventuate in policy. Mr. E. R. Perkins expressed strong opposition to this viewpoint. Mr. Noble expressed concern over the ability of Foreign Relations to do justice to policy planning in the future because the Policy Planning Staff and other parts of the Department had expressed strong opposition to the inclusion of briefing papers in Foreign Relations. The point was also made that access to NSC papers might prove difficult.

Mr. Harrington expressed the view that the speed of publication was of great importance to the historical profession and learned societies. He tied the problem to that of access to the records of the Department by private researchers, hoping that access to more current material would be afforded if publication slowed down. Mr. Franklin stated that his policy was to try to get the period of access moved along as each year of Foreign Relations was published and that there was a vital correlation between speed of publication and the liberalization of access rather than the reverse. Mr. Parks explained how the procedures on access worked.

Mr. Franklin asserted that Foreign Relations for 1946 would be compiled in the field of first-priority subjects until stock could be taken of space and time requirements; if these were favorable, second and possibly third-priority subjects would then be considered.

There was further discussion of the “philosophy of history” as it applied to the problems of Foreign Relations. Mr. E. R. Perkins raised the question as to how to treat such ad hoc problems as economic warfare, removing the Nazis from Latin America, the proclaimed list, etc., if hindsight on the continuing importance of subjects should be the governing consideration. Mr. Goodrich noted that the problem would also present itself in reverse fashion. As a case in point, he queried whether we would feel constrained to examine every nook and cranny for documentation on the antecedents of Cuban Communism in 1946 since the questions of Communism in Cuba is a major problem today. He felt that Cuba in 1946 should have the pace warranted by its importance as that time rather than its importance today. Mr. Harrington disagreed.

Mr. Leopold commented favorably that HO carried out all requests made by the Committee in 1961 except for the question as to whether the annual approach should be abandoned. Mr. Franklin said that it seemed desirable to retain this approach for various reasons, particularly because it gave a chronological “push” for the regular clearance for each year’s volumes.


Assistant Secretary Manning greeted the Advisory Committee at 2:15 p.m. and discussed the problems of Foreign Relations. He stressed the sense of history he himself felt and the admiration and envy he felt for the profession of historian. He stated that as journalist and newspaper editor he had noted that the written word was more effective when compressed and concluded that 10 volumes of Foreign Relations were a reasonable number in view of budgetary stringency.

Mr. Harrington extended the appreciation of the Committee for the sympathetic attitude of Mr. Manning toward the Foreign Relations program and then outlined to the four basic problems facing the Historical Office in the compilation and publication of the Foreign Relations series, problems which the Committee expected to raise with the Secretary of State at luncheon the following day.

1. Quantity of publication: Mr. Harrington emphasized the importance the scholarly world attached to the continued full presentation of Foreign Relations. He noted that without a rein on Foreign Relations, as many as 20 volumes a year might be compiled in the postwar period. He agreed with Mr. manning;s observations on the effectiveness of compression in enhancing our product and realized as well that budgetary considerations precluded a publication program of such extent. The Committee had agreed, therefore, to the compression of Foreign Relations to a maximum of 10 volumes annually. He expressed the Committee’s concern that should budgetary considerations be uppermost in the minds of those who administered the Department, there might be an administrative decision to cut the maximum number of volumes to a point that would impair the usefulness of the series. Assurances might be sought that this would not be allowed to happen.

2. Personnel question: Mr. Harrington noted that in previous years the Congress had been the stumbling block to adequate funds for the Foreign Relations program. He expressed the concern of the Committee that now it was the Department that was reluctant to allocate adequate funds to maintain the operation. Not only was the Foreign Relations staff not increasing in line with its wider responsibilities but was actually shrinking. He expressed the Committee’s concern that young men were not being recruited to assume future leadership of the program and that staff salaries were insufficient to attract outstanding personnel to Government service in view of the competition of higher salaries on college faculties.

3. Publication gap: Mr. Harrington recalled that the increasing time-lag between events covered and the publication of the documentation of these events was an important issue in the minds of the Committee members. He noted the pride of American scholars that the United States was far ahead of the rest of the world in the publication of its diplomatic papers, and he stressed the advantage that this afforded to the American scholarly community to able to write on a scientific basis concerning international affairs of recent times. He expressed concern, now that the United States was the paramount world power with all the attendant political, financial and other obligations, that Foreign Relations might fall farther behind currency because of the sensitivity of the material and budgetary considerations.

4. Clearance: Mr Harrington expressed the Committee’s concern over the clearance problem but did not go into detail in this matter.

In reply, Mr. Manning stated there had been a tendency in the Department and in Congress to downgrade the importance of all Departmental activities not in the main stream of policy and that this was a problem not only for Foreign Relations and the Historical Office but for the entire Bureau of Public Affairs in connection with budgetary and other problems. But the release of all types of information to the American people was of tremendous importance. He felt that the attitude in the Department that P functions were peripheral was breaking down and as P’s position was strengthened, the position of HO would improve as well.

Mr. Manning was especially pleased that Mr. Harrington had raised the question of the recruitment of young people, which he also considered important. As regards clearance, Mr. manning counseled that this operation was one that must be diligently and tirelessly pursued and that such persistent tactics would win in the end. As regards the time-lag, Mr. Manning felt that the Secretary was not greatly disturbed about the twenty-year lag and would probably not favor a decrease in the lag.

Mr. Dougall drew attention to the fact that several times in recent years the Historical Office had lost promising talent because it had been unable to guarantee that, by the time security clearances were completed, the job slot would not have been abolished. Mr. manning thought that the situation in this regard would be more encouraging in the future.

Mr. Perkins stressed the deleterious effect on morale of the staff caused by the slowness of clearance and publishing procedures and the failure of the Department to effectuate President Kennedy’s September 1961 letter.

The Committee then went into executive session.

Saturday Morning, November 3, 1962, 9:00 a.m.


  • The Advisory Committee:
    • Dexter Perkins (Chairman)
    • Clarence A. Berdahl
    • Leland M. Goodrich
    • Fred H. Harrington
    • Richard W. Leopold
    • Philip W. Thayer
    • Robert R. Wilson
  • The Historical Office:
    • William M. Franklin
    • G. M. R. Dougall
    • E. R. Perkins
    • S. Everett Gleason
    • Rogers P. Churchill
    • Fredrick Aandahl

Mr. Dexter Perkins opened the meeting by asking what points the Committee should take up at luncheon with Secretary of State Rusk, particularly since Mr. Rusk was understood not to favor bringing the Foreign Relations volumes any closer to currency than at present.

Mr. Franklin said that during yesterday’s discussions he came to feel that one fact dominated our present predicament, namely, the lack of any agreed publication schedule. Such a schedule, approved by the Department as a matter of standing policy, would serve as a target for the Historical office and the Division of Publications and would afford leverage in dealing with budget officers and in getting clearance for our galleys. We would have a regular established position with the normal presumption that the Department would provide the personnel and funds to carry out our assigned tasks according to a predetermined program, one not subject to slowdowns whenever the budget got tight. Without a definite schedule we have no strong defense against periodic cuts, and our experience has been that we rarely could regain lost ground. With a fixed timetable we could go to the administrators and budget people and point to the measurable needs and actual deadlines. Also, a regular schedule would protect us in the future from special series, which have caused us so many problems in recent years.

Mr. Churchill commented that getting a 20-year commitment would not of itself solve our problems of staff and clearances, but there was general agreement that such a commitment would make our budget presentation much more effective, for we should not then be regarded as an operation that could be slowed down whenever funds were short. We particularly must have some momentum in order to attract new recruits of the caliber we seek.

Members of the Committee discussed what the proper interval should be: 20, 25, or 30 year, for example, or even the 15 years mentioned in President Kennedy’s letter of September 1961. It was hard to be dogmatic on this, since it was a matter of balancing needs of national security and national enlightenment, both of which are important. Mr. Harrington pointed out that if the Committee recommended 20 years, this in itself represented a great concession on the part of the scholarly world, and one which should be recognized by the Department of State, which had invited the Committee’s views on this matter. The learned societies were trying to be reasonable, and they hoped that the Department appreciated this. There was a major public interest in the question, one going beyond the immediate convenience of the Department, which must recognize its obligations in the matter. Mr. Ralph Perkins, pointing to the advantages of early publication both for the usefulness of the series and for the morale of the staff, expressed the view that more use should be made of President Kennedy’s letter of September 1961, and there was considerable discussion as to how this could best be done. Mr. Goodrich thought it was particularly important to arouse Secretary Rusk’s interest, both as a scholar and a practitioner in diplomacy and international relations, in the solid merits and practical utility of the series and to persuade him to lay it down as his own policy that the series should be afforded the priorities and resources it needed to maintain the very fine tradition it has long enjoyed but which is now endangered. Without the full weight of the Secretary’s authority behind the series, it could hardly be expected to fulfill its historic function in a way acceptable to the scholarly world, as represented by this Committee.

Mr. Leopold agreed that Foreign Relations was a customary and traditional activity of the Department of State, of great value to the scholarly world, and Mr. Gleason added that it was valuable not only to the professors but also to their students, to whom the benefits were directly communicated. Mr. Harrington commented that most Americans did not know enough about these things and that it was up to Foreign Relations to supply much of the basic information. Mr. Goodrich and Mr. Wilson said that these volumes were the logical place to begin research on most questions of U.S. foreign policy and that it was important to give them proper backing. Mr. Ralph Perkins noted that in the early years the volumes came out soon after the events; he felt that the longer interval detracted from the usefulness. Morale had never been higher than during the editing of the China volumes, which were expected to appear promptly. Mr. Leopold agreed that a sense of timeliness and urgency made a great difference, but he thought that in addition to the delays another drawback was that there were too many volumes now per year for convenient use by desk officers and foreign service officers. One of the merits of the tighter selection would be to make the volumes more useful through elimination of much marginal material.

Summing up this phase of the discussion, the Chairman said that the Committee should take up with Secretary Rusk the question of setting a definite interval between events and publication, and that it should explore the possibility of getting the Secretary’s agreement in principle to have the Department provide the resources needed to do the job properly and steadily. The Committee need not necessarily press for any particular interval, such as 20 years, but they ought to try to get the principle accepted.

Mr. Ralph Perkins then raised the question mentioned in the previous day’s meeting as to how much attention should be given to technical subjects, such as suppression of opium traffic, whaling conventions, and the like. Mr. Leopold said that the Committee had considered this matter in its closed meeting yesterday and that there had been some sentiment for holding this material down to a reasonable limit. Mr. Goodrich added that the Committee did not wish to go into particulars, for these were matters of judgment on the part of the editors, and it was not asking for automatic exclusion of certain topics that sounded unpromising on the face of it, but they did hope that excessive detail could be avoided. Bracketed notes and similar editorial devices should be used freely when there were good standard sources to cite to, and the editors should show some “restraint” on minor matters. As had been said the previous day, compression actually improved many stories. While the Committee had ideas on the relative importance of various matters, it was really up to the editors to decide what to cut. The priorities system used for 1946 seemed to offer a very good solution, and Mr. Berdahl asked if it could be applied to 1945. Mr. Churchill gave an illustration that this was already being done; when the editors found that a particular Soviet story was rated as second priority in 1946, they had gone back to shorten the related story for 1945. Mr. Berdahl thought that this sort of review should be very helpful.

Mr. Ralph Perkins then brought up the question, which went back in part to last year’s discussions, about consolidating certain subjects which apply to many countries. He asked if scholars were interested more in countries or in topics? Should we stress coffee or Brazil? Mr. Goodrich thought there was a growing emphasis on the multilateral at the expense of the bilateral but that the Committee could not be very helpful on this point. Mr. Harrington felt that the plan reflected the growing trend toward interdisciplinary scholarship, but he noted that some scholars were still interested in countries as such.

Mr. Franklin then noted that our discussions in preparing the plan for 1946 had brought to light an interesting contrast, between the approach of stressing “foreign relations” and that of stressing “foreign policy”. Both were desirable but under pressure of space the former might have to be where the cutting would be done. Mr. Ralph Perkins pointed out that foreign policy is not made in a vacuum but develops in particular cases, and that the series customarily has shown the factual situations which have led to the policy decisions. Under the pressure to compress our documentation we naturally have to give priority to papers which describe the fully-formulated policy, but we try to give enough of the story to explain the actual circumstances giving rise to a particular policy. Mr. Gleason agreed that the facts are interesting and important, and only questioned how many we can include and still stay within the bounds imposed on us. There was some discussion of the documents on the Eastern European countries in 1945 as a knotty editorial question: When policy is roughly the same but conditions vary from country to country, how to allocate space? It was agreed that this was a challenge to the editors, and the Advisory Committee did not think they could be helpful in detail on questions of this sort. Mr. Harrington said there was no real controversy here, for the 1946 plan solved the problem by assigning priorities which took all factors into account. The plan had given a new and much-needed dimension to Foreign Relations. Mr. Goodrich added that it was impossible to please everyone in this regard. The main thing was to make decisions on the basis of our best judgment, and the Committee would support us.

After a short break, the Committee went into a closed session.