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Record of Historical Advisory Committee Meeting, November 1972

A scan of the original document is available for download (PDF, 231 KB, 12pp.)

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, 1972—Minutes. Limited Official Use. The schedule of manuscript completion, mentioned under “Agenda Item 5,” is not posted.

Cited in Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series, Chapter 8, Footnote 67

Record of the 1972 Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States

  • The Advisory Committee:
    • David R. Deener, Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118 (American Society of International Law)
    • Alwyn V. Freeman, Member, Board of Editors, The American Journal of International Law, Washington, D.C. 20008 (American Society of International Law)
    • Walter LaFeber, Professor of History, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850 (American Historical Association)
    • Armin H. Rappaport, Professor of History, University of California, La Jolla, California 92037 (American Historical Association)
    • Richard C. Snyder [Not present], Director, Mershon Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210 (American Political Science Association)
    • Paul A. Varg, Professor of History, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48823 (American Historical Association)
    • H. Bradford Westerfield, Professor of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520 (American Political Science Association)
  • The Bureau of Public Affairs:
    • William D. Blair, Jr., Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
  • The Historical Office:
    • William M. Franklin, Director
    • Richardson Dougall
    • Fredrick Aandahl
    • Arthur G. Kogan
    • John P. Glennon
    • Ralph R. Goodwin
    • William Slany
    • Homer L. Calkin
    • John A. Bernbaum
    • Joan E. Brosius
    • Mary P. Chapman
    • M. Paul Claussen
    • Herbert A. Fine
    • Evans Gerakas
    • N. Stephen Kane
    • David W. Mabon
    • Margaret G. Martin
    • Nina Noring
    • Neal H. Petersen
    • Lisle A. Rose
    • Beverly Z. Rowsome
    • Charles S. Sampson
    • Louis J. Smith
    • David H. Stauffer

Opening Session - 9:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

AGENDA ITEM 1: OPENING REMARKS

Mr. Franklin opened the meeting by introducing members of the Foreign Relations staff and also members of the Historical Studies Division. Mr. Franklin observed that the work of the latter Division is closer to that of the Foreign Relations Division than ever before because of rising interest in the post-World War II period. Historical Studies does both classified and unclassified projects, an example of the latter being Documents on Germany, 1944-1970, a compilation prepared last year for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Mr. Franklin concluded by introducing Mr. Arthur Kogan, Special Assistant to the Director, who is in charge of declassification and of liaison with the National Archives and other agencies concerned with documentary problems.

At 9:15 a.m. Mr. Blair joined the meeting. He welcomed the members of the Advisory Committee on behalf of Secretary of State Rogers and stated that the Committee’s advice over the years had been most helpful in speeding up the production of the Foreign Relations series. The past year, he continued, had seen great strides in the acceleration of publication of the series. In the century since the project began there had been a steady and growing gap between diplomatic events and the publication of documentary material relating to them in the Foreign Relations series. But in the past year alone, Foreign Relations had produced no less than 10 volumes including the last one relating to the wartime conferences, the last volumes dealing with 1946, and nearly all volumes dealing with the events of 1947. Concurrently, there had been a substantial increase of staff in the Historical Office although State Department rolls had been cut 15% over the past several years. Moreover, the Historical Office had been successful in obtaining a substantial increase in operating budget. For the fiscal year 1972, Foreign Relations had been allotted a budget of $224,000 but had actually spent $256,000. For FY 1973 Foreign Relations is budgeted at $336,000 and for FY 1974 the budget request is $576,000.

Mr. Blair stated that there had been several reasons for this substantial increase in support for the Foreign Relations series. Scholars had encouraged the Department to reverse the widening gap between events and their documentation in Foreign Relations. The White House had responded and on March 8 President Nixon had issued his order that Foreign Relations close the gap to twenty years within three years. William B. Macomber, Jr., Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management, had played an important role in the impetus which had been given to the series.

Mr. Blair stated that every effort would be made to meet the new target, but cautioned that the battle had not yet been won. Even with the Presidential directive and the related Executive Order on classification (of the same date) there remained obstacles: conflicts over security policy, the sheer bulk of work, and a manifold clearance problem. He promised that the Bureau of Public Affairs would do everything possible to continue the substantial progress made in the past year.

[Mr. Blair left the meeting at 9:24 a.m.]

Mr. Freeman asked how soon the budget increases would lessen the publication gap to twenty years. Mr. Franklin replied that the budgetary projection for fiscal 1974 was “astronomical” by previous standards and that money of itself no longer constituted any hindrance to narrowing the gap.

AGENDA ITEM 2: SELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

Mr. Deener was elected unanimously to serve for the coming year.

AGENDA ITEM 3: DATE OF MEETINGS

Discussion turned to the possibility of choosing a new date for the Committee’s meetings, since the first Friday in November had proved inconvenient for some members. Mr. Deener’s suggestion of the second Friday in November was accepted by the Committee.

AGENDA ITEM 4: CHANGES IN THE FOREIGN RELATIONS STAFF

Mr. Franklin noted the retirement of S. Everett Gleason and the latter’s replacement as Chief of the Foreign Relations Division by Fredrick Aandahl, who had had long experience with the Historical Office and, previously, with the Jefferson Papers.

Mr. Aandahl noted the retirement of Rogers P. Churchill, for many years responsible for documentation of Soviet-American relations. He introduced new members of the staff. John Bernbaum had taken his doctorate at the University of Maryland in June. Paul Claussen was a doctoral candidate at George Washington University. Lisle Rose, a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, had taught at the University of Nebraska and at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. N. Stephen Kane, of the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, had joined the staff as a visiting fellow sponsored by the National Historical Publications Commission.

Mr. Franklin noted that the Historical Office was filling its vacancies and the three new positions in the Foreign Relations staff with professional historians, a development which had happily reversed the Department’s practice of sending Foreign Service Officers to the Office for temporary tours. FSO’s often considered duty at the Historical Office a digression from their careers.

Mr. Rappaport asked if FSO’s who did temporary duty with the Historical Office might not be useful later in promoting the influence of the Office throughout the Department.

Mr. Franklin said that in the past senior FSO’s had been assigned to the Historical Office to aid in clearance procedures, and that this had been beneficial. However, FSO’s regardless of grade had not always had the training necessary for research in the files.

Mr. Franklin agreed with Mr. Goodwin that Joan Brosius, an FSO currently assigned to the Historical Office, was the exception that proved the rule.

AGENDA ITEM 5: STATUS OF THE SERIES AND PUBLICATION PROSPECTS

Mr. Franklin described the reorganization of the geographical branches of the Foreign Relations Division. A schedule of projected manuscript completion dates through 1976 was passed out [copy attached]. Both Mr. Franklin and Mr. Aandahl emphasized that manuscript completion dates were not to be confused with publication dates, and that the clearance process remained unpredictable.

In response to a question from Mr. Rappaport, Mr. Aandahl described the manuscript preparation process. He noted in particular that each branch tried to project in advance the major compilations and the space allowable for each. This was now necessary because of the huge volume of documentation. Discovery of important unexpected material could of course alter these projections.

Mr. Franklin mentioned that Foreign Relations had moved away from diplomatic correspondence to an emphasis on top-level policy goals and policymaking. Planning was therefore more necessary than ever before in order to exclude marginal compilations at the outset.

Mr. Aandahl then briefly outlined the compilation process and the various types of files available in the Department to the Foreign Relations researcher.

Mr. LaFeber inquired whether the Historical Office was able to obtain documents from the Presidential libraries. He also asked if use was made of the Acheson papers. Messrs. Franklin, Aandahl, and Slany pointed out that we usually had received excellent cooperation from the FDR Library, that the Truman Library posed a problem because President Truman had not released many of his papers, and that Foreign Relations researchers who had recently screened the Acheson papers had found them to contain few documents not already in Departmental files.

Mr. Varg asked if Foreign Relations had access to the files of other agencies that take part in the making of foreign policy. Mr. Rappaport inquired if Foreign Relations staff were allowed to make their own search of Defense Department files. In reply Mr. Dougall noted that it was not necessary to make an initial search of outside files because substantial materials from other agencies and interdepartmental mechanisms (including NSC) were in Department files. Mr. Aandahl stated that other agencies, including the Defense Department, generally provided the Historical Office with copies of specific documents on request. Mr. Franklin added, however, that some agencies had not yet established procedures for making their materials available to scholars. Both Mr. Franklin and Mr. Dougall stressed that the current main problem of Foreign Relations was not access to other agencies’ files but clearance of materials originating in them.

Mr. Westerfield suggested legislation requiring past Presidents to turn over their papers to the Library of Congress or National Archives. Mr. Franklin pointed out such a law might lead to destruction of some papers and that current practice was a compromise whereby presidential papers become the property of the Government at the latest upon a President’s death. Presidents, however, retained the option of bequeathing their papers to their heirs.

[At 10:30 a.m. the Committee recessed for coffee.]

Upon resumption Mr. Aandahl completed his exposition of the Foreign Relations production process, touching on the part played by technical editors of the Publications Division (PBR), the contract editing performed by Crowell-Collier, and the work of the Government Printing Office. In reply to questions by Mr. Freeman and Mr. Rappaport regarding the security handling of the documents by editors and printers in advance of clearance, Mr. Dougall reviewed the procedures followed in the handling of Foreign Relations manuscript and galleys, and Mr. Franklin emphasized that the procedures had approval of the Department’s security unit.

Mr. Franklin said that increased budget had enabled the Historical Office to work out an arrangement with the Government Printing Office whereby the Office on occasion paid a surcharge permitting the accelerated schedule for proofs, printing and binding.

Mr. Aandahl pointed out that the schedule of dates for the delivery of manuscript volumes to the technical editors was based on approximately eight months and two full-time researchers per volume.

To a question by Mr. Westerfield as to why the clearance process is begun after galleys are in print, rather than in the manuscript stage, Mr. Aandahl replied that printed proofs were much more acceptable to clearing officers. Mr. Goodwin and Mr. Slany pointed out that for some documents bearing special security classifications, clearance was in fact initiated before the galley stage.

Mr. Franklin responded to a question from Mr. Freeman concerning the cost of putting Foreign Relations into galleys before clearance. The original manuscript was usually hard to read because of its bulkiness and poor legibility . Galley proof provided a clean and well-printed version with multiple copies for simultaneous clearance and proofreading. The busy desk officers in the Department were likely to complete their review of copy much more quickly in this galley form. Mr. Dougall pointed out the advantage that proofreading of galleys could proceed at the same time as clearance.

In answer to a question by Mr. LaFeber, Mr. Aandahl indicated that there was a likelihood that the 1953 volumes would be published by 1976. Mr. LaFeber pointed out that this was not a twenty but a twenty-three year lag in publication, and that the slogan “1956 by 1976” apparently referred to compilation rather than publication. Mr. Aandahl felt that unless the scope of coverage were sharply reduced it would be unrealistic to expect to proceed faster.

Mr. Rappaport asked whether lack of personnel was the principal obstacle to speeding publication. Mr. Aandahl replied that the most difficult problem was clearance.

Mr. Franklin observed that there was some time lost in training before new members of the staff became fully effective. He had recommended, when the Presidential directive was being considered, that five years, rather than three, should be allotted for bringing the series to the twenty-year line.

Answering questions from Mr. LaFeber and Mr. Freeman as to when the twenty-year line would be achieved, Mr. Franklin estimated that publication could be expected a year or so after the compilation completion dates shown on the chart. At least some volumes should be published at the twenty-year interval by 1976 or 1977.

Mr. LaFeber then made a comparison between the publication schedules presented at last year’s meeting and those of the present meeting and noted that certain volumes in the clearance stage last year were still in that stage. Mr. Aandahl replied that NSC clearance had been the problem here. Recently, after three years of effort, the Historical Office and the Bureau of Public Affairs had succeeded in obtaining the clearance of NSC materials for the first time. Once the 1948 volumes were cleared, NSC clearance for 1949 and 1950 should be much easier.

Mr. LaFeber then asked about the progress of the new “crisis” compilations suggested by the White House in August 1971. Mr. Franklin said the Historical Studies Division’s pilot project in this area had not gained necessary declassification action.

Mr. Franklin emphasized that in such compilations covert operations figured prominently, and he asked the Committee for help in deciding how to deal with them. To include references to them might hold up clearance. Mr. Rappaport asked whether clearances could be obtained if the material relating to covert matters were eliminated, to which Mr. Franklin replied that even a minimum compilation on the pilot project had not been cleared.

In answer to a question by Mr. Deener as to whether the clearances for 1948 and 1949 would cover most types of clearance problems coming up through 1956, Mr. Franklin answered in the affirmative, pointing out that he hoped for increased speed after the current clearances were obtained.

In response to Mr. Varg’s question concerning the availability in the National Archives of documents deleted from Foreign Relations, Mr. Franklin explained that any document deleted from the series during the clearance process is put in a special blue-bordered envelope and sent to the National Archives together with a list of all such documents. If a researcher begins work in a file where such a document occurs, the document is sent back to the Department for review. Hopefully most such documents will be declassified when thirty years old unless the head of the originating agency specifically exempts them from automatic declassification.

Mr. Rappaport asked if Archives sent the blue-envelope documents back to the Department without notifying researchers. Mr. Franklin replied that researchers would probably know of their existence through references.

Mr. Dougall noted that over the years one or two subjects had been totally removed. One dealt with military bases, and had been covered by an editorial note so that the volume in which it was to appear need not be held up indefinitely.

Mr. Franklin pointed out that documents were regularly omitted if they concerned certain continuing problems between states abroad where the United States was somewhat involved -- e.g., Latin American boundary disputes. Such documents were excluded because of the extreme sensitivity of matters still in negotiation; releasing them might impede current diplomatic business. Mr. Franklin said that he knew of no case where deletion had been used to cover errors in policy or personal mistakes, and he emphasized that he was striking sharply at this accusation because it was now heard so frequently. The deleted documents tended to deal with covert matters, with ongoing disputes, or with matters where a position taken twenty years ago would still affect seriously the conduct of current business.

In reply to a question by Mr. Westerfield as to whether there would have to be a time lag of decades if covert operations were to be covered, Mr. Franklin stated that Foreign Relations had no intention of covering covert operations as such, and that the discussion had been over incidental references to them. Even the references would hold the series back.

Mr. Westerfield said that if the choice were between dropping back to twenty-five years to include references to such operations or publishing at twenty years without them, he would opt for the former. Mr. Deener was of the opinion that dropping back to twenty-five years would not result in the inclusion of more such materials in the series. Mr. Rappaport expressed the view that if the question arose as to whether to hold up publication of a volume in order to include coverage of covert operations, the decision should depend on the individual case.

When Mr. Deener called for discussion of any additional problems which might exist in the areas of editing or clearance, Mr. Aandahl called upon the Branch Chiefs. Mr. Goodwin pointed out that in the case of the General Branch, the subject of national security policy was the principal source of clearance difficulties. The compilation for the year 1950 was illustrative of this. It involved all the sensitive agencies of the government: NSC, Defense, AEC, and CIA. Volume I for 1947, which had been in clearance last year (as noted earlier by Mr. LaFeber) was now cleared except for one document being reviewed by AEC and CIA. Mr. Franklin pointed out that one of the clearance quirks of the moment was that the NSC required clearance by the CIA before it would consider clearance of its own documents.

Mr. Glennon then reported on the work of the Eastern Branch. The Korean compilation for 1950 had gone to the technical editors last March and was now being put into galleys; 1948, volume VII, was being put in pages; and it was hoped that NSC clearance of 1948, volume VIII, would be obtained soon. No major clearance problems were expected over Korea for 1950.

Mr. Slany mentioned another clearance problem beginning in the 1950’s: the National Intelligence Estimates. These were desirable documents to include in the series. Mr. Glennon reminded the committee that some Estimates had already been mentioned by name and number in Foreign Relations.

Mr. Franklin then raised another clearance problem: persons involved in the current détente were nervous over publication of material which documented the bitterness of the Cold War.

Mr. Slany pointed out that one effect of speeding up the series might be to reassure persons who were afraid that publication would hurt their activities. Publication of the Pentagon Papers seemed not to have caused an overwhelming disaster. Readers would see what the staff had seen as editors, with scarcely a paragraph lost. There would be guides to other material in the files in the form of editorial notes. We would leave behind a trail of file numbers and tips for further research. There would be no intrinsic reason why the sensitive agencies should be hurt. Indeed, once they saw that no serious effects result from publication, they might in fact start helping us.

Mr. Aandahl observed that we had held off in some of our assaults until we had some indication that we could win. Now that NSC clearance was coming, it might be easier to make progress with some of the other agencies.

Technical editing was then discussed. Mr. Aandahl said that it would be desirable to have a larger number of permanent State Department editors in addition to outside contractors. Mr. Dougall pointed out that there had been a lowered quality in technical editing over the past ten years in such matters as consistency in headings, citations, and typefaces. Mr. Franklin remarked that a more serious form of discrepancy occurred when, in the case of indexing by outsiders, a different system of transliteration had been used from that in the text. It was not good editing to have this sort of practice occur. It was, however, cheaper to have technical editing done by outside contractors.

Mr. Stauffer then mentioned the seminars which had been conducted by Mr. Slany for a number of members of the staff. Mr. Slany pointed out that the meetings had dealt with both the substantive and the technical sides of editing, and had attempted to evolve an ongoing plan by exploring new areas not previously given thorough coverage in the series.

Mr. Franklin pointed out that Foreign Relations, in keeping with its position as an official government publication, had formerly contained relatively little annotation. At present, however, private publications were cited, although this practice was limited to primary source material and the memoirs of official participants. One problem was that a mere reference to someone controversial might raise the question of our objectivity.

Mr. Slany raised another editorial problem: that of making Foreign Relations responsive to the needs of those doing research. The series had a role as the wedge of access. To be really effective in this connection the series must relate and respond to other research and writing in the field and be particularly conscious of the known points of dispute.

There was some discussion at this point of the problems of citing personal memoirs and oral history interviews in Foreign Relations. Emphasis was on both the value of these materials and the need for caution in their handling. Mr. Goodwin made the point that sometimes such sources helped establish some general point even when their factual integrity was at many points uncertain.

Mr. Franklin mentioned that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was planning to publish transcripts of executive-session testimony. This was an offspring of the declassification question and might help to open up executive-session material in the future. Mr. Freeman said that notice should be taken of what time lag the Senate Committee followed. In response to an inquiry by Mr. Westerfield as to whether clearance was obtained from the Senators involved, Mr. Franklin answered that he did not know.

[At 12:15 the Committee recessed for lunch with Mr. Macomber. It reconvened at 2:45 p.m.]

AGENDA ITEM 8: PROBLEMS OF ACCESS AND DECLASSIFICATION

Mr. Dougall discussed the Executive Order on declassification of March 8, 1972. He noted first that several proposals made by the Historical Office had not been accepted in the final draft. He outlined provisions of the Freedom of Information Act of 1967, which was the statutory basis of the Executive Order. The Act was really designed for the citizen who wishes to obtain declassification of individual documents, not for the scholar interested in general declassification. For the latter, use of the Act to obtain declassification is a lengthy, laborious, and usually unsatisfactory process, and expensive to boot.

The new Executive Order, he continued, gives an initial impression that all U.S. Government documents will be declassified in ten years, but there are a substantial number of exceptions, although the number of officials who may classify documents and apply the exceptions has been greatly reduced. Moreover, the new Order applies only to documents dated later than June 1, 1972. Declassification of documents prior to that date must be effected through use of the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr. Dougall concluded his explanation of the Order by pointing out that probably its most positive feature was extension government-wide of the thirty-year rule (which originated in the Department of State).

Both Mr. Franklin and Mr. Dougall drew the conclusion that the Executive Order would make little difference to the serious scholar. Although it might be possible under the coming computerized retrieval system to make available large quantities of automatically declassified documents, the cream of the crop would probably be excepted. In addition computer print-outs would cost money.

Mr. Varg noted the existence of ill will among young scholars concerning the current research situation. There was a great differential of competence within the Archives staff, and when young doctoral candidates drew poor research assistants they could be denied access to crucial available information. Mr. Franklin suggested that Mr. Varg take up this matter with Archives directly.

Mr. Dougall stated that the discussion at this point again brought up the locator feature of the Foreign Relations series. Editorial notes in Foreign Relations could point the young researcher to documentation on a given problem for which there was not enough space in the series itself. These notes could indicate that such documentation might well be spread across the whole spectrum of lot and decimal files for a given year or series of years, thereby providing the researcher with the key as to where and how far to look.

Mr. Varg added that the greatest problem scholars were facing was that foreign-policy documents had been generated by a greatly increased number of agencies after World War II and access to these documents was severely limited. Young scholars had become impatient, and had taken to issuing “ten year manifestoes” which didn’t cut to the heart of the real and basic problems which had been discussed here.

Mr. Aandahl asked the Committee as a whole if outside scholars felt the Historical Office had done an adequate job on the Cold War in Foreign Relations. Mr. LaFeber replied affirmatively. Mr. Aandahl observed the series had always tried to cover all sides of the biggest issues, and Mr. Rappaport noted that this had always been the mission of Foreign Relations.

Mr. LaFeber stated that one of his graduate students, interested in U.S.-Thai relations, had consulted the appropriate volume for 1947 but had found nothing on the subject. Mr. Glennon explained that a review of the matter had disclosed that there was no body of documents worthy of inclusion in the series, and that relations of the two countries were then of peripheral importance.

Mr. Franklin mentioned a similar criticism concerning the treatment of Korea in the 1945 volume. The volume correctly reflected the fact that Korea had not then been an important factor in American diplomacy so far as policymakers were concerned. Both Mr. Franklin and Mr. Aandahl pointed out that the perspective of twenty years did enable the staff occasionally to include material that was not contemporarily relevant but became so later.

Mr. LaFeber observed that apparently the Executive Order would have no real effect on the future of Foreign Relations. He pointed out that the Committee would have two obligations: First, to explain the Executive Order to the scholarly community, especially to the American Historical Association, and second, to stress the necessity of getting the Foreign Relations publication interval down to twenty years.

Mr. Franklin suggested that the Committee might investigate, through the various learned societies to which its members belonged, how well scholars had done in getting access to top-flight policy documents through the Executive Order. He explained that the Order had had the effect of whetting scholarly appetites for quicker declassification, but he was afraid that the results had been disappointing to the scholars.

Mr. LaFeber then asked whether the Historical Office thought that it needed more staff to reach the twenty-year line in three years. Mr. Franklin replied that this was impossible to determine at the moment. It would depend on how long it would take new staff members to reach a level of sustained competence. He had reserved the right to request further positions in the future if lack of staff proved to be the main factor holding up production, but if clearance should be the main source of slowdown, there would be no reason to ask for further staff. Mr. Franklin again stressed the bottlenecks outside the Historical Office, such as clearances from various agencies and governments, editorial work including indexing, and the facilities and priorities of the Government Printing Office.

At 4:06 p.m. Mr. Deener adjourned the meeting so that the members of the Advisory Committee could have a private discussion.