Minutes of Historical Advisory Committee Meeting, November 1975

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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, 1975—Minutes. Posted from a copy signed by HAC Chair H. Bradford Westerfield. Attachments are not posted.

Cited in Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series, Chapter 8, Footnotes 77 and 80

Minutes of the 1975 Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States

American Historical Association

  • Dr. Robert A. Divine, Professor of History, University of Texas
  • Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of History, Indiana University
  • Dr. Paul A. Varg, Professor of History, Michigan State University

[Drs. Ferrell and Varg, former members of the Committee, served as substitutes for Dr. Lloyd C. Gardner, Professor of History, Rutgers University, and Dr. Armin H. Rappaport, Professor of History, University of California, San Diego, who were out of the country.]

American Political Science Association

  • Dr. Richard C. Snyder, Director, Mershon Center, Ohio State University
  • Dr. H. Bradford Westerfield, Professor of Political Science, Yale University

[Dr. Snyder extended his term as a member of the Committee to serve as a substitute for Dr. Bernard C. Cohen, Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, who was out of the country.]

American Society of International Law

  • Dr. Philip C. Jessup, Judge, International Court of Justice, retired
  • Dr. Covey T. Oliver, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania

Other Persons Present

The Bureau of Public Affairs:

  • John E. Reinhardt, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
  • William D. Blair, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
  • William J. Dyess, Director of the Office of Plans and Management (PA/M)

The Office of the Historian:

  • Fredrick Aandahl, Acting Director (Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee)
  • Edwin S. Costrell
  • William Slany
  • Arthur G. Kogan
  • Richardson Dougall
  • Ralph R. Goodwin
  • Neal H. Petersen
  • David M. Baehler
  • John A. Bernbaum
  • M. Paul Claussen
  • Evans Gerakas
  • N. Stephen Kane
  • Edward C. Keefer
  • Ronald D. Landa
  • Joan M. Lee
  • David W. Mabon
  • Nina J. Noring
  • Carl N. Raether
  • Charles S. Sampson
  • William F. Sanford
  • Harriet Schwar
  • Louis J. Smith
  • David H. Stauffer
  • Harry F. Young

Professor David F. Trask of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Director-designate of the Historical Office, was also present during a major part of the meeting.

[As announced in press release No. 515 (Attachment 1), this meeting was closed to the public.]

Opening Session - 9:17 a.m. - 12:17 p.m.


Mr. Aandahl called the meeting to order and extended welcome to the Committee. Mr. Divine nominated Mr. Westerfield for Chairman of the Committee. Mr. Westerfield was elected by acclamation.

Mr. Aandahl introduced Assistant Secretary Reinhardt, who had entered the meeting with the members of the Committee. Ambassador Reinhardt noted that soon after he had arrived in the Bureau last spring, one of his first meetings was with some members of the Advisory Committee concerning the appointment of a director for the Historical Office (HO), and that the discussions set in motion by this meeting had led to the appointment of Mr. Trask. He further stated that he regarded HO’s mission as an integral part of the Bureau’s “outreach” program and he expressed his conviction that the new director would contribute significantly to the program. He assured HO of his continued cooperation, and noted that he viewed the Advisory Committee as an ally in solving problems which lay ahead. After making his remarks the Assistant Secretary remained at the meeting until 10:22 a.m.


Mr. Aandahl briefly described the organizational structure of the Historical Office. He stated that an African specialist would soon join the staff, and at that point the Office would be at full complement. He noted that the Historical Office worked closely with the Bureau of Public Affairs, citing the fact that HO historians were regularly serving in the Freedom of Information Office. He commented that the Committee might want to suggest ways for updating the Presidential directive of three years ago which called upon the Secretary of State and other high officials to cooperate in accelerating production of the Foreign Relations series in order to reach a 20-year line.


Mr. Slany made a brief progress report on the publication of volumes for the years 1948 and 1949, referring to a written report on the status of volumes as of November 1975 (previously circulated to the Committee and included here as Attachment 2). He noted that the publication of five volumes during June, July, and August 1975 had been marked by a series of regrettable mishaps in the Government Printing Office resulting in late distribution or non-distribution of volumes to would-be purchasers. Mr. Slany took the occasion to express his general discontent with the GPO as the printer-publisher of the Foreign Relations series and expressed the wish that means could be found to go to a commercial or university press. Mr. Aandahl observed that such action probably was not feasible in the case of Foreign Relations because the materials and manuscript remained classified through most of the production process.

Mr. Slany outlined the compilation program for the coming year and for the period through 1981, which was presented in a paper he circulated to the Committee (Attachment 3). He explained that the immediate target was the publication during the current fiscal year of the remaining 13 volumes for 1948, 1949, and 1950. Highest priority was attached to the publication this winter of the two remaining half-volumes for 1948. Part 2 of 1948, volume I, contained those most important NSC papers that were precursors of NSC 68. The declassification of these 1948 papers had been secured from the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs through the resolute support of Assistant Secretary Reinhardt, Deputy Assistant Secretary Blair, and other officials. Part 2 of 1948, volume V had been postponed because HO recognized the vital importance of preparing as complete a record as possible on the Arab-Zionist dispute of 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel. The former director, William M. Franklin, had devoted nearly all of his time to this project, right up to his retirement in April 1975.

Mr. Divine asked if HO could publish supplementary volumes in the future as material that could not now be declassified became available. Mr. Slany indicated that this might be possible. Were the Presidential papers so long withheld during the probate of Mr. Truman’s will and now being processed at the Truman Library to prove important and numerous, a supplementary volume might well be published gathering papers for the period of the entire Truman presidency. In response to a question by Mr. Oliver about the feasibility of printing supplementary papers after a Foreign Relations volume has been released, Mr. Aandahl explained that such documentation could be included in a later volume in the series or might be published separately in the Department of State Bulletin or elsewhere.

Mr. Slany circulated to the Committee a compilation schedule for the sixteen 1952-1954 volumes currently being worked on by the staff (Attachment 4). He explained that this “production schedule” had been resorted to in order to intensify the effort toward reaching the 20-year line. He admitted that some slippage had already been recognized, and some areas had been revealed where more compilers might be necessary to stay on schedule. Mr. Slany observed that the Committee report for 1974 had expressed some skepticism about the efficacy of the three-year plan for compiling and publication, but he expressed his belief that the triennial program would facilitate the achievement of the 20-year line. He noted the enthusiasm of the present Foreign Relations staff and expressed the conviction that the present program would be both swift and professionally sound. Mr. Slany noted that the staff would have to begin working on the volumes for 1955-1957 by June 1976 in order to hold to the current speed-up schedule.

Several members of the Committee raised questions about the triennial program of publication. They expressed concern that coverage of the years 1952-1954 would be too incomplete and too selective. Members of the staff responded almost unanimously that the triennial program offered distinct advantages of perspective and flexibility, in addition to enabling compilers to move at a faster rate. Mr. Oliver said that he was concerned about the danger of “pre-digestion”, whereby the compiler, in a sense, became the decision-maker. Mr. Aandahl replied that the staff makes an effort to counteract this by including copious references to documents that are not printed and more frequent use of editorial notes. Mr. Petersen stated that he also favored the triennial plan, but he expressed two reservations about it: (a) it is more difficult for a compiler to coordinate with other compilers when everyone is spread over a three-year span, and (b) if we had retained the annual format, we would have been finished compiling the 1952 volumes. Mr. Slany said that we will try to improve coordination between compilers for the 1955-1957 volumes.

Mr. Westerfield asked if the triennial format would be continued. Mr. Slany responded that it would be continued so long as it proved effective in reaching the 20-year line.

Mr. Aandahl asked Mr. Slany if we had adequate staff to move ahead with the triennial program. Mr. Slany commented that we needed two or three additional historians and two paraprofessionals. Mr. Westerfield asked Mr. Slany if a choice had to be made between the two, which would have the higher priority. Mr. Slany responded that it would be more desirable to have the paraprofessionals in order to allow the existing staff of historians to work more effectively.

Mr. Westerfield asked if there was a connection between the HO historians assigned to FOI and Mr. Slany’s request for two additional historians. Mr. Slany stated that the drain caused by HO service to FOI was merely one of several diversions of manpower in HO, and that in the short run it was not particularly serious. Mr. Aandahl pointed out that the FOI program was an important part of the Bureau’s efforts to achieve its overall objectives and that HO was willing to carry its share of the burden.

[Coffee was served at 10:22 a.m. Discussion resumed at 10:42 a.m.]

In resuming the discussion, Mr. Aandahl reminded the participants that the Deputy Under Secretary for Management had determined that the meetings would be closed to the public. This information was included in a press release on October 6 and in the Federal Register, and subsequently the Department had received from the Center for Law and Social Policy a letter challenging the legality of this decision. The matter had been reexamined, and the Department stood by its earlier position.


Mr. Slany stated that HO was attempting to gain wider access to the records of other agencies, such as AID, DOD, and the Presidential libraries. In regard to the latter, Mr. Petersen reported that two groups of HO historians had traveled to Abilene for research at the Eisenhower Library, and that another group is tentatively scheduled to make the trip in the spring. Both the Eisenhower and Truman Libraries were quite cooperative, and we had found many valuable papers, but we had encountered delays in getting access at the Truman Library to the materials recently accessioned from President Truman’s office (after a long period of probate and other complications). Judge Jessup and Mr. Snyder asked if this was due to inertia or if someone was “blocking the road”. Mr. Aandahl attributed the delay to the normal problems of organizing and accessioning documents into a new archive, especially when their priorities were not always the same as ours.

Mr. Divine asked whether we had consulted the Dulles papers at Princeton. Mr. Mabon replied that in the summer of 1973 he had looked at some of the Dulles papers relating to Japan in 1951 and had found few valuable items. He also reported that Secretary Dulles’ “personal and confidential” papers consisted largely of speech drafts, that the microfilm portion of the collection was from the Department’s central files, and that the international files had not proved particularly useful.

Mr. Slany raised the question of gaining access to documents in the files of other agencies. He noted the impatience among the staff members of HO to approach the CIA, particularly with respect to events in Guatemala, Iran, and Italy during the 1952-1954 period. He said that perhaps HO had been overcautious in this matter, but he was concerned about the manner in which the approach should be made. He also believed that efforts of this kind might divert the staff from reaching scheduled deadlines. He observed that in the larger sense all agencies should want to have the Foreign Relations series serve as the full record of American foreign policy and the proper vehicle for the orderly declassification of major documentation.

Mr. Westerfield stated that he hoped HO would not give up on the CIA. Mr. Slany replied that we had no intention of giving up, but that the question of how best to approach the agency was overriding. Mr. Claussen pointed out that the CIA had cleared some intelligence estimates for publication. Mr. Westerfield agreed that this was better than nothing, but he stated that distortions would occur if the range of CIA materials in our volumes included only estimates and not operations papers. Mr. Aandahl and Mr. Claussen suggested that it would be helpful if the Committee reaffirmed the view that Foreign Relations was the official record of American foreign policy, and not just an account of State Department involvement.

Mr. Ferrell expressed concern that, as he understood it, certain researchers working on contract with the Department of Defense were using classified Department of Defense records and perhaps the records of other agencies for an official study which was so designed that the authors could later publish books unofficially drawing on their privileged information. He thought that such activity was unfair and improper and that it again raised issues that had sharply aroused the scholarly world some years ago. He asked the Committee to issue a statement deploring such activity. Several members of the HO staff noted that this was a matter of direct concern to them. Mr. Westerfield commented that it was better to get the record out, regardless of the manner, than not to have it come out at all. Mr. Aandahl said that the normal rule was to release information on an equitable basis and that he thought Defense sought to follow this rule. Mr. Varg and Mr. Snyder expressed the view that the Committee should move cautiously and take a positive approach on this issue, such as suggesting that a general policy statement be drafted for government-wide use regarding the line between official and unofficial research. Mr. Aandahl undertook to get in touch with the Department of Defense on the immediate case brought up by Mr. Ferrell.


[Discussion of classified matters under this agenda item took place in both the morning and the afternoon sessions. This discussion is covered in separate classified minutes.]


Mr. Kogan described the Department’s policy for opening its records. He explained that previously the records remained closed until all the Foreign Relations volumes for a particular year had been published, but that a change had occurred last summer with the 1948-1949 volumes, when files were opened after all Department of State clearances had been obtained. For these two years virtually all of State’s own files directly relating to foreign policy were now open, with the exception of certain intelligence materials and other specifically excluded categories, including classified papers of other departments, agencies, and governments. Since the Department’s records are organized in five-year blocks, and the next block covers the period 1950-1954, we must finish compiling the sixteen volumes for 1952-1954 before the files for 1950 and 1951 can be moved to the National Archives. It would be prohibitively expensive (and probably administratively impossible) to reorganize the block of files, but once the whole block has been moved to Archives, probably in 1976, it would be possible to open 1950 and 1951 separately whenever the proper authorities agreed to their declassification. In reply to Mr. Westerfield’s inquiry as to how this related to Recommendation No. 4 in the Committee’s report last year, Mr. Aandahl said that this substantially met their view that opening of files for a given year need not wait until all of the volumes were published, but it also took into account the practical difficulties of records management. HO would probably recommend opening the 1950 files (for Department of State materials only) after the Department has completed its clearance of the 1950 volumes. As with the 1948 and 1949 files, we would probably not wait for final action by other clearing authorities.

Mr. Kogan informed the Committee that the Presidential libraries had requested help from HO in declassifying some of their older records, in part because they were being “nibbled to death” by individual requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act. HO has suggested that the Bureau of Public Affairs ask the Council on Classification Policy (CCP) to approve declassification authority for HO on material over twenty years old in the Presidential libraries. He stated that the Bureau supported the proposal, and that he was reasonably optimistic the other bureaus would also. If they did, the Bureau of Public Affairs would have a strong case when the proposal was presented to the CCP.

Mr. Aandahl mentioned an approach by the Canadian Government, which was interested in the question of opening Canadian records in tandem with ours. He stated that an informal agreement was being worked out whereby the Department of External Affairs and the Department of State would make available to private researchers in Washington and Ottawa pre-1949 papers dealing with United States-Canadian bilateral matters. Mr. Westerfield inquired whether similar arrangements had been made with other countries. Mr. Aandahl replied that such arrangements existed with the British and the Australians, at least for the period up to 1945.


[At 12:17 p.m. the committee adjourned for lunch with Ambassador Reinhardt and Mr. Earl D. Sohm, Director of Management Operations. Mr. Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management, had invited members of the Committee and Mr. Trask to luncheon in the Henry Clay Room. Also invited were Ambassador Reinhardt, Mr. Sohm, and Messrs. Blair, Dyess (PA/M), Aandahl, Costrell, and Slany. In Mr. Eagleburger’s absence Mr. Sohm expressed appreciation for the work of the Committee and said that the Department was trying to solve the problems of slow declassification of basic documents and to remove some of the bottlenecks that were holding up publication of the Foreign Relations volumes. Ambassador Reinhardt added his words of appreciation to the members of the Committee for their wise counsel over many years and especially for their assistance in the process of selecting a new director for the Historical Office. Mr. Westerfield responded for the Committee (as noted below). The Committee reconvened at 2:33 p.m.]

Mr. Westerfield summarized for the staff the remarks he had made at the luncheon. He said he had complimented HO on its “impressive achievement” of recent years. He had also emphasized the view that Foreign Relations was the record of the foreign relations of the Unite States, and not exclusively of the Department of State. And he had expressed his appreciation for the cooperation extended to the Committee by the Department, especially with respect to the adoption of the Committee’s recommendation on procedures for selecting a new director.


Mr. Slany referred to Recommendation No. 5 approved by the Committee last year endorsing the appointment of an archivist for the Department. Both he and Mr. Aandahl stressed the importance of acquiring an archivist to develop a uniform set of procedures for the protection and retirement of the Department’s files and to oversee the preservation of their integrity. Mr. Slany asked the Committee to reaffirm its earlier position.

A general discussion ensued concerning the possible functions of an archivist, and the problems resulting from not having one, such as the inadvertent destruction of records during the “screening” process in the Foreign Affairs Document and Reference Center (FADRC). Both Mr. Varg and Mr. Oliver raised the possibility that the National Archives could perform archivist functions for the Department. Mr. Costrell suggested the establishment of a State-Archives-Defense committee to consider the issue. Mr. Blair expressed surprise over the fact that some valuable records were being destroyed. He noted that FADRC would have to hire the archivist, and that therefore FADRC would have to be included in all discussions regarding the creation of an archival position.

Mr. Westerfield commented that the Committee was sympathetic to the staff’s felt need for an archivist, but inasmuch as there was considerable uncertainty about the archivist’s duties and responsibilities, the Committee did not have sufficient information to make a recommendation. Mr. Aandahl suggested that in its report the Committee express interest in the creation of an archivist’s position, and also recommend the need for a thorough study of the matter.

Mr. Slany referred to potential problems facing HO as a result of the Department’s implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. He mentioned the possible adverse effect of requests by private scholars for the same material that was being used to compile Foreign Relations and the question of the extent of aid that should be given to private scholars seeking information about classified materials. With respect to the first problem, Mr. Oliver stated that any interference with the efforts to speed up publication of Foreign Relations was regrettable, but that the Act was the law of the land and took precedence. Mr. Ferrell asked whether we had actually encountered difficulty in connection with the second problem. Mr. Slany responded that we had begun to experience difficulty, and for that reason he was seeking guidance from the Committee.


Mr. Slany reviewed the current problems in the technical editing sector. He pointed out, for example, that the lag between the submission of finished manuscript to PBR and the printing of galleys by the Government Printing Office had reached eighteen months. Mr. Snyder commented that this figure indicated that the time recently gained in compilation had been lost in editing. Mr. Varg suggested that the Committee make a statement for the record that it was “deeply disturbed” by this situation.

Mr. Aandahl stated that the problem with PBR (Publishing and Reproduction Division) could be largely solved by the addition of two or three fully-qualified senior editors to the PBR staff. Mr. Westerfield raised the possibility of a contract with a private editing firm. Mr. Aandahl responded that this would not be feasible because of the need for continuity and supervisory responsibility in the Department, which could not afford to become completely dependent on outside contractors. Mr Ferrell remarked that what PBR seemed to need was a shake-up rather than additional staff. Mr. Aandahl and Mr. Dougall both disagreed with this. They said that the PBR editors were doing a commendable job, but that they were seriously understaffed.


Mr Slany noted that as a result of a series of meetings within the Bureau called last year by Assistant Secretary Laise, several proposals designed to enhance the skills of staff members had been sent forward, including a recommendation for released time to enable staff to engage in private research and/or study. Ambassador Laise had responded favorably to the proposals for professional development. Mr. Costrell spoke against proposals involving released time, because they would weaken any argument advanced for needing new staff. Mr. Aandahl noted the budgetary and manpower problems raised by proposals for professional development but expressed readiness to pursue any program authorized by the Bureau.

Mr. Ferrell asked about the possibility of a flexi-time (10-hour day/4-day week) arrangement, which would allow staff members one free day for research. In response to a query from Mr. Aandahl, Mr. Dougall stated that this might eventually be administratively feasible but that at the moment it involved difficulties such as extra payment for overtime.

Mr. Westerfield invited Mr. Trask to make some closing remarks. Mr. Trask stated that he approached the position of director with enthusiasm. He had no “grand design” for HO, but certain changes would be desirable. First priority would be given to strengthening the relationship between the Office and outside researchers. The question of professional development of the staff was also a vital one, and he would make it a matter of high priority from the moment of his arrival as director.

[The Committee rose at 4:27 p.m.]