Minutes of Historical Advisory Committee Meeting, November 1976

A scan of the original document is available for download (PDF, 272 KB, 11pp.)

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 3, 1976-Minutes. Listed attachments are not posted. HAC Chair Covey T. Oliver did not sign or initial the approval line at the of the minutes.

Cited in Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series, Chapter 8, Footnote 94

Minutes of the 1976 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. Lloyd C. Gardner, Professor of History, Rutgers University
  • Dr. Norman A. Graebner (Absent), Professor of History, University of Virginia

American Political Science Association

  • Dr. Bernard C. Cohen, Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Harold K. Jacobson, Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

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

The Office of the Historian:

  • David F. Trask, The Historian (Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee)
  • Fredrick Aandahl
  • Edwin S. Costrell
  • William Z. Slany
  • Arthur G. Kogan
  • John P. Glennon
  • Mary P. Chapman
  • Neal H. Petersen
  • David H. Stauffer
  • Allen H. Kitchens
  • John A. Bernbaum
  • M. Paul Claussen
  • N. Stephen Kane
  • David M. Baehler
  • Thomas E. Donilon
  • Mary M. Gratch
  • Evans Gerakas
  • Edward C. Keefer
  • Ronald D. Landa
  • Joan M. Lee
  • David W. Mabon
  • Carmen A. Medina
  • Nina J. Noring
  • Carl N. Raether
  • Margaret E. Roman
  • Lisle A. Rose
  • Charles S. Sampson
  • William F. Sanford, Jr.
  • Stanley Shaloff
  • J. Harriet Schwar
  • Louis J. Smith
  • Ilana E. Stern
  • Ruth M. Worthing

The Foreign Affairs Document and Record Center:

  • John S. Pruden, Director

The Freedom of Information Staff:

  • Beverly Zweiben, Appeals Officer

(As announced in press release No. 515 (Attachment 1), this meeting was divided into open and closed sessions.)

Open Session - 9:10 a.m. - 12:16 p.m.


Mr. Trask called the meeting to order, welcomed the participants, and announced that the first two hours of the meeting would be open to the public, but would be followed by a closed meeting. He then introduced Ambassador Reinhardt.

The Ambassador, after welcoming the committee, pointed out that its members, although approved by him, were chosen by the respective professional associations. The Committee was the Bureau’s chief aid in declassification problems. There would be no progress in the matter without the Committee’s prodding.

Mr. Reinhardt recalled that Secretary Kissinger, in a meeting with himself and Mr. Trask some months ago, had described history as the best single preparation for the Foreign Service and had offered his assistance to Mr. Trask. The Ambassador invited the Committee to stay in touch with him over the months to come. He concluded by saying that now the interested professions had one of their own representatives at the head of the Office. After his remarks the Assistant Secretary remained at the meeting until 9:26 a.m.

Mr. Trask introduced Mr. Blair and noted the unavoidable absence of Mr. Graebner.

After introducing new and returning members of the Committee, Mr. Trask recognized Mr. Divine, who nominated Mr. Oliver for Chairman of the Advisory Committee. The nomination was seconded, and approved unanimously.


Mr. Trask discussed the two major problems of coverage and speed of production. In the Eisenhower period the volume and complexity of records increased, as did the participation of other agencies in foreign policy actions. HO was meeting increasing difficulty in fulfilling its mandate to provide, in Foreign Relations, a comprehensive record of policymaking. To meet this problem HO was seeking a renewal and clarification of this charge, including administrative action to strengthen access to other-agency documents. To attain greater speed of production, the Office was reviewing the entire production process, particularly the stages of clearance, technical editing, and printing.

Mr. Trask affirmed that it was logical that HO should be located in the Bureau of Public Affairs. The Bureau represented and was the spearhead in the Department for the principle of openness.

The Historian reported on the classified research done in the Historical Office. This function of the Office had diminished due to changes in the functioning of the Department as well as a drain of manpower to the production of Foreign Relations. However, he wanted to make the two functions of research and compilation mutually supportive. He called on Mr. Aandahl to explain the reorganization of the Office.

In his presentation Mr. Aandahl referred to two charts which had been distributed (attached). He pointed out that the new system brought area specialists from both halves of the old office together in two new geographical groupings which allowed individuals to divide their time between Foreign Relations and classified research projects. A separate operations staff now handled clearance and other mechanical problems. Within it, one unit handled administrative history, reference services, and spot requests from the Department. The new organization afforded greater flexibility in assignments and opened career opportunities by facilitating advancement for younger staff members. Lastly, there was better balance: two groups of unequal size had been replaced by three equal groups.

Mr. Aandahl then reported the retirements of Ralph Goodwin and Helene Delong, and introduced new staff members Stanley Shaloff and Margaret Roman, as well as this year’s National Historical Publications and Records Commission fellow, Ilana Stern. Mr. Slany introduced the three undergraduate interns from Catholic University: Thomas Donilon, Mary Gratch and Carmen Medina.

In response to Mr. Divine’s question as to how Foreign Relations and the research function were mutually supportive, Mr. Aandahl replied that the older classified studies could serve as the basis of a Foreign Relations compilation and that by grouping our historians by specialists we have strengthened our research capacity. Studies done on the Korean War and the Suez crisis were examples.

Mr. Oliver asked if Freedom of Information work still constituted a drain on HO’s manpower. Ms. Zweiben, who transferred last year from HO to the FOI staff as appeals officer, replied that FOI had received additional personnel but still received help from HO on certain problems, such as older documents that were too broad in scope for any single bureau. Mr. Blair explained that the de facto drain of one HO officer on regular assignment to FOI had ceased. Mr. Trask added that aid to FOI was staff time well spent, for both HO and FOI had the common objective of openness.

Mr. Costrell reported on the research function. Recently a higher priority had been assigned to Foreign Relations. Also requests had lately diminished. However, recent studies included one of the Middle East, another on third world activities in the United Nations, and another on the interagency task force on Vietnam refugees. In the past there had been massive projects on Vietnam, Berlin, and the Korean War. Useful published unclassified research included lists of US chiefs of mission and a study of US recognition policy in Latin America. Research varied from highly substantive to routine, and from extraordinarily sensitive to unclassified.

Mr. Trask said Foreign Relations and the research function were mutually supportive because research was a necessity for historians who wanted to maintain and develop their professional skills. Moreover, policy-related research tied HO to the Department’s main role-the execution of policy today for the purpose of tomorrow. The research function had suffered because, being based on requests, there was no pattern or spine to it. Also, because of the expansion of the Department, many in it were not aware of HO’s research function, which was in its old form virtually defunct.

The Historian stated that he had reached the conclusion that it was better for the Office to initiate most of the major projects itself. Others might initiate minor requests. The Office should define a major policy area-perhaps U.S. foreign economic policy since 1973-do a study, and actively “sell” it to the pertinent areas of the Department. The Office had to experiment.

Mr. Oliver inquired as to whether requests for studies would still be honored, and whether the old type of study was defunct by preference of the Office or from lack of demand. Mr. Trask answered that it was defunct for both reasons. Yet he would welcome new requests as a justification for staff. However, it would be best to anticipate crises and prepare the groundwork ahead of time, as in the Office’s human rights project.

Mr. Oliver inquired once more concerning the possibility of an increase in requests, but stated also that he preferred the new approach. Mr. Trask held that this approach would suit outside historians if the new studies could be declassified.


Mr. Slany reported on the status of the Foreign Relations series. Only two volumes had appeared since the last meeting. This was regrettable, but the difficulties had occurred in the clearance and printing processes. The last 1948 volume would be issued shortly. The first 1950 volume should also be issued this month. HO expected that the last three 1949 volumes and all of the 1950 volumes would appear by the end of the summer of 1977.

All the 1952-1954 volumes would be compiled by mid-December, 1976. The three-year volumes included more functional, as opposed to geographical materials. Quality, of the series, in both selection and research finding aids, had risen enormously. The 1952-1954 volumes, which had been compiled in approximately two years, included much more material of DOD, CIA, and White House origin. The Office had projected twelve volumes apiece for the 1955-1957 and 1958-1960 periods, but the totals could be expanded as need arose. HO wanted to arrive at the 20 year line in compilation by 1980, and was trying to accelerate production by submitting volumes for clearance in manuscript rather than after the lengthy technical editing and galley proof stages.

Mr. Divine asked whether the next opening of the Department’s files would have to wait until all the volumes through 1954 had been published. After intermittent discussion of this question Mr. Kogan explained that while Archives demanded that the record block be transferred intact, opening of the files for 1950-1954 did not have to await publication of the 1952-1954 volumes, but only clearance of the State Department materials in them.

Mr. Cohen asked if 12 volumes were sufficient to include all the good material. Mr. Slany replied that this size made the process of selection difficult, but both he and Mr. Aandahl stressed that HO had concluded that any larger project would take too long. Mr. Trask stated that it was important to keep in mind the increased emphasis in the new volumes on reference aids. Nevertheless, the space problem might force a resort to some type of supplemental microfilm publication, although this might be against the preferences of most of the HO staff.

Mr. Oliver asked if the new functional emphasis in Foreign Relations was related to the switch to 3-year volumes. Mr. Slany said that such topics could be presented more comprehensibly in volumes of longer time span.

Mr. Jacobson expressed his curiosity as to why the three-year period had been chosen in preference to some other duration. Mr. Aandahl responded that selection of 1952-54 completed a record block, and also avoided synchronization with political administrations.

Mr. Jessup inquired whether HO included in the volumes all pertinent documents or withheld some. Mr. Slany answered that policy was to exclude nothing ourselves for clearance reasons, but to leave the function entirely to the bureaus and concerned agencies.

(Coffee was served at 10:51 a.m. Discussion resumed at 11:15 a.m.).

Mr. Trask welcomed Mr. Pruden to the meeting, and stated that since the public part of the agenda had not been completed, the closed session would be postponed until after lunch.


Mr. Aandahl began by stating that HO had shortened compilation time, but that delays in technical editing and printing continued to slow publication. In response to a question by Mr. Jessup, Messrs. Aandahl and Slany stated that “problems of distribution” referred to the fact that GPO had occasionally mislaid printings of Foreign Relations in its warehouse, and that no good procedure had been worked out for notifying interested scholars of Foreign Relations publication dates.

Mr. Trask stated his belief that a university or commercial press could produce volumes more efficiently than GPO, but he added that Congressional legislation did not now permit this. He continued that although the Office had not yet gone to Congress for a legislative waiver or exemption on the question of securing an outside publisher, it would be perhaps worth trying in the future. He pointed out that in addition to seeking contractual arrangements with other printers, the Office needed to explore fundamental alterations in the format of the series.


Mr. Kogan stated that while relations with the National Archives and Records Service were generally good, NARS was increasingly reluctant to accession large blocks of classified material, such as the 5-year 1950-1954 files. The principal reason was that otherwise FOI requests necessitated the transfer of documents from NARS back to the Department, and then back again to NARS. Acceleration of Foreign Relations should help resolve this problem. Mr. Kogan expressed hope that by the end of 1977, the 1950-54 block would be declassified and opened.

HO had aided in the declassification of some papers in Presidential Libraries (e.g. the Acheson papers) ahead of schedule. HO was giving some help to FOI in declassification of papers at the Eisenhower Library.

Mr. Jessup asked whether the Department had any control over the papers of Marshall and Dulles as Secretaries of State. Mr. Kogan replied that, so far as he knew, the Marshall Library had only copies of Marshall’s papers as Secretary of State, and the originals never left the Department until they were transferred to the National Archives. He was not sure about papers relating to Marshall’s service after he left State in 1949. The microfilm copies of Dulles’ papers at Princeton are copies of originals which remain in Department of State files, and they are subject to the same rules of access as the originals in Washington. In his reply to a question from Mr. Gardner, Mr. Glennon said that HO indeed had needed permission from the Hanes Committee to see the Dulles papers at the Eisenhower Library, just as did private researchers.

In the course of further discussion it was pointed out that clarification of the status of such “private” papers was among the tasks of the new National Study Commission on Documents and Records of Public Officials.

Mr. Cohen noted that even though scholars would have access relatively soon to documents in the 1950-1954 block through the speedup of declassification of Foreign Relations manuscripts, the next block of files (1955-1958) would not be opened until the third triennium (1958-1960 volumes) had been declassified. Mr. Aandahl noted that this still represented a considerable speedup, and Mr. Kogan added that the proposed change in the Executive Order to reduce the time for mandatory automatic declassification from 30 to 25 years might result in the transferral of records to the Archives at an earlier date. To Mr. Gardner’s question of whether many documents might be excepted from general declassification, Mr. Kogan answered that the relatively small number of State Department documents that had been denied clearance for publication in Foreign Relations would be exempted from declassification; these would be subject to further review later. In addition, some other categories would also be exempted because of specific provisions of the FOI act and the Privacy act. These would not depend on the status of the Foreign Relations series.

Mr. Pruden spoke about the computerization of the Department’s central files since 1973. He explained that the computerized system had been designed to meet the day-to-day needs of policymakers. He said the FADRC was giving increasing attention to what could be done to the system to make it useful to historians. He pointed out that office files had not been included in the computerized system, although that possibility was being explored. There were a few questions about the details of the system from Mr. Oliver, Mr. Cohen, and Mr. Gardner.

Mr. Gardner then asked whether HO paid much attention to the post files to determine whether instructions to the posts were in fact carried out. Mr. Slany replied that wherever the post files existed, we tried to do this. Mr. Slany also said that the computerized microfilm system would be especially useful in the permanent retention of post files, which in the past had often been destroyed. Mr. Kogan said that post files up through 1949 were available to scholars either at the Archives or at Suitland, Maryland. Mr. Oliver mentioned that in his experience, it had been important to know the drafters of messages, particularly of incoming telegrams. Mr. Trask affirmed the importance of post records to our research and adjourned the open portion of the meeting at 12:16.

Mr. Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Deputy Under Secretary State for Administration, was host for members of the Committee at a luncheon in the Thomas Jefferson Room. Ambassador Reinhardt and Messrs. Blair, Trask, Dyess, Pruden, Aandahl, Costrell, and Slany also were present.

Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Mr. Oliver expressed gratitude for the hospitality extended to them by Mr. Eagleburger and his colleagues. He noted that the committee was glad to observe progress on the part of the series, which he thought was well conceived, capably edited, and of great public value. The problems that needed attention were mostly matters of engineering and resources, and here the committee hoped that the Department would find ways to meet the very real needs felt by the three national scholarly organizations they represented.

In response, Mr. Eagleburger said that the Department always welcomed and appreciated the advice from the Committee, which had been both understanding and persistent over the years. Agreeing that the problems of engineering and resources were important, Mr. Eagleburger noted that the Department was now studying what could be done.

After luncheon the Committee met in closed session, and at 3:30 the members (accompanied by Ambassador Reinhardt, Mr. Trask, and Mr. Aandahl) met with Secretary of State Kissinger. At 4:14 members of the Committee met in a private session to discuss their forthcomming report, and at about 5:15 some of them (accompanied by Messrs. Trask and Aandahl) made a brief visit to FADRC, where Messrs. Pruden and Machek gave a quick demonstration of the cathode ray tube system.