Guide to Federal Records

Records of the National Security Council [NSC]


(Record Group 273)
1947-69

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 273.1 Administrative History
  • 273.2 General Records 1947-63
  • 273.3 Records of the Office of the Executive Secretary 1946-69
  • 273.4 Records of the Secretariat 1947-61
  • 273.5 Records of the Planning Board and its Predecessors 1947-61
    • 273.5.1 Records relating to staff meetings
    • 273.5.2 Papers prepared by NSC staff members
  • 273.6 Records of the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB) 1957-61

273.1 Administrative History

Established: As an independent agency by the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 496), July 26, 1947, with membership consisting of the President; the Secretaries of State, Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; the Chairman of the National Security Resources Board (NSRB); and additional members at the President's discretion.

Transfers: To the Executive Office of the President by Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1949, effective August 20, 1949.

Functions: Advises the President on the coordination of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to national security.

Finding Aids: Preliminary inventory in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the National Security Council in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Information on the establishment and the early years of the NSC is among the White House central and staff member files of Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, in Truman and Eisenhower Libraries, respectively. Additional information is among the personal papers of George M. Elsey, S. Everett Gleason, Gordon Gray, Sidney W. Souers, and Ralph N. Stohl, in Truman Library; the personal papers of Robert Cutler and Gordon Gray, in Eisenhower Library; the oral history interviews of Edward W. Barrett, David E. Bell, Clark M. Clifford, George M. Elsey, Roswell L. Gilpatric, Gordon Gray, Shaw Livermore, Elbert G. Mathews, Charles S. Murphy, and Stuart Symington, in Truman Library; and the oral history interviews of Dillon Anderson and Gordon Gray, in Eisenhower Library.

Top of Page

273.2 General Records
1947-63

History: NSC membership reorganized by the National Security Act Amendments of 1949 (63 Stat. 579), August 10, 1949, to consist of the President; the Vice President; the Secretaries of State and Defense; the Chairman of the NSRB; and additional members by Presidential appointment with Senate approval. Mutual Security Agency (MSA) established, and Director of Mutual Security added to NSC statutory membership, by the Mutual Security Act of 1951 (65 Stat. 377), October 10, 1951. NSRB abolished, with functions transferred to newly established Office of Defense Mobilization (ODM); and NSC statutory membership transferred from Director of NSRB to Director of ODM, by Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1953, effective June 12, 1953. MSA abolished, with functions transferred to newly established Foreign Operations Administration (FOA); and NSC statutory membership transferred from Director of Mutual Security to Director of FOA, by Reorganization Plan No. 7 of 1953, effective August 6, 1953. Pursuant to authorization granted to the President by the Mutual Security Act of 1954 (68 Stat. 856), August 26, 1954, FOA abolished, with functions transferred to newly established International Cooperation Administration of the Department of State; and NSC statutory membership of Director of FOA abolished, effective June 30, 1955, by EO 10610, May 9, 1955. ODM consolidated with Federal Civil Defense Administration to form Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (OCDM); and NSC statutory membership transferred from Director of ODM to Director of OCDM, by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1958, effective July 1, 1958.

Textual Records: Minutes of regularly scheduled meetings, each set consisting of a list of attendees and a summary of actions taken, with accompanying documentation, 1947-61. Minutes of special meetings, 1953, 1956-60, with accompanying index, 1953- 60. Attendance lists, 1953-60. Miscellaneous records relating to meetings, 1952-60. Reference materials relating to national security policies, including briefing books for NSC members and consultants, n.d.; a cumulative index to policy statements, 1948- 53; a handbook of geographical area, functional, and organizational policies, 1952; and annual policy handbooks, 1947- 55. Records of the Executive Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, 1961-63.

Top of Page

273.3 Records of the Office of the Executive Secretary
1946-69

Textual Records: Draft and final copies of numbered records of Actions and action memorandums, with accompanying indexes, 1947-64. Numbered memorandums of approval (records of actions taken without formal discussion), 1947-60. Agency information files, 1947-61. Administrative history files, 1947-61. General correspondence, 1948-60. NSC agendums, 1958-64. Administrative budget files, 1947-58. Records relating to the Joint Study Group on the Foreign Intelligence Activities of the United States Government, 1959-60. Staff directories, 1950-64. Meeting attendance lists, 1961-64. Registers of records destroyed by the NSC, 1961. Records relating to the reorganization of the NSC staff, 1953-60. Official statements, 1947-60. Official statements, 1947-60. Senior staff files, 1947-61. Annotated lists of serially numbered NSC documents, 1947-61. Correspondence, reports, memorandums, and other records of the NSC Representative on Internal Security, 1946-69 (including 4 rolls of microfilm).

Top of Page

273.4 Records of the Secretariat
1947-61

Textual Records: Numbered meeting agendas, 1947-58. Biweekly status reports on projects, 1947-55. Reports submitted for NSC members' information, 1948-61.

Top of Page

273.5 Records of the Planning Board and its Predecessors
1947-61

History: "The Staff," organized in 1947 as the principal interdepartmental component of the NSC staff, consisted of Executive branch agency officials detailed to the NSC to develop studies and policy recommendations. By directive of President Harry S. Truman, July 19, 1950, "The Staff" was reorganized into a Senior Staff, headed by the NSC executive secretary, and Staff Assistants. The Senior Staff consisted of one representative nominated by each of the following NSC members: Special Assistant to the President W. Averell Harriman; Secretaries of State, Defense, and the Treasury; Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the NSRB; and Director of Central Intelligence. By a plan approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, March 17, 1953, the Senior Staff was redesignated the Planning Board; the newly created Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs became Chairman of the Planning Board; and the Staff Assistants were redesignated the Board Assistants.

Top of Page

273.5.1 Records relating to staff meetings

Textual Records: Minutes of "The Staff" and Staff Assistants, 1947-51. Agendas and summaries of Senior Staff and Planning Board meetings, 1950-57. Agendas and summaries of Senior Staff Steering Committee meetings, 1951-52. Combined agendas of NSC and Planning Board meetings, 1953-60.

Top of Page

273.5.2 Papers prepared by NSC staff members

Textual Records: Numbered policy papers, covering basic, functional, organizational, and geographical area and country policies, 1947-61. Numbered studies preliminary to the development of formal policies ("Mill Papers" and "P Papers"), 1947-59.

Top of Page

273.6 Records of the Operations Coordinating Board (OCB)
1957-61

History: Established as an independent agency by EO 10483, September 2, 1953, to report to the NSC on the development, by appropriate Executive branch agencies, of operational plans for national security policies of international import. Incorporated into the NSC, effective July 1, 1957, by EO 10700, February 25, 1957. Abolished by EO 10920, February 18, 1961.

Textual Records: Central decimal files, 1957-61.

Related Records: Security-classified and unclassified OCB central decimal files, 1953-57, in Eisenhower Library.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


Top of Page

Guide to Federal Records >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

.