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An unusually rich file of material from the White House West Wing office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Included are communications at the highest levels between the United States and countries such as the Soviet Union, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Great Britain, France, West Germany, and China. Topics include the Vietnam War, arms control negotiations, détente, the Cyprus crisis, the process of normalizing relations with China, Middle East peace negotiations, status of Berlin, and the Kurds. Also administrative materials concerning National Security Council staffing, organization, and procedures.

18.4 linear feet (ca. 36,800 pages)

Gerald R. Ford (accession numbers 77-118, 78-68, 81-65)

Open, but some materials continue to be national security classified and restricted. Access is governed by the donor’s deed of gift, a copy of which is available on request, and National Archives and Records Administration regulations (36 CFR 1256).

Gerald Ford donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Revised by Helmi Raaska, June 2012
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The Kissinger-Scowcroft West Wing Office Files is one of many sub-collections that comprise the National Security Adviser Files. These files were maintained in the National Security Adviser’s West Wing Office or in offices by the Situation Room in the White House basement. They were kept available for ready access because they contained sensitive, high level material involving ongoing negotiations.

This exceptionally rich collection, with materials dating from the office of President-Elect Nixon to the end of the Ford administration, provides a wealth of information about eight years of American diplomacy. Many of these files were started by Alexander Haig, Military Assistant to Henry Kissinger in 1969 and Deputy National Security Adviser from 1970-73. When President Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974, most of National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger’s files were sequestered with the other Nixon presidential papers. The files in this subcollection, however, were not sequestered and became part of the Ford presidential papers.

The files highlight foreign policy initiatives, such as the opening to China, détente, arms control, and Middle East peace negotiations, which were initiated by President Nixon and continued by President Ford. Included in these files are records of interactions between the White House and foreign leaders at the highest levels. Prime Ministers Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, and James Callaghan; Chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt; First Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko; and Premier Chou En-lai and Chairman Mao Tse-tung are among the notable foreign leaders.

The National Security Adviser to the President also served as the principal supervisory officer of the National Security Council (NSC). President Nixon appointed Henry Kissinger National Security Adviser in January 1969 and Secretary of State in September 1973. Kissinger held both positions until November 1975, when President Ford thought it best that the Secretary relinquish supervisory responsibility of the NSC and concentrate on the Department of State and foreign policy. Brent Scowcroft, who had been Deputy National Security Adviser, was appointed to fill the position vacated by Kissinger. Kissinger and Scowcroft maintained a close working relationship throughout the Ford administration, and this spirit of cooperation and consultation is evident in the files.

The major portion of this collection is a subject file with folder titles of names of countries, individuals, departments and agencies (Defense and CIA), and such topics as the Cyprus crisis and Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). Materials for subject file categories tend to focus on specific issues rather than a broad range of topics. The predominant themes for European countries are the western alliance, Year of Europe, Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), status of Berlin, nuclear energy, and international economic issues. The themes for countries in the Middle East are Arab-Israeli relations and the role of the United States in peace negotiations. China materials are primarily concerned with developing diplomatic relations, Iran with oil, and the Soviet Union with détente, arms control, and CSCE. India/Pakistan materials concern relations between those two nations and U.S. security commitments to Pakistan. The exception to this narrow focus is found in “Central Intelligence Agency Communications,” which cover a very broad range of topics.

The folders for a given country often contain a numbered index to exchanges between Henry Kissinger and its leaders, and there may be separate sequences of indexed and unnumbered items. Indexed exchanges exist for China, Israel, Palestinian Contacts, SALT exchanges with Ambassador Dobrynin, USSR “D” File, USSR Dobrynin/Kissinger Exchanges, and West Germany – Egon Bahr Communications.

Kissinger often used a “backchannel” from the White House to discuss the most sensitive issues with foreign officials. In the case of the Soviet Union, the backchannel was used to conduct preliminary negotiations on SALT and other issues. When these informal talks showed promise for specific agreement, the negotiations moved into formal diplomatic channels. If formal negotiations became deadlocked, discussions returned to the backchannel. Kissinger writes in White House Years (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1979, page 139) that the backchannel “was a way to explore the terrain, to avoid major deadlocks.” Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin was the backchannel for his country and is identified as “D” in folder titles.

Egon Bahr, an associate of Chancellor Willy Brandt, was a backchannel for exchanges with the West German government. Bahr is identified by name on folder titles. This backchannel was especially used for discussions concerning the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Berlin.

In initiating and conducting the Vietnam War secret peace talks, Kissinger used a personal friend as a private channel to Hanoi. The intermediary was Jean Sainteny, former French Delegate-General in Hanoi. He is identified as Mr. “S” on folder titles.

The “Cyprus Crisis” is a topical file heading for 94 folders. Materials within these folders include telegrams, memoranda, intelligence and military situation reports, meeting minutes, memoranda of conversations, and transcripts of Kissinger telephone conversations. These materials provide a day-by-day account of events from April - October 2, 1974. Researchers are encouraged to consult Foreign Relations of the United States, volume Greece; Cyprus; Turkey, 1973-76 in conjunction with these files.

Some materials in this series remain national security classified. The largest concentrations of security classified materials are in folders “Central Intelligence Agency - Communications,” “Intelligence – Report on the Intelligence Investigations by House and Senate Committees,” and “USSR – President’s Quarterly Report of Strategic Forces.”

Administrative files include materials on staffing, budget, and organization of the NSC. President Nixon did not wish to delegate responsibility for national security policymaking because he believed this was solely his responsibility. Newly appointed National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and his assistants, Alexander Haig and Lawrence Eagleburger, organized the NSC to be responsive to Nixon’s philosophy. Staffing materials reflect the ups and downs experienced within the NSC when several staff members resigned over Nixon administration decisions on conduct of the Vietnam War and bombing of Cambodia. NSC staff also had to deal with issues stemming from Kissinger’s appointment as Secretary of State, Watergate, and Nixon’s resignation. When Gerald Ford became President, Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft remained in their positions until November 1975. Then, Scowcroft succeeded Kissinger as National Security Adviser. The transition to Scowcroft was a smooth one, and documents suggest that he was highly respected by the staff.

Related Materials (June 2012)
Materials closely related to the General Subject File are available in several sub-collections, especially Presidential Country Files and National Security Council Staff Files for geographic regions. Materials related to the Administrative File are in the Secretariat Series of U.S. National Security Council Institutional Files. Researchers can locate additional relevant materials via PRESNET search reports, which are provided upon request. New information is entered into the PRESNET database as collections become available for research. Researchers are encouraged to consult the Ford Library website for announcements of collection openings and to view online finding aids and documents.


General Subject File, 1970-77.  (Boxes 1-41, 16.4 linear feet)
Subject files consisting of reports, memoranda, telegrams, exchanges of notes and messages, meeting minutes, memoranda of conversations, and transcripts of telephone conversations. Materials concern high-level discussions involving the President and National Security Adviser and leaders of such countries as China. Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, United Kingdom, USSR, and West Germany. Topics include SALT, détente, the opening to China, Middle East peace process, the western alliance, Helsinki Agreements, status of Berlin, nuclear energy, oil, and international economic matters. Also materials relating to the Cyprus Crisis, Vietnam War, seizure of the Mayaguez, and Palestinian contacts.

Arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder chronologically.

View container list for this series

Administrative File, 1969-77. (Boxes 42-46, 2.0 linear feet)
Files concerning NSC personnel, organization, and procedures. Personnel materials relate to budget and staffing and consist of memoranda, charts, correspondence, and resumes. Materials concerning organization and procedures consist of reports, memoranda, charts, instructions, handbooks, and sample documents. Organization materials are especially relevant to understanding the Nixon-era NSC.

Arranged alphabetically by main heading and thereunder chronologically.

View container list for this series


Box 1 - General Subject File

Box 2 - General Subject File

Box 3 - General Subject File

Box 4 - General Subject File

Box 5 - General Subject File

Box 6 - General Subject File

Box 7 - General Subject File

Box 8 - General Subject File

Box 9 - General Subject File

Box 10 - General Subject File

Box 11 - General Subject File

Box 12 - General Subject File

Box 13 - General Subject File

Box 14 - General Subject File

Box 15 - General Subject File

Box 16 - General Subject File

Box 17 - General Subject File

Box 18 - General Subject File

Box 19 - General Subject File

Box 20 - General Subject File

Box 21 - General Subject File

Box 22 - General Subject File

Box 23 - General Subject File

Box 24 - General Subject File

Box 25 - General Subject File

Box 26 - General Subject File

Box 27 - General Subject File

Box 28 - General Subject File

Box 29 - General Subject File

Box 30 - General Subject File

Box 31 - General Subject File

Box 32 - General Subject File

Box 33 - General Subject File

Box 34 - General Subject File.

Box 35 - General Subject File

Box 36 - General Subject File

Box 37 - General Subject File

Box 38 - General Subject File

Box 39 - General Subject File

Box 40 - General Subject File

Box 41 - General Subject File

Box 42 - Administrative File

Box 43 - Administrative File

Box 44 - Administrative File

Box 45 - Administrative File

Box 46 - Administrative File