NDC Releases U.S. Embassy Djakarta Records

U.S. Consulate Surabaya Annex, 1965 (Photo not in record series)


The National Declassification Center, in partnership with the privately-operated National Security Archive, is proud to announce the release of  a record series that has been the object of interest for a number of researchers worldwide.  The records, formally titled the Classified Central Subject Files, U.S. Embassy Djakarta, 1963-1969, have been the object of a dedicated declassification effort that began in the fall of 2016.  Once NDC completed its initial declassification effort, which resulted in somewhat less than 30,000 pages declassified, it coordinated with the National Security Archive on the digitization of the newly-declassified records.  Given the known interest in the records in this series, it was important to the NDC that access to the declassified records should be as broad as possible, and only a digital release could make that happen.

Led by National Security Archive project leader Bradley Simpson, a rotating team of volunteers spent the better part of three weeks using IPads to scan the tens of thousands of pages involved.  Once the scanning was done, there was considerably more work performed by the Archive to make the documents text searchable.  Once that work is done, the Archive is  graciously providing a digital copy of the records to the National Archives and Records Administration to become part of the National Archives Catalog, thus granting access to an even larger pool of digital researchers.  While that digital availability may take some time, the physical records are still available to researchers who come to NARA’s College Park facility.

The 37 Hollinger boxes in the Djakarta Embassy series hold a wide range of records central to the function of a U.S. Embassy.  We have discussed only small parts of the Embassy’s functions in two previous NDC Blog postings (see “The Curious Case of Harold Lovestrand” 2/10/2017 and “Joseph B. Kennedy and the Jet-Speed Air Cushion Rail System” 3/31/2017).  While the 39 documents the National Security Archive has published so far are rightly focused on the political situation and tensions within Indonesia and the consequences of the uprising on 30 September/1 October 1965, the Embassy files contain a wealth of other information concerning social conditions, key personalities, industries and commodities, economic data and analysis, financial date and analysis, and assorted cultural topics to name just a few.

There is more declassification work to be done on the documents that were withdrawn from the Embassy record series in the course of the declassification process.  Those records will undergo further declassification processing and will be made available in a redacted form sometime in 2018.

This release marks the first time that the NDC has entered a partnership with the National Security Archive to make available to the public a specific collection of records.  We are sure that there will be further opportunities in the future to unite in our efforts to make historic classified records to the research public.

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