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U.S. Federal Documents

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Purport Lists for the Department of State Decimal File 1910-1944

The purport lists or lists of documents for the Department of State decimal file, 1910-1944 with print guide (CD3031 1974A SSRC-reading room) are a subject index to the records that form the central files of the State Department. They are part of General records of the Department of State, Record Group 59 in the National Archives and Records Administration. This guide contains a brief description of the decimal file system and appendices containing lists of subject, country and consulate numbers, as well as a reel-by-reel list of the 654 reels (mfilm n.s. 1748). There are three divisions 1910-1929 (reels 1-240); 1930-1939 (reels 241-431); 1940-1944 (reels 432-654)
From 1910 to 1963, the Department of State used a decimal classification system for its central files, assembling and arranging individual documents according to subject and assigning decimal file numbers. Documents in the decimal file include instructions, notes between the Department of State and foreign diplomatic and consular representatives in the United States, memoranda prepared by officials of the Department and correspondence with officials of other government departments and with private firms and persons.
Purport lists for several categories of the decimal file are not included in the microfilm publication. These include those sections relating to passports and other citizenship matters, immigration to the United States, and visa matters. Certain categories of routine and administrative records have been destroyed because they lacked sufficient value to warrant their continue preservation.
The decimal file consists of nine primary classes numbered 0 through 8, each covering a broad subject area. Within the classes, the subjects were further identified by a decimal file number followed by a slant mark (/) followed by another number. Countries were assigned two digit numbers and consulates were assigned three digit numbers.

The publication Classification of correspondence, prepared by the Division of Communications and Records, Department of State (adopted August 20, 1910), 4th edition published in 1939 serves as a guide to these documents and their classification. The volume includes explanatory notes, country numbers arranged geographically, country numbers arranged alphabetically, consulate numbers, and the index.

General and miscellaneous

Administration of the US government, including the Department of State and foreign service

Negotiation, application, and interpretation and extradition treaties and individual extradition cases

Protection of private and national interests

Negotiation, application and interpretation of treaties on claims and individual claims cases

International congresses and conferences, multilateral treaties, and international organizations

Commerce, customs administration, and trade agreements

Political relations of states, including diplomatic and consular representation and bilateral treaties, conventions, and agreements

Internal affairs of states

Examples from selective files
Class 0. 051.41
0 Subject is of general or miscellaneous nature
51 Concerns the pouch service of the United States
41 Number for Great Britain (pouches exchanged)

Class 1 125.5611
1 Subject is the administration of the US government
25 Concerns an American consular office
561 Office is in Madrid
1 Buildings and premises of the consulate in Madrid

Class 2 211.41
2 Subject is extradition treaties
11 Concerns negotiation of an extradition treaty between the US (11)
41 and Great Britain (41)

Class 3 312.113
3 Protection of US private and national interests;
12 Case death in Mexico (12)
11 National US 11)

Class 4 411.32 Correspondence relating to negotiation, application,
and interpretation of claims treaties, conventions, and
agreements, the smaller country number follows the class number (4)
11.32 United States and Brazil (claimant arranged alphabetically)



Last modified: June 17, 2008

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