Research at the National Archives

Numerical and Minor Files, 1906-1910


From August 1906 to early 1910, the different types of documents previously filed in the separate series that constitute the central files from 1789 to 1906 plus internal Departmental documentation were brought together in numbered subject case files - the Numerical File - and alphabetically arranged subject files - the Minor File. The Numerical File includes the primary records; records on routine matters are in the Minor File. There is no arrangement to the files; as each new case in the Numerical File was opened, it received the next number in sequence. There are over 25,000 numbered files. Records in the Minor File are arranged alphabetically by country for diplomatic matters, by city for consular matters, and by name of correspondent for letters to and from other sources. The entirety of the Numerical and Minor Files is available on microfilm (M-862, 1,241 rolls).  These records have been digitized and are now available through the National Archives Catalog:

Numerical File

Minor File

Numerical File Numbers

As each subject case was opened, it was given the next number in sequence without regard to subject. For example, File 5275, dealing with political relations between the United States and Greece, is followed by File 5276, which deals with the American Consular Agency at Sunderland, England. In some cases there are multiple files on essentially the same subject; for example, records on political relations between the United States and Greece are in Files 5275, 13221, and 19189.

The first document in the file bears the case number without any other designation. Subsequent documents are given a unique enclosure number separated from the file number with the slash (/) mark. For example, the documents in File 5276 would appear in order as 5276, 5276/1, 5276/2, etc.

Finding Aids

The primary finding aid is the Card Index arranged alphabetically by name, country or city. In general, each index card includes the name of the sender or addressee, the date, a brief summary of the subject of the document, and an indication of the file location. For documents in the Numerical File, the case and individual document numbers are given (e.g. 8643/3). For documents in the Minor File, only the designation "Minor File" is provided. In addition, there are "Purport List" document listings for each Numerical File arranged according to the subject categories in the Decimal File established in 1910.

The Card Index is available on microfilm (M-1889, 86 rolls) and online through the National Archives Catalog.  A roll-by-roll listing with links to the images is here.

Foreign Relations of the United States can assist with locating documentation of interest.

Additional information on the Numerical and Minor File is found in
Part I of Inventory 15: Inventory of the General Records of the Department of State.

This guide provides a general overview of how to locate Numerical File documentation relating to specific countries.