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The most critical and dangerous event in the Nuclear Era: the Cuban missile crisis, 1962.

Research Problem

How to reconcile new information coming out of the Soviet Union, Cuba, and the inner sanctums of the U S. Government? How to locate the thousands of classified documents spread across the globe, many never before released, in order to piece together a comprehensive and balanced record of the crisis?

Solution: The National Security Archive

The National Security Archive is a non-profit research institute and library based in Washington, D.C. The Archive has for several years been diligently locating, obtaining declassification of, organizing, and indexing government documents on the Cuban missile crisis as part of its commitment to capture the documentary record of the critical events, issues, and decisions of the Nuclear Age, along with other contemporary defense, intelligence, and foreign-policy subjects.

Through comprehensive research at the John F Kennedy Library and dozens of other archival facilities, sophisticated use of the Freedom of Information Act, cultivation of an extensive network of government, media, and academic contacts, and computer-based cataloging, the Archive has developed an unmatchable collection of primary materials--comprehensive in scope, pioneering in organization, startling in content.

Now through a cooperative publishing program with Chadwyck-Healey, this resource, becomes available in fully-indexed form to researchers everywhere.

Comprehensive Coverage

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962reproduces on microfiche over 15,000 pages of rarely-seen documents from the highest levels of government. In many cases, these materials have been gathered by the National Security Archive through its own--or other researchers'--Freedom of Information Act requests.

The collection presents a uniquely integrated, comprehensive history of the crisis, covering the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs; the U.S. secret war against Castro; the first intelligence reports which pointed to the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba; the intense crisis management and decision-making process in Washington; the military's enforcement of a naval blockade of Cuba and its preparations for a massive invasion; and the agreements reached by John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev that pulled their nations back from the brink of war.

Documents include:

  • Embassy Cable Traffic
  • Internal Briefing Papers
  • Intelligence Reports and Estimates
  • Closed Hearing Testimony
  • Situation Reports
  • New Transcripts of Meetings
  • Secret Letters
  • Minutes of Secret Meetings
  • Classified Internal Histories
  • Confidential Memoranda
  • Oral Histories
  • Press Background Briefings

  • One-Stop Retrieval

    It would take an individual researcher years of work, along with an overwhelming financial commitment, to accumulate the resources offered in this collection. Here is a one-stop retrieval for information on events, issues, and players.

    The core of the collection is comprised of documents from the Department of State, the White House, and the main decision-making body during the crisis: the National Security Council's "Executive Committee" known as the "ExComm." Important additional material comes from:

    Central Intelligence Agency
    Department of Defense
    Joint Chiefs of Staff
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force
    Papers of U.S. Officials
    Defense Intelligence Agency
    United Nations
    Organization of American States

    Unprecedented Access Through In-depth Indexing

    In-depth, document-level indexing gives users an ease and precision of access that is rare for any published manuscript collection, government or non-government. Important transactions within each document are indexed individually. Prepared by the Archive staff, the hard-bound index to names and subjects--designed by indexing specialist David Bearman--is a major historical contribution in itself.

    Also provided are:

    Events chronology
    Glossaries of key individuals and organizations
    Chronological document bibliography
    Bibliography of relevant secondary sources

    Through its documentary breakthroughs and unparalleled access tools, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 allows scholar and student alike to gain remarkable new insights into the premier case study in political decision-making and crisis management.

    Research Vistas

    With its documentary richness and balance of perspectives,the collection opens important research vistas:

  • The complex interplay and continuing tension between political goals and military operations
  • U.S. and Soviet nuclear strategy and the dynamics of nuclear weapons in the international arena
  • U.S. Interagency decision making and "crisis management"
  • A historical reassessment of John F. Kennedy and his Administration's foreign policy
  • The Cuban missile crisis as the seminal event in U.S. relations with Castro's Cuba
  • U.S. perception of Soviet foreign policy and crisis behavior in the Cold War
  • An in-depth look at U.S. intelligence collection and assessment

  • The Collection Will Be a Necessity For:

  • Scholars and students of American government, international relations, and law
  • Scholars and students of nuclear and strategic studies
  • Military strategists and intelligence analysts
  • Latin America and Third World specialists
  • Librarians and bibliographers
  • Policy-makers on all levels
  • Concerned citizens

  • Sample Document Titles

    This is a sampling of the more than 3500 documents included in The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962:


    Title :

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962


    Reproduces on microfiche over 15,000 pages of government documentation, much of it once-classified, pertaining to the events surrounding the Cuban missile crisis.

    Materials were identified, obtained, assembled, and indexed by the National Security Archive, a non-profit research institute and library located in Washington, D.C.


    This title is Number 4 of a reference series, The Making of U.S. Policy and the first of the Nuclear History Series.


    Documents are arranged in a general chronological order. Each document bears a unique accession number, to which all indexing is keyed.


    The documents are reproduced on 35mm silver halide archivally permanent positive microfiche conforming to NMA and BSI standards. Any microfiche found to be physically substandard in any way will be replaced free of charge.


    A two-volume printed Guide, prepared by the National Security Archive, accompanies the microfiche collection. Volume I is an index providing in-depth, document-level access to names, organizations, and subjects.

    Volume II contains an events chronology, glossaries of names and organizations, a chronological document bibliography, and a bibliography of secondary sources.

    Orders and Inquiries

    The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 Editorial Board

    The Editorial Board of The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 reflects the collaborative effort of those who were engaged in the decision-making sessions of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (ExComm) with preeminent scholars of the crisis.

  • Graham Allison
    Dean, John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University)
  • George Ball
    Under Secretary of State (Kennedy Administration); ExComm Member
  • Barton J. Bernstein
    Professor of History, Stanford University
  • James Blight
    Assistant Director, Center for Science and International Affairs (Harvard University)
  • Philip Brenner
    Associate Professor of International Relations, American University
  • C. Douglas Dillon
    Secretary of Treasury (Kennedy Administration); ExComm Member
  • Raymond Garthoff
    Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; State Department Officer during Missile Crisis
  • Richard Ned Lebow
    Professor of Government and Director, Peace Studies Program (Cornell University)
  • Robert S. McNamara
    Secretary of Defense (Kennedy Administration); ExComm Member
  • Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
    Professor of Humanities, City University of New York; White House Aide to President Kennedy
  • Theodore C. Sorenson
    Special Counsel to President Kennedy; ExComm Member
  • William Taubman
    Professor of Political Science, Amherst College
  • National Security Archive Project Editors

    Praise for The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

    "A magnificent achievement. . . The National Security Archive has the essential empirical grounding necessary for the further study of the crisis. It is inconceivable that any serious student of the crisis, the nuclear age, the Kennedy Administration, or US.-Soviet relations in the post-war era would begin a study without the benefit of the Archive's work in the Cuban missile crisis."

    James Blight
    Harvard University
    Co-author, "On the Brink: Americans and Soviets
    Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis"

    Return to National Security Archive Microfiche Sets.