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Maintained by various offices, bureaus, individuals, and committees in the Department of State, the Special Files contain a vast amount ofinformation on a variety of foreign policy subjects. Originally, the Special Files were to contain only reference copies of correspondence, memoranda, minutes ofmeetings, reports, position papers, briefing materials, studies, and other nonrecord material maintained for convenience in office or individual files. Official copies of all permanently valuable State Department records were supposed to be included in the Central Files of the department. World War II and the subsequent Cold War, however, put a heavy strain on the record-keeping system at the department. Also, officials became more reluctant to send particularly sensitive or important records to the more general Central Files. As a result, many original documents, record copies, working papers, drafts, informal notes, and annotated copies of memoranda were incorporated into the Special Files.

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