Pearl Harbor Attack Archives

A collection of digitalized research material covering the December 7, 1941 attack on the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II.

The materials include:

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Papers, United States-Japan Foreign relations history, Department of Defense MAGIC Background of Pearl Harbor documentary history, National Security Agency History of Pearl Harbor Intelligence, Congressional Hearings and Report, United States Military Files, CIA Files, FBI Files, Day After Pearl Harbor "Man on the Street" Interviews, and Pearl Harbor Attack Radio News Broadcasts.

FREE DOWNLOAD - World War II: Pearl Harbor: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Papers

Key FDR Presidential and FDR Administration papers related to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The papers also cover the administration’s internal debate over the decision to intern Japanese Americans.

Highlights include:

A January 21, 1941 letter from Franklin Roosevelt to United States Ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew, explaining his belief that the war raging in Europe and the growing Japanese threat in the Pacific were all part of a “single world conflict.”

An April 4, 1941 memo from Department of the Treasury official Harry Dexter White to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau reflects the tension between the Navy Department, which would have to defend the United States in a war and was concerned about Japan’s growing petroleum reserves, and the State Department, which hoped that free trade in oil would prevent a war by avoiding a direct confrontation with Japan.

A July 15, 1941 memo to FDR from Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall summarizes an intercepted Japanese diplomatic message concerning Japan’s imminent takeover of Indo-China (Vietnam) from the French Vichy regime. Japan’s movement into Indo-China would prompt FDR to impose economic sanctions on Japan and ultimately shut off all exports of oil to Japan.

A December 1, 1941 memo from FDR to Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles. After learning about a massive Japanese troop buildup in Indo-China, President Roosevelt instructs his top diplomats to immediately learn the intentions behind the Japanese Government’s latest move. FDR discusses the obvious parallels between Japan’s actions in the Pacific and Germany’s actions in Europe.

A copy of an early December 7, 1941 message from the Department of the Navy sent to President Roosevelt informing him of the attack. In his own hand, President Roosevelt has indicated the date and time he received it.

A December 7, 1941 diary entry by cabinet member Claude Wickard, gives detail about the discussions that took place at the White House in a Cabinet meeting following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Wickard notes a confrontation between the President and Secretary of State Cordell Hull over the length of Roosevelt’s proposed address to Congress, which would become known as the Day of Infamy Speech, and the explosive meeting with Congressional leaders that followed.

"A date which will live in infamy" speech, includes both the reading copy of the speech and an early draft which includes copious handwritten notations and changes to one of the most famous American speeches of the twentieth century. The earlier draft shows that the line in the speech originally was, "A date which will live in world history," and later changed at the suggestion of on aid to "A date which will live in infamy."

A December 10, 1941 letter and accompanying maps sent to FDR by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover showing the locations of the 1,212 Japanese aliens considered to be disloyal or dangerous who were arrested by the Bureau within 48 hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Additional maps gave the locations of the 620 German and 98 Italian aliens taken into custody.

Other Pearl Harbor Collections:

World War II: Pearl Harbor Attack: White House War Room Military Files - Download

United States - Japan Foreign Relations 1931 to 1941 Document Transcripts

MAGIC Army Interception of Japanese Communications

World War II: Pearl Harbor Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC) Documents

World War II: Pearl Harbor: National Security Agency CIA, and Military Documents

Congressional Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack

World War II: Pearl Harbor Congressional Investigation Reports, Hearings & Documents

Day After Pearl Harbor "Man on the Street" Interviews and Pearl Harbor Attack Radio News Broadcasts.

World War II: Pearl Harbor Spy Bernard Kuehn FBI File

Pearl Harbor Attack Photography

World War II: Pearl Harbor Attack Damage Reports & Photos

Congressional Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack

21,815 pages of hearings, exhibits and the final report of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

On August 29, 1945, President Harry Truman released army and navy investigation reports which found commanders in Washington, especially former secretary of state Cordell Hull and army chief of staff General George Marshall, largely responsible for the lack of preparedness at Pearl Harbor. Congress postponed an investigation while the nation was at war.

Germany’s surrender on April 8, and the formal surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, created an opportunity for Congress to act. Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley was the first to call for action, presenting a Senate resolution on September 6, 1945. He urged the creation of a joint investigatory committee to explore the “contradictions and inconsistencies” within the preceding reports. The Senate unanimously approved Barkley’s Concurrent Resolution 27 the same day and the House concurred on September 11, creating the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, commonly known as the Pearl Harbor Committee.

The Committee's goal was to "make a full and complete investigation of the facts relating to the events and circumstances leading up to or following the attack." (S. Con. Res. 27, 79th Cong.) In its investigation, the committee sought to determine whether shortcomings or failures on the U.S. side might have contributed to the disaster and, if so, to suggest changes that might protect the country from another such tragedy in the future. The committee's public hearings ran from November of 1945 through May of 1946, the committee heard testimony in the Senate Caucus Room from 44 people, including top level military commanders such as Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short, and former ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew and former Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

News media accounts often characterized the committee as politically divided, featuring headlines such as: “Angry Senators Debate on ‘Records’ of Pearl Harbor,” and “GOP Senators Say Democrats Block Pearl Harbor Probe.”

This collection is composed of the committee’s final report and the hearings transcripts and exhibits, volumes 1 to 39.

United States - Japan Foreign Relations 1931 to 1941 Document Transcripts

3,010 pages of transcriptions of diplomatic papers comprised of three volumes of the Department of State's Foreign Relations of the United States series.

The documents published in these volumes were selected by the Historical Division of the Department of State with the intention of presenting a comprehensive record of the diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan in regard to matters related to the causes of conflict between the two countries from the beginning of the Japanese occupation of Manchuria on September 18, 1931, to the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941,and the declaration of war by the United States on December 8, 1941.

The documents include: notes, diplomatic correspondences, telegrams, memorandums of conversations, memorandums of meetings and reports.

The correspondents include Secretaries of State of the United States, United States ambassadors in Japan, Prime Ministers of Japan, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Japanese Ambassadors in the United States.

The topics covered in these diplomatic papers include:

Occupation of Manchuria by Japan and statement of policy by the United States

Military action by Japan at Shanghai, 1932

Further Japanese political and economic penetration into China, 1934-1936.

Denunciation by Japan of the Washington naval treaty of 1922

Withdrawal of Japan from the London Naval Conference of 1935

Refusal by Japan to agree to limitation of gun caliber for battleships

Rejection by Japan of American, British, and French proposals for the reciprocal exchange of naval construction information

Refusal by Japan to grant the privilege of naval visits of courtesy to United States ships on a reciprocal basis into certain territorial waters

Japan's undeclared war in China and further Japanese penetration by armed force or threat of force.

Bombings of civilians by the Japanese and other acts endangering the life and welfare of American citizens in China

Sinking of the U.S.S. Panay, December 12, 1937

Acts of Japan in occupied China interfering with American treaty rights and equality of commercial opportunity

Statements by the Secretary of State of the policy of the United States to relinquish by agreement extraterritorial rights in China.

Growing tension between the United States and Japan arising from Japanese military aggression: 1939 to 1941

Relations of Japan with the European Axis Powers

Abrogation by the United States of the treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and Japan signed February 21, 1911

Economic measures by the United States affecting trade with Japan

Extension of Japanese penetration into Southern Asia and South Pacific territories

Informal conversations between the Governments of the United States and Japan

Efforts to reach a peaceful settlement between the United States and Japan preceding attack by Japan on American territory, December 7, 1941

Wartime cooperation among the United States, the British Empire, China, and the Netherlands after December 7th decision of the Soviet Union to remain neutral in the Pacific War

Freezing of Japanese assets in the United States

Relations of Japan with the Axis Powers and with the Soviet Union.

Pearl Harbor Attack Photography

300 photographs of the Pearl Harbor attack archived on CD-ROM. United States Navy photography of Pearl Harbor, before, during, and after the Japanese attack of the December 7, 1941. Many of the photographs were classified as secret at the time they were taken. Includes several photographs taken by the Japanese navy. Also included is 30 additional images of messages and dispatches sent from Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack.

World War II: Pearl Harbor Spy Bernard Kuehn FBI File

777 pages of FBI Files covering the convicted Pearl Harbor spy Bernard Julius Otto Kuehn.

The first documented attention the FBI gave to Bernard Kuehn is shown in a February 11, 1939 FBI memo sent to J. Edgar Hoover where he is described as an "advanced student of Japanese language - entertain lavishly, particularly army officers - no apparent source of income - own two homes - one very large. Mysterious as to length of stay and reason for residing in Hawaii. Defend Hitler in clever manner.” The memo mentions the FBI’s lack of having a Special Agent in Charge in Hawaii.

The FBI office in Hawaii was closed in 1934. It reopened in 1937, but was closed again in 1938. The FBI bureau in Hawaii reopened and remained open in August 1939 under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Shivers. Shivers immediately began investigating the possibility that there were Japanese spies working in Hawaii.

Very soon the Bureau was suspicious of Kuehn. He had questionable contacts with the Germans and Japanese. He'd lavishly entertained U.S. military officials and expressed interest in their work. He had two houses in Hawaii, but no real job. Investigations by the Bureau and the Army, though, never turned up definite proof of his spying.

Bernard Kuehn, a member of the Nazi party, was offered a job by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, working for Japanese intelligence in Hawaii. Kuehn moved to Honolulu with his family on August 15, 1935. In November 1941, Kuehn had offered to provide intelligence on U.S. warships in Hawaiian waters to the Japanese consulate in Hawaii. On December 2, 1941, Kuehn provided a report with specific and highly accurate details on the U.S. fleet to the Japanese consulate.

Kuehn had set up a complex system of signals all worked out to pass information to nearby Japanese submarines. Bed sheets on clothes lines. Lights in dormer windows. Car headlights. A boat with a star on its sail.

Among the eight signals Kuehn set-up were; A light shining in the dormer window of his Oahu house from 9 to 10 p.m., for example, meant that U.S. aircraft carriers had sailed. A linen sheet hanging on a clothes line at his home on Lanikai Beach between 10 and 11 a.m. meant the battle force had left the harbor.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Japanese documents were captured that mentioned the set of signals. The clues pointed to Kuehn and he was arrested. He gave a confession but denied ever sending coded signals.

On February 21, 1942, 76 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bernard Kuehn was found guilty by a military tribunal of spying and sentenced to be shot "by musketry" in Honolulu. His sentence was later reduced to 50 years of hard labor after he provided information about the Japanese and German spy networks. After World War II ended, Kuehn was deported to Germany.

MAGIC Army Interception of Japanese Communications

The 3,110 page, 8 volume Department of Defense study, "The MAGIC Background of Pearl Harbor."

By the fall of 1940 United States Army cryptanalysts had solved some of the Japanese Foreign Office's highest grade cryptographic systems. The interception, decryption and translation, on a current basis, of secret Japanese world-wide diplomatic messages then began. The information the United States derived from this source, designated MAGIC, was highly classified and closely guarded. It went to only a few of the highest-level United States officials. It is important to note that MAGIC could only read Japan’s diplomatic code, not its military code.

In 1977, The Department of Defense released to the public this multi-volume study of the "MAGIC" or communications intelligence background related to the 1941 Pearl Harbor disaster. In its review of classified records pursuant to E.O. 11652, the Department of Defense decided that it was in the public interest to declassify the intelligence which the U.S. obtained from the communications of its World War II enemies. This study contains a major part of the communications intelligence which the U.S. derived from intercepted Japanese communications during 1941.

The volumes contain intelligence concerning Japanese secret plans, policies, and activities which U.S. cryptologic specialists produced. Attention should be given to important material in this study that correlates the intelligence with the discussions of Secretary of State Hull and Japanese Ambassador Nomura in the critical months before Pearl Harbor.

World War II: Pearl Harbor Attack Damage Reports & Photos

165 pages of reports and photographs of damage done during the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Much of this material was classified until 1994. The War Damage Reports classification was cancelled by authority of OPNAVINST S5513.16 on 12 September 1994.


126 pages of text of torpedo and bomb damage reports related to the vessels U.S.S. Honolulu (CL-48), U.S.S. Oglala (ARG-1), U.S.S. Helena (CL-50), U.S.S. Helm (DD-388), U.S.S. Raleigh (CL-7), U.S.S. Curtiss (AV-4), U.S.S. Vestal (AR-4), U.S.S Pennsylvania (BB-38), and U.S.S. Tennessee (BB-43). Also includes the reports Submarine Report - Depth Charge, Bomb, Mine, Torpedo and Gunfire Damage, Including Losses in Action - December 7, 1941 to August 15, 1956 and Summary of War Damage - U.S. Battleships, Carriers, Cruisers and Destroyers, October 17, 1941 to December 7, 1942.


39 report pages of images of damage suffered during the Pearl Harbor attack. The 39 pages contain 45 discernable images.

World War II: Pearl Harbor Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC) Documents

World War II: Pearl Harbor Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC) Report and Commanding Officers' Narratives

850 pages, February 1942 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC) report and commanding officers' narratives covering the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

The report titled, "Report of Raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December, 1941," was completed and submitted to the Secretary of the Navy on February 15, 1942. The actual pages of this particular report were not officially declassified until January 2013. This report covers the activities of the U. S. Pacific Fleet. Prior to 2002, the Combatant Commander of United States Pacific Command held the title of Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC).

A significant section of the report contains the first-hand accounts contained within the narratives submitted by commanding officers of the events of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The report's narrative and the accompanying graphic representations are divided into five phases. The report points out that this is arbitrary and does not properly express the continuous action which occurred on the morning of December 7, 1941, but the division does give clarity to the narrative.

The timeline divisions are:

Phase I - 0755-0825 Combined torpedo plane and dive bomber attacks.
Phase II - 0825-0840 Lull in attacks.
Phase III - 0840-0915 Horizontal bomber attacks.
Phase IV - 0915-0945 Dive bomber attacks.
Phase V - 0945 Waning of attacks and completion of Raid.

This report is divided into four parts:

Part I - Organization.

Part II - Situation in Pearl Harbor Just prior to Japanese Raid, 7 December, 1941.

Part III - Narrative of events during Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December, 1941, with graphic representations.

Part IV - Casualty Report; Damage Report; Ammunition Report; Recommendations for awards; Narrative Reports of Commanding Officers; Enclosures.

Material in the report includes:

Chart Diagrams showing Phase I to Phase V of Pearl Harbor Raid

Chart Diagram showing plots of Enemy Planes shot down by Anti-aircraft fire

Chart Diagram showing ship sorties made on 7 December, 1941

Composite Chart Diagram of entire action

Photograph of Enemy Horizontal Bombers

Damage Report - Ships

Damage Report - Aircraft

Narrative Reports of Commanding officers

Chart Reports of Commanding Officers

World War II: Pearl Harbor: National Security Agency CIA, and Military Documents - Download

664 pages of NSA monographs related to the Pearl Harbor attack. The histories include:

West Wind Clear: Cryptology and the Winds Message Controversy a Documentary History

Some people have questioned whether the American Government and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had advance information about Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and was this fact later suppressed, either to conceal incompetence or because the President wanted an act of aggression to force America into war with the Axis Powers?

One of the significant topics brought up by those that are critical of the conventional view of the attack and the Roosevelt administration’s role in it has been the phenomenon of the so-called “Winds Message”, Japan’s code phrase to advise its diplomats abroad that an attack on America was imminent. In West Wind Clear: Cryptology and the Winds Message Controversy – a Documentary History, the National Security Agency’s Center for Cryptologic History has tackled the complex history of this message, when it was sent, and why its existence or non-existence has exercised the imaginations of academics, amateur historians, and conspiracy buffs since the 1940s.

This monograph includes key documents, some never before published, dealing with the voluminous Japanese signals traffic leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack and the timing of signals interception and decoding. This assemblage of documents, supplemented by the author’s clear guide to their meaning, places the reader right in the middle of the behind-the-scenes events and helps the scholar and researcher to follow them closely.

The authors Robert Hanyok and David Mowry from the NSA's Center for Cryptologic History have made a significant contribution to our knowledge and understanding of two of the event’s controversies, the Winds Message and the state of U.S. communications intelligence prior to the Hawaiian attack.

Pearl Harbor Revisited: United States Navy Communications Intelligence, 1924-1941

This monograph tells the story of the U.S. Navy's communications intelligence (COMINT) effort between 1924 and 1941. It also illustrates an organization plagued from its inception by shortages in money, manpower, and equipment, total absence of a secure, dedicated communications system, little real support or tasking from higher command authorities, and major imbalances between collection and processing capabilities. The author presents the view that in 1941, as a result of these problems, compounded by the stresses and exigencies of the time, the effort misplaced its focus from Japanese Navy traffic to Japanese diplomatic messages. The author believes that if Navy cryptanalysts been ordered to concentrate on the Japanese naval messages rather than Japanese diplomatic traffic, the United States would have had a much clearer picture of the Japanese military buildup and, with the warning provided by these messages, might have avoided the disaster of Pearl Harbor.

A History of U.S. Communications Intelligence during World War II: Policy and Administration

The objective of this study is to provide an authentic and reliable guide to U.S. communications intelligence (COMINT) during World War II. The monograph focuses on high-level policy, administration, and organization, showing how communications intelligence was controlled and directed by each service and how these services related to each other and to their British counterparts.

Also included is an article from the NSA's journal Cyptologic Quarterly, "What Every Cryptologist Should Know about Pearl Harbor."

United States Military Files

249 pages of various reports and monographs concerning Pearl Harbor. The documents include: Headquarters Hawaiian Intercept Command Report of Enemy Activity over Oahu, 7 December 1941; U.S.S. Enterprise after action report of December 7, 1941; Hickam Field summary report; A report on the attack at Bellows Field, Hawaii; The December 7, 1945 issue of the Hickam Field newsletter, marking the 4th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The Military Intelligence Service report, "Japanese land operations (from Japanese sources) 8 Dec. 41 to 8 Jun. 42." This report of Japanese land operations during the first 6 months of the war was written by a military observer during the period of his confinement with the American Embassy in Tokyo, from December 7 until June 17, 1942. The information on which it is based was drawn entirely from Japanese sources: official bulletins, news reports, speeches, radio commentaries, magazine articles, and accounts of personal experiences written by officers and men at the front.

"Staff Ride Handbook for the Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941: A Study of Defending America." A Staff Ride is a systematic analysis of a battlefield site. It is a military academic activity that involves booth the study of a battle and a visit to the actual location to learn the impact of geography, weather and other physical influences on those events as well as using the location as a source of inspiration.

LTC Jeffrey Gudmens’ 2005 handbook on Pearl Harbor allows individuals and organizations to study this battle not only in the context of the Japanese attack, but also in the context of issues that are relevant to the current global war on terror. In addition to analyzing the actual attack, Gudmens also enables users of this work to examine the problems associated with conducting joint planning and operations between the US Army, the Army Air Forces, and the US Navy. He also provides insights into the problems of a Homeland Security environment in which intelligence operatives from a foreign nation (and potentially even recent immigrants from that foreign nation who are now US citizens) can operate with little hindrance in a free and open democratic society.

CIA Files

40 pages of CIA files related to the Pearl Harbor attack. Includes a 1946 report ascertaining the role, achievements, and shortcomings of intelligence in connection with the attack on Pearl Harbor. A modern CIA journal article titled, "Pearl Harbor: Estimating Then and Now." A 1993 CIA book review of a book about Pearl Harbor that the CIA reviewer called "the most objective examination of the intelligence failure culminated at Pearl Harbor yet published."

Day After Pearl Harbor "Man on the Street" Interviews and Pearl Harbor Attack Radio News Broadcasts

Five hours on "Man on the Street" interviews, audio recordings and transcripts, conducted the day after the Pearl Harbor attack.

In early December 1941, eighteen fieldworkers in fourteen states and the District of Columbia were collecting recordings of American folk music for the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Songs. The project was overseen by Alan Lomax, who at the time was “assistant in charge" of the Archive of American Folk Song.

On December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lomax sent a telegram to the fieldworkers asking them to collect "man-on-the-street" reactions of ordinary Americans to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of war by the United States.