Sitting in the reading rooms of the Public Record Office in London, a historian is in the center of a museum of organization. Copies of the catalogue to the museum fill several walls (although these are now complemented by online versions). The catalogue lists are dominated by references to objects of one kind: the file. The file has in its lifetime been registered at least twice: once by the government body that produced it and once by the Public Record Office when, after surviving many reviews considering its historical worth, it was selected as worthy of being kept for posterity. If the file is more than 30 years old, the historian notes the latter number, types it into a computer terminal, and waits a while for the pager to beep, indicating that the file has arrived at the collection desk. Although it might be weeded for duplicate or sensitive papers, the file the historian sees is usually the same artefact handled by civil servants and politicians. Typically the file has a card cover, its ruled jacket bearing the signatures of those who have handled it. Inside are notes, letters, minutes, memoranda, or reports, often ordered chronologically and annotated as work was done. At this point nearly every historian forgets about the form of the file and reads the content.1 This historian did not, and the book that follows is the result.