A dossier is a collection of different documents on a particular topic. These bundled documents are mostly held together by a solid cover. Such a dossier contains different information on the respective topic, with no specification of which information is combined. Accordingly, economic reports, reports, minutes, statements, essays and the like may be included in the dossier. This term also means a kind of time article (newspaper dossier). They prepare information from files, and a bundling of several newspaper articles, reports, interviews, portraits or similar on a topic in magazines (often as a special supplement) is named as a dossier.
The term goes back to the French noun dossier and can be translated with file, file bundle or even collection book. Consequently, the translation of the word already describes what is at stake: the concentration of individual documents [on a specific topic]. Such a dossier may, for example, be drawn up for the purpose of assessing the economic development of a business or the functioning of an institution. The individual documents are often summarized in a final report and possibly explained according to certain criteria for the future reader.
Image example of a dossier
Note: Sample dossier, picture: Follain Kiwi 2010, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0
Above all, in military and state contexts, secret files are created, which are usually subject to secrecy. These may include psychological expert opinions on politicians, as well as reports on the development of a country and the like.
An example of such a secret dossier can be given by a document drawn up by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1943 about the dictator Adolf Hitler. The head of the OSS, Donovan, commissioned the psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer to create a personality profile.
For this, Langer interviewed numerous people who came to the United States from this time. Among them were Eduard Bloch (doctor of the mother Hitler), Ernst Hanfstaengl and the former Auslandspressechef of the National Socialists as well as William Patrick Hitler. From the information given in his interviews and some of his own investigations, Langer drew up a profile of the dictator, which included the probable behavior in the future and was also part of a dossier.
Excerpt from the secret about Hitler (clicks on!)
With regard to newspapers, the term means two things: on the one hand, articles of the newspaper, reports, interviews, portraits or the like are often bundled together and published under a special theme as a special subject, with prepared articles from file material being marked as dossiers.
Furthermore, numerous online editions of the current print media characterize the virtual provision of contributions, which were originally freely available and are now to be purchased at a fee, as a dossier. Such collections are, for example, on the website of the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Short overview: The most important overview of the dossier
In general, a dossier is the collection of various documents on a topic. A final report is often found in dossiers, which evaluates the collected documents or brings them into a judicial context.
Especially in governmental contexts so-called secret files are made. These may include personality profiles and documents for the economic and military development of a country, or similar, but are subject to strict secrecy and therefore a high level of security.
As a journalistic text, the term means primarily special supplements to a specific topic, which can consist of very different material, or also recycled archive material, as well as once free online content, which are now payable.
Note: Synonymous with the dossier, the terms “files, files, collections, documents, documents, fascicles, documents, documents and documents” can be used.