Records of the Foreign Affairs Agencies in the National Archives Bearing on the History of United States Relations with Africa-III: Records of Agencies Other Than the Department of State

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

At the 1969 National Archives Conference on the National Archives and Foreign Relations Research, the proceedings of which were published in 1974,[1] Morris Rieger, a longtime National Archives staff member, contributed a paper entitled “Sources in the National Archives Bearing on the History of African-American Relations.” Since that time, the National Archives has accessioned a huge volume of additional records, rendering his important essay out of date.

This is the third of four parts. It updates those portions of Rieger’s essay dealing with the records of foreign affairs agencies other than the Department of State. It includes discussion of the records of agencies not represented in the National Archives in 1969.

The holdings of the National Archives bearing on the history of American relations with Africa are very rich—so much so that in the brief space avail­able it is possible to attempt only an overview.

From the very nature of archival sources it should be clear that the National Archives contains no separate collection of materials on Africa; rather, such materials are located among the records of federal departments and agencies. The Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies, of course, take first place among them.

  1. RECORDS OF AGENCIES OTHER THAN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Numerous temporary agencies established during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War dealt with affairs in Africa within the specific framework of their own functions. The records of those agencies in the National Archives reflect this.

The propaganda agency of the United States during World War II was the Office of War Information (OWI). The records of that agency now constitute RG 208: Records of the Office of War Information. Its Mediterranean-Africa Region Informa­tional File contains OWI “outpost,” monitoring, intelligence, and research reports from and about the region. There is also on file documentation of OWI policies with respect to Africa and copies of news stories and record­ings of broadcasts directed there.

After World War II, the Department of State handled international propaganda and public diplomacy activities, and records on those functions will be found in the records of that agency described above. To consolidate all the foreign information activities of the U.S. Government into one program, the United States Information Agency (USIA) was established on August 1, 1953.  Records of that agency constitute RG 306: Records of the United States Information Agency. In addition to records of executive direction, there are records of functional offices (examples include the Information Center Service and Press and Publications Service) and geographic offices such as the Office of Near East, South Asia, and Africa. Continue reading

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Records of the Foreign Affairs Agencies in the National Archives Bearing on the History of United States Relations with Africa-II: Records of the Department of State, part 2

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

At the 1969 National Archives Conference on the National Archives and Foreign Relations Research, the proceedings of which were published in 1974,[1] Morris Rieger, a longtime National Archives staff member, contributed a paper entitled “Sources in the National Archives Bearing on the History of African-American Relations.” Since that time, the National Archives has accessioned a huge volume of additional records, rendering his important essay out of date.

This is the second of four parts. It updates those portions of Rieger’s essay dealing with the records of the Department of State (Foreign Service Post files, specialized record groups, and records of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace). It includes discussion of the records not in the National Archives in 1969.

The holdings of the National Archives bearing on the history of American relations with Africa are very rich—so much so that in the brief space avail­able it is possible to attempt only an overview.

From the very nature of archival sources it should be clear that the National Archives contains no separate collection of materials on Africa; rather, such materials are located among the records of federal departments and agencies. The Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies, of course, take first place among them.

  1. RECORDS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, part 2

The third major group consists of the field records of the department, which constitute RG 84: Records of Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State. In general, the post files provide the same kinds of information concerning American relations with Africa as do the headquarters records; indeed, much of the documentation found in post files consists of the overseas copies of documents found in headquarters files. They often, however, contain additional documentation of research value that had not been transmitted to Washing­ton with the reports to which they relate. The information on Africa is found in concentrated form among the files of the diplomatic posts in European metropole capitals and the records of American embassies and lega­tions in independent African countries in those of U.S. consular posts throughout the continent. The National Archives now has in its custody rec­ords of diplomatic posts in the metropoles as follows: Belgium; France; Germany; Great Britain; Italy; Portugal; and Spain. Also available are records of U.S. embassies and legations in all the countries in Africa as well as the consulates opened in Africa even before the coming of independence. The earliest diplomatic posts are Egypt; Ethiopia; Liberia; Morocco; and the Union of South Africa. The dates of these diplomatic and consular records range from the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century to the 1970s: those of Tunis, for example, begin in 1795, of Zanzibar in 1834, of Capetown in 1835, and of Monrovia in 1856.  Also included in this record group are the records of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations (USUN). Given that many issues relating to Africa have come before the UN, the records of that mission will include records of interest. Continue reading

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Records of the Foreign Affairs Agencies in the National Archives Bearing on the History of United States Relations with Africa-I: Records of the Department of State, part 1

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

At the 1969 National Archives Conference on the National Archives and Foreign Relations Research, the proceedings of which were published in 1974,[1] Morris Rieger, a longtime National Archives staff member, contributed a paper entitled “Sources in the National Archives Bearing on the History of African-American Relations.” Since that time, the National Archives has accessioned a huge volume of additional records, rendering his important essay out of date.

This is the first of four parts. It updates those portions of Rieger’s essay dealing with the records of the Department of State (treaties and headquarters records). It includes discussion of the records not in the National Archives in 1969 and an expanded discussion of records on the domestic civil rights struggle.

The holdings of the National Archives bearing on the history of American relations with Africa are very rich—so much so that in the brief space avail­able it is possible to attempt only an overview.

From the very nature of archival sources it should be clear that the National Archives contains no separate collection of materials on Africa; rather, such materials are located among the records of federal departments and agencies. The Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies, of course, take first place among them.

  1. RECORDS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, part 1

Department of State records pertaining to relations with Africa are found in five major groupings. The first of these, the treaty series, covers the period from 1778 to 1995 and includes treaties with African states or with European states dealing with African territories or Africa-related matters, together with associated documentation and maps. These records are found in RG 11: General Records of the U.S. Government. There are several major categories of Africa-related treaties: (1) “peace and friendship” treaties (all with the various Barbary States between 1786 and 1836); (2) commer­cial treaties (with Muscat and Zanzibar, 1833; Madagascar, 1867 and 1881; Orange Free State, 1871; Egypt, 1884; Congo Free State, 1891, and Ethiopia, 1903 and 1914); (3) antislave trade treaties (two with Great Britain, in 1842—the Webster-Ashburton Treaty—and in 1870; and one in 1890 with the European powers multilaterally—the Statute of Brussels);  (4) treaties defining United States rights in the post-World War I Afri­can mandates (seven between 1923 and 1925 with the mandatory powers: England, France, and Belgium); and (5) treaties delineating the formal U.S. relationship with countries in Africa since their independence. Other important treaties include that of 1884 recognizing the flag of the International Congo Association (which soon afterwards became the Congo Free State), the Algeciras Convention of 1906 regarding Morocco, and the 1919 Versailles multilateral agreement regulating the liquor traffic in Africa. While the treaties themselves are found in RG 11, the documentation relating to the negotiation of the treaties will be found among the records of the Department of State described below. Continue reading

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Thomas Jefferson and the Case of the Missing Letters

Today’s post is written by Jackie Kilby, Archives Technician at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

After a meeting with President George Washington in Mount Vernon on October 1, 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson rode off to Alexandria. It was only later that day did he realize he “unfortunately dropped… some papers… [on] the road between Mount Vernon and Alexandria,” as stated in his letter to James Madison.[1] At this time Madison was a Representative in the House for the State of Virginia.

On October 7, 1792, President George Washington received a package from a neighbor, who so graciously returned Jefferson’s papers that were “found in the Road.” Washington sent one letter in the stack of papers to the Alexandria post office, and then forwarded the rest to Jefferson to “relieve [Jefferson’s] anxiety.”

gw-to-tj-10-7-1792-page-1

Letter from President George Washington to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, October 7, 1792. Letters Received (Misc Letters), October 1 THRU December 31, 1792 (NAID 16972482).

The letter that Washington had mailed to the Alexandria post office was from James Madison to Daniel Carroll, a plantation owner and former Continental Congressman from Maryland. It is unknown what this letter contained, but in the preceding and following letters between Madison and Carroll, they discussed current situations with the Federal City [Washington, D.C.], Carroll’s possible return to the Maryland State Government as a Legislator, and even the public debt incurred by the newly formed Government. So it can be assumed the letter mailed off by Washington contained information of a sensitive, but not confidential, nature. Soon after Jefferson lost the letters, he informed Carroll of the dropped papers and that a letter from Madison was among them. Carroll then wrote to Madison on October 1, 1792, saying he was aware that Jefferson lost Madison’s most recent letter, and that the letter would “probably be recovered.” [2] Continue reading

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Japanese American Evacuee Property Letters

Today’s post is written by Jana Leighton, an Archivist in the Electronic Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

On February 19, 1942, two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 that allowed the Secretary of War to designate military areas and order evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security.[i] On March 13, 1942, the Portland Branch of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank’s Evacuee Property Department was established in response to this executive order and was part of the Evacuee Property Program. The program originally fell under the control of the Wartime Civil Control Administration. However, President Roosevelt then issued Executive Order 9102 establishing the War Relocation Authority, and the Evacuee Property Program ultimately came under that agency’s organizational authority.

The Series “Portland Branch Evacuee Files” is part of Record Group 210: The Records of the War Relocation Authority. It contains the documents created by or for the branch while fulfilling its role as fiscal agent for properties and goods (other than farms and farm machinery) of Germans, Italians, Japanese, and Japanese Americans affected by the evacuations from the west coast of the United States of America during World War II. The Reserve Bank was to assist evacuees in disposing of property holdings, protect them from fraud, forced sales, and unscrupulous creditors, in addition to arrange for orderly liquidation of business and property interests while coming under the authority set out by the establishment of the War Relocation Authority.[ii]

This meant the bank representatives regularly interacted with those being affected by the evacuation orders. Many of these interactions dealt with trying to navigate liquidation, leasing, and giving general financial information. While the series contains reports, interviews, and case files pertaining to the property of individuals, families and businesses impacted by the involuntary evacuation and relocation due to their foreign national status or Japanese ancestry, I believe the correspondence brings into focus the people who lived through this period.

Shown below is a series of letters between Hood River Valley resident Ray Sato (evacuated to Pinedale Assembly Center and interned at Tule Lake Relocation Camp)[iii] and Federal Reserve Bank Portland Branch employees (Mr. S.A. MacEachron and R.E. Everson) before the ordered evacuations of Oregon. In his letters Sato describes the uncertainty his family felt about when they would be ordered to leave their home and livelihood as well as specific questions concerning property.

portland-letters-blog-images_pages-from-port_01_034__page_05

Letter from T. Sato (by Ray Sato) to R.E. Everson, March 18, 1942, p. 1.

Continue reading

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Nikita Khrushchev’s Memoirs: Part III

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

As noted in a previous post, Little, Brown and Company issued a second set of memoirs in 1974. The book was called KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS: The LAST TESTAMENT.[1] Prior to publication of the book, Time magazine published highlights.

As with the earlier memoir, this, too, was of interest to American officials. As Time published the two parts of its summary, the Department of State sent the following telegrams to the U.S. embassies in Moscow, all other European countries, and Japan; the U.S. Mission to NATO; the U.S. Liaison Office in China; and the military commands for the Pacific and Atlantic. The telegrams provided a summary and assessment of the new memoir.

“. . . [I]t is clear that despite his criticisms, Khrushchev remained both a Communist and a Soviet patriot to the end of his days.” Continue reading

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The Dissent Channel of the Department of State

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

In recent weeks we have seen and heard many media reports mentioning the DISSENT CHANNEL of the Department of State. Most stories note that it finds its origins in the controversies over U.S. policy in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s, but provide little other explanation.

While the issue of policy in Vietnam played a part in establishing the Dissent Channel, this special procedure for providing policy-makers with alternative views and recommendations outside the normal channels for the discussion of policies was a direct outgrowth of the management reform activities carried out in the Department in 1970 culminating in the report Diplomacy for the 70’s: A Program of Management Reform for the Department of State. Among other things, those reforms were aimed at creating an atmosphere of openness and stimulating creativity. Not all of the reports recommendations were carried out, but establishment of the Dissent Channel was one significant result.[1]

The following are the foundational documents of the Dissent Channel.

The first announcement of the Dissent Channel came in the following telegram of November 4, 1971, sent by the Department of State to all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts.[2]

 

To clarify procedures for submitting dissent messages and to explain how those messages would be handled, the Department sent the following airgram to all U.S. diplomatic and consular posts.[3]

 

In a memorandum of December 15, 1971, Secretary of State William P. Rogers designated the Policy and Coordination Staff as the action office for the Dissent Channel. Today, that office’s successor, the Policy Planning Staff, continues to serve as the action office.[4]


Sources

[1] Documentation on Department of State management reform is in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume II: Organization and Management of U.S, Foreign Policy, 1969-1972. See documents 312, 321-326, 329, 332, 338, 339, and 346.

[2] Department of State to All Diplomatic and Consular Posts, Telegram 201473, November 4, 1971, file CR 4, 1970-73 Subject-Numeric File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

[3] Department of State to All Diplomatic and Consular Posts, A-3559, April 8, 1972, file PER 15-8, 1970-73 Subject-Numeric File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

[4] Secretary of State William P. Rogers to William Cargo, Director, Policy and Coordination Staff, memorandum, December 15, 1971, file PER 15-8, 1970-73 Subject-Numeric File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

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Nikita Khrushchev’s Memoirs: Part II

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

As noted in the previous post, Little, Brown and Company published the memoir of Nikita Khrushchev, KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS, in late December 1970.[1] The question of authenticity of the book was of interest to all readers, but critically important to American officials in order to assess its value for an understanding of the Soviet Union.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s WEEKLY SUMMARY of December 18, 1970, discussed publication of the book as follows:[2]

“The publication of Khrushchev’s reminiscences has returned to the limelight after six years the figure of the quirky, dynamic former leader, and with it . . . the Soviet leadership’s problem of Stalin’s image.”

In mid-December 1970, Hedley Donovan, editor-in-chief at Little, Brown and Company, publisher of KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS, sent Secretary of State William Rogers an advance copy of the book. In forwarding the book to the Secretary, the Department’s Bureau of European Affairs wrote: Continue reading

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Nikita Khrushchev’s Memoirs: Part I

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

In November 1970, the world was surprised by the announcement of the upcoming publication of the memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, deposed leader of the Soviet Union. Time, Inc. reported that it had acquired the material which it planned to serialize in shortened form in the magazine Life and to publish in full as a book issued by Little, Brown and Co. The articles appeared in late November and early December and the book, KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS, came out in late December.[1] Khrushchev died in September 1971. Time magazine and Little, Brown issued a second set of memoirs, KHRUSHCHEV REMEMBERS: THE LAST TESTAMENT, in 1974.[2]

Time, Inc. provided no details on how it came into possession of the text other than to say that it was smuggled out of the USSR. The translator/editor for both parts of the project was Strobe Talbott, then a journalist with the Time organization. Talbott later served as Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001. To create the magazine articles and books, Talbott took disjointed manuscripts and turned them into coherent memoirs, organizing and condensing the original texts.

Recognizing that questions of authenticity would arise, the first book was published with the following statement: “The publisher is convinced beyond any doubt, and has taken pains to confirm, that this is an authentic record of Nikita Khrushchev’s words.” Nevertheless, there was controversy over the genuineness of the material and Khrushchev himself issued what can only be considered a non-denial denial. The second volume went into more detail on both the source of the memoirs and the process of authentication, but still offered little on how the materials came out of the USSR.

As with any self-portrait, the finished product has limitations. There are omissions, evasions, errors of memory, deceptions, and self-justifications. Given the nature of secrecy about the inner workings of the Soviet government, however, publication of Khrushchev’s memoir, if genuine, was of paramount interest to the U.S. Government. Continue reading

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Caleb Brewster

Today’s post is written by Jackie Kilby, Archives Technician at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

After the end of the American Revolutionary War numerous veterans were disabled, or invalid, and petitioned for pensions to the United States Congress and/or their State Governments.  One such person was Caleb Brewster, a name made recognizable by the television show Turn: Washington’s Spies, as played by Daniel Henshall, and the book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring, by Alexander Rose.

Caleb Brewster was essential to the communication of the Culper Spy Ring, as he coordinated the exchange of intelligence and instructions between Major Benjamin Tallmadge and General George Washington and the spy ring.  Brewster did not join the Intelligence Service until 1778, but joined the Revolutionary War effort in 1776.

Caleb Brewster was injured on December 7, 1782 during a naval exchange with British troops on Long Island Sound.  He was hit by a musket ball through his shoulder, or “breast,” as he described in his letter to President George Washington.  Due to this injury he was placed on an invalid list.  After the end of the war, Brewster was supposed to receive a pension through the Continental Congress, and then the United States Congress. Continue reading

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