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, 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that time, the National Archives has accessioned a huge volume of additional records, rendering his important essay out of date.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.
- 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