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The OSS Records at the National Archives
As noted in the report on the 1987 business meeting, the com­
mittee, after hearing a presentation on the OSS Records Proj­
ect at the National Archives, resolved to recommend to the Ar­
chivist of the United States that a preliminary inventory of
the OSS records be prepared and published.
On 22 January 1988, the chairman of the ACHSWW, Prof.
Arthur L. Funk, writing on behalf of the committee, congratu­
lated Dr. Don W. Wilson on his recent appointment as Archiv­
ist of the United States, noted the long record of coopera­
tion between the committee and the National Archives, going
back to the joint sponsorship of a conference in the early
1970s, and then turned to the OSS records.
"Recently, at the AHA meeting in Washington," he wrote,
"Mr. [Robert] Wolfe arranged for a presentation, by Mr. Larry
McDonald, on the status of the OSS records which have in the
last few years been transferred from CIA. Mr. McDonald point­
ed out that since 1980 the Archives have accessioned some
3,000 cubic feet of OSS records, and by now, with the help of
talented volunteers, are providing finding aids, including
excellent descriptive lists of some of the material.
"The members of our Committee who were present at Mr.
McDonald's exposition were very much impressed by the quality
of the work he has been doing, and also by the enormous
amount of new research material available to historians. It
was unanimously resolved by our Committee that we should urge
you to give as much publicity as possible to these materials,
preferably a printed handout or brochure or pamphlet which
would disseminate to the historical profession information
about the availability of this invaluable resource."
On 25 February 1988, Dr. Wilson responded to Prof. Funk:
"Thank you for your congratulatory letter on the occa­
sion of my inauguration as seventh Archivist of the United
States. My thanks, also, for your praise of the work of
Lawrence McDonald, our volunteers, and other members of our
staff in preparing the massive accession of historically valu­
able OSS records for researcher use.
"We will consider publishing an inventory to the OSS rec­
ords as soon as the bulk of those records have been trans­
ferred to the National Archives. At present we are uncertain
of the ultimate dimensions of that record group. Furthermore,
because the CIA and other agencies continued to use OSS rec­
ords well into the 1950's, the arrangement of the records suf­
A good deal of sophisticated archival processing will
be required to prepare an inventory suitable for publication.
"Meanwhile, the computer-indexed folder title lists are
available to researchers here and can be mailed to anyone who
requests them."
For those unable to attend the meeting at which he made
his presentation, Dr. McDonald, at the invitation of the edi­
tor, kindly agreed to provide the following introduction and
supporting material for reproduction in this newsletter.