Within a few months, the office was split up into two new agencies: the Office of Strategic Services, a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Office of War Information, to which the Voice of America was transferred.After the war, international radio briefly became a responsibility of the Department of State until, in 1953, a new United States Information Agency was formed to manage all foreign information and exchange programs.
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And since one of the tenets of the archival process is that records must be preserved precisely as they are received, the surviving documents are organized according to the idiosyncratic filing systems of each transmitting agency—in most instances, inside the original file folders that were delivered to the Archives.
During August and early September, 2010, I made several visits to the Archives’ cavernous facility in College Park, Maryland, to search for the 68-year-old files of the Coordinator of Information. Roosevelt presidential library in Hyde Park, New York, in the hope that the coordinator, the colorful New York lawyer William J.
Only problem is, we’ve been celebrating the wrong date. The wartime leaders who were developing the country’s foreign information strategy were primarily concerned with the substance of what to say to the populations of Germany, Italy and Japan, and the countries the Axis powers had occupied; maybe none of them thought at the time that the first “Voice of America” radio broadcast was a significant enough event to merit the creation of a formal documentary artifact. Well, actually it turns out Houseman had the date wrong, too.
Needless to say, they could hardly have been expected to guess they were launching a national institution that would survive well into the next century. I first learned there was a question about the anniversary from my old friend and former boss, Alan Heil, author of .
(“Wild Bill”) Donovan, or one of his principal subordinates, had sent President Roosevelt a memorandum announcing that the radio broadcasts to Germany had begun.