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U.S. Information Agency (USIA) Research Report Document Files Consolidated

by on January 19, 2011


Today’s post is written by Tom McAnear, a processing archivist who works with civilian textual records.

The Research Report document files from the Office of Research and Media Reaction in RG 306 (Records of the U.S. Information Agency) are important for researching both foreign and domestic opinion about key events, important issues, and the actions of other governments. Between 1953 and 1999, the office conducted surveys and focus groups on attitudes of foreign publics and monitored U.S. public opinion on foreign policy issues.

Page 2 of S-29-68 -- Current Views on US-North Vietnam Paris Talks

Page 2 of S-29-68 -- Current Views on US-North Vietnam Paris Talks

Finding these records, however, was difficult as they were spread out over many different series in RG 306. Many of these document files were mixed in with USIA geographic files. Recently, these Research Report files were broken out of the many different series and consolidated into one series each. Each series now has its own description in the Archival Research Catalog (ARC).  Now, for example, all Special Reports are together in one series instead of being mixed among several different series. This provides for ease of use by researchers and for reference staff in records consultation. A folder list is available for each series in ARC. A printed version of each folder list is also available in the finding aids in the consultation area in the research room.

Each series is arranged by a numerical filing number, whereby the first report of the year was assigned the number one, the next report number two, etc.; the next year the numbering sequence began again with number one. Researchers should note the date of the report, as well as its number. A sample file would appear as:  M-1-63 (Research Memoranda, #1, 1963).

The major series are: 

American Opinion Memoranda, 1992-1997 (ARC ID 4711853)

Briefing Papers, 1979-1999  (ARC ID 4719060)

Foreign Media Analyses and Trends, 1984-1994 (ARC ID 4734449)

Foreign Media Reaction Summaries, 1980-1985 (ARC ID 5566878),

Foreign Opinion Notes, 1973-1989, (ARC ID 5585926)  

Opinion Alert Bulletins, 1993-1999, (ARC ID 4734864)

Research Memoranda, 1963-1999, (ARC ID 4778251)

Research Reports, 1960 -1999, (ARC ID 5637789)   

Soviet Propaganda Alerts and Trends, 1983-1989 (ARC ID 5664217)

Special Reports, 1953-1997 (ARC ID 1098728

The page shown above is from one of the reports from the series “Special Reports, 1953-1997″ (ARC ID 1098728).  This particular report reveals an assessment of world opinion showing that the “inauguration of the talks was generally seen abroad to mean that Vietnam, as a dangerous global crisis, had been for the present defused.”  A digital copy of the full report can be found in “Current View on the U.S.-North Vietnam Paris Talks, 1968″ (ARC ID 304298).


Comments

Jason Clingerman January 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Wow those sound like pretty interesting records, especially the foreign public opinion notes and the Soviet propaganda alerts and trends reports.

Alan Walker January 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

Great work, Tom! Its always satisfying when we can track down all of the segments of a series and put it back together to make it usable.

Ted Hull February 19, 2011 at 8:05 am

Thanks for identifying the textual USIA research report series! Many of the published results are derived from raw data NARA’s electronic records unit has accessioned as the series World Wide Public Opinion Poll Files, compiled 1955 – 1999 (ARC Identifier 617497). Therefore, if researchers want to look at the survey data in a way different than the original analysts, they can obtain copies of the data and associated documentation to reanalyze those data. We accessioned over 1,500 survey data files from 1955 to 1999.

John Kuk June 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Dear Tom,
I want to ask whether this all documents about the USIA were reserved in National Archives (Park College)?

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