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Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

Anyone studying World War II and postwar issues regarding cultural property knows the name Ardelia Hall, either because they know of her work as Monuments and Fine Arts adviser at the Department of State from 1946 to 1962 and/or have used the records at the National Archives termed the “Ardelia Hall Collections.”[1]  But few people know anything about her before July 1, 1946.  Thanks to the recent article by Victoria Reed, Sadler Curator for Provenance at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, we have more information about Hall’s earlier career.[2]   I thought it would be useful to add to Dr. Reed’s work with this paper, concentrating on Hall’s work with the Office of Strategic Services (1943-1945) and as a consultant to the State Department (1945-1946).

Ardelia Ripley Hall was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts on December 4, 1899.  She attended Smith College, studying English, Art, History, and Sociology, graduating with a BA in 1922. From September 1922 to January 1928 she worked as a research assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  During those years she also attended Columbia University (1925-1927), receiving her MA in 1927 where she specialized in Chinese language and culture.  She also attended New York University during 1926-1927, taking classes in Chinese history and language.  To make ends meet she worked from January 1925 to June 1926, in various administrative capacities at the Textile Color Card Association, a Trade Association.  From December 1929 to June 1930 she was at Columbia University writing Social Science Abstracts.  In June 1930 she went to work at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston.  She was also affiliated from 1930 to 1933 with the then newly established Harvard-Yenching Institute, dealing with Asian scholarship.[3]

At the MFA she held administrative and curatorial positions.  She did research in Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan art and worked with the Indian, Indonesian, and Near Eastern collections.  She worked first for Kôjirô Tomita, Keeper of Japanese Art and then Ananda Coomaraswamy, Keeper of Indian, Persian, and Muhammadian Art.  She resigned from the MFA in September 1941 to get married.  But the marriage did not take place and she was unable to be reinstated in her previous job.  She did, however, come back to the MFA for a very short period early in 1942 to assist the museum in evacuating its more important works of Asian art. [4]

In very early 1942 Hall began applying for new positions.  She contacted Columbia University, the Nelson Gallery and Atkins Museum, the U.S. Civil Service Commission, and the State Department.  On April 11, 1942 she wrote to former University of Michigan economics professor and expert in American investments in China Dr. Charles F. Remer of the Far East Section, of the Coordinator of Information (COI), the predecessor of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and enclosed an application for employment with the COI.[5]

In April 1942, Hall picked up her freelance writing career with the Christian Science Monitor, for which she had written occasionally for since 1934.  During the next ten months she contributed about fifty articles.  Knowing she could not live on the monies she was making as a freelance writer, in September she took the civil service Junior Professional Assistant Examination and applied for Federal employment on January 25, 1943.  On her application she listed the types of work she preferred as editorial, administrative, or research.  She noted on her application that she possessed knowledge of the historical, religious, and cultural backgrounds of China, India, Indonesia, and the Near East and that she had published articles in various journals in the Chinese, Indian, and Islamic fields.[6]

The OSS was interested in hiring her.  On February 27, 1943, Remer, having just become chief of the Far East Division, Research and Analysis (R&A) Branch [7], wrote the Branch Chief, Dr. William L. Langer, that he would like to have Hall appointed to a position with his division and that she had been interviewed about the job.  Langer approved the appointment and at the end of March offered her a position, which she immediately accepted.  The 5’ 1”, 110 pound Ardelia Hall, with hazel eyes and graying hair, reported to work with the OSS on April 1, as Assistant Research Analyst, with the Editorial Reference Section, Far East Division, R&A Branch.[8]

The R&A Branch Hall joined, was divided into four regional divisions (Europe-Africa, Far East, USSR, Latin America), each comprising Economics, Political and Geographic Subdivisions.  Each of these were in turn composed of several sections to handle specific subjects such as transport, population and manpower, industrial and military supplies, agriculture and standards of living, and localized areas.  These divisions conducted research and produced reports and studies that dealt with historical, geographic, economic, political, racial, religious, social and military conditions and problems in the various parts of the world for the use in determining national policy in the conduct of the war and for military operations.[9]

The R&A Branch, in which Hall found herself, had a staff of approximately 550 people. Two-thirds of the staff were professionals – geographers, economists, historians, political scientists, sociologists, etc., including many outstanding scholars in their respective fields. These included the branch chief, Dr. Langer, a Harvard History Professor, and such prominent scholars as Edward S. Mason, Walt W. Rostow, Moses Abramowitz, Crane Brinton, Gordon Craig, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Franklin Ford, Sherman Kent, Morris Janowitz, Barrington Moore, Geroid T. Robinson, Perry Miller, Harold Deutsch, Conyers Read, Emile Despres, Chandler Morse, Franz L. Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, Otto Kirchheimer, Felix Gilbert, Hajo Holborn, Walter Dorn, Paul Tillich, and Richard Hartshorne.  Nearly 100 members of the staff were members of the Armed Services and about 90 percent of the staff work was in Washington, the balance, in the several outposts of the branch.[10]

It was a man’s world in which Hall found herself, much the same in many respects as the museum world from which she had come.[11]  Professional women were relatively few in number and they were generally not recruited and, once recruited were often not well-utilized.  In a number of the regional subdivisions there were women who worked as equals to the male counterparts, but one senses this was not necessarily so in Hall’s China section (to which she transferred in 1944).[12]  Robin Winks, who has extensively studied OSS personnel, noted that he interviewed many former OSS women who told him of professional frustrations and sexual harassment. “Many women,” he wrote, “with doctorates, some former professors and even department heads, found themselves working for far younger men who lacked advanced degrees.”[13]

In the Far East Division Hall’s initial duties consisted primarily of technical editing of Far East Division reports.  Her first efficiency rating, dated September 30, 1943 showed her work to be “very good.”[14]  It appears that Hall did not find her work with the OSS satisfying and she began looking for other employment opportunities.  The newly created Committee for the Protection of Cultural Treasures in the War Areas under the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) appeared to her a place where she could find employment and job satisfaction.

The Committee was created in January 1943 and that summer was named The Committee for the Protection of Cultural Treasures in the War Areas, chaired by William B. Dinsmoor, Chairman of the Department of Fine Arts at Columbia, professor of archaeology, and president of the Archaeological Institute of America.  In April Dinsmoor wrote the Director of the School of Military Government that the committee had already compiled a roster of competent individuals who could serve as Civil Affairs officers dealing with cultural matter and that it was preparing a series of city and town maps having locations of the important monuments and collections plainly marked.  He also indicated that the committee, with adequate funding, also wanted to prepare a card catalogue of cultural monuments and museums and private collections of sufficient importance to place under guard in the event of occupation; acquiring information on and from museum personnel in occupied countries; compiling information regarding the confiscation, forced sales, auctions, or destruction of European cultural property; and, preparing brief general directions for the salvage and temporary protection of movable and immovable works of art.[15]  The committee sent out to interested scholars a statement of its aims, and a questionnaire enlisting their assistance, which were forwarded to the Secretary of War on May 11, 1943.[16]

On December 3, 1943, Hall wrote Dr. Sachs that she was much interested in learning of the formation of the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Treasures in the War Areas, of what was being done for the European Areas at the Frick Gallery under Professor William B. Dinsmoor, and, especially, that a similar undertaking was projected at Harvard University for the Pacific Area.[17]  She pointed out that until 1941 she was in the Department of Asiatic Art of the MFA, working for Kôjirô Tomita in Chinese art and also for Dr. Commaraswamy, and wrote that it seemed “possible that the range of my experience might be useful” to the committee.  “In fact,” she added, “it is my belief that few have been so fortunate in being as closely connected with the art of Eastern Asia as I have been just doing the work which the department automatically entailed.”  She closed by indicating that she would be very grateful to him for keeping her in mind if there should be a place for her in working organization for the Pacific Area when it was set up.  She ended by indicating that she was presently employed in the Far Eastern Division of the OSS.[18]  That same day she wrote Langdon Warner, also of the Fogg Art Museum and a fellow Chinese art scholar, about the possibility of working for the Committee for projected work in Asia. She wrote that “it seemed that my special experience and the advantages I enjoyed in working at the Boston Museum might make me useful for the Pacific Area.  More useful, perhaps than in the work I am now doing here in Washington at the Office of Strategic Services, even though I am in the Far Eastern division, for it naturally has no connection with art.”[19]  With no position becoming available for Hall, she continued hard at work at the OSS.  Her efficiency rating, dated March 31, 1944, showed her work to be “very good.”[20]

The Far Eastern Division in which Hall worked found itself swamped with assignments the first year she was with it.  Between January 1, 1943 and March 24, 1944, the division completed 135 reports, some of which Hall helped edit. Most of these reports, particularly the more important ones, were directed towards the following four groups which plan and direct operations against Japan: The Joint Intelligence Committee and its subsidiary the Joint Intelligence Studies Publishing Board; the Army Air Forces through the Committee of Operations Analysts and A-2 [Air Intelligence]; The Civil Affairs Division of the Army and the Navy Occupied Areas Section; and, the various OSS operating branches.[21] Her editing work would soon be behind her, as she would find a new challenge, doing research in the division’s China Section.

On April 29, 1944, she began work as a Research Analyst with the China Section, Far East Division, R&A Branch.[22]  This section was headed by C. Martin Wilbur, who had spent most of his youth growing up in China and Japan, and had received his Ph.D. from Columbia 1941, and worked with Field Museum in Chicago before joining OSS in May 1943.  In her new position Hall was expected to prepare reports and assist others preparing reports.  This involved searching for material, finding it, and selecting pertinent points to be used in documenting her findings in the reports.  An Efficiency Rating Board of Review in 1945 reported that she

Wanted to secure all possible information in connection with her assignments, in which respect it was felt that she considered too broad an aspect, went into intangibles, and was not too able in separating the important from the unimportant. She secured a great deal of material involving a tremendous number of details.  She was capable of organizing her assignments…She went ahead with her work without direction when the assignments needed no guidance. She was expected to produce material from scattered sources, and in doing so exercised as much initiative as possible, locating an unprecedented number of facts, a few of which were of extreme importance, through her resourcefulness.

The Board also noted that “It was presented that she was more of an individualistic worker than a group worker.” [23]  This was a no-no in the R&A Branch.  As Bradley Smith observed, in producing reports in the Branch, a team approach was desired, in which groups of researchers worked on a single project, a method he noted was “virtually unknown among historians and geographers at that time.”  Smith wrote that “A great deal of training and supervision were necessary to fit the more individualistic scholars to the team mold, but this approach was an essential element in the R. and A. system. Many of the special attributes, limitations, and methods of particular disciplines had to be sacrificed to the need for integrated research reports.”[24]

One senses that Hall was probably unhappy with her work and/or colleagues wanted a position where she would be more able to use the knowledge and skills that she had acquired during the previous two decades.  It also appears that the OSS, for whatever reasons, was not that satisfied with her work and wanted her to find work elsewhere, at a time the workload of the R&A Branch and the Far Eastern Division desired more personnel.

During the fall of 1944 the Bureau of the Budget was looking at the budget and personnel requirements of the OSS with an aim to reducing both.  It requested the OSS to provide information regarding plans for adjustments of programs involving reduction of personnel and funds.  Dr. Langer wrote Brig. Gen. John Magruder, Deputy Director for Intelligence, that there appeared to be no possibility whatever of reducing personnel or funds in the R&A Branch at the present time.  He wrote that the heavy program of work in the Far East Division (notably work for the Joint Army-Navy Intelligence Studies, for the Civil Affairs Division of the Army, and for the Joint Target Committee) had made constant additions of staff, and that the division was still under necessary strength.  “The authorized demands upon the R&A Branch,” he added, “have been steadily increasing so that at present the branch, despite internal adjustments, is hardly able to meet its obligations without some increase in personnel.”[25] Langer noted that with the highest priority on Far Eastern research and evaluation, an approximate increase of 33% [of personnel] was seen.  He explained that the volume of work increased with requests for target information and analysis from the Joint Target Committee; requests for the OSS Far East chapters for Joint Army-Navy Intelligence Studies from the Joint Intelligence Study Publishing Board; requests for Civil Affairs guides from Civil Affairs Division; requests for political studies from State Department; and servicing OSS Washington and Field with strategic studies and reports.[26]

Despite the increased workload Hall, in October 1944, was granted a temporary leave to reinstall the evacuated works of Asian art at the MFA.  While doing so, she expressed her hope to return to museum work, but the director on November 13 advised her to “hold your position in Washington and not count on returning to us.”[27]

Either before going to Boston or after her return, Hall was informed by her supervisor(s) that she needed to find another position.[28]

In November, Hall ran into Dinsmoor in New York and they struck up a conversation. She probably talked to him about wanting to leave the OSS and Dinsmoor probably explained the work in which he was engaged with the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, as well as the ACLS Committee.  In August 1943 the President approved the establishment of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe (in 1944 changed to “War Areas”) (generally referred to as the Roberts Commission).  “The Commission,” according to a State Department press release on August 20, “will function under the auspices of the United States Government and in conjunction with similar groups in other countries for the protection and conservation of works of art and of artistic and historic records in Europe, and to aid in salvaging and restoring to the lawful owners such objects as have been appropriated by the Axis Powers or individuals acting under their authority or consent.” Chaired by Owen J. Roberts, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and headquartered at the National Gallery of Art, the Commission was tasked with cooperating with the appropriate branches of the Army and of the Department of State, as well as with similar groups in other countries, in assuring the safety of artistic treasures placed in jeopardy by the war and in forcing restitution of looted art by the enemy. It was to act as a channel of communication between the Army and the various universities, museums and individuals from whom information and service were desired. David E. Finley, Director of the National Gallery and a member of the Commission of Fine Arts, was appointed Vice-Chairman, and Mr. Huntington Cairns, Secretary-Treasurer of the Gallery, was to serve as Secretary-Treasurer of the Commission.  Among the other initial members of the Commission were: Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress; Dr. William Bell Dinsmoor, President of the Archaeological Institute of America; Dr. Francis Henry Taylor, Director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and President of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and Dr. Paul J. Sachs, Associate Director of the Fogg Museum of Fine Arts of Harvard University. The members were appointed to three-year terms.[29]

In November Dinsmoor wrote to Dr. Langer, explaining that his committee was about to undertake “as a sudden emergency, the preparation of lists and cultural maps for China,” and needed a specialist in Chinese art.  He wrote that he had just talked with Hall, then passing through New York on her return to Washington and she had been very highly recommended by the various specialists whom they had consulted, and would, it seemed, be the ideal person to have attached to their staff during the present emergency.  “Would it be too much to ask, therefore,” he wrote, “if you could have her detached from OSS before she becomes deeply immersed in some other assignment, and to send her up to work here in New York with the staff at the Frick Art Reference Library for a period of one month beginning at the earliest possible date, preferably the middle of next week.” [30]

Although not receiving a response about her release, she maintained, according to Victoria Reed, correspondence with Dinsmoor and consulted with his committee regarding maps and areas worthy of protection in China.  In December she wrote Dinsmoor:

By and large, I am quite certain that the work of the Committee will have far greater and more serious problems in dealing with China than it had for Europe. For an adequate listing of the monuments the same wonderful cooperation that you obtained for Europe is necessary but there are relatively so few to help….As for the location of the monuments, it would seem to me that you will be handicapped by a lack of adequate maps, city and town plans, photographs from ground and air without the full resources of Washington, including classified material.[31]

Dinsmoor responded by thanking her for the information and suggestions and noted that in the future they would continue to “take the liberty asking you for advice.”[32]

Meanwhile, Hall was attempting to find employment with the Roberts Commission.  At the end of 1944 Commission member Paul J. Sachs was informed that no decision had been reached with regard to Hall or the other candidates for the research assistant’s job.[33]  On January 20 she informed an OSS supervisor that she was seeking a position with the Commission that would lead to a Far East assignment.  She said that if that position did not materialize that she wanted, because of personal reasons, to be transferred out of the China Section to some other section in R&A or to some other Branch of OSS. The supervisor wrote on the note about the conversation that “R&A, Far East will be glad to release her.”  The position with the Commission did not materialize and the R&A Branch during February, March, and April tried unsuccessfully to find her a position with another OSS Branch.  On March 31, 1945, Hall received a “Fair” efficiency rating.[34]

During the second week in April Charles B. Fahs, a Japan specialist, who had been Chief of Far Eastern Division, from October 1944 to February 1945, wrote Dr. Langer about the staffing of the division and that Hall had known for approximately five months that she would have to find another position.  “The OSS Personnel Office,” he wrote, “has been trying to place her. We would like the Personnel Committee to take responsibility for removing Miss Hall from our rolls.”[35] A position was found for her, when in late April she was detailed to a position as Analyst with the Radio Intercepts Section, Far East Division, Secret Intelligence Branch.  On June 1, she was formally made the Assistant Chief of the Section.[36]

In the meantime Hall began looking for post-OSS employment, making contacts wherever she could. Sometime in the spring she wrote the Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Commission for the Preservation of Cultural Objects in War Areas, in Chungking, sending along copies and clippings of articles on the work of the Roberts Commission. Liang Sau-cheng responded, thanking her for providing the information about the American Commission and informing her that his commission was trying to gain every possible piece of information about the work of the American Commission and calling upon her to share her expertise about the work of the commission.  Upon receiving this communication from China, she called John H. Scharff, Special Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Roberts Commission, and informed him of the communication she had received Liang Sau-cheng, whom she described as one of the most distinguished authorities on Chinese architecture and art in China. She followed up on June 5, sending Scharff a copy of the letter and noting that she knew he would be keenly interested in all that the Roberts Commission was doing, and of her pleasure “that he should be appointed Vice-chairman of the Chinese Commission, no one else is better qualified.”  Scharff responded by thanking Hall for sending the copy of the letter and writing that “This news was of considerable encouragement to the analogous American Commission.” He informed her that in order to accomplish a close liaison between the two commissions, Horace Jayne,” as you know,” was leaving very shortly for Chungking.[37]  Jayne, the Vice-Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, had been appointed in May, at the request of the Department of State, as joint representative of the Division of Cultural Cooperation and the Roberts Commission, with the title Technical Specialist in Oriental Fine Arts, to visit China and to consult with the special Monuments Preservations Commission established by the Chinese Government.[38]  On June 5, Hall sent a copy of Liang Sau-cheng’s letter to the Harvard-trained anthropologist Dr. Gordon T. Bowles at the Division of Cultural Cooperation at the Department of State.[39]

By June the war in Europe was over and there was a new president, who believed that once the war ended in the Pacific the OSS would no longer be needed.  Hall now stepped up her efforts for employment with the Roberts Commission.  In the later part of July she visited the commission and spoke with Charles H. Sawyer, the Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, and others about the possibility of working with the commission on the Far East.[40] Sawyer, former director of the Worcester Art Museum, had just assumed his position with the commission in July, having served previously in the U.S. Army with the MFA&A operations in London and then with the OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit in London and Washington, D.C. [41]   Hall said that she believed that she could secure a release from the OSS if the commission requested her services.  Sawyer told her that the activities of the commission in connection with the Far Eastern program were still indefinite and that they could undoubtedly give her more information after the next meeting in late September.  Sawyer, in a memo about Hall, wrote that while she appeared to have an excellent background on China in particular and the Orient in general, “there may be other candidates equally well qualified for the work she would undertake.”[42]

On August 8 Hall was notified that in view of the reduction in budget for the fiscal year 1946 that her employment would be terminated on September 8.  Her August 8 letter of termination was suspended because she had filed a protest regarding her “Fair” efficiency rating, which needed to be resolved before she could be terminated.[43]

The OSS Efficiency Rating Board of Review met on August 29 to discuss Hall’s efficiency rating.  The board indicated that the rating official had judged that Hall’s performance was “Good,” but that the reviewing official, C. Martin Wilbur, lowered markings assigned to two elements, which resulted in the rating being changed from “Good” to “Fair.”  The board found that she “was a willing worker, produced a large quantity of work, and worked many hours overtime without compensation of any kind. When there were deadlines, she met them, performing work on one assignment during a period when she was confined to her home because of illness and working overtime voluntarily to complete a bibliography when she expected to leave the organization momentarily.” The board noted the satisfactory quality and quantity of her work and changed her rating from “Fair” to “Good.”  In spite of this, a new termination letter was sent to her on September 6 indicating that she would be terminated on October 6.[44]

President Truman issued Executive Order 9621 on September 20, 1945, providing for the abolishment of the OSS on September 30, with some of the R&A Branch functions being transferred to the Department of State and some other activities being transferred to the newly created Strategic Services Unit (SSU) of the War Department.  On October 1, Hall was transferred to the SSU and on October 6 she was released from service.[45]  Hall was now unemployed.


[1] There are two “Ardelia Hall Collections” held by the National Archives.  One is the records she accumulated while working with the State Department (NAID 2524542)and the other is the name attached to the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives records created by the U.S. Army in Europe and loaned to her from 1954 to 1962.

[2] Victoria Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” International Journal of Cultural Property, Vol. 21 No. 1 (February 2014), pp. 79-93.

[3] Ardelia Hall Personnel File (NAID 2174783), Personnel Files, 1941-1945, Entry 224, Records of the Office of Services, Record Group 226 (hereafter cited as RG 226); Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” p. 81.

[4] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783); Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” pp. 81-84.

[5] Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” p. 91 notes 25 and 26.

[6] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783)

[7] Remer, who had received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1923, would serve as Chief of the Far East Division from February 1943 until January 31, 1944. Charles F. Remer Personnel File (NAID 2184121), Personnel Files, 1941-1945, Entry 224, Records of the Office of Services, RG 226.

[8] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783)

[9] Subject Files (NAID 6274115), File: London, Wash R & D-AD-3 (13-27), Research and Analysis Branch Chief Files; R&D Sample Books; German Press Extracts and Reports, Entry 145, Records of the Office of Strategic Services, RG 226.

[10] ibid. C. Martin Wilbur who had joined the China Section of the Far East Division in May 1943 would later write “The Research and Analysis Branch was staffed by scholars, and most were specialists on foreign countries, except the economists, who consider themselves universalists.” C. Martin Wilbur, ed. by Anita M. Obrien, China in My Life: A Historian’s Own History (Armonk, New York and London, England: M. E. Sharpe, 1996), p. 55. As for the Far East Division Wilbur observed: “Our division of OSS had a remarkable crew of scholars, among the best Asianists in the nation, and there weren’t too many of them before the war.” ibid., p. 56

[11] Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” p. 81.

[12] Barry M. Katz, Foreign Intelligence: Research and Analysis in the Office of Strategic Services 1942-1945 (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 25-27; Robin W. Winks, “Getting the Right Stuff: FDR, Donovan, and the Quest for Professional Intelligence,” in George C. Chalou, ed., The Secrets War: The Office of Strategic Services in World War II (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), p. 24. Bradley Smith observed that although the R&A Branch “had a much better record on the employment of women…than other branches of O.S.S. or of the government in general, it was not flawless in this regard. R. and A. utilized a great number of women researchers, perhaps as many as 25 percent of the total research force, but with very few exceptions they were limited to low-level positions.” Bradley F. Smith, The Shadow Warriors: O.S.S. and the Origins of the C.I.A. (New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1983), p. 378. Perhaps one exception to the observations regarding the use of female scholars was Cora DuBois, an anthropologist who had done her field work in the Dutch Indies and became the Chief of the Indonesia Section.  In 1944 she moved to Ceylon to serve as Chief of the Research and Analysis outpost. Wilbur, ed. by Anita M. Obrien, China in My Life: A Historian’s Own History, p. 56; Maochun Yu, OSS in China: Prelude to Cold War (New Haven and. London: Yale University Press, 1997) Chapter Six, endnote No. 66.

[13] Winks, “Getting the Right Stuff: FDR, Donovan, and the Quest for Professional Intelligence,” in George C. Chalou, ed., The Secrets War: The Office of Strategic Services in World War II, p. 24.

[14] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783)

[15] Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies on Protection of Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas, Minutes of the First Full Meeting, Held at the Century Association in New York City on June 25, 1943, Inclosure to Letter, William B. Dinsmoor, Chairman, Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies on Protection of Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas to Maj. Gen. J. H. Hilldring, July 19, 1943, File: CAD 000.4 (3-25-43) (1), Security Classified General Correspondence, 1943-July 1949 (NAID 3376702), RG 165; William B. Dinsmoor, Chairman, Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies on Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas, Summary for the Month of July 1943, n.d., attachment to War Department General Staff Routing Slip, J.H.H., Chief to Col. Townsend, August 5, 1943, ibid.; Letter, William B. Dinsmoor, Columbia University to Brig. Gen. Cornelius W. Wickersham, Director of the School of Military Government, April 7, 1943 and enclosed Outline of Preliminary Processes, ibid.

[16] The General Board, United States Forces, European Theater, Civil Affairs and Military Government Activities in Connection with Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives, G-5 Section, Study No. 36, prepared by Brig. Gen. C. E. Ryan, Chief, G-5 Section, Col. Walker R. Goodrich, G-5 Section, Capt. Everett P. Lesley, Jr., G-5, Section, ca. January 1946, p. 2, File: AGAR-S 3019, Materials Accumulated for a Conference on Captured German and Related Records at the National Archives, 1968 (NAID 6922180), RG 242

[17] Hall apparently was aware that in early 1943, the American Defense-Harvard Group began to prepare lists and manuals related to the protection of artworks and monuments in the theatres of war and occupied territories for the War Department. Report of The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1946), pp. 33-34. Langdon Warner, Harvard professor of art and archeology and Curator of Oriental Art at Harvard’s Fogg Museum, prepared lists for China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. ibid., p. 161.

[18] Letter, Ardelia R. Hall to Paul J. Sachs, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, December 3, 1943; Correspondence Files of Paul J. Sachs Between Commission Members and Personnel, 1943–1946 (NAID 1518905) [Roll 57, National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1944], RG 239.

[19] Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” p. 86.

[20] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783)

[21] Accomplishments of the Research and Analysis Branch, OSS from 1 January 1943 to 28 March 1944, File: Office of the Chief R&A, Security Classified General Correspondence (NAID 6035199), RG 226.

[22] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783)

[23] ibid.

[24] Bradley F. Smith, The Shadow Warriors: O.S.S. and the Origins of the C.I.A. (New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1983), p. 363.

[25] Memo, William L. Langer, Chief, Research and Analysis Branch to General Magruder, Subject: Reduction of Personnel and Funds, October 14, 1944, File: Office of the Chief R&A, Security Classified General Correspondence (NAID 6035199), RG 226

[26] ibid.

[27] Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” p. 87.

[28] Memo, Charles B. Fahs to Dr. William L. Langer and Lt. William Applebaum, April 11, 1945, File: Far East III, Security Classified General Correspondence (NAID 6035199), RG 226

[29] Department of State, Press Release August 20, 1944, The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historical Monuments in Europe, Department of State Bulletin, Vol. IX, No. 217, Publication 1979, August 21, 1943, p. 111.

[30] Reed, “Ardelia Hall: From Museum of Fine Arts to Monuments Woman,” p. 86.

[31] ibid.

[32] ibid.

[33] Letter, John A. Gilmore, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer to Dr. Paul J. Sachs, Associate Director, Fogg Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, December 29, 1944, Correspondence Files of Paul J. Sachs between Commission Members and Personnel, 1943–1946 (NAID 1518905)[Roll 58, M-1944], RG 239.

[34] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783); Memo, Charles B. Fahs to Dr. William L. Langer and Lt. William Applebaum, April 11, 1945, File: Far East III, Security Classified General Correspondence (NAID 6035199), RG 226, ibid.

[35] Memo, Charles B. Fahs to Dr. William L. Langer and Lt. William Applebaum, April 11, 1945, ibid.

[36] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783)

[37] Letter, Liang Sau-cheng to Miss Ardelia R. Hall, Chungking, China, May 3, 1945, File: Far East-Chinese Commission, Correspondence, 1943–1946 (NAID 1518800), [Roll 12, M-1944], RG 239; Letter, Ardelia Hall to John H. Scarff, June 5, 1945, ibid; John H. Scarff to Ardelia Hall, June 8, 1945, ibid.

[38] Report of The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1946), pp. 14-15.

[39] Letter, Ardelia R. Hall to Mr. Bowles, June 5, 1945, File: Far East Policy Under Consideration, Records Maintained by Ardelia Hall, 1945-1961 (NAID 2524542), RG 59. Bowles had been born in Tokyo, Japan, of American missionaries on June 25, 1904. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1935 and was an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii from 1938 to 1942, at which time he became an economic analyst for the Board of Economic Warfare (1942-1943) and then an economic analyst and section chief of the Far East Enemy Division of the Foreign Economic Administration (1943-1944). He joined the State Department on October 24, 1944, as a specialist on Japanese affairs.

[40] Memo for the Files, C.H.S. [Charles H. Sawyer], July 27, 1945, File: Far East-Personnel, Correspondence, 1943–1946 (NAID 1518800), [Roll 12, M-1944], RG 239.

[41] Charles H. Sawyer Personnel File (NAID 2185148), Personnel Files, 1941-1945, RG 226.

[42] Memo for the Files, C.H.S. [Charles H. Sawyer], July 27, 1945, File: Far East-Personnel, Correspondence, 1943–1946 (NAID 1518800)

[43] Ardelia Hall Personnel File, RG 226 (NAID 2174783)

[44] ibid.

[45] ibid.



Today’s post is written by David LangbartThis is the fourth (and last) in a series of posts about conducting research in the records of agencies specifically responsible for U.S. foreign relations.  It is derived from information on the NARA web pages devoted to that topic. Please visit Part I, Part II, and Part III.

To assist with preparing for a research visit and orient you to the records, the National Archives has prepared a set of web pages. There, you will find an explanation of the records of the Department of State and related foreign affairs agencies, including those of a temporary nature established during World War I and World War II and the more permanent agencies created during the Cold War.  You will also find links to filing manuals and other finding aids to the records, more detailed reference papers, and other information, as well as links to web pages describing agencies and records outside the foreign affairs community.

The foreign affairs pages are arranged as follows:

  • Department of State
    • Central Files
    • Decentralized Files
    • Foreign Service Posts
    • Specialized Files
      • International Conferences, Commissions, and Expositions
      • Boundary and Claims Commissions and Arbitrations
      • Interdepartmental and Intradepartmental Committees
  • World War I Special Agencies
    • Committee on Public Information
    • War Trade Board
    • American Commission to Negotiate Peace
  • World War II and Aftermath Records
    • Foreign Economic Administration
    • Office of War Information
    • Office of Inter-American Affairs
    • American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Historic Monuments in War Areas
    • Philippine War Damage Commission
    • Displaced Persons Commission
  • Cold War Agencies
    • Agency for International Development
    • U.S. Information Agency
    • U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
    • Overseas Private Investment Corporation
    • U.S. High Commissioner for Germany
    • U.S. Foreign Assistance Agencies, 1947-1961
    • Trade and Development Agency
    • Peace Corps
  • Genealogical Records
  • Department of State Publications and Websites
  • Other Agencies Relating to Foreign Affairs


Today’s post is written by David LangbartThis is the third in a series of posts about conducting research in the records of agencies specifically responsible for U.S. foreign relations.  It is derived from information on the NARA web pages devoted to that topic. Please visit Part I and Part II.

Here are some very basic hints on how to approach undertaking research in the records of the foreign affairs agencies.  This guidance should be most helpful to novice researchers but can also help those with more experience undertaking new avenues of research or working with different records for the first time.  More information on the records described below is found on the web pages found here.

For most topics relating to U.S. foreign policy since 1861, research should begin with a review of the pertinent volumes of the publication Foreign Relations of the United States issued by the Department of State and commonly referred to as “FRUS”.  In addition to providing the text of the most important documents on U.S. foreign policy, FRUS also includes source citations and in this way serves as a finding aid to the records on U.S. foreign policy.

Be sure to record the sources cited in FRUS, note them in your correspondence with the National Archives, and bring them with you when you visit the National Archives.  Please remember that given the mandate of the series, it does not include documents on every topic in the records and thus it is likely that there are records on more topics than in the publication.

While the subject of your research will dictate the records of most use in your research, for most topics involving U.S. policies and actions, the most important files of the Department of State are those that constitute the central files.  The central files are the most inclusive and authoritative repository of reporting by American diplomatic and consular posts overseas and include much additional documentation on policy-making and implementation.  There is at least some documentation in the Department’s central files on almost all topics relating to U.S. foreign policy and relations with other countries.  The arrangement of the central files has changed over time.  It is important to understand those changes in order to use the records effectively.

The documents in the central files (and the markings on them) will indicate the bureaus and offices in the Department that dealt with the pertinent issues and which Foreign Service posts and other agencies in the Government were involved, thus suggesting other avenues of research.  After exhausting the sources found in the central files, you can expand your research to the decentralized files of the Department (often referred to as “Lot Files”) indicated by the central files documentation, the records of Foreign Service Posts involved with the issue, and to other specialized files from the Department.

For many topics, the records of the various specialized foreign affairs agencies established during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War will include more details about policymaking and activities at the operational level for the specialized programs those agencies handled.  In some cases, those operational records can be the focus of in-depth research.  Most of those agencies did not have centralized recordkeeping, so you will have to familiarize yourself with the organization of the agency in question and the functions and responsibilities of each office in order to determine where to focus your research.

Many other agencies have a role in U.S. foreign and national security affairs.  These include organizations in the Executive Office of the President, other civilian agencies, and military agencies.  Most notable among them are the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Commerce.  You should not ignore the records of those agencies if they are relevant to your research

Tomorrow: The foreign affairs web pages.



Today’s blog is written by David LangbartThis is the second in a series of posts about conducting research in the records of agencies specifically responsible for U.S. foreign relations.  It is derived from information on the NARA web pages devoted to that topic.  The recommendations herein are applicable to other records, too. The first part is here.

National Archives Reference Staff are committed to doing their best to get you to the records that you want to see.  It is just as frustrating for NARA staff not to be able to help you as it is for you not to see the records you want.  They need your help, however, in order to best assist you.

While the reference staff cannot undertake your research for you, they can do some preliminary work in order to identify the file categories in the Department of State’s (or other agency’s) central files likely to contain documentation of interest or locate other series with pertinent records.  Doing that work takes time, however.  It cannot be done effectively while you are waiting in the Research Room.

To assist you, the National Archives has developed this FAQ on how to make your research visit to the National Archives more successful.

As noted in the FAQ, while writing to the National Archives before visiting is not required, communicating with the Reference Staff at the National Archives before you visit is likely to improve the results of your research experience.  And remember to do so at least 3-4 weeks before a planned visit to allow enough time for NARA staff to respond.  While contacting the National Archives before a visit is especially useful in the following instances, it can also help in other circumstances too:

    • (1) if the records are dated from the 1960s and later
    • (2) if you are dealing with agencies involved with foreign affairs, intelligence, and law enforcement
    • (3) if you do not have precise file number citations to the files of various agencies or National Archives record group and entry numbers
    • (4) or if you are unsure that records exist.

Reference staff is available in the Archives II Research Room from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except government holidays.  For those wanting a more in-depth explanation of the records or with difficult or advanced research projects, a specialist in foreign affairs records is available for consultation.  The specialist is in the Archives II Textual Research Room every Tuesday morning from 9AM to 10AM and can answer questions about the organization and content of the records and help you plan a research strategy.

The foreign affairs web pages are here.

Tomorrow: Research Hints



Today’s post is written by David Langbart. This is the first in a series of posts about conducting research in the records of agencies specifically responsible for U.S. foreign relations. It is derived from information on the NARA web pages devoted to that topic.

The United States has played a key role in world affairs since its founding. The Department of State is the senior cabinet-level department in the U.S. government and is the agency designated to lead in the overall direction, coordination, and supervision of American foreign policy and foreign relations. However, records relating to your topic might be found among the files of other agencies, too. Since World War II, a community of agencies has evolved to deal specifically with foreign policy issues. In addition, many other agencies have taken on important roles in American national security affairs. The subject and focus of your research will determine the most appropriate records for you to use.

Much policy development takes place in the White House and is documented in the files of the Presidents and their extended staffs. The records and files of all Presidents since Herbert Hoover are located in the Presidential Libraries operated by the National Archives and Records Administration. In addition to White House files, the Libraries hold the files of the National Security Council and its staff and other high-level organizations.

Congress also has a role in American foreign policy. The Senate provides advice and consent to all treaties, and many committees have oversight on issues relating to foreign affairs. Of most importance are the records of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The work of other committees also may touch on foreign relations matters and Congress has established numerous temporary committees and sub-committees to study special issues and matters relating to U.S. foreign affairs.

You may reach the web pages here.

Tomorrow: Getting Started

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