Thursday, October 30, 2014

Archives of the Committee on Public Information

From Mock, James R. and Larson. Words That Won the War: The Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1939, pp, vii-viii:
On July 6, 1937, trucks rolled up to The National Archives in Washington, bringing to their last resting place 180 cubic feet of records which for the previous sixteen years had been all but lost in the Munitions Building basement at 20th Street and Constitution Avenue. The precious cargo represented virtually all that is left of the files of the Committee on Public Information, the so-called Creel Committee of the World War. Here in these papers is the story of America's first "propaganda ministry" and its dynamic leader, George Creel. ...
From June 30, 1919, until the files were placed in the custody of the Archives, they shrank to less than a quarter of their former bulk partly because of the ministrations of the ''Useless Papers Committee" and partly for unexplained reasons.
But the papers that remain hundreds of thousands of them provide an historical source of the first importance to the American people. Letters, memoranda, cablegrams, printed documents, Military and Naval Intelligence reports, slides, movie films, posters all these are waiting to tell their story.
The Committee was so widespread in its ramifications that the collection touches nearly all phases of American and world affairs for the years 1917 to 1919. The authors have consciously restricted themselves to intensive study of these files, though fully realizing that words alone did not win the war. The "strategic equation" of military language recognizes four factors (combat, economic, political, and psychologic) , and this book is concerned only with the last and obviously with only some of its aspects. A similar study might be oriented about the forensic activities of Woodrow Wilson, the work of the Military Intelligence Branch, or any of a number of other points of interest. But the Committee on Public Information touched all of these, and a complete understanding of its work would be essential to appreciation of other work on "the psychologic front."
From: Vaughn, Stephen. Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and The Committee on Public Information. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980, p. 340:
More than fifty manuscript collections were used in preparing this study. By far the largest and most valuable source was the Records of the Committee on Public Information. There are about 180 cubic feet of CPI records, perhaps half of which relate to the Domestic Section. ... Although this collection is sizable, it represented only a quarter of the original total of materials relating to the CPI. The remainder was either lost or destroyed. ...
Creel's part in the CPI's creation. however, is best revelated in the Josephus Daniels papers.
See also:

1. Records of the Committee on Public Information (Record Group 63, 1917-1921, 152 cu. ft.), National Archives and Records Services Finding Aid.

2. Larson, Cedric A. "Records of the Committee on Public Information." The Public Opinion Quarterly, Volume 1, No. 1 (January 1937): 116-118.

No comments: