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Register of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty corporate records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Related Collection(s)
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty corporate records
    Date (inclusive): 1945-2005
    Collection Number: 2000C71
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English, German, Russian, and Polish
    Physical Description: circa 4000 linear feet
    Abstract: The records of the American radio broadcasting organization operating Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) include correspondence, memoranda, reports, financial and legal records, technical specifications, opinion survey data, serial issues, other publications, and microfilm relating to operations of Radio Free Europe in broadcasting to audiences in Eastern Europe and of Radio Liberty in broadcasting to audiences in the Soviet Union, as well as non-broadcast operations of RFE/RL's predecessor, the Free Europe Committee, Inc. Digital copies of some sound recordings also available at http://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: RFE/RL.


    Collection is open for research. Portions of the collection in process open only by request. Please contact the Hoover Institution Archives for information. Digital copies of some sound recordings also available at http://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 
    Use copies of some sound recordings in this collection are available for immediate access. To listen to other sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty corporate records, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2000 with subsequent additions.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Digital copies of some sound recordings also available at http://digitalcollections.hoover.org. 

    Related Collection(s)

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast records, Hoover Institution Archives
    Sig Mickelson papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Arch Puddington collection, Hoover Institution Archives

    Historical Note

    American radio broadcasting organization operating Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The complexity of this collection for the researcher as well as the archivist is manifold. The most salient fact characterizing the RFE/RL materials is their sheer volume, which necessitated their breakdown into two collections: the corporate records, consisting of the organizational and administrative documentation of RFE/RL (including its supervisory, subordinate, and affiliate organizations), and the broadcast archive, consisting of tapes of broadcasts, scripts and associated documentation.
    Each of these units therefore has its own register, in turn broken down into series. This register describes the corporate records only.
    The corporate records arrived at the Hoover Institution from two sources: the Washington, D.C. office and the Prague headquarters. With the exception of the Public Affairs photographs, which were essentially similar and complementary material with no outward differentiation, the materials from these two sources were not mixed, and therefore peculiarities of file structure and organization were retained in both cases. The Washington, D.C. records comprised files from various sources: the President's Office, particularly for the early years through the 1980s, the New York Programming Center, including its predecessor, the original headquarters of RFE and RL, the Board for International Broadcasting, transmitter stations, etc.
    Aside from the Alphabetical File, which ceased to be used after 1988, the Washington records contained other documentation filed on the basis of origin or function: files of individual employees, organized as series under their names, files of units and organizations, e.g. Engineering (including records of International Broadcasting Systems, transmitter sites, and other technical matters). A Washington Office File has also been organized for materials which fell outside the readily apparent series. The Washington Office File contains a subject file for matter originating after 1988 and other papers which would probably have been retained in the Alphabetical File had its use been continued and expanded. It also contains materials going back to the earliest days, which were kept on hand for reference use, such as chronological files of correspondence, contracts, leases, legal and other documentation.
    A further note must be made with regard to organizations, departments, and units which changed names during the period covered by this collection. In keeping with standard archival practice, descriptors are based on the last name in use, e.g. European Advisory Committee, rather than Western European Advisory Committee, or Free Europe, rather than National Committee for a Free Europe, RFE/RL Fund, rather than Crusade for Freedom, etc. However, in cases where a name change was accompanied by a substantial change in authority, competency, goals and resources, both names may be found in the register, indicating that these were substantially different organizations or units.
    This inevitably leads to some overlap in distribution of material. Thus, for example, the Czechoslovak Broadcasting Department was broken up into the Czech Broadcasting Department and Slovak Language Service on 3 January 1993, yet because many of the original files did not end or begin on that exact date, information on any of the three units named above for, e.g. 1992 or 1994, may be found under another of the relevant headings. Similarly, though the Baltic services are better known as RFE units, they were originally under RL, and therefore information about them may be found under both headings.
    In searching the Public Affairs files for photographs of specific individuals, it is necessary to know that employees might be listed under various sections: they might be found directly in the "Employees" section in alphabetical order, or they might be found listed under the department in which they worked. At all events, the "General" folders should be checked because far from all photographs had names attached or written on the back. It is also worth restating the obvious, that the terms "includes" and "depicted" do not mean "limited to." While an effort has been made to list all identifiable personalities in a photograph where appropriate, in some cases this proved unmanageable, such as in mass group photographs, or when identifications were unavailable, unreliable, or submitted post factum.
    If there is a good head shot of a person in one section, he or she will not necessarily be listed by name in other sections, such as when appearing in a group. In most cases, group photos, or even of two people, were put under the "General" category closest or most appropriate to the essence of the subject area, unless it was obvious that one of the figures depicted was the central subject of the photograph (for example, in the case of visitors, where it was clear that one visitor was the central figure and others depicted were either employees or camp followers, the photograph was entered under the visitor's name, rather than as a group). In this case an effort was made to list the other identifiable people in the photo as well, especially if there are no other equally good or better photographs of them available elsewhere in the collection. This is particularly the case for interviews with celebrities or visitors, where the visitor's (or group's) name is the main entry, and the interviewer may or may not be listed. This purely subjective system was put into practice to avoid listing people whose only visible body part was the back of their head.
    Similarly, depictions of sporting events, awards ceremonies, and other staff activities may be found either under the name of the person receiving the award, or in a "General" category if there is a group involved. As a general rule, one or more members of management were present at such awards ceremonies and other events, but are not always listed, as good direct photos of them are easily found under their own names.
    Negatives were kept together with corresponding prints because they were originally provided in this fashion. Where they were kept separate, especially where strips of negatives depicted numerous and various subjects, the negatives can usually be found in the closest "General" folder, or in other folders if, for example, the corresponding print in question was originally part of a series located in one of the series folders. It should not be assumed that each print has a corresponding negative.
    Another peculiarity of this series is that it contains some associated non-photographic documents: biographical notes, captions, clippings, correspondence, transcripts of broadcasts, and other materials directly associated with the photographs.
    In searching by name, several points should be kept in mind: where provided (and unless dictated otherwise by the Library of Congress), full names (Eugene, rather than Gene) have been used, including initials where indicated. Absolute uniformity, however, proved impossible to achieve, in some cases due to misspellings or conflicting spellings, different methods of indicating or ignoring diacritics, or transliteration according to various systems (English, German, pidgin). Unless a specific latinized form of a name is used throughout, we have used either the prevalent form found in the documents, or, if no such form is indicated, we have used the Library of Congress system of transliteration. Name searches, therefore, should be conducted with a view to possible variations in spelling.
    Not all the photographs in the RFE/RL records belonged to the Public Affairs department. For this reason, there is a separate Photographs File. Oversize photographs have been delegated to the Oversize File--Public affairs photographic file. The guidelines expressed above for the Public Affairs Photographic File apply in all cases.
    In addition, there is a card index of former RFE employees in the Card File. This index is incomplete, but it contains passport-size photos for a large number of individuals affixed to cards indicating name, date of hire, and date of death, resignation, or other form of termination.
    The central existing series within the Washington, D.C. materials was the Alphabetical File. This series contained documentation from the beginning of the Radios' history to 1988, when the series was discontinued. The files were organized strictly alphabetically, sometimes with a hierarchical structure (for example, subsets of files within generic "RFE" and "FEC" headings), and sometimes with arcane designations. This series has been left in original order with some minor changes to bring the headings into conformity with standard archival practices and Library of Congress subject classifications. Thus, files with various headings found under the letter "C" as part of an implied "Congress" heading have been arranged under "U.S. Government. Congress."
    The Alphabetical File contains the earliest materials on RFE/RL history, beginning with documentation on the establishment, structure and activities of the National Committee for a Free Europe (later the Free Europe Committee, or FEC) and the American Committee for Freedom for the Peoples of the USSR, Inc. (later the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, or Amcomlib, and thereafter Radio Liberty Committee). The records themselves, arranged under headings relating to individuals, organizations, and subjects, include both materials about people, places and events, as well as correspondence with individuals and organizations on a variety of issues.
    Particular attention should be drawn to the fact that guidances and policy materials, which are represented compactly but incompletely in the Office of the Policy Director File and Microfiche, are also present in the Alphabetical File under relevant subject headings (e.g., Czech crisis, or Romania), Free Europe Committee, Inc.--Policy, Radio Free Europe--Desks, Radio Free Europe--Guidances, Radio Free Europe--Policy matters, and elsewhere.
    While the Office of the President File contains materials dating as far back as 1951, the bulk of this series dates from the mid-1980s through the very early 1990s, primarily the tenures of E. Eugene Pell and A. Ross Johnson. The Office of the Executive Vice-President File materials are also concentrated on this period, though they too contain some earlier documentation. Both series are rich in materials relating to preparations for the Radios' move to Prague from Munich.
    The Office of the Policy Director File contains various types of guidances and policy memoranda and notes. Additional guidances and policy documents may be found in the Alphabetical File (see description above) and on Microfiche. Guidances for Hungary during the years 1955-1956 are also located in the RFE/RL Broadcast Collection (a separate collection) under Hungarian Broadcast Department.
    The RFE/RL Moving Image Materials consist of motion picture film and various videotape formats that pertain to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty from various parts of the world, especially Europe. The content exists in several different languages and pertains to news coverage, press conferences, documentaries, and publicity relating to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Titles are taken directly from the labels.
    This register could not have been compiled without the participation of a large group of individuals. They are listed here in alphabetical order: Suzanne Ament, Rodica Claudino, Laura Cosovanu, Venera Djumataeva, German Dziebel, Lenka Fedorova, Irene Franks, Lechoslaw Gawlikowski, Ilja Gruen, Polina Ilieva, A. Ross Johnson, Dev Kumari Khalsa, Mikolaj Kunicki, Lijuan Li, Natalya Mislavskaya, Ekaterina Neklioudova, Blanka Pasternak, Mike Schaefer, Anatol Shmelev, Sandra Staklis, Catalin Stoica, Quincy Tanner, Dennis Trapido.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Radio Free Europe.
    Radio Liberty.
    Radio broadcasting--Europe, Eastern.
    Radio broadcasting--Soviet Union.