Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Office of War Information [OWI]


(Record Group 208)
1926-51 (bulk 1941-46)
3,584 cu. ft.

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 208.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY
  • 208.2 GENERAL RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION 1941-45 79 lin. ft.
  • 208.2.1 Records of the Office of the Director
  • 208.2.2 Records of the Security Office
  • 208.2.3 Records of the Security Advisory Board
  • 208.2.4 Records of the War Information Board
  • 208.2.5 Records of the Office of Management Services
  • 208.3 RECORDS OF THE DOMESTIC OPERATIONS BRANCH 1926-46 (bulk 1941-45) 491 lin. ft.
  • 208.3.1 Records of the Office of the Director
  • 208.3.2 Records of the Office of War Programs
  • 208.3.3 Records of the Deputy Directors
  • 208.3.4 Records of the Radio Bureau
  • 208.3.5 Records of the News Bureau
  • 208.3.6 Records of the Bureau of Graphics
  • 208.3.7 Records of the Bureau of Field Operations
  • 208.3.8 Records of the Bureau of Motion Pictures
  • 208.3.9 Records of the Book and Magazine Bureau
  • 208.3.10 Records of the Foreign News Bureau
  • 208.4 RECORDS OF THE OVERSEAS OPERATIONS BRANCH 1941-46 612 lin. ft.
  • 208.4.1 Records of the Office of the Director
  • 208.4.2 Records of the Bureau of Overseas Intelligence
  • 208.4.3 Records of the Office of Communications Control
  • 208.4.4 Records of the Communications Facilities Bureau
  • 208.4.5 Records of the Outpost Service Bureau
  • 208.5 RECORDS OF THE NEW YORK OFFICE, OVERSEAS OPERATIONS BRANCH 1930-51 505 lin. ft.
  • 208.5.1 General records
  • 208.5.2 Records of the News and Features Bureau
  • 208.5.3 Records of the Radio Program Bureau
  • 208.5.4 Records of the Bureau of Overseas Publications
  • 208.5.5 Records of the Bureau of Overseas Motion Pictures
  • 208.6 RECORDS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE, OVERSEAS OPERATIONS BRANCH 1941-46 238 lin. ft.
  • 208.6.1 General records
  • 208.6.2 Records of the Program Bureau
  • 208.6.3 Records of the Analysis and Research Bureau
  • 208.6.4 Records of the Operations Bureau
  • 208.6.5 Records of the Los Angeles Branch Office
  • 208.7 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL)
  • 208.8 SOUND RECORDINGS (GENERAL) 1941-47 337 items
  • 208.9 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL) n.d. 1 item

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208.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Established: In the Office for Emergency Management (OEM), Executive Office of the President (EOP), by EO 9182, June 13, 1942, consolidating functions of the Office of Government Reports, OEM's Division of Information and Office of Facts and Figures, and the Foreign Information Service of the Office of the Coordinator of Information.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • Executive Council (1933-34)
  • Industrial Emergency Committee (IEC, 1934)
  • National Emergency Council (NEC, 1933-39)
  • United States Information Service (USIS), NEC (1934-39)

In the Executive Office of the President:

  • Office of Government Reports (OGR, 1939-42)
  • USIS, OGR (1939-42)

In the Office for Emergency Management, EOP:

  • Division of Information (1941-42)
  • Office of Facts and Figures (OFF, 1941-42)

In the Office of the Coordinator of Information (OCOI):

  • Foreign Information Service (FIS, 1941-42)
Functions: Formulated and executed information programs to promote, in the United States and abroad, understanding of the status and progress of the war effort and of war policies, activities, and aims of the U.S. government.

Abolished: By EO 9608, August 31, 1945.

Successor Agencies: Foreign information dissemination functions to Department of State (1945-53); U.S. Information Agency (USIA, 1953-77); International Communications Agency (1977-82); USIA (1982- ). Domestic information dissemination functions to Government Information Service, Bureau of the Budget (1945-46); USIS, OGR (1946-48); function lapsed, 1948.

Finding Aids: H. Stephen Helton, comp., Records of the Office of War Information, PI 56 (1953); H. Stephen Helton and Forrest R. Holdcamper, comps., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Office of War Information," NC 148 (1967).

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Office of War Information in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the Office of Government Reports, RG 44.
Records of the U.S. Information Agency, RG 306.
Records of the Office of Strategic Services, RG 226.

Subject Access Terms: World War II agency.

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208.2 GENERAL RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION
1941-45
79 lin. ft.

History: Executive Council established by EO 6202-A, July 11, 1933, to advise on interagency problems of new governmental agencies concerned with economic recovery. National Emergency Council established by EO 6433-A, November 17, 1933, to provide logistical support to Executive Council. Industrial Emergency Committee established by EO 6770, June 30, 1934, to advise the President on problems of relief, public works, labor disputes, and industrial recovery. Executive Council and IEC consolidated into NEC by EO 6889-A, October 29, 1934. United States Information Service established in NEC, March 1934, as a central clearinghouse for information on all phases of governmental activity. NEC abolished by Reorganization Plan No. II of 1939, effective July 1, 1939, and personnel and functions (including USIS) transferred to Office of Government Reports in the Executive Office of the President. OGR made an administrative unit of the EOP by EO 8248, September 8, 1939, to prepare reports and evaluations concerning programs of federal agencies. Office of Emergency Management established in the EOP by administrative order, May 25, 1940, in accordance with EO 8248 to assist the President in clearing information on defense measures and to maintain liaison with national defense agencies. Division of Information established in OEM by Presidential letter, February 28, 1941, with functions relating to public information on the defense effort. Office of Facts and Figures established in OEM by EO 8922, October 24, 1941, to disseminate in the United States information about defense efforts and policies. Office of the Coordinator of Information (later to become the Office of Strategic Services; SEE RG 226) established by Presidential order of July 11, 1941, to gather and analyze information relating to the national security and to perform related supplementary activities. OCOI foreign information activities centralized in Foreign Information Service. OGR, Division of Information, OFF, and FIS abolished, with functions to OWI, 1942. SEE 208.1.

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208.2.1 Records of the Office of the Director

Textual Records: Correspondence, reports, and other records of the director and his staff, 1942-45. Correspondence with Congress, 1942-45. Intelligence and media reports of the Advertising and Intelligence Division, OFF, 1941-42. Correspondence with government agencies, 1942-45. Correspondence of OFF Director Archibald MacLeish, 1941-42. Records of OWI historian E.P. Lilly, 1941-45. Subject files of the OFF, the Committee on War Information, and the Censorship Policy Board, 1941-42. Correspondence of division chiefs, 1941-43.

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208.2.2 Records of the Security Office

History: Established in February 1943 by order of the OWI director to standardize handling of security-classified materials in all government agencies.

Textual Records: Correspondence, minutes of meetings, reports, and other records, 1942-45. Outpost cables and reports, 1942-45.

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208.2.3 Records of the Security Advisory Board

History: Established in May 1943 under the OWI security officer, by order of the OWI director, to provide further guidance on continuing protection of classified information as outlined in OWI Regulation No. 4, September 28, 1942. Transferred to Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1945 after termination of OWI.

Textual Records: Minutes and agenda of meetings, 1943-45. General records of the chairman, 1942-45. Correspondence, 1942-45.

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208.2.4 Records of the War Information Board

History: Established in the Office of the Director to develop in detail the war information policies of the government and to formulate general information programs. Consisted of the director, associate director, and three assistant directors. First meeting, March 9, 1943. Last meeting, February 22, 1944.

Textual Records: Minutes of meetings, 1943-44.

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208.2.5 Records of the Office of Management Services

History: Position of Assistant Director for Management established by OWI Staff Order No. 10, November 13, 1942. Consolidated administrative services for OWI branches.

Textual Records: General records of the Procedures Division, 1942-45. Subject file of the regional executive officer (San Francisco), 1943-45. Correspondence with outposts and administrative officers, 1943-45.

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208.3 RECORDS OF THE DOMESTIC OPERATIONS BRANCH
1926-46 (bulk 1941-45)
491 lin. ft.

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208.3.1 Records of the Office of the Director

Textual Records: Correspondence of the director, 1942-45. Correspondence, directives, reports, and other records of the Speech Clearance Unit, 1942-45.

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208.3.2 Records of the Office of War Programs

Textual Records: Correspondence of the director, 1942-45. Records of the Bureau of Campaigns, 1942-43. Records of the Office of Program Coordination, 1943-44. Issuances, guides, and pamphlets, 1942-45. Information campaign materials, 1943. Photostats of advertisements, 1942-43. Newspaper and magazine clippings, 1942- 43.

Photographs (372 images): Of posters, 1942-43 (PM). SEE ALSO 208.9.

Drawings, Paintings, and Mockups (210 images): For posters publicizing war production and conservation, ca. 1943 (B). SEE ALSO 208.9.

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208.3.3 Records of the Deputy Directors

Textual Records: Correspondence and other records, 1942-45. Records relating to war bond drives, 1943-45; the fuel conservation program, 1945; the V-Mail program, 1944-45; the economic stabilization campaign, 1944; the security of war information program, 1942-44; domestic campaigns for food production, gasoline allocation, and rationing, 1943-45; home front campaigns such as forest fire prevention, industrial safety, and juvenile delinquency, 1943-45; and information campaigns on manpower, salvage, recruitment of women, and discharged veterans, 1944-45. D-Day press releases, 1944.

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208.3.4 Records of the Radio Bureau

Textual Records: Correspondence, reports, radio scripts, and other records of the chief and deputy chief, 1941-45. Reports on relief and rehabilitation of liberated areas of Europe, 1945. Correspondence, reports, radio scripts, and other records of the Allocation Division, 1942-46; the Editorial and Production Division, 1941-45; the Script Clearance Division, 1941-45; the Special Assignment Division, 1943-45; and the Station Relations Division, 1941-45. Records of the Hollywood Office, 1941-45.

Sound Recordings (247 items): Recordings of the President, Vice President, and other government and foreign officials, 1941-45. SEE ALSO 208.8.

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208.3.5 Records of the News Bureau

Textual Records: Administrative records, 1941-45. Records of the bureau chief, 1941-45. Correspondence of the chief of the Casualty Section, 1945; the chief of the Negro Press Section, 1943; and the chief of the Photography Division, 1943. Correspondence, press releases, newsletters, and other records of the News Editing Division, 1941-45; the News Writing Division, 1943-45; the Weekly Press Division, 1942-45; the Business Press Section, 1942-45; the Labor Press Section, 1942-45; the Graphics Section, 1942-45; and the Foreign Language Section, 1941-45.

Motion Pictures (2 reels): Spanish language film, Our Mexican Eastern Front, showing military maneuvers developed to protect the Gulf of Mexico during World War II, n.d. SEE ALSO 208.7.

Sound Recordings (176 items): Foreign language news and propaganda recordings, n.d. SEE ALSO 208.8.

Photographic Prints (1,350 images): Blacks in government, industries, and the armed forces during World War II, 1941-45 (NP). SEE ALSO 208.9.

Cartoons and Drawings (1,200 images): Original drawings and mockups for cartoons, and original drawings of famous black Americans by Charles Alston, n.d. (COM). SEE ALSO 208.9.

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208.3.6 Records of the Bureau of Graphics

Textual Records: Correspondence of the bureau chief, 1942-45. Correspondence of the Outdoor and Transportation Advertising Section, 1943-46; and the Traffic Section, 1942-44. Records of the Art Section (New York), 1942-45.

Photographic Prints (100 images): Poster proof book, 1942-43 (PM). SEE ALSO 208.9.

Posters (146 images): Posters, streamers, stickers, handbills, and placards, 1942-43 (PMP). SEE ALSO 208.9.

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208.3.7 Records of the Bureau of Field Operations

Textual Records: Records of the headquarters staff, 1941-43. Records of the Canadian Section, 1942-43.

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208.3.8 Records of the Bureau of Motion Pictures

Textual Records: Records of the Office of the Chief, 1931-45. Records relating to government film coordination, 1940-45; film stock allocation, 1942-45; newsreels, 1940-44; subjects for films, 1941-45; research for government films, 1936-43; film distribution, 1939-45; and government educational films, 1926-45. Correspondence, scripts, and other records of the Production Division, 1938-43. Correspondence with commercial and noncommercial film producers, 1941-45.

Motion Pictures (78 reels): Nontheatrical films on war subjects, 1941-43. SEE ALSO 208.7.

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208.3.9 Records of the Book and Magazine Bureau

Textual Records: Correspondence of the bureau chief, 1942-45. Records of the Magazine Liaison Office (New York), 1942-43. Reports, publications, and maps of the Research Section, 1942-45.

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208.3.10 Records of the Foreign News Bureau

Textual Records: Records of the bureau chief, 1942-45. Records of the News Operations Division, 1942-45.

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208.4 RECORDS OF THE OVERSEAS OPERATIONS BRANCH
1941-46
612 lin. ft.

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208.4.1 Records of the Office of the Director

Textual Records: Records of the Information Liaison Office, 1942- 46; the Office of Policy Coordination, 1942-46; and the Washington Review Board, 1944-45.

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208.4.2 Records of the Bureau of Overseas Intelligence

History: Established by Staff Order No. 21, August 26, 1943, to replace the Bureau of Research and Analysis. Collected, evaluated, and disseminated intelligence for the OWI and maintained liaison with other federal agencies having intelligence materials.

Textual Records: Central intelligence records, 1942-45. Research reports, 1943-45. Informational files on Europe, North America, the Near East, Latin America (Pacific Region), islands in the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean (Western Hemisphere), 1941-46; the Mediterranean-African Region, 1941-45; Australia, 1942-44; the Axis, 1942-45; Asia, 1942-46; and the United Nations, 1943- 45. Reports on morale, 1943-45.

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208.4.3 Records of the Office of Communications Control

History: Established by OWI Staff Order No. 35, August 24, 1944, to supervise functions and personnel of the message centers and the security equipment operations of the San Francisco, Washington, and New York Divisions for the Bureau of Communications Facilities and the Outpost Service Bureau.

Textual Records: Records of the chief, 1944-45. Security- classified and unclassified operational cables, 1943-44. Confidential and secret documents, control logs, and guidances of the Records and Distribution Section (San Francisco), 1942-45. Cables, letters, and reports of the Records and Distribution Section (New York), 1942-46.

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208.4.4 Records of the Communications Facilities Bureau

Textual Records: Records of the Planning and Research Section and the Radiophoto Section, Pacific Network Division, 1944-45. Records of the Bronze Network Division (New York), 1943-45.

Photographic Prints and Negatives (10,066 images): Master file of photographs transmitted overseas by radio waves, Bronze Network Division (New York), 1942-45 (RTA). SEE ALSO 208.9.

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208.4.5 Records of the Outpost Service Bureau

Textual Records: Records of the Special Promotion Division, 1942- 44. Records of the editor of the Outpost News, 1943-45. Records of the chief of the Transportation, Procurement, and Warehousing Division, 1943-45.

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208.5 RECORDS OF THE NEW YORK OFFICE, OVERSEAS OPERATIONS BRANCH
1930-51
505 lin. ft.

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208.5.1 General records

Textual Records: Agenda and minutes of the German Committee, Central Control Division, 1944-45. Correspondence, reports, and other records of the Evaluations Division, Office of Control, 1942-46. German prisoner-of-war newspapers, 1945. Agenda and minutes of meetings, New York Review Board, 1943-45.

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208.5.2 Records of the News and Features Bureau

Textual Records: Records of the Office of the Chief, 1942-45. Foreign newspapers and clippings file of the Basic News Division, 1942-44 (120 ft.). Cable news file of the Cable-Wireless Division (New York), 1942-46 (239 ft.). Records of the Cable-Wireless Division (San Francisco), 1944-46. Master set of feature stories, with card index, maintained by the Features Division, 1942-45. Washington News Division sample file of news stories produced by the FIS, 1942.

Photographic Prints and Negatives (344,144 images): Pictures Division photographs illustrating the United Nations Conference on International Organization, 1945 (UNC, CIO, DIO, DSC, SX; 2,239 images); the Inter-American Conference on War and Peace, 1945 (MC, 376 images); President Roosevelt's funeral, 1945 (FDR, NDC; 100 images); President Harry S. Truman, 1946 (TF, 100 images); life in the United States, 1942-46 (LU, LO, SAI, A, POA, AU, AEX; 23,500 images); Allied and Axis military and civilian activities, 1930-45 (MO, AA, N, AAN, AMC, NA, PA, MFI, COKO, DEM, SS, M, T, SE, NE, YE, K; 165,000 images); and occupational therapy for veterans of World War II, 1943-45 (OT, 500 images). Pictures Division photographs showing American and foreign political, military, scientific, theatrical, and sports figures, 1935-51 (PU, WP, FV, IR, AFP, AP, MCP, PNC, OP, POP, KAR; 81,000 images); used in OWI publications, 1943-46 (PP, PR, PRA, PRV, USA; 5,200 images); sent to and from overseas outposts, mostly by radio waves, 1942-45 (PCT, WSO, UR, O; 25,000 images) and to Stockholm, 1941-45 (SP, 2,000 images); illustrating feature stories, 1942-46 (FS, S; 31,000 images); appearing in Victory Magazine, 1943-46 (VM, 1,700 images); showing Voice of America broadcasters, 1942-46 (CO, DD, W; 112 images); and used for exhibit purposes, 1942-46 (EX, TM, J, MNC; 6,000 images). Pictures Division photographs of editorial cartoons, 1942-45 (C, 200 images); characters from Walt Disney films, 1940-42 (D, 60 images); and Chinese language version of the World Court statute and the United Nations Charter, 1945 (CT, 57 images). SEE ALSO 208.9.

Drawings (70 images): Watercolors, woodcuts, sketches, and etchings illustrating life in the United States, 1942-46 (EX). SEE ALSO 208.9.

Posters (430 images): Publicizing war production and conservation, 1941-45 (PMO). SEE ALSO 208.9.

Finding Aids: Emma B. Haas, Anne Harris, and Thomas W. Ray, comps., List of Photographs made by the Office of War Information at the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, 1945, SL 11 (1953); Norwood N. Biggs, comp., "OWI Photographs Depicting 'Life in the United States, 1942-1946'," NC 56 (1964); shelflist (NS) to photographic negatives in series N; card index (FSX) to photographic series FS; index (X) to photographic series PU and WP; and card index (Z) to photographic series N, AA, and MO.

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208.5.3 Records of the Radio Program Bureau

Sound Recordings (331 items): OWI broadcasts to foreign countries, 1941-46 (330 items). Report by Maj. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe on the defense of Bastogne, 1944 (1 item). SEE ALSO 208.8.

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208.5.4 Records of the Bureau of Overseas Publications

Textual Records: Publications for overseas distribution, 1942-45. Correspondence, minutes, reports, and other records of the bureau chief, 1941-45; the Booklet Division, 1942-45; and the Art Division, 1942-43.

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208.5.5 Records of the Bureau of Overseas Motion Pictures

Motion Pictures (2 reels): Chinese memorial services for President Roosevelt, 1945 (1 reel). Foreign language propaganda newsreel, n.d. (1 reel). SEE ALSO 208.7.

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208.6 RECORDS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE, OVERSEAS OPERATIONS
BRANCH
1941-46
238 lin. ft.

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208.6.1 General records

Textual Records: Records of the Office of the Director, 1942-46; Information and Liaison Office, 1943-46; and Office of Control, 1942-46.

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208.6.2 Records of the Program Bureau

Textual Records: Records of the Office of the Chief of the Program Bureau, 1944-46. General records of the Master Radio Division, 1942-46. Records of the Chinese, Japanese, French, Burmese, Indonesian, Philippine, Thai, and Korean Divisions, 1942-46.

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208.6.3 Records of the Analysis and Research Bureau

Textual Records: Records of the bureau chief, 1943-46. Monitoring reports of Japanese broadcasts, 1941-45, with indexes. Analyses of Japanese radio broadcasts, 1942-45. Operations intelligence reports, 1944-45.

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208.6.4 Records of the Operations Bureau

Textual Records: General records of Office Chief John A. Potter, 1942-43. Records of the Program Service Division, including program and recording schedules, 1942-46; and program sheets for OWI programs, 1945. Records of the Production Division, 1942-45. Records of the Radio Representative of the Operations Bureau (New York), 1943-45.

Sound Recordings (24 items): Broadcasts of negotiations for Japanese surrender, 1945 (17 items). Radio statements of delegates at the signing of the United Nations Charter, 1945 (7 items). SEE ALSO 208.8.

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208.6.5 Records of the Los Angeles Branch Office

Textual Records: Correspondence and other records of Ulric Bell and W.S. Cunningham, successive office chiefs, relating to liaison with the Hollywood motion picture industry, plans for film production, OWI film policies, and film review, 1942-45. Records of the Motion Picture Division, consisting of reviews and analyses of Hollywood film productions, with recommendations concerning their suitability for overseas distribution, 1943-45. Records of the Radio Division, 1942-45.

Motion Pictures (578 reels): War information and propaganda films, 1941-45 (72 reels). United News series, 1942-44 (268 reels). Newsreels from Allied and nongovernmental domestic sources, 1942-45, consisting of French Actualities (15 reels), Indian News (2 reels), Russian News (162 reels), War Pictorial (53 reels), Movietones (4 reels), and News of the Day (2 reels). SEE ALSO 208.7.

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208.7 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL)

SEE UNDER 208.3.5, 208.3.8, 208.5.5, and 208.6.5.

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208.8 SOUND RECORDINGS (GENERAL)
1941-47
337 items

Miscellaneous OWI broadcasts, 1941-47.

SEE UNDER 208.3.4, 208.3.5, 208.5.3, and 208.6.4.

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208.9 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)
n.d.
1 item

Filmstrip: "The Retailer Fights Inflation," produced by the OWI Seattle office, n.d. (FSS).

SEE Photographs UNDER 208.3.2. SEE Photographic Prints UNDER 208.3.5 and 208.3.6. SEE Photographic Prints and Negatives UNDER 208.4.4 and 208.5.2. SEE Drawings UNDER 208.5.2. SEE Drawings, Paintings, and Mockups UNDER 208.3.2. SEE Cartoons and Drawings UNDER 208.3.5. SEE Posters UNDER 208.3.6 and 208.5.2.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

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This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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