Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Office of Scientific Research and Development [OSRD]


(Record Group 227)
1939-50 (Bulk 1939-47)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 227.1 Administrative History
  • 227.2 Records of the Office of the Director 1940-47
  • 227.3 Records of Research Units in the Office of the Director 1939-50
    • 227.3.1 Records of Section S-1 Executive Committee and its predecessors
    • 227.3.2 Records of other units
  • 227.4 Records of the Administrative Office 1940-47
    • 227.4.1 Records of the Administrative Division
    • 227.4.2 Records of the Legal Division
    • 227.4.3 Records of the Patent Division
  • 227.5 Records of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) 1940-47
    • 227.5.1 General records
    • 227.5.2 Records of the Engineering and Transition Office and its predecessor
    • 227.5.3 Records of divisions
    • 227.5.4 Records of panels and committees
  • 227.6 Records of the Committee on Medical Research (CMR) 1940-46
  • 227.7 Records of the Liaison Office 1940-47
  • 227.8 Records of the Scientific Personnel Office 1943-46
  • 227.9 Records of the Office of Field Service (OFS) 1943-46
  • 227.10 Records of Laboratories under Contract with OSRD 1940-46
    • 227.10.1 Records of the Radiation Laboratory (RL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    • 227.10.2 Records of Harvard University laboratories
  • 227.11 Cartographic Records (General) 1941-45
  • 227.12 Motion Pictures (General) 1941-47
  • 227.13 Still Pictures (General)

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227.1 Administrative History

Established: In the Office for Emergency Management (OEM) by EO 8807, June 28, 1941.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), OEM (1940-41)

Functions: Advised the President on status of scientific and medical research relating to national defense. Coordinated federal government research relating to national defense. Compiled defense mobilization lists of scientific personnel and resources.

Abolished: Effective December 31, 1947, by EO 9913, December 26, 1947.

Successor Agencies: National Military Establishment as liquidator.

Finding Aids: Forrest R. Holdcamper, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Office of Scientific Research and Development," NC 138 (1965).

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Related Records:
Records of the Office for Emergency Management, RG 214.
Records of the Office of Naval Research, RG 298.
Records of the National Science Foundation, RG 307.
Records of the Office of Science and Technology, RG 359.

Subject Access Terms: World War II agency.

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227.2 Records of the Office of the Director
1940-47

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227.2.1 General records

Textual Records: Combined subject correspondence of NDRC Chairman and OSRD Director Vannevar Bush (1940-47) and NDRC Chairman James Bryant Conant (1941-46), 1940-47. Subject-numeric central correspondence, including that of NDRC (1940-41), 1940-47. Correspondence of OSRD director concerning missions to England and a peacetime science program, 1941-46. Monthly reports of actions taken on contracts, 1941-46. Statistical reports on personnel, budgets, and projects, 1941-45.

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227.2.2 Records of support units

Textual Records: Records of the Office of the Historian, consisting of subject files, 1943-46; issuances of various OSRD units, 1943-46; and an unpublished manuscript, "Radar in World War II," by Henry Guerlac, 1947. Case files of the Committee on OSRD Publications, 1944-47.

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227.3 Records of Research Units in the Office of the Director
1939-50

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227.3.1 Records of Section S-1 Executive Committee and its
predecessors

History: Advisory Committee on Uranium established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, October 12, 1939. Incorporated into newly established NDRC at Presidential request, and redesignated Committee on Uranium, by NDRC decision, July 2, 1940. Redesignated Section S-1, and continued as an NDRC activity following incorporation of NDRC into newly established OSRD, by EO 8807, June 28, 1941. Transferred to Office of OSRD Director, November 28, 1941. Abolished and replaced by a smaller organization designated Section S-1 Executive Committee, June 25, 1942. Became inactive following assumption of OSRD atomic research and development contracts by Manhattan Engineer District (MED), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, March 31, 1943.

Textual Records: Combined subject files of Vannevar Bush and James Bryant Conant, dealing with all aspects of early U.S. research on atomic bomb, including United States-United Kingdom collaboration, 1939-47. Office files of various OSRD officials and scientists associated with the S-1 Section research program, 1940-50. Copies of MED records, including resumes of scientific personnel engaged in atomic research; reports on research facilities; and a history of Canadian heavy water research (Project Evergreen Area), 1943-47. Correspondence and reports relating to atomic research conducted by the Naval Research Laboratory, 1939-45.

Microfilm Publications: M1392.

Related Records: Records of the Office of the Commanding General, Manhattan Project, and some Manhattan Engineer District (MED) records, in RG 77, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers. Additional MED records and records of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project in RG 374, Records of the Defense Nuclear Agency. Photographs of facilities and community life in Oak Ridge, TN, in RG 434, General Records of the Department of Energy. Papers of Lt. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, Jr., 1906-70, in National Archives collection of donated materials.

Subject Access Terms: Atomic bomb, development of.

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227.3.2 Records of other units

Textual Records: Records of Section T, responsible for research on proximity fuses, consisting of subject correspondence and technical reports, 1942-44. Correspondence of the Committee on Sensory Devices relating to the development of sensory devices for the blind and near-blind, 1944-46.

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227.4 Records of the Administrative Office
1940-47

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227.4.1 Records of the Administrative Division

Textual Records: Office files of OSRD Executive Secretary and Administrative Division Head Cleveland Norcross, 1942-46. Memorandums and manuals relating to administrative procedures, 1943-46. Contractors' reports, with index, 1940-47. Contract files, with index, 1940-47 (257 ft.). OSRD headquarters and field office issuances, with index, 1941-46. Records of the Project Control Section relating to assignments, 1941-47. Copies of published histories, reports, and monographs of OSRD and component units, 1941-47. Microfilm copy of contractors' technical reports, with index, 1941-47 (487 rolls). Summary NDRC technical reports, with index, 1946-47. Bimonthly and final project reports, 1940-47.

Microfilm Publications: T1012.

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227.4.2 Records of the Legal Division

Textual Records: Subject correspondence, 1941-47.

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227.4.3 Records of the Patent Division

Textual Records: Subject correspondence, 1941-47. Correspondence concerning the patent clearance of contracts, 1941-47. Invention disclosure files, with accompanying register, 1941-47. Correspondence relating to the federal government's radar program, 1942-44. Correspondence relating to inventions referred to the various NDRC and Committee on Medical Research units, 1941-47. Copies of U.S. Patent Office disclosure forms, 1942-46.

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227.5 Records of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC)
1940-47

History: Established by Council of National Defense order, approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, June 27, 1940, to coordinate and support research on new instrumentalities of warfare. Made a component of newly established OSRD by EO 8807, June 28, 1941. Terminated upon abolishment of OSRD, effective December 31, 1947, by EO 9913, December 26, 1947.

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227.5.1 General records

Textual Records: Minutes, 1940-45. Reports on proposed projects, 1940-45. Office files of various NDRC members, 1940-47.

Subject Access Terms: Adams, Roger C.; Coe, Conway P.; Compton, Karl T.; Jewett, Frank B.; Ooms, Casper W.; Tolman, Richard C.

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227.5.2 Records of the Engineering and Transition Office and its
predecessor

History: Transition Office established in Office of the Director, OSRD, April 1942, to recommend ways of hastening production of devices developed by OSRD. Transferred to Office of NDRC chairman, July 1942. Combined with Engineering Office to form Engineering and Transition Office, November 1943. Field office established in Pasadena, CA, April 1944; terminated December 31, 1945. Washington, DC, headquarters terminated May 1946.

Textual Records: Records of headquarters, consisting of subject correspondence, 1942-46; and correspondence with various NDRC divisions, 1942-46. Field office records, consisting of subject files, 1944-45; and correspondence with various NDRC divisions, 1944-45.

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227.5.3 Records of divisions

Textual Records: Correspondence, project files, reports, and staff member office files of Division B, 1940-43; and of Division l (Ballistic Research), 1941-46; Division 2 (Impact and Explosion), 1941-46; Division 3 (Special Projectiles and Rocket Ordnance), 1940-46; Division 4 (Ordnance Accessories), 1940-45; Division 5 (New Missiles), 1940-46; Division 6 (Sub-Surface Warfare), 1941-46 (in Washington area) and 1942-45 (in Boston); Division 7 (Fire Control), 1940-46; Division 8 (Explosives), 1940-45; Division 9 (Chemistry), 1940-45; Division 10 (Absorbents and Aerosols), 1940-45; Division 11 (Chemical Engineering), 1940-45; Division 12 (Transportation Development), 1940-45; Division 13 (Electrical Communication), 1941-46; Division 14 (Radar), 1941-46; Division 15 (Radio Coordination), consisting of records of field offices in Schenectady, NY, 1942- 46, New York, NY, 1943-46, and (in Boston) Cambridge, MA, 1943- 46; Division 16 (Optics and Camouflage), 1940-46; Division 17 (Physics), 1940-46; Division 18 (War Metallurgy), 1940-46; and Division 19 (Miscellaneous Weapons/sabotage and espionage devices), 1942-46.

Architectural and Engineering Plans: Division 1, special projectiles, gun tubes, and liners, 1942-46; Division 2, miscellaneous projects, 1940-45; and Division 16, glare protector, optical glass, scanning devices, and other projects, 1942-46 (3,400 items). See also 227.11.

Photographs: Division 3, apparently of some of the unidentified glass negatives cited below, n.d. (59 images). Division 4, fuses, assembly lines, machining equipment, and toss bomb tests, 1944-45 and n.d. (234 images). Division 6, sonar research, tests, and equipment, including transducers, small target detection, marker buoys, and float lights, primarily representing contract work by Columbia University and Harvard University underwater laboratories, 1943-45 and n.d. (834 images). See also 227.13.

Photographic Prints: Investigations in underwater ballistics conducted by the Morris Dam Group (Section IV, NDRC Physics 3) under a contract with the California Institute of Technology ("Morris Dam Report No. 153"), 1945 (RD, 87 images). See also 227.13.

Photographic Negatives: Division 12 tests of the DUKW amphibious vehicle, 1942 (D, 1,000 images). See also 227.13.

Glass Negatives: Division 3, unidentified, n.d.(89 images). SEE ALSO 227.13.

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227.5.4 Records of panels and committees

Textual Records: Correspondence, studies, reports, and staff member office files of the Applied Mathematics Panel, 1942-46; the Applied Psychology Panel, 1942-46; the Committee on Propagation (of radio waves), 1943-46; and the Tropical Deterioration Administrative Committee, 1944-46.

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227.6 Records of the Committee on Medical Research (CMR)
1940-46

History: Established as a component of OSRD, to support military medical research, by EO 8807, June 28, 1941. Terminated January 20, 1947.

Textual Records: General correspondence, including subcommittee minutes and reports, 1940-46. Minutes, with subject index, 1941- 46. Records relating to contracts, 1941-46. Correspondence relating to the distribution of contractors' reports, 1944-46. Office files of Penicillin Committee Chairman Dr. Hans Clarke, 1943-45.

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227.7 Records of the Liaison Office
1940-47

History: Established by Administrative Order 1, OSRD, August 20, 1941, to direct the London Mission established by NDRC, March 1941, for exchange of research information with the United Kingdom; to administer cable traffic between United States and United Kingdom; and to obtain security clearances for foreign scientists wishing to observe OSRD projects. Field office established in New York, NY, February 1944; terminated September 1945. Washington, DC, headquarters terminated upon abolishment of OSRD, effective December 31, 1947, by EO 9913, December 26, 1947.

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227.7.1 General records

Textual Records: Subject-numeric correspondence, 1940-46. Subject-numeric policy and procedure files, 1941-46. Correspondence concerning the receipt and distribution of British reports, 1941-45. Correspondence, requisitions, and receipts relating to radar equipment sent to the United Kingdom under the lend-lease program, 1942-45. Records, and microfilm copy of records, relating to a commercial radar exchange agreement, 1942-45 (12 rolls). Field office correspondence, 1944-45.

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227.7.2 Records of the London Mission

Textual Records: Subject correspondence, 1941-46. Correspondence and reports regarding the Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, 1941-46. Correspondence with various NDRC divisions and the CMR, 1941-46. Personnel files, 1941-46. Incoming and outgoing cable messages, 1941-46. Drafts of histories of the London Mission, 1946-47.

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227.8 Records of the Scientific Personnel Office
1943-46

History: Established by Administrative Order 3, OSRD, August 21, 1943, to administer OSRD scientific personnel program and to coordinate relations between OSRD and other federal agencies on scientific personnel matters. Terminated upon abolishment of OSRD, effective December 31, 1947, by EO 9913, December 26, 1947.

Textual Records: Correspondence with contractors, 1943-46.

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227.9 Records of the Office of Field Service (OFS)
1943-46

History: Established by Administrative Order 4, OSRD, November 8, 1943, to coordinate field testing of equipment developed by OSRD. Terminated upon abolishment of OSRD, effective December 31, 1947, by EO 9913, December 26, 1947.

Textual Records: Project files, 1943-46. Administrative files, 1943-46. Correspondence concerning OFS liaison activities with various federal government and United Kingdom scientific agencies, 1943-46. Subject files of the Operations Research Group for the Pacific Ocean Area, 1944-45. Office files of Dr. H.K. Stephenson, head of the Southwest Pacific Research Section, 1944-45. Drafts, 1943-46, with accompanying documentation, of OFS histories, published as portions of OSRD official histories, Scientists Against Time (1946) and Combat Scientists (1947).

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227.10 Records of Laboratories under Contract with OSRD
1940-46

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227.10.1 Records of the Radiation Laboratory (RL), Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT)

History: Established to research and develop microwave radar defense systems by Contract NDCrc 53, concluded between NDRC and MIT, February 5, 1941. Continued under Contract OEMsr 262, concluded between OSRD and MIT, February 17, 1942. Terminated December 31, 1945, with completed projects transferred to U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.

Textual Records (in Boston): Central correspondence, 1940-46. Case files of the Office of the Historian, 1944-46. Case files of the Transition Office, 1941-46. Records of the Office of Publications, including correspondence and drafts of manuscripts, 1945-46. Records of the Patent Office, consisting of correspondence, 1940-46, and invention reports, with supporting data notebooks, 1940-46. Minutes of the Coordinating Committee, 1941-45. Correspondence, minutes, and other records of the Standards Committee, 1942-45. Case files of the Project Committee, 1944-45. Correspondence, minutes, reports, and other records of component divisions and groups, 1941-45. Correspondence, reports, and other records of the British Branch RL, Great Malvern, England, 1943-45. Partial set of RL technical reports, 1940-46. Records of Project Cadillac (airborne radar for early warning of surface ships), 1944-45. General index to RL records, 1941-46.

Architectural and Engineering Plans (35,000 items, in Boston): Equipment and devices developed by the laboratory, including drawings of the magnetron radar transmitter and modifications, operating charts, and antenna modification charts, 1940-46. See also 227.11.

Photographic Prints and Negatives (18,600 images, in Boston): Electrical and mechanical components of various radar systems, operating charts and diagrams for radar systems, and individual and group portraits of laboratory personnel, 1940-46. See also 227.13.

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227.10.2 Records of Harvard University laboratories

Textual Records (in Boston): Correspondence, project reports, patent files, and other records of the following laboratories: Radio Research Laboratory, 1942-45; Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory, 1941-46; Electro-Acoustic Laboratory, 1940-46; Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, 1940-46; Systems Research Laboratory, 1945-46; Optical Research Laboratory, 1941-45; and Chemical Laboratory, 1941-45. Records relating to thermistor and infrared research, 1941-45.

Architectural and Engineering Plans (in Boston): Radio Research Laboratory components, systems designs, and test results, 1942-45 (44,000 items and 37 rolls of microfilm). Design and characteristics of equipment developed by the Electro-Acoustic, Psycho-Acoustic, and Systems Research Laboratories, 1940-46 (500 items). Technical aspects of Optical Research Laboratory equipment and results of laboratory tests, 1941-45 (340 items). See also 227.11.

Motion Pictures (in Boston): Radio Research Laboratory training films used to familiarize personnel in use of equipment, 1942-45 (158 reels). See also 227.12.

Photographic Prints and Negatives (in Boston): Equipment and components used by the Radio Research Laboratory, 1942-45 (791 images). See also 227.13.

Glass Negatives (in Boston): Radio Research Laboratory equipment and components, 1942-45 (2,244 images). See also 227.13.

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227.11 Cartographic Records (General)
1941-45

Architectural and Engineering Plans: Development by private contractors of ordnance proximity fuses, radar, torpedoes, machine guns, inflatable boats, and other military equipment, 1941-45 (3,000 items).

See Architectural and Engineering Plans under 227.5.3, 227.10.1, and 227.10.2.

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227.12 Motion Pictures (General)
1941-47

Research on and performance tests of various weapons, accessories, and combat vehicles, 1941-47 (16 reels).

See under 227.10.2.

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227.13 Still Pictures (General)

See Photographs under 227.5.3.
See Photographic Prints under 227.5.3.
See Photographic Negatives under 227.5.3.
See Photographic Prints and Negatives under 227.10.1 and 227.10.2.
See Glass Negatives under 227.5.3 and 227.10.2.


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.

Ordering information

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


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