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Records of the Office of Censorship (RG 216)

The First War Powers Act, approved on December 18, 1941 (55 Stat. 840), contained broad grants of Executive authority for the prosecution of the war, including a provision for censorship. The next day the President signed Executive Order 8985, which established the Office of Censorship and conferred on its Director the power to censor international communications in "his absolute discretion."   Byron Price was appointed Director of Censorship and remained in that office throughout the agency's existence. (Note 30)

When the office of Censorship was organized under a civilian director, the censorship activities carried on by the War Department were placed in the Postal Division under the direction of a Chief Postal Censor.

By Executive Order 9631 the Office of Censorship was formally abolished as of November 15, 1945.

During 1944 and 1945 the Office of Censorship was an active participant in Safehaven program activities. Throughout the summer and fall of 1944 the Foreign Economic Administration (FEA) explained its specific Safehaven Program needs in terms of intercept material. For example, on September 13, 1944, the FEA Administrator wrote the Director of The Office of Censorship that the latter's office needed to broaden its activities, in part because of the  "growing use...being made of censorship intercepts on Axis business arrangements in neutral countries, especially in view of Germany's plan to make use of neutrals for concealing assets."  Indeed, the FEA's Economic Intelligence Division received from and processed intercepts relating to German economic penetration as it was accomplished through flight of German capital (actually in motion); use of German assets outside of German-controlled Europe, in neutral countries, and in countries like Turkey and Argentina; and, German personnel operating in neutral countries in technical, managerial and engineering capacities. (Note 31)

By mid December 1944, the Office of Censorship, guided by an outlined provided by the Blockade Division of the FEA had provided its staff with directives for intercepting Safehaven information. Censors and examiners were further instructed on Safehaven intelligence requirements when a directive was issued to them on January 1, 1945. To be watched for were evidences of: 1) export and import activities disguised to conceal illegal or deceptive business arrangements; 2) stockpiling in neutral countries by the enemy; 3) investments of new capital in any form by cloaks; 4) manipulations in Switzerland of free currency, and transfers through Swiss banks to Argentine banks through sales of Swiss francs; 5) gold exchanges for free currency; 6) rendition of services, such as acting as depository for assets; 7) travels by Nazis who fled or had been evacuated from formerly German occupied territories; 8) activities of people leaving from Germany and German-occupied Europe, or Germans in neutral counties to Western Hemisphere; 9) Nazi political agents in neutral countries in Allied-occupied countries; in Prisoner of War Camps; 10) Nazi propaganda agents anywhere; 11) transfers of stockpiles of merchandise from one country to another; 12) transfers to neutral countries of treasure,--gold, currency, books, manuscripts, art objects, etc., looted by the Germans; 13) German holdings in neutral countries: gold, bank deposits, securities, cartel and contractual agreements, claims, mortgages, accounts receivable, patent rights and trademarks, options, etc.; and, 14) technical, skilled and managerial personnel operating in neutral countries but of German origin and Nazi persuasion. (Note 32)

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General Records

Administrative Subject File 1941-1945 (Entry 1A)

Correspondence, memoranda, reports, and related materials documenting the planning, organization, administration, and operations of the Office of  Censorship and its component units. The records, originating in all the operating units of the Office and in the advisory boards, relate to the development of policies and programs for the examination of international communications and the supervision of a voluntary censorship of the domestic press and radio; the allocation and distribution to interested Government agencies of useful information intercepted in the process of  censorship; the handling of special types of communications, such as privileged mail, financial mail, and prisoner-of-war mail; and numerous other censorship activities. Included in the file are reports of evasions and attempted evasions of censorship. Arranged according to a subject-numeric classification scheme; part of which is indicated below. Boxes 1-957

Box # File Title
003-A Subject Matter
17 Smuggled Masterpieces
003-A/3 Finance & Trade
20 Argentine-Spanish Clearing Arrangement Activ. Cartels
22 Insurance
23 Safe-Haven Projects
  Sofina System
  Swiss Watches
24 Misc. Finance & Trade
24-26 Blockade Information
003-A/8 Political
32 Argentina & Bolivia
  Italy
  Spain
  Turkey
003-C User Agencies
51 Photostatic Copies-German Correspondence (OSS-OWI)
  Alien Property Custodian
51-52 Board of Economic Warfare (Office of Economic Warfare)
52 Coordinator of Information
  Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs
53 Federal Reserve System
  Foreign Economic Administration
53-54 Justice Department
55 Navy Department
55-56 Office of Strategic Services
57 Securities & Exchange Commission
57-58 State Department
58 Treasury Department
59-60 War Department
61 White House
003-D Information from other Agencies
63 Alien Property Custodian
  Board of Economic Warfare (OEW)
  Justice Department
  Navy Department
  Office of Strategic Services
64 Office of War Information
  State Department
64-65 War Department
007 Publications
81 Proclaimed List Check;
010 Relationships-Cooperation/ 010-C/1
105 Justice
  Navy
106 State
  Treasury
  War
  Alien Property Custodian
  Board of Economic Warfare
107 Coordinator of Information
  Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs
  Office of Strategic Services
  Office of War Information
108 Securities and Exchange Commission
010-E Cooperation-Other Countries
113 Portugal
  Spain
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Turkey
120 Argentina
012 Censorship Operations
152 Germany
154 Switzerland
012-A/5 Evasion of Censorship
227 Argentina
  Spanish
  Swedish
  Swiss
012-A/6 Privileged Mail
241-242 Swiss Diplomatic Pouch Mail
244-245 Reports on Opening of Privileged Mail
250 Enemy Diplomatic
251 Complaints re Censorship of Diplomatic Mail (Argentina, Spain, Switzerland)
012-A/8 Correspondence with Enemy Countries
258 Swiss Family Mail
012-A/10 Examination of Mail
260 Argentina
261 German
262 Italian
265 Sweden
  Turkey
012-A/11 Financial
266 Financial Transactions- U.S.-European Neutrals
012-F Enemy Suspects
575 British Lists
  Diplomats & Officials
  MEW "G" List
  MID [Military Intelligence Division] Summary of Information
576-577 Proclaimed List (Printed Copies)
577-579 Special Watch Instructions
579-583 Watch Lists
012-H Censorship in Foreign Countries
620 Portuguese
621 Spanish
  Sweden
  Switzerland
622 Argentina
016-D/1 Postal Training
754-755 Blockade Training
755 Business Training
  Cartel Training
755-756 Finance Training
022 Reports
834 Swiss Office of Commercial Expansion Bulletin

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Index to the Administrative Subject File 1941-1945 (Entry 3)

Copies of outgoing correspondence and memoranda that form a cross-reference file to Entry 1. A few originals of inconsequential incoming correspondence are in the file. The copies are arranged alphabetically in three parts, as follows: (1) "Public," by name of  person, firm, or organization to whom the communication was addressed; (2) "Censorship," by name of author of the document (this part contains only copies of communications between individuals within the censorship organization); and (3) "Other Agencies," by name of the Government agency to which the letter was addressed. At the bottom of each document is the file number in the Administrative Subject File under which another copy, together with the incoming communication and any other pertinent document, is filed."  Boxes 958-1199  

Records of the Office of the Director

Many of the records created by the Office are in the Administrative Subject File (Entry 1).

A History of the Office of Censorship 1941-1945 (Entry 4)

Typewritten copies of the official history, reviewing the policies, procedures, and experiences of the Office of Censorship, from the points of view of the Director's Office, the component divisions, and the individual field stations. Each volume is documented with such pertinent exhibits as copies of correspondence, memoranda, directives, manuals, codes, minutes of meetings, charts, and citations of legal authority. Boxes 1-7

Historical File (Postal Censorship) 1934-1945 (Entry 5)

Material assembled by the Director's Office as an aid in writing the part of the official history relating to postal censorship. Included are reports, drafts, and charts pertaining to the historical development of sections and subunits of the headquarters office of the Postal Division, 1943-1945; and histories, reports, training materials, general orders, a journal of daily events, and some correspondence reflecting the planning for postal censorship before World War II by the Censorship Branch of the Military Intelligence Division, War Department General Staff, and the organization and operation of postal censorship under Army officers, 1934-1942. Materials relating to headquarters history are arranged by section; the rest of the records are unarranged. Boxes 1207-1213B

Records of the Administrative Division

Submission Slips (Intercepts December 1941-August 1945 (Entry 36)

Negative 16mm microfilm copies of submission slips containing the texts or portions of texts of intercepted communications presented by censors as submissible information of interest or value to user agencies and branches of Censorship. Arranged in four parts: 1)1942; 2) January-August 1943; 3) 1943, and 4) Final Submission; thereunder arranged alphabetically by name of sender, addressee, and any intermediaries. Boxes 1-425

Records of the Liaison and Digest Section U.S. Censorship Flash Index 1942-1945 (Entry UD 1)

Photostatic copy of an index, current as of August 15, 1945, to the Watch  List and Censorship Daily Reports, consisting of names watched by censors in the handling of international communications. Names placed on the Index at the specific request of a Government agency or branch of Censorship, or because they appeared on a recognized Government blacklist, were called Watch List names and formed what was officially known as the U.S. Censorship Watch List. Certain numbers, called Watch List Numbers, were used to indicate these names: 1000- the name was on the Proclaimed List of Certain Blocked Nationals 4600-the name was watch-listed at the request of a Government agency or branch of Censorship. 4601-essentially the same as 4600, used to signify different types of handling by Cable Censorship. 5000-the name was on Treasury Department's List of Special Blocked Nationals. 7500-the name was of interest to a Government agency or to Chief Cable Censor with respect to telecommunications only. 7600-the name was on the British Statutory List. 7700-the name was of high security interest to security agencies and the Technical Operations Division. If a name was not accompanied by one of the above numbers, it was called a Non- Watch List name, and was listed on the Index only because there was information regarding the name in the Censorship Daily Reports. Non-Watch List names were followed by other numbers which represented Daily Reports. The Index consists of 50,600 strips, or 38,100 names, allowing for cross-listings, of which 23,600 strips, involving 16,117 names, represented the Watch List. In addition to the names and addresses and identifying numbers of subjects watched, the index strips also carry certain distinctive letters, numbers and symbols which guided the censors in handling pertinent documents. Arranged     alphabetically by name of person, business firm, and organization. Box 1

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Indexes to Daily Reports Below 3,000. 1942-1945 (Entry UD 2)

Photostatic copies of names indexes involving Censorship Daily Report numbers below 3,000 which were deleted from the Flash Index. These include all listings involving Non-Watch List numbers below 3,000 eliminated as obsolete in January, 1944, and 4900 listings, in combination with Report numbers below 3,000, which were deleted in October 1944, and in May, 1945. Prior to the latter date, 4900 was a Watch List number, embracing names appearing on the U.S. List of Unsatisfactory Consignees. In October 1944, all 4900 listings involving names in the Western Hemisphere except Argentina were deleted and in May 1945, the remaining Argentine and Eastern Hemisphere names were eradicated, discontinuing 4900 as a Watch List number. The photostats in this series cover only those 4900 listings involving names also appearing in Daily Report numbers below 3,000. Arranged by list, thereunder alphabetically by name of person, firm, and organization. Box 2

Address Flexoline 1943-1945 (Entry UD 3)

Photostatic copy of an index to addresses which needed to be watched for security reasons. Also indexed are the names associated with an address, or whether an address was an "Any Name" address. Arranged alphabetically by name of country, subdivided by city and street address. Box 2

Censorship Daily Reports 1941-1945 (Entry UD 6)

Brief printed digests of intelligence information concerning persons, firms, and organizations of definite subversive interests or whose communications were particularly informative, compiled by Censorship for the use of censors in writing more complete and accurate submission slips as a result of having a background of facts concerning the subject. The information ranged from the statement that nothing of a suspicious nature is known to a complete statement of adverse activities. The following information on a subject was included when known: true name and aliases, business and residential addresses, nationality and citizenship, occupation and approximate income, general reputation, political affiliations and sympathies, family connections, business, political, and personal associates, banking affiliations, sources of any income not accounted for by ordinary legitimate commercial activities, and any discrepancy between spending and earning habits. Arranged numerically, 1-8601, by Report numbers. Boxes 3-6

Source Material for Censorship Daily Reports 1941-1945 (Entry UD 7)

Correspondence, memoranda, reports, and teletypes furnishing information briefly summarized in the Censorship Daily Reports. Also included are originals and copies of correspondence, memoranda, and reports prepared by government agencies, copies of submission slips, and copies of proposed Daily Reports. Arranged numerically, 3003-8601, by Report Number. Source materials to deleted obsolete reports below 3,000 were destroyed. Boxes 7-34 location: 650/43/22/01 Weekly Censorship Reports August 1942-August 1944 (Entry UD 9)

Mimeographed summaries of selected quotations taken from intercepted communications reflecting political and economic conditions abroad, and living conditions and morale in Germany and German-occupied Europe. Arranged by Report number, 1-101. Boxes 35-38.

Special Reports November 6, 1942-November 23, 1943 (Entry UD 10)

Hectographed compilations of quotations selected from letters handled in the censorship process. Arranged by Report number, 1-82. Boxes 39-40

Traffic Analyses February 1943-May 1945 (Entry UD 11)

Hectographed copies of reports based on analyses of the intercepted communications of specific persons, business firms, or organizations, each tying together a series of letters to tell a story. Some of these stories include transactions in Swiss watches, illegal transfers of funds, and attempts at evasions of export controls. Arranged chronologically. An alphabetical index to names of parties involved is at the front of Accopress binder. Box 41

Special Watch Instructions April 8, 1943-August 9, 1945 (Entry UD 12)

Mimeographed copies of instructions for censors, numbered, 1-428, providing background information on the persons requested to be watchlisted, the specific type of information desired by the interested agency, and the action to be taken by the censor. These instructions were devised for the purpose of furnishing user agencies exactly and only what they desired, thereby eliminating useless submissions. Arranged in two parts, Active SWIs and Canceled SWIs, thereunder numerically by instruction number. Box 42

Index to Special Watch Instructions April 8, 1943-August 9, 1945 (Entry UD 13)

Typewritten list of Special Watch Instructions, recorded in      numerical order, showing date each was requested and the name of the requesting agency. Instructions which were later canceled are indicated by red lines drawn through them, with the date of cancellation typed in red in the margin. Box 42

Special Watch Instruction Cancellation and Amendment List May 1944-August 1945 (Entry UD 14)

Mimeographed lists, numbered 1-35, of cancellations, revisions, and amendments to Special Watch instructions, with related correspondence and memoranda. Arranged numerically by List number. Box 43

Agency Watch List Request File 1941-1945 (Entry UD 15)

Letters and memoranda received and copies of letters and memoranda sent relating to requests by Government agencies, British Censorship, and branches of U.S. Censorship to have certain suspect individuals, firms, and organizations placed on Censorship's Watch List; copies of Special Watch List Instructions prepared by requesting agencies; and lists of current Watch List requests of particular agencies. Arranged alphabetically by agency, foreign censorship, and branch of U.S. Censorship. Boxes 44-57

Correspondence Reporting Corrections to the Watch List November 1942-August 1945 (Entry UD 16)

Letters and memoranda received from field censorship stations reporting additions, changes of address, and differences in spelling of watchlisted names on the basis of traffic examined or of information in their possession; memoranda relating to telephonic instructions received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation correcting names and addresses of subjects watchlisted at the Bureau's request; and mimeographed form requests by  Censorship's Technical Operations Division to add, delete, or change names placed on the Watch List at their behest. Arranged in three parts, as described above, each part arranged chronologically. Box 57 Proclaimed List Cloak File June 1943-June 1945 (Entry UD 17)

Correspondence and memoranda relating to aliases and addresses used as cloaks by persons and firms listed on the Proclaimed List of Certain Blocked Nationals in order to obtain mail or goods in circumvention of censorship and Government regulations, and to procedures for the control of cloaks. Arranged chronologically. Box 58

Correspondence Relating to Local Watchlisting January 23, 1943-August 13, 1945 (Entry UD 18)

Letters received and copies of letters sent, with related materials such as memoranda and teletypes, relating to requests by Government agencies and branches of Censorship to place certain names on Local Watch Lists at those stations where their mail was most likely to be intercepted. Arranged chronologically. Box 58

Miscellaneous Watch List Correspondence April 14, 1944-August 17, 1945 (Entry UD 20)

Correspondence and memoranda received and copies of correspondence and memoranda sent relating to the allocation of submission slips to British Censorship, a comparison of the U.S. Confidential List with the British Black List, the routing of      submissions, and the preparation of Special Watch Instructions. Arranged chronologically. Box 58

Card Index To the Watch List 1942-1945 (Entry UD 22)

Cards 4 x 6 inches, maintained for all names appearing on the official Watch List, showing name and address, any aliases, date of watchlisting request, name of requesting agency, code classification, any Special Watch Instructions issued on the name, and date of deletion. Arranged in two parts, Active File and Deleted File, thereunder alphabetically by name of subject watched. Boxes 1-19
Records of the Postal Division

War Department Censorship Files June 1941-March 1942 (Entry 19)

Records of the Information Control Branch of the Military Intelligence Division relating to the planning, organization, and early operations of postal censorship at headquarters and in the military departments and corps areas under the direction of Army officers. The records (War Department File MID 000.73) are mainly for the period from June 1941, when active War Department preparation for postal censorship began, until March 1942, when the administration of postal censorship was transferred to the Office of Censorship. The records consists of correspondence, memoranda, reports, and related materials, and pertain to all aspects of postal censorship, including the handling of privileged mail and "Watch- list" communications and the exchange of intercepted information with British Imperial Censorship. Arranged by subject and by department and corps area. Boxes 1291-1307

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