Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Office of Censorship

(Record Group 216)
1934-45 (bulk 1942-45)
539 cu. ft.

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 216.2 RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF CENSORSHIP 1934-45 (bulk 1942-45) 657 lin. ft. and 4,344 rolls of microfilm
  • 216.2.1 General records
  • 216.2.2 Intelligence records
  • 216.2.3 Records of divisions
  • 216.2.4 Records of field censorship stations


Established: As an independent agency, by EO 8985, December 19, 1941, under authority of the First War Powers Act (55 Stat. 840), December 18, 1941.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • Joint Board (censorship planning), War and Navy Departments (Sept. 1939-June 1941)
  • Censorship Branch, Military Intelligence Division, War Department General Staff (June 1941-Mar. 1942)
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Department of the Navy (Sept. 1939-Mar. 1942)
Functions: Censored communications passing between the United States and any foreign country, or between foreign countries by means of transportation that touched U.S. territory.

Abolished: By EO 9631, September 28, 1945, effective November 15, 1945.

Finding Aids: Henry T. Ulasek, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Office of Censorship, PI 54 (1953).

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

Subject Access Terms: World War II agency.

Top of Page

1934-45 (bulk 1942-45)
657 lin. ft. and 4,344 rolls of microfilm

History: Censorship planning by the Joint Board (also known as the Joint Army and Navy Board) commenced with the President's declaration of national emergency, September 2, 1939. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations concurrently began planning for censorship of international cable and radio traffic. Censorship Branch established in the Military Intelligence Division, War Department General Staff, following the President's approval, June 4, 1941, of the Joint Board plan assigning to the navy responsibility for radio and cable censorship and to the army, postal and telegraph censorship, under a civilian director of censorship. Military personnel engaged in these operations transferred to Office of Censorship, March 15, 1942. SEE 216.1.

Top of Page

216.2.1 General records

Textual Records: Administrative subject file, 1941-45 (320 ft.), with index (78 ft.), including minutes of meetings and conferences, reports of violations of censorship, reports of liaison officers in Allied censorship offices, station activity reports, manuals and handbooks, and station histories. Typescript history of the Office of Censorship, 1941-45, and accompanying historical file, 1934-45.

Top of Page

216.2.2 Intelligence records

Textual Records: Microfilm copy of submission slips containing texts of intercepted messages, 1941-45 (4,340 rolls). Censorship Daily Reports and source materials, 1941-45. Weekly censorship reports, 1942-44; and special reports, 1942-43. Reports analyzing intercepted communications involving specific persons or business firms ("traffic analyses"), 1943-45. Combined index ("U.S. Censorship Flash Index") to the Censorship Daily Reports and to the name lists of persons or firms of interest to specific government agencies or that appeared on the Proclaimed List of Certain Blocked Nationals or other recognized government blacklist ("Watch Lists"), 1942-45. Correspondence, instructions, and other records relating to Watch Lists, 1942-45. List of government agents whose communications were not subject to censorship ("White List"), 1943-45. Records of the Technical Operations Division, including an unpublished nine-volume history ("Censorship in Counter-Espionage Operations of World War II"), 1943-45; case histories, 1943-45; and a microfilm copy of submissions concerning intercepted communications of a suspicious nature ("X" submissions), 1942-45 (4 rolls), with indexes.

Specific Restrictions: All intelligence and security records of the Office of Censorship except the unpublished history of the Technical Operations Division are under seal and may not be examined by anyone for any purpose without the permission of the President of the United States, as specified by the President of the United States.

Sound Recordings (2 items): Training lectures relating to censorship, 1945.

Filmstrips (4 items): Training lectures relating to censorship, 1945 (FS).

Finding Aids: Henry T. Ulasek, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Office of Censorship, Part Two: Intelligence Records," 1951.

Top of Page

216.2.3 Records of divisions

Textual Records: Reading file of the Administrative Division, 1942; files of the Budget and Finance Section, 1942-46; and recruiting records of the Personnel Section, 1941-45. War Department censorship files, June 1941-March 1942; and records of the chief censor of the Postal Division, 1942-45. "Old Cable File," documenting navy cable censorship planning, organization, and operations, 1939-42; and reading file of the Rules and Regulations Section of the Cable Division, 1942-44. "Day File" of the Press Division, relating to specific cases of press censorship, 1942-44. Short-wave watch logs of the Broadcasting Division, documenting the monitoring of broadcasts of the Office of War Information, the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, the Columbia Broadcasting System, and the National Broadcasting Company, 1942-44; and card file of monitored foreign language broadcasts, n.d.

Top of Page

216.2.4 Records of field censorship stations

Textual Records: Miscellaneous records of the station in San Juan, PR, 1942-45.

Top of Page


SEE UNDER 216.2.2.

Top of Page


SEE Filmstrips UNDER 216.2.2.

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.

Top of Page

Guide to Federal Records >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272