The Hoover Institution Library and Archives collect, preserve, and make accessible original documents of recent history. The library and archives thus serve as an international hub for a bustling enterprise that combines research, exhibitions, publishing, and broadcasting among a lively network of scholars, politicians, public figures, artists, filmmakers, and journalists. In recent years, Hoover fellows and visitors to the library and archives have mined the holdings for materials relevant to current public policy and twentieth- and twenty-first-century history to document war, revolution, and peace in the modern era.
Large numbers of new collections, totaling 4,801 manuscript boxes, have been added to the Hoover Institution Archives in the past two years. Notable new collections cover a wide range of viewpoints, from the diaries of Soviet diplomat and Russian ambassador A. L. Adamishin, to Trotskyist materials from the Anchor Foundation, to substantial materials from Edward Teller, and to the papers of the eminent Wall Street Journal editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robert Bartley.
Examples of some recent noteworthy additions to the collections are described below. (A complete list of donors is provided at the end of this section.)
International Collections Promoting Democracy
The holdings of the Hoover Archives document, on a global scale, a wide spectrum of political opinions. The development of democratic institutions throughout the world is a major theme emerging from these collections.
The archives’ largest acquisition to date is the records of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the U.S.-funded organization that provided a surrogate free press for Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during half a century of communist domination. With some eighty thousand broadcast tapes, the collection is a rich resource on the cold war. These records have arrived at Hoover over a long period, with more files and broadcast tapes arriving each year.
The value and impact of this vast resource were highlighted at a Hoover conference that included scholars and veteran journalists from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and the United States. They discussed the actual impact of these broadcasts and analyzed specific broadcasting techniques that influenced the population in hostile regimes. The October 2004 conference (cosponsored by the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) attracted more than one hundred participants from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Human rights activist Elena Bonner, the widow of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, gave a keynote address at the conference.
The conference was organized by Research Fellow Ross Johnson, and the participants included Hoover fellows Sidney Drell, John Dunlop, Kenneth Jowitt, Gregory Mitrovich, Norman Naimark, Anatol Shmelev, George Shultz, and Amir Weiner and associate director Elena Danielson.
A follow-on conference was held in February 2005 to analyze how lessons learned from RFE/RE can be applied to broadcasting in the Islamic world.
To bring the story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty to an even wider audience, an interpretive exhibition, “Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty,” was installed in the Herbert Hoover Exhibit Pavilion. A virtual version of the historic documents from the collection may be found on the Hoover website (www.hoover.org/hila).
International in scope and essential for the study of emerging democratic institutions are the records of the Center for Democracy and the papers of its founder, historian Allen Weinstein. Weinstein’s international public service began in 1985, when he founded the bipartisan Center for Democracy in Washington, D.C., which, since then, has monitored elections in Russia, Central America, and Asia. Consisting of more than one thousand boxes of documents and with more materials arriving every year, this collection should prove to be a major source for historians and journalists alike.
Modern China Archives
The Hoover Institution’s interest in China dates back to Herbert Hoover’s work in Tientsin, China, where he served as a mining engineer in 1899 and was caught up in the Boxer Rebellion. During the early years of the twentieth century, Mr. Hoover collected books on Chinese history for Stanford University.
Owing to a dearth of open, official records, more researchers use the East Asian records than those from any other curatorial area. Compared with American and European historiography, writing modern Chinese history, according to historian Jonathan Spence, faces a particular obstacle because few original sources are available and accessible for research. Therefore, efforts to collect and open a vast resource on Chinese history, which will provide a basis for objective history writing on China, are imperative. Hoover fellows Kuo Tai-chun and Ramon Myers are spearheading the library and archives’ efforts to collect materials and open a vast resource for studying modern Chinese history.
Selections of the vast papers of T. V. Soong, finance minister of China and foreign minister in World War II, have been deposited at Hoover since the 1970s. Much of the Soong collection was restricted during the lifetime of Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soong’s sister) out of respect for her privacy. The collection was significantly enhanced in 2004, when the family of T. V. Soong not only opened up the restricted materials in the Hoover Archives but added substantial documentation from the family files. Those records document Soong’s close relationship with President Roosevelt, Soong’s role in marshaling U.S. support for China in World War II, and his family’s role in gaining U.S. support for Taiwan during the cold war. The papers reveal the inside story (never before completely understood) of General Stilwell’s removal from power in 1944. Another revelation is the exact status of the Soong family finances, long a subject of intense speculation.
In 1949, after the Communist Party came to power on the mainland, the Kuomintang (KMT), China’s oldest political party, which traces its roots to Sun Yat-sen, relocated to Taiwan, taking along its records. These records are an invaluable resource for understanding China in the twentieth century, the economic miracle that occurred in Taiwan after World War II, and the peaceful transition to democracy that occurred in Taiwan when martial law was lifted in 1987.
Recently, three million documents, never before available to scholars, were declassified by KMT chairman Lien Chan so that they could be both preserved and made available for research. Although the original records will stay in Taiwan, the Hoover Institution is creating a preservation microfilm of these records. The microfilm will be digitized to ensure easy access by scholars and to preserve the records.
In addition to preserving official KMT records, the Hoover Institution is assisting in the preservation of the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek (from 1919 to 1972) and his son Chiang Ching-kuo (from 1941 to 1979). On loan to the Hoover Institution, it is expected that these private family papers will be made be available to historians to provide further documentation for China’s history. In addition, Madame Chiang’s papers, held by the National Women’s League of the Republic of China in Taipei, Taiwan, will be microfilmed.
Significant collections in the Hoover Archives include the papers of General Joseph Stilwell, commanding general of the China-Burma-India theater of war, 1942–1944 (a well-known adversary of Chiang Kai-shek), and the papers of Chiang’s great friend and ally, General Albert Wedemeyer. General Stilwell’s diaries, a major source on China during World War II, have, up to now, been published in fragments. The Stilwell family and a team of editors have transcribed the diaries. Among other things, scholars can now compare Stilwell’s transcribed diaries to the newly available papers of T. V. Soong and, in the near future, to the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek.
Other major acquisitions include the papers of Chang Kia-ngau concerning China’s negotiations with the Soviet Union over Manchuria.
Shortly before her death, writer and journalist Iris Chang donated her extensive materials to the Hoover Archives. They document her research on the history of the Chinese in America and the human rights violations in Nanking (1937–1938) and include the lengthy interviews she conducted with American military personnel who served in the Pacific during World War II.
Acquisitions and Publications on the Soviet Forced Labor System
The Hoover Institution Library and Archives have sponsored the microfilming of millions of documents in the files of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Hoover microfilm on the Soviet Gulag alone includes some twelve million documents. That documentation, which details the internal workings of the forced labor camps under Stalin, has been used by writers Anne Applebaum and Paul Gregory to produce prizewinning books that explore both the human and the economic tragedy of the Gulag.
Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum’s most recent book, Gulag: A History, published in April 2003 by Doubleday, won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. In her research for the book, which chronicles the history of the Soviet concentration camps and depicts daily life in them, Applebaum made extensive use of recently opened Russian archives, including the files in the Hoover Archives.
Research fellow Paul R. Gregory received the 2004 Ed A. Hewett Book Prize (awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research) for The Political Economy of Stalinism: Evidence from the Soviet Secret Archives (Cambridge University Press, 2003). This book examines the political economy of the centrally planned economies of the former Soviet Union and East Central Europe and their transitional successors. Gregory drew on formerly secret Soviet state and Communist Party archives — making extensive use of the microfilms of the Communist Party files in the Hoover Archives — to describe the Soviet administrative command system. That system’s failure, Gregory concludes, was not strictly the fault of Stalin’s leadership but also the result of internal contradictions in the economic system itself.
The Hoover Institution and the State Archives of the Russian Federation joined together to edit key documents on the Gulag, which have been published in seven volumes by the Rosspen publishing house in Moscow. Hoover fellows Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Robert Conquest both wrote introductions for this series, which was launched in December 2004.
Of particular note is the acquisition of the papers of Alexander Ginzburg, one of the leading Soviet dissidents of the 1960s and 1970s and a close friend and collaborator of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Ginzburg compiled the “White Book” about the Siniavskii-Daniel trial in the mid-1960s and was one of the founders of the Soviet chapter of the Helsinki Group, which monitored human rights in the Soviet Union. He spent three different prison terms in the Gulag for his work as an underground samizdat publisher and human rights activist. He was released and exiled to the West in 1979.
Cultivating the Hoover Legacy
As an international mining engineer before World War I, Herbert Hoover’s travels to Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Russian empire awakened a lifelong interest in global politics. His awareness of the ravages of war in the industrial age motivated him to organize a comprehensive American foreign aid program, the American Relief Administration (ARA), to save children and civilians in foreign war zones. Mr. Hoover saved the financial records for audits and had the children fed by those programs photographed to prove that the financial assistance reached the most needy and was not diverted to other uses.
A major exhibition, “American Friendship: Herbert Hoover and Poland,” was installed in the Polish Royal Castle in Warsaw. A Hoover Institution delegation led by Director John Raisian, Associate Director Elena Danielson, Board of Overseers chairman Kurt Hauser, and Board of Overseers member Herbert Hoover III opened the exhibition on November 12, 2004. Victor Ashe, U.S. ambassador to Poland, and Lech Kaczynski, mayor of Warsaw, also participated in the opening ceremonies.
From 1919 to 1921 Mr. Hoover helped feed orphans, impoverished Jews, and other destitute civilians devastated during the wartime struggles when Poland was reconstituted as a nation-state after a century of partition. The exhibition featured Polish ARA photographs from the Hoover Archives. In the course of the exhibition preparation, hundreds of old archival photographs and snapshots were scanned and restored, bringing back to life the image of Poland as it reemerged on the European stage. The exhibition was created by Maciej Siekierski, curator for the Institution’s East/Central European Collection, and Zbigniew Stanczyk; the Taube Family Foundation provided funding for the installation of the exhibition and for the exhibition catalog.
Adventures of the ARA in Belarus, a book by Alexander Lukashuk, who was an Osher Fellow at the Hoover Institution, was released in 2004. An RFE/RL broadcast journalist from Belarus, Lukashuk conducted his research in the Hoover Archives and wrote of the ARA relief mission, headed by Herbert Hoover, in Lukashuk’s native country. In surveying the Belarus collections, Lukashuk found letters addressed to Herbert Hoover from residents of the Brest-Pinsk region and discovered his family’s name among the signatures. He began his research on the ARA in Belarus at Hoover and continued it in Belarusian archives and libraries.
Lukashuk’s book documents ARA operations on the territory of present-day Belarus during the armistice and reconstruction period (1919–1922) and in three Belarusian districts that benefited from famine relief in Russia (1921–1923). He also reports the arrests of ARA employees in Belarus after its operations ended and the misleading characterizations of the ARA efforts by the Soviet and post-Soviet press.
In the spring of 2003, a series of thirty programs on the ARA was aired by RFE/RL, excerpts of which were published by the independent media. An interview with Herbert “Pete” Hoover III concluded the series, the final broadcast of which aired on the eightieth anniversary of the completion of the ARA’s work in Belarus.