The Hoover Library and Archives continue their robust program of acquisitions, preservation, access and outreach, and publications. The library and archives attract a large local, national, and international clientele, and the archives is viewed by many as the premier private archive in the world.
During the past ten years, the library and archives have evolved from a repository with equal emphases on collecting and making accessible published trade and secondary books (in the library) and on acquiring and preserving ephemeral holdings (in the archives) to focusing primarily on acquiring and preserving archival holdings and special collection books. The changed library and archives are now concentrating their efforts on fulfilling their original mission as articulated by the founder, Herbert Hoover.
In that vein, a realignment of the Hoover Library with the Stanford University Library system began in 2000. During the past several years, the entire East Asian Collection and a substantial number of general-use books, newspapers, government documents, serials, and society publications from the general collection in the Hoover Tower were transferred to the university’s main library. Remaining at Hoover are 750,000 rare and, in many cases, unique titles fostering in-depth research on twentieth- and twenty-first- century history.
Collecting unique and rare materials continued in earnest throughout the period, as the archives sought to strengthen and build on its strongest collections and to expand its collecting into new areas consistent with the mission of the Institution to “constantly and dynamically point the road to peace, to personal freedom, and to the safeguards of the American system.” In addition, changing technologies and a new focus on collecting audio, video, and electronic media have led to far-ranging acquisition opportunities that had been previously limited or simply out of reach.
Although foot traffic to the library and archives has remained relatively constant, the advent of the Internet—through e-mail requests—has greatly boosted reference requests and, hence, use of the collections. The archives handles approximately five thousand requests annually—five times the number fielded ten years ago.
As a repository known worldwide for its international scope, the Hoover Institution continues to acquire collections in all curatorial areas, with a focus on supplementing stronger collections with materials that complement them and on making significant and noteworthy additions in new, but related, areas. As Herbert Hoover said, the Institution must be dynamic; expanding collections within the scope of the mission remains paramount.
The Institution’s long and distinguished reputation has helped obtain significant collections. Highlights of important collections acquired during recent months follow.
Some of the most impressive recent acquisitions have been in the East Asian Collection, including the deposit of the papers of H. H. K’ung, who served as finance minister in the Nationalist Chinese government (1933–1938) and as premier (1939–1945). K’ung, brother-in-law to both Chiang Kai-shek and T. V. Soong, was among the most influential leaders of Nationalist China during that period; his papers complement the Chiang, Soong, and Kuomintang (KMT) Collections at Hoover. These papers, of principals from the three leading families in the twentieth-century history of China and Taiwan and from the Nationalist Party, are also a magnet for other significant acquisitions.
The Russian and Commonwealth of Independent States Collection has been the backbone of the Hoover Library and Archives since their founding in 1919. The papers of Yuri Yarim-Agaev, a physicist and a leader of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union, were added. Forced into exile before the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Yarim-Agaev founded the Center for Democracy in the USSR, an advocacy organization for persecuted dissidents in the Soviet Union. The center’s papers are part of this acquisition. Those collections enhance Hoover’s large body of materials from such Soviet dissidents as Alexander Ginzburg and Andrei Siniavskii and poets Joseph Brodsky and Boris Pasternak.
Other important additions document the 1917 Russian Revolution and ensuing civil war. Most important may be the Soviet propaganda films collected by the Union of Soviet Friendship Societies, which are a fitting complement to the Axelbank Collection of film that documents activities in Russia and the Soviet Union dating from the last tsar through World War II.
Central and Eastern Europe under the Soviet yoke remains a focus of the East European Collection. Recently obtained was a large collection of correspondence, diaries, official documents, and photographs that illuminate the history of Béla Kun (the former communist dictator of Hungary, shot by Stalin in 1939) and his Hungarian-Soviet family. The original handwritten memoirs and other material from Enver Hoxha, Albania’s leader for forty years following World War II, were added to the archives’ expanding collection of cold war leaders.
A prominent acquisition in the West European Collection was the collection of French diplomat Jacques Leprette (1920–2004). An eyewitness to and participant in many major events of the twentieth century, he had a long and distinguished career, serving in French diplomatic missions around the world in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as being present at the creation of the Council of Europe in 1949. His papers document a variety of events and political trends within and outside France: cold war tensions, African independence movements of the early 1960s, the political campaigns of Charles de Gaulle in the mid- 1960s, and the growing movement toward European unification in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Americas Collection added the papers of a number of American political figures, intellectuals, and organizations. Hoover senior fellow Richard V. Allen’s papers document his lengthy and distinguished career in Washington, where he served as a foreign policy adviser to presidential candidates Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and was President Reagan’s first national security adviser. Richard Wirthlin, one of President Reagan’s closest advisers, served as the president’s pollster through all three of his presidential campaigns and during his presidency. His collection includes copious data and analysis of his polling throughout the Reagan presidency.
Laissez-Faire Books promotes and distributes libertarian-oriented books worldwide. The papers of this organization, dating back to its founding in 1971, provide a record of this enterprise, which is considered to be the launching pad for many of the most influential libertarian thinkers of the late twentieth century.
The African Collection added the papers of George Loft, an American aid worker with the American Friends Service Committee, who was active in southern Africa from the late 1950s through the 1970s. Loft built relationships with many activists who later became key leaders in the countries of Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and his papers include extensive correspondence with longtime Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, as well as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
As the Institution increases its audiovisual collections and digital content, it must advance its preservation techniques and make substantial equipment upgrades. With an extensive renovation in the Hoover Tower, the Institution now has preservation and conservation labs that will help make material available to generations of future researchers.
The remodel of six thousand square feet included the total reconstruction of the microfilm room and conservation lab (now capable of supporting more complex treatments for a greater variety of materials) and the construction of new audio, video/motion picture, and digital imaging labs. The space is designed to maximize flexibility to handle the materials that arrive in various sizes and that use a wide variety of formats and to properly house the outstanding collection of more than 100,000 posters, among the archives’ most frequently used collections.
Results have been immediate. In a race against time to transfer the content of decaying and obsolete tapes from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Collection, eighty thousand audiotapes are being digitized using the state-of-the-art equipment now on-site.
access and outreach
The digital revolution is changing the way people use the library and archives—remote access research is on the rise.
To reach as wide an audience as possible, the archives continues to post finding aids to its collections on the Online Archive of California; with more than one thousand guides already available, they are viewed by many thousands each year. On-site, a secure digital workstation is available to researchers seeking access to copyrighted digital content that cannot be displayed over the Internet. Among the first collections made available using this technology are the KMT files and the records of the Polish Council of Ministers.
Audiovisual material is also being made more widely accessible. In 2005—the first year they were available—selected video clips from the Firing Line Collection of broadcast tapes were viewed on Hoover’s website by nearly 1,500 users. The digital files have made the collection available to a new, younger audience that did not have a chance to see William F. Buckley’s television program when it first aired.
For a variety of reasons, collection owners may ask to retain the original documents but wish to provide high-quality use copies or to loan materials to Hoover. Noteworthy in this group are the diaries of Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo, on loan and with microfilming completed; the records of the KMT, housed and being microfilmed in Taipei; and the papers of Eduard Shevardnadze, former Soviet foreign minister and president of Georgia, being digitized, with finding aids, in Tbilisi. Advances in technology now make these collections more easily accessible and readily obtainable.
The Institution’s in-house exhibit program helps publicize the holdings of the library and archives. Recent exhibitions in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibition Pavilion include A Wealth of Ideas, based on Hoover fellow Bert Patenatude’s book by the same name, which showcased some of the most important and valuable material found in the archives—much on display for the first time. An American Friendship: Herbert Hoover and Poland, a modified version of a Hoover exhibit on Herbert Hoover’s role in the American aid provided to Poland and other countries following World War I, toured Poland, to great acclaim, in 2004 and 2005.
Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the uprising, A Tear in the Iron Curtain: The Hungarian Uprising of 1956 chronicled the revolt with vintage photos and recordings and with flyers and leaflets produced by the freedom fighters. Sharply Drawn: The Political Cartoons of Louis Raemaekers, 1914–1941, featured drawings of the Dutch artist known as the Great Cartoonist of the Great War.
Using the latest technology, the archives provided high-quality duplicate images to the U.S. embassy in Belgium for its large-scale exhibit Remembering Herbert Hoover and the Commission for Relief in Belgium. Opened in Brussels and touring several other Belgian cities, the exhibit highlighted the historic bond between the United States and Belgium forged through Herbert Hoover’s heroic relief work during and after World War I. The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford recently mounted an exhibit entitled Revolutionary Tides: The Art of the Political Poster: 1914–1989 featuring nearly one hundred posters from the Hoover collection, as well as Hoover’s large piece of the Berlin Wall.
The scholarly and popular press publications of those using the archives for their research serve as effective marketing tools for the Hoover Library and Archives; the wide range of topics these publications cover reflects the wealth of material in the holdings.
Among the highlights are Comrades! A History of World Communism, by Hoover fellow and noted historian Robert Service, which benefits from his extensive research in the Russian and Soviet material in the archives. Eastern European curator Maciej Siekierski coedited I Saw the Angel of Death, which publishes the testimonies of 170 Polish Jews who survived the Soviet Gulag and emigrated to Palestine in 1943.
The multiauthored seven-volume History of Stalin’s Gulag was awarded the 2005 Silver Medal for Human Rights from the Russian Federation. Hoover researcher Katya Drozdova drew extensively from the Hoover Archives for “Subversive Networks Then and Now,” which was recognized as the best paper at the 2007 North American Association for Computation Social and Organization Sciences.
Niall Ferguson used Hoover’s poster collection as a resource in The War of the World, his latest work in the popular press. Laura Tyson Li drew on the Hoover Archives for her well-received biography Madame Chiang Kai-shek.
In another acknowledgment to multimedia, filmmakers also mined the Hoover Archives. The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman, a television documentary broadcast by PBS, used the Free to Choose Collection and Milton Friedman’s papers. Nanking, which first aired at the Sundance Film Festival, drew extensively from the Iris Chang Collection.