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2010 Report: Library and Archives

The library and archives (L&A) continue robust collecting, aggressive preservation, extensive outreach, and important publishing. Researchers access collections in record numbers, and newly opened high-profile collections draw the attention of international news media. Despite the Internet’s making information readily available online, at the Hoover Archives (one of the largest private archives in the world) researchers can touch and feel history by examining documents unavailable anywhere else.

Click the links below to view a slide show of Hoover events and visitors for that year:


Collecting in the Middle East increased dramatically when a deposit agreement was signed with the Iraq Memory Foundation. The documents collected in Iraq by the foundation consist of records from the Ba’th Regional Command, the headquarters of the Ba’th Arab Socialist Party, and the Special Security Agency. The overall collection contains some eleven million digital images and four hundred hours of video.

The Parviz Shokat Collection contains extensive documentation of Iranian student groups who opposed the government of the shah of Iran during the 1960s and 1970s. The Hamid Shokat (Parviz’s brother) Collection contains similar material from Iranian student groups based in Europe during this period. The audio archive of Hyder Akbar, a young Afghan American who created two award-winning radio documentaries on life in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, provides vivid firsthand accounts of life in Afghanistan.

photo of the late US Supreme Court chief justice William Rehnquist Image credit: Dane Penland, Smithsonian Institution, courtesy the Supreme Court of the United States.
Official portrait of the late US Supreme Court chief justice William Rehnquist taken in 1993.

The papers of US Supreme Court chief justice William Rehnquist arrived in 2008. “The Chief” sat on the bench for thirty-three years, from 1972 to 2005. His records offer a glimpse of US judicial history that covers a generation of change, turmoil, and success unmatched by any other epoch.

A project to obtain microfilm of the Lithuanian KGB Archives has produced more than 1.2 million images containing KGB-generated documents: intelligence reports, infiltration reports, applications for travel abroad, and reeducation files.

Collections gathered from Central Europe shed much light on the fall of communism in Europe. A momentous event occurred when the Hungarian government allowed “picnicking” East Germans vacationing in Hungary to cross its border into Austria and freedom. The Hungarian minister of state who sponsored the so-called picnic was Imre Pozsgay, whose papers include, in addition to background on the events of 1989 and Hungary’s peaceful transition to democracy, material on political developments in Hungary dating back to the 1956 Budapest uprising.

The papers of a number of powerful Polish Communists were also acquired: Jakub Berman, who rose to the number-two position in the Politburo; Mieczyslaw Rakowski, the last Communist Party first secretary and a prime minister; Jerzy Urban, the last spokesman for the Polish communist government, who was intimately involved in negotiations with Solidarity that led to the 1989 elections; Stefan Olszowski, foreign minister on two separate occasions in the 1970s and 1980s; and Marshal Marian Spychalski, one of the organizers and leaders of the Moscow- oriented underground during World War II and a founder of the Polish People’s Republic.

For forty-five years, the BBC Radio Russian Features Department interviewed Soviet defectors, dissidents, and activists (including Andrei Siniavskii, Andrei Sakharov, Elena Bonner, Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Allilueva, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Joseph Brodsky). The archives has acquired the full set of some three thousand original tapes and digital versions. The audiovisual collections were further enhanced by film from Richard Wormser, who donated his video interviews with key US Communist Party figures.

The East Asian Collection added material from General Chien Ta-chun and William Youngman; both had close ties to Chiang Kai-shek. Chien was an important military leader; the American Youngman, president of China Defense Supplies, served as an intermediary between President Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-shek.

For years the Young China Party clashed with Chiang’s Kuomintang (KMT) Party before cooperating with Chiang to oppose the Japanese and then the Communists. With the acquisition of the papers of its first chairman and one of its founders, Zeng Qi (Tseng Ch’i), the history of the Young China Party is now better known.

Chinese poet and dissident Lin Zhao has been lionized for writing poetry and her diaries in her own blood while imprisoned as a counterrevolutionary by the Chinese government. After ten years of imprisonment, Lin was executed during the height of the Cultural Revolution. A select portion of the limited materials that still exist are now at Hoover.

An increment to the papers of Nobel laureate economist Friedrich von Hayek included material that spans much of Hayek’s life, including drafts of his work in the 1940s. Because of the recent economic downturn, the timing of these additions is fortuitous, as 2010 saw a revival of interest in Hayek's teachings.

Access and Outreach

The summers of 2009 and 2010 were the busiest on record in the Institution’s reading rooms. During a typical summer day, between twenty-five and thirty patrons made use of materials at Hoover. Annually, more than three thousand researchers use collections on-site. Among the most popular collections are the Chiang Kai-shek diaries, records of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, political poster collection, Milton Friedman and Hayek papers, Boris Nicolaevsky collection, KMT records, T. V. Soong and Joseph Stilwell papers, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) recordings.

Finding aids for all of Hoover’s nearly six thousand archival collections are now available in the Online Archive of California (OAC). The number of page views of Hoover’s OAC collection increased fourfold between 2009 and 2010, after that project was completed.

Hoover’s political poster collection contains approximately 120,000 posters from around the world. Digital images of more than 22,000 posters are available at Hoover workstations and online. More than 130 DVDs from the Firing Line television series are on sale at Amazon; some 12,000 DVDs have been sold through this partnership, with programs featuring Ronald Reagan, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Barry Goldwater being among the most popular.

PBS's Antiques Roadshow visits Hoover Image credit: Tin Tin Wisniewski
The producers of Antiques Roadshow contacted the Hoover Institution to learn more about the more than 100,000 posters from around the world housed in the archives and went on to feature Hoover’s huge collection of political posters, specifically discussing the origins of the iconic images of Uncle Sam. Producers Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Nicholas Lowry (left) are seen here visiting the archives.

There was no more recent successful outreach effort than reaching eight million viewers of PBS’s Antiques Roadshow on the May 24, 2010, program. A four-minute segment featured two posters from the political poster collection including the iconic “Uncle Sam Wants You” poster.

International friendship between the United States and South Korea was fostered when, in July 2010, a copy of Hoover’s Japan Korea microfilm records was presented to the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs. Suffering the effects of poor-quality originals, natural deterioration, and war, Korea's comprehensive record related to the Japanese occupation in the early twentieth century was no longer intact. The result of a worldwide search led the ministry to Hoover to recover the materials that first arrived at Hoover in the 1940s and survive through the Institution’s long-term preservation efforts. With many of the originals lost or destroyed, the Hoover Archives holds the most complete collection of these records.

Major conferences highlighted Hoover’s East Asian Collections. At Fudan University in Shanghai, leading Chinese scholars examined the impact of the telegram correspondence between Chiang Kai-shek and T. V. Soong to get a more complete picture of the complex US–Nationalist China relationship throughout most of the 1940s. The Chiang Kai-shek diaries were the focus of a May 2010 session at an event in Beijing celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. At a University of California, Berkeley, conference on Republican Chinese history, leading scholars discussed their reading and evaluation of the significance of Hoover’s collections on Modern China. The scholars also addressed whether Republican history should be rewritten in light of the new materials now available (primarily the Chiang Kai-shek diaries).


By its very nature, preservation work is painstakingly detailed, with the results often barely perceptible to the end user. Matching the newest equipment with time-tested techniques yielded significant results.

Seven million Iraq Memory Foundation documents in four thousand boxes were blast-frozen to kill pests, arrest mold and mildew growth, and mitigate other biological threats. Preservation included wrapping and sealing each of the four thousand boxes of material in plastic to prevent condensation before the materials were blast-frozen. The collection is now environmentally stabilized and secure.

photo of reorganized boxes After a complete reorganization of the eighty thousand tapes from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) collection, the end result efficiently uses available space, facilitates the search for a tape, and adds a degree of earthquake protection. To accommodate the configurations of the various shelf units, the boxes on the left sit two across; those on the right are four across.

Part of the preservation process is the tedious chore of organizing materials and storing them in safe conditions before undertaking the intensive, specialized work necessary for long-term preservation. All eighty thousand tapes from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Collection were rehoused and organized for preservation. One of the oldest parts of that collection is the Romanian Service, which includes 324 acetate-backed open-reel tapes. These extremely fragile tapes were successfully digitized and thus preserved.

The founding meeting of the United Nations was held in San Francisco in 1945. The official record, documented by NBC, consists of nearly 150 glass- and aluminum- based lacquer discs, of which only two complete sets remain (one at Hoover and one at the Library of Congress). Because of their fragile condition, the collection had been closed. The discs were stabilized and the content digitized; the collection is now available to researchers.


The 2010 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction was awarded to David E. Hoffman for The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy. Using Hoover’s Vitaly Katayev papers as a primary source, Hoffman wrote that “the Katayev papers were the backbone of this book. . . . I could not have done this without the Hoover Library and Archives!”

Some of the most used collections also led to the publication of important books. Jay Taylor, in the past a critic of Chiang Kai-shek, released The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China, in which he paints Chiang in a more favorable light. Hoover fellow Paul Gregory used the papers of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to write Lenin’s Brain and Other Tales from the Soviet Archives and Politics, Murder, and Love in Stalin's Kremlin. Using the RFE/RL Collection, Eugene Parta published Discovering the Hidden Listener: An Assessment of Radio Liberty and Western Broadcasting to the USSR during the Cold War.

Boris Pasternak: Family Correspondence, 1921–1960, was published by the Hoover Institution Press and translated by Boris’s nephew Nicolas Pasternak Slater, who made extensive use of the Pasternak Family Collection. Pasternak family members from around the world participated in the book launch at Hoover. In a duel of sorts, two Hoover fellows released biographies of Leon Trotsky: Trotsky: A Biography, by Robert Service, and Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary, by Bertrand Patenaude.

The Yale-Hoover series on Stalin, Stalinism, and the Cold War was launched in 2008; there are now five books in the series, including works by Hoover fellows Paul Gregory, Mark Harrison, and Norman Naimark. Seven books have been published in the Hoover Institution and Fudan University Modern China Research series: Leadership and Archival Documents, which also launched in 2008; Hoover fellows Tai-chun Kuo and Hsiao-ting Lin edited volumes in that series.

The Chiang Kai-shek diaries continue to attract much media attention in Taiwan and on the mainland. For instance, Hong Kong’s Asia Week of October 2, 2007, had a sixteen-page, richly illustrated spread on the diaries and Hoover’s other Chinese collections. Southern Weekly (Guangzhou and Shanghai) published a special edition about Hoover’s Modern China collections on November 29, 2007; included are seven articles on Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo, T. V. Soong, and US general Joseph Stilwell.