Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Records


The RFE/RL Broadcast and Corporate Records are a rich and extraordinary resource for the study of the Cold War through one of the leading organizations that fought it. As a conflict of ideas and ideologies, the Cold War was unique not for its muddy battlefields and the stench of dead bodies so much as for the culture wars it inaugurated by broadcasting decadent Western music to Eastern Europe and by creating Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty as a surrogate national outlet for news and cultural programming for the Soviet Bloc.

Anatol Shmelev Hoover Headshot

Anatol Shmelev

Robert Conquest Curator for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia / Research Fellow

Anatol Shmelev is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Robert Conquest Curator for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at Hoover’s Library & Archives, and the project archivist for its Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Collection. Shmelev’s expertise is in twentieth-c...


Comprising 10.5 million pages and more than 100,000 sound recordings from the 1950s to 2006, the records are separated in two collections representing broadcast and corporate arms. Many of the broadcast records are housed off-site, requiring advance notice for use. Contact RFE/RL project archivist Anatol Shmelev before visiting to determine availability.

The sound recordings are fragile and often unique. As a result, digital use copies must be produced before recordings can be made available. Thousands already exist and are available now on Hoover’s Digital Collections site, including more than 5,500 RFE/RL broadcast recordings and 160 RFE/RL corporate recordings.

RFE/RL Copyright

Copies of sound recordings not yet digitized may be ordered. For further information, email

Additional recordings available via the following online resources:

  • Szabad Európa Rádió >>
    • Hungarian broadcasts from 22 October-12 November 1956
    • National Széchényi Library (Budapest)
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Archives >>
    • Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Tatar-Bashkir, Turkmen and Uzbek Service broadcasts from the 1990’s
    • Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center, University of Indiana (USA)
cold war

Conference on Impact of Cold War Broadcasting, 2004

International researchers and former officials met at the Hoover Institution to address the impact of Western broadcasting—especially Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)—during the cold war.

Conference report

Vaclav Havel's video message

Johnson, A. Ross and R. Eugene Parta, eds. Cold War Broadcasting; Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Central European University Press, 2010.

Film and Audio


Date (field_news_date)
Hoover Announces the Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty Historical Recording Description Project

The Hoover Institution Library & Archives seeks volunteer contributors to audition and describe digitized recordings from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast archives.

November 29, 2016
Rare Coverage of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising Now Available to Researchers

This month Hoover Library & Archives marks the sixtieth anniversary of the famed 1956 revolution in Hungary by digitizing and making available rare scripts documenting the event from our Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty collection, collaborating with the Hungarian National Széchényi Library to make rare recordings of the event available online, and opening an exhibition of Hungarian Revolution-related materials in the Hoover Tower Rotunda.  

November 02, 2016
Hoover Welcomes Visiting Students From Columbia University

This month Hoover Library & Archives welcomes a group of Columbia University students participating in the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) research fellowship at Columbia’s European Institute. The visiting students will spend a week consulting Hoover’s extensive Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty collection.

August 22, 2016
Prague Spring 1968 Broadcasts of Radio Free Europe Released

Hundreds of broadcast recordings from the Prague Spring of 1968, the pivotal Cold War moment when Czechoslovakia introduced democratic reforms that were snuffed out by a Soviet invasion, are now available to scholars in the Hoover Archives' reading room.

October 31, 2014
Interviews of Radio Free Europe Polish Service Employees Digitized

Audiocassette recordings of interviews of former Polish employees of Radio Free Europe (RFE) have been digitized by Hoover's audio lab for preservation and access.

October 21, 2014
Image for  Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (1)
Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (1)

This exhibit, organized on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Radio Free Europe's first full schedule of broadcasting to Czechoslovakia in 1951, covers the history of the radios and some of the broad themes in the Radios' programming over the years.

April 24, 2001
Image for Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (2)
Voices of Hope: The Story of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (2)

This exhibit celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Radio Free Europe's first full schedule of broadcasting to Czechoslovakia in 1951. Four additional radio services quickly followed: to Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Radio Liberty began broadcasting to the Soviet Union in 1953. The purpose of the Radios was the same: to provide a free press for the Soviet Union and countries of Eastern Europe where the media were controlled by totalitarian governments.

September 28, 2004
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Latvian Service Audiotapes Digitized

Hoover’s entire collection of audiotapes created by RFE/RL’s Latvian Language Service has been digitized for preservation and access. Use copies of the recordings are available for listening at the Hoover Archives.

March 05, 2013
Sound Recordings of Arch Puddington's Interviews Digitized

After serving as assistant director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in the New York office from 1985 to 1993, Arch Puddington wrote Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (University Press of Kentucky, 2000). His research material for the book represents the bulk of the Arch Puddington collection at Hoover. Ninety sound recordings in the collection, consisting chiefly of Puddington's interviews of RFE/RL staffers, have been digitized for preservation and access by Hoover's audio lab.

September 07, 2011
overlay image