The Hoover Institution has established the Bernard Osher Fellowship Program to support research and archival work on the archives of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which are held in the Hoover Institution Archives.

The fellowships will be awarded to senior journalists and other experts at RFE/RL to visit Hoover for up to three months.

With more than two dozen languages and cultures represented in the RFE/RL archives, the fellows will help Hoover archivists organize the complex histories of each region. The fellows will also conduct their own research based on the RFE/RL files.

In addition to the RFE/RL Osher Fellows, the program will bring students to the Hoover Archives to work with the papers and select significant documents for posting on a web site. The student fellowship program will ensure that the RFE/RL archives serve as an educational resource on the transition to democracy.

The two radio services, headquartered in Munich from 1950 to 1995, once had more than a thousand employees, mainly émigrés from Eastern Europe and the republics of the Soviet Union. When the cold war ended, the broadcasting budget was reduced. The radio organizations found a new home in Prague, thanks to the efforts of Czech President Vaclav Havel, who understood the historic role of this surrogate free press in the heavily censored communist regimes.

The RFE/RL archives provide a comprehensive historical record of every major event, movement, and personality in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe throughout the cold war and during the first years of transition from communism to democracy. The vast documentation—some 61,000 broadcast tapes and 7.5 million documents—is being shipped in stages from Washington, D.C., and Prague to Hoover, where it will be made available for research at the Hoover Institution Archives.

A grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco has provided funding to support the program.

The first Bernard Osher Fellow, Alexander Lukashuk, director of the RFE/RL Belarus service, arrived September 1. Over the course of the next four years, a total of twenty Osher Fellows are scheduled to visit the Hoover Institution.

In addition to writing broadcasts for the Belarus desk of Radio Free Europe, Osher Fellow Alexander Lukashuk, a native of Minsk, has published extensively about the history of Belarus in a variety of journals. He has coauthored television scripts for documentaries on Stalin’s purges, censorship in Belarus, and the fate of Lee Harvey Oswald (who once lived in Minsk). In the Hoover Archives he has conducted research on several topics, including Herbert Hoover's relief administration in his homeland following World War I. In the relief papers he discovered a photograph of a school that had received assistance from Herbert Hoover. The schoolchildren had autographed the photo; three had the last name of Lukashuk.

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