Page images

when he became Assistant to the newly appointed Director, Lloyd Free. By September the Service comprised an Office of the Director, an Advisory Board, and seven sections: Translation and Transcription, Report, Analysis, Monitoring, Engineering, Mail and Files, and Stenographic.

During the first half of 1942 the FCC developed a divisional organization for the FBMS. The Translation and Transcription, Report, Analysis, Engineering, and Mail and Files Sections were designated divisions; and the Monitoring and Stenographic Sections were incorporated into the Analysis Division. The field establishments of the FBMS (listening posts) were located in Portland, Oreg., San Francisco, Calif., Kingsville, Tex., Santurce, P. R., and London, England; they were known either as bureaus, posts, or stations. On July 28, 1942, 2 weeks after Director Free was replaced by Robert D. Leigh, the FCC changed the name of the Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service to the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service (FBIS). Shortly thereafter the Engineering Division was redesignated the Broadcast Recording Unit.

By March 1943 the number of employees and the variety of activities of the FBIS had reached their peak. FBIS operations were classified in terms of the following successive steps: (1) scheduling of programs; (2) interception; (3) and (4) monitoring and recording (which occurred simultaneously); (5) translation; (6) wire service, including editing and teletyping; (7) reports, including editing and mimeographing; (8) analysis, the results of which were contained in periodicals and special reports; and (9) various related services upon request.

Additional listening posts, staffed by editors and monitors working in cooperation with the Office of War Information, the British Ministry of Information, and the British Broadcasting Corp., were established at Silver Hill, Md., on Hawaii, and at several foreign locations to intercept broadcasts of foreign news, intelligence, or propaganda emanating from authorized stations or clandestine transmitters in belligerent, occupied, and neutral countries. At the listening posts, memovox recordings, transcripts, and translations were made and then tele typed, cabled, or mailed to the national office. These listening posts were occasionally referred to as field offices or bureaus (e.g., San Francisco Office, London Bureau).

At the national office the incoming wires and transcriptions were edited and the more significant material or the full text teletyped to Government agencies concerned with the military, diplomatic, and propaganda aspects of the war. Special interpretations and daily and weekly summaries were prepared and distributed to appropriate Government agencies.

The decline in FBIS activities, beginning in the spring of 1943, was chiefly the result of congressional investigations of its personnel

and functions, first by the House Select Committee to Investigate the Federal Communications Commission and later by the House Appropriations Committee. The charges considered by the two committees included: (1) The FCC had exceeded its authority in establishing the FBIS; (2) analytical evaluations of broadcasts could best be prepared by the agencies using them (chiefly the Office of War Information and the War and State Departments); and (3) two officials of the Service were unfit to hold their positions.

While Congress was investigating the Service, several agencies were already conferring about the proper allocation of the analysis function. As a result, the Analysis Division was terminated and most of its personnel were transferred to the Office of War Information. In March 1945, after several reorganizations, the FBIS comprised the Office of the Director, the Office of the Chief Editor, and the Distribution, Daily Report, Far East, and Monitoring Divisions.

On December 4, 1945, an FCC news release announced the suspension of FBIS monitoring of foreign broadcasts, effective the following day, and the termination of the services of its personnel, effective December 10. In a letter to the Chairman of the FCC on December 21, 1945, however, the Secretary of War stressed the need for continuing the Service and proposed that the Commission discontinue the liquidation of the FBIS until arrangements could be made for the transfer of its personnel and facilities to the War Department. The proposal was accepted by the Commission on December 27, 1945, and, by order of the Secretary of War, the Service was transferred to the Military Intelligence Division of the General Staff on December 30. On August 5, 1946, the FBIS was transferred to the Central Intelligence Group of the National Intelligence Authority, where it was renamed the Foreign Broadcast Information Service on October 31, 1946, and the Foreign Broadcast Information Branch on December 31, 1946.

The records described in this inventory amount to 697 cubic feet, including 190 cubic feet of sound recordings and related indexes. They are designated as Record Group 262, Records of the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service. They comprise the records of the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service and its predecessors and of its successor, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service through November 1946, when the transfer to the Central Intelligence Group of the National Intelligence Authority took practical effect. (A few papers of later date are scattered through the record group.) They were transferred to the National Archives from the Federal Communications Commission, the War Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency and its predecessors. The personnel records have been transferred to the Federal Records Center at St. Louis, Mo.

Records relating to the establishment and subsequent congressional investigation of the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service are in RG

173, Records of the Federal Communications Commission, and in RG 259, Records of the Board of War Communications. Records relating to monitoring and other activities similar to those performed by the Service are in RG 208, Records of the Office of War Information, and in RG 263, Records of the Central Intelligence Agency.


Central Files

These records were apparently maintained by the Mail and Files Section and its successors. The Section was established in 1941 to control correspondence, index and maintain files, and duplicate and distribute reports; in 1942 it was redesignated the Mail and Files Division. This Division was terminated in 1944 and its functions were transferred to the Processing and Duplicating Division. In 1945 the functions were assigned to the Distribution Division (occasionally known as the Administrative Service Division).

GENERAL RECORDS. 1941-46. 26 ft.

Chiefly correspondence, memoranda, and reports relating to the organization, functions, and activities of the Service from its beginning in 1941 until November 2, 1946, when the file was closed by the Central Intelligence Group. Arranged in accordance with a subject-numeric system developed from a scheme used by the FCC. As no classification scheme was found among the records, one was prepared by the National Archives (see appendix I).


Correspondence of FBIS officials with Members of Congress, officials of other Government agencies, editors, publishers, educational institutions, and private individuals relating to the activities of the Service. Most of the outgoing letters bear cross-reference notations to the general records described in entry 1. Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent.



English translations of foreign shortwave broadcasts, consisting of full texts, text excerpts, and summaries sent to the national office by typed transcript, tele type, and cable. Arranged alphabetically by name of transmitting city or radio station. For a list of radio stations under which these transcripts are filed, see appendix II.


Daily lists of broadcasts (Form FBIS-469) giving the station, direction, time, type of program, speaker, and language. The lists are divided into three groups: (1) broadcasts from major stations (e..., London, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo); (2) broadcasts from clandestine stations; and (3) broadcasts from other stations. Each group is arranged by name of country or city and thereunder chronologically.

SOUND RECORDINGS. 1941-45. 190 ft.

Approximately 36,000 Memovox disks and 200 glass-base sound record

ings of shortwave broadcasts transmitted from London, Berlin, Tokyo, Rome, Vichy, and other cities, and received by monitoring stations at Portland, Oreg., Kingsville, Tex., Silver Hill, Md., San Francisco, Calif., and Puerto Rico. Most of these broadcasts are in foreign languages and consist of news commentaries, speeches by important individuals from Axis and Allied countries, other propaganda items, and music. The recordings are arranged numerically.


The indexes are in two groups: (1) 5" x 8" log cards giving the record number, date, time, origin, destination of broadcast, language, and remarks about the program; arranged numerically; and (2) program sheets (2 ft.) giving some or all of the following data in the order mentioned: the monitor file number, frequency, station call letters, transmitting country, language, country beamed to, time, and case number; arranged by FBIS monitoring installation and thereunder chronologically.

Teletyped Records of Incoming Wires

Each incoming cable and wire begins with a 5-digit number to indicate the day of the week and the time of day the message was transmitted to Washington headquarters. The first digit represents the day of the week; the next two digits, the hour of the day counting 24 hours from midnight; and the last two digits, the number of minutes past the hour.

LONDON CABLES. Aug. 17, 1942-Jan. 22, 1943. 10 ft.

Partial or full texts of significant broadcasts emanating chiefly from Europe and Africa, which were intercepted by the FBIS monitoring installation in London and cabled to headquarters in Washington. Arranged chronologically.

"LONDON TRAFFIC." Aug. 1942. i ft.

Abstracts and occasional verbatim transcripts of monitored broadcasts emanating from various foreign stations, which were transmitted by teletype to the FBIS unit in New York by Press Wireless, Inc., in London. Arranged chronologically.


These messages, which were transmitted to Washington headquarters, are transcribed on tele type sheets in roll form, with each roll representing a single day's messages. Unarranged.


10 Partial or full texts of significant broadcasts originating chiefly in the Far East and the Soviet Union, which were teletyped to Washington by the San Francisco and Portland monitoring stations, and broad

« PreviousContinue »