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Records of the Office of the Historian

  • WB IBRD/IDA HIST
  • Fondo
  • 1946 - 1999 (predominant 1989 - 1998)
  • 1946 - 1999 (predominant 1989 - 1998)

Because of the broad scope of the work of the office, which was essentially the entire history of the Bank, the records are extremely varied. They include: written reminiscences, solicited or volunteered, by former Bank staff members; drafts of various publications, both Bank and non-Bank; commentaries on drafts, discussing the commenters' views of particular issues and events; and background research materials used by the World Bank History Project.

The largest body of original source material in the fonds is the set of interviews conducted by the World Bank History Project authors as part of their research for the two-volume The World Bank: Its First Half Century. Typed notes are the only record of some interviews, but most interviews have both the tape of the interview and a transcript.

Office of the Historian

Chronological files

This chronological series contains both incoming and outgoing correspondence transmitted through email, postal mail, or fax. Some handwritten notes between the three co-authors are included. There is no general chronological file between August 1, 1991, and June 30, 1994. Some of the correspondence includes commentary on the history of the Bank, particularly in the chronological file of John Lewis, but the majority of the messages are routine, such as requests for oral interviews and requests for data and documents from Bank offices. Other correspondence consists of comments on drafts, either on draft chapters of the history or on other writings by the authors. Two small files contain a single incoming letter from Sidney Dell (1990) and Peter Wright (1992), each enclosing multiple documents for the authors to use.

Interviews

At the first meeting of the project's advisory committee in January, 1990 the authors were advised to undertake a series of interviews. The authors agreed and embarked on an extensive interview program, ultimately talking with 149 persons. The interviews were conducted during the entire life of the project and included discussions with current and former Bank staff and executive directors, persons from related institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank, and prominent external observers of the Bank. Some of the interviews were noted in footnotes in the published volumes of The World Bank: Its First Half Century. Series contains dupicate reference copies of almost all of the original interview tapes.

A series of interviews were conducted during a research trip the authors made to India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines in November, 1991. These interviews were primarily with national leaders and focus particularly on the 1980s.

Some of the persons interviewed by the authors were also interviewed by the Bank's own oral history program; some also were interviewed by Robert Oliver for his biography of Bank president George D. Woods. The series also contains some of the transcripts from these older interviews.

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