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Records of the Office of the Historian
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World Bank History Project liaison records

In 1989 the World Bank commissioned the Brookings Institution to prepare a history of the Bank as part of the commemoration of the Bank's fiftieth anniversary. Originally planned for publication in 1994, the two volume work, The World Bank: Its First Half Century, was published in 1997. When the Office of the Historian was established at the beginning of 1993, the task of liaison between the Bank and Brookings and the authors fell to the Historian. This series documents the evolving relationship between the Bank and the Brookings Institution's World Bank History Project, both before and after the establishment of the Historian's Office.

The first subseries, the chronological General Files, shows the genesis of the idea for a history (including copies of documents on the Bank's history dating back to December 1967), the funding of the project, and the administration of the relationship between the Bank and the Brookings Institution. Files contain a transcript of the meeting of the project advisory committee in 1993.

An Internal Review Group was established by the Bank in 1993 to read and comment on each chapter produced by the project. The Office of the Historian served as secretary for the group, both sending out chapters for review and transmitting the group members' comments to the project. The second subseries is the correspondence of the historian with the group and with the project.

The Office of the Historian conducted its own oral history program at the same time as the World Bank History Project wasinterviewing people for the fiftieth anniversary volumes. Each program provided some copies of interviews to the other, and the third sub-series contains a file about the interviews, including lists of persons interviewed by the project, and duplicate copies of rough transcripts of some project interviews, including those with World Bank Group presidents A.W. Clausen, Barber B. Conable, and Lewis T. Preston.

The fourth subseries is the draft of the history, arranged by volume and thereunder by chapter. Nocopy exists for chapter 8 of volume II. The copies are not annotated.

Correspondence - March 5, 1990, letter

In February, 1990, John Lewis and Richard Webb sent approximately 700 letters to senior Bank staff, followed by hundreds more letters on March 5, 1990, to Bank alumni, present and former Executive Directors of the Bank, and present and former members of the Development Committee, asking them for ideas about which subjects the study should emphasize. They asked for responses by the end of March. This series contains the responses to the mailings in the form of letters as well as a few notes of telephone calls. Some responses are very brief, while others provide extended comments on suggested topics or enclose copies of speeches or documents. The responses from former Executive Directors often include information on representational duties and the influence the EDs had on the Bank's policies. While some of the respondents were later interviewed, for others this is the only source for their views. Replies drafted by Lewis and Webb are also included.

Research materials

This series consists of electrostatic copies of documents obtained and collected by the World Bank History Project staff in the course of researching and writing The World Bank: Its First Half Century. The documents relate primarily to the topics of the chapters in Volume I; a few are the background to the research papers prepared by the project's research assistants. The authors filed the copies by subject, sometimes with cryptic subject titles. Some files may have been kept by an individual staff member,but those files have been combined in this general reference series.

The majority of the documents copied in these files are in the archives of the Bank, but some are also copies received from former Bank staff or from non-Bank sources.

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