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

This sub-fonds contains records related to the research, writing, and review of the book, The World Bank: Its First Half Century.

Research records include: audio interviews of former bank employees, persons from related institutions, and prominent external observers of the Bank; transcripts of interviews; subject files; and correspondence with Bank alumni, present and former Executive Directors, and present and former members of the Development Committee.

Records relating to the writing of the book include drafts of Volume I written by members of the Brookings Institution project and drafts of Volume II written by external authors. A small amount of background and related reports accompany the latter. Audio recordings from a conference in which many of the authors of Volume II presented their drafts is also included. Records related to the review and verification of the book are also contained in this sub-fonds. This includes correspondence between project staff, Volume II authors, and external reviewers as well as annotated copies of chapter drafts.

Records related to the verification of facts, sources, and citations are included as are records related to the project's three advisory committees.

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.

Verification files

This series contains correspondence related to fact and footnote verification. Series contains files for some subjects in Volume I and some chapters of Volume II. The subject verification files contain copies of internal Bank documents or articles that were located during the verification process and are often marked with the footnote numbers to which they provide verification. Verification files for only three of the Volume II chapters exist.

Volume I drafts and related writings

This series is a fragment of the files that must have been created during the drafting of the chapters in Volume 1 of The World Bank: Its First Half Century. The files are of three types: comments on drafts by the three authors; background reports by staff researchers; and papers prepared for other purposes but related to the themes of Volume I.

The comments cover draft chapters on: agriculture and rural development; external relations; policy-based lending; and the International Development Association. The comments are from readers both within and outside the Bank and from co-authors. The files also include some background materials as well as a draft of the book's table of contents. The authors were assisted by staff researchers, who prepared background papers or reports on groups of files for use by the authors. The series also includes: Lewis's file as a reader for the North-South Institute's project on multinational development banks, including drafts and comments; Kapur and Webb's paper on the evolution of these banks for a conference on the fiftieth anniversary of Bretton Woods; and Webb's article on policy reform in Peru for a conference at the Institute for International Economics.

Volume II drafts

The authors conceived Volume II of The World Bank: Its First Half Century as a series of essays that would look at the Bank from outside vantage points, including the points of view of borrowers, lenders, the economics profession,and political analysts. The project contracted with authors for these essays, and this series consists of submitted drafts as well as exchanges of comments with the authors. It includes both essays that were published in volume IIand also a draft on Brazil and a draft on politics and the Bank that ultimately were not included.

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.

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