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Records of the Office of the Historian
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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.

Correspondence with Volume II authors

The World Bank History Project commissioned essays for the second volume of the history. This series contains the correspondence between the project staff and the essay authors and some correspondence between readers of draft essays and the project staff. Also included is correspondence about essays that ultimately were not included in the volume.

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.

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.

Administrative files

This series contains basic information on the establishment and progress of the World Bank History Project. Most of the documents are printouts of routine email messages, with the exception of the records in the project structure file, which are incoming and outgoing paper correspondence. The Project background/contract file contains a copy of the official agreement between the Brookings Institution and the Bank to undertake the study; it also contains handwritten and typed notes of the first meeting of the International Advisory Council on January 22, 1990. The Archives 1991-1993 file contains a list of senior personnel at the Bank each year from 1968-1991.

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.

Records of the Office of the Historian

  • WB IBRD/IDA HIST
  • Archief
  • 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

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