Fonds - Personal Papers of Orvis A. Schmidt

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Personal Papers of Orvis A. Schmidt


  • 1932 - 1947 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2.40 linear feet of textual records

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Orvis A. Schmidt was an economist who specialized in South American economics, with an emphasis on Brazil. He received his M.A. degree from the Department of Sociology and Economics of Tufts College in 1935 with a thesis titled "The examination of the international trade of Brazil, 1926-1934, with special reference to forces operating during boom and depression". He then enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate in economics at the University of Chicago with a proposed thesis on the history of Brazilian monetary policy, working under Jacob Viner. Despite a nearly completed draft, he did not finish the dissertation.

In 1936 the United States Department of the Treasury hired Schmidt, and he was stationed in Brazil during 1937-1938. He then returned to the US and worked in the Treasury's international financial field, including six months as the acting director of the Division of Monetary Research, which became the Office of International Finance. According to an oral history interview with Schmidt, he attended some of the early inter-American financial conferences, particularly the First Meeting of the Ministers of Finance of the American Republics. During the Second World War he worked on foreign funds control and attended the Bretton Woods conference as the secretary to Commission III.

Schmidt joined the World Bank in November of 1947, shortly after John J. McCloy became President. He initially served in the Loan Department as chief of its western European subdivision and then as the assistant to the loan director. In 1951 he became Assistant Director of the Western Hemisphere Department and in 1956 he became its Director. Described by William Bennett as one of the ablest people the Bank had, Schmidt became Special Adviser to the President in 1964. He died in November 1967 at the age of 55.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated to the World Bank by Elizabeth M. Schmidt, the widow of Orvis A. Schmidt.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers cover the period of Schmidt's service with the US Treasury and include his files on his dissertation. Both the Treasury and the dissertation materials include subject files; some topics overlap; all concern Brazil exclusively. The files do not include materials on either the Bretton Woods conference or his work at the World Bank.

Schmidt obtained and translated many official Brazilian government documents for the Treasury Department. These translations are found both in a general translationfile and in subject files.

The files are of interest primarily to students of the economic history of Brazil.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Duplicate copies of translations and writings and publications from the statistical office of the Government of Brazil and the Pan American Union were destroyed.


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Records are arranged in five series:

  • Reporting and writings for the Treasury Department

  • Subject files for Treasury work

  • Ph.D. dissertation drafts

  • Background for dissertation chapters

  • Subject files for dissertation

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing reproduction

No copyright in U.S. Treasury documents. Copyright of 50 years after death for other unpublished materials, or until 2017; held by the heirs of Orvis A. Schmidt. Fair use copying permitted.

Language of material

  • English
  • Portuguese

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Physical file unit list is available. Chapter outline, Ph.D. dissertation.

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Rules and/or conventions used

Internal World Bank Group Archives rules based on ISAD(G).

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Dates of creation revision deletion

16 September 2003




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