Fonds - Robert W. Oliver Collection on George D. Woods

Identity area

Reference code



Robert W. Oliver Collection on George D. Woods


  • 1935 - 1986 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

4.40 linear feet of textual records; 60 photographs; 8 audio recordings

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Robert W. Oliver (1922-1998) was an economist who specialized in World Bank issues. A native of Los Angeles, California, he earned undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Oliver taught at Pomona College in California, then in 1959 he joined the California Institute of Technology, where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1961 Oliver conducted a series of oral histories under contract to the World Bank, the first time that oral history had been used by the Bank; in the late 1980s he also conducted oral history interviews under contract to the Bank. During 1970-1971, while on leave from Caltech, he worked for the World Bank in the urban development sector and participated in Bank missions to Indonesia and Taiwan. He wrote four books on the World Bank and one on Indonesia that was informed by his work at the Bank.

After George D. Woods died, Louise Woods wanted a biography of him written. According to the Preface in Oliver's biography of Woods, George Woods and the World Bank, a mutual friend introduced her to Oliver, and they subsequently agreed that Oliver would undertake the biography.

Archival history

As the authorized biographer, Oliver was given some of Woods' photographs and memorabilia and was permitted to select and take to California a part of the George D. Woods papers that were destined for Columbia University. He also conducted interviews with family, friends and business associates of Woods.

In 1995 Oliver sent his Woods materials (interviews, clippings, memorabilia, photographs) to the Bank. The original George D. Woods papers that Oliver had had in California were also sent to the Bank, where copies were made. For further information on the copying of the papers, see the description in the series Copies of George D. Woods used for the biography (WB IBRD/IDA WOODS-03).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Robert W. Oliver

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection includes copies of the oral interviews Oliver conducted in preparing his biography and copies of a portion of the Woods papers that he had at his disposal when writing the biography. It also contains the clippings files that George Woods maintained during his failed attempt to become the head of the Agency for International Development in 1961 and his successful appointment as head of the World Bank in 1962. Original photographs of George and Louise Woods and copies of photographs from various sources, including the World Bank, are included. The copy photographs were made for reproduction in Oliver's biography of George Woods, and many are annotated by Oliver. A small quantity of memorabilia and published materials relating to both George D. and Louise Woods is included.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Interviews are subject to the conditions in the donor's instrument of gift for each interview and to the World Bank Policy on Access to Information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Records are subject to the Copyright Policy of the World Bank Group.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

  • See Records of the Office of the President -- Records of George D. Woods (WB IBRD/IDA EXC-03).

  • See World Bank Group Archives Oral History Program website for published interviews conducted by Oliver under contract to the World Bank.

  • See Personal papers of Louise Taraldson Woods (WB IBRD/IDA LWOODS); and interviews deposited with the Archives, California Institute of Technology; George D. Woods papers are at the Butler Library, Columbia University.

  • See Records of the Office of the Chief Economist (WB IBRD/IDA DEC).

Related descriptions

Publication note

Oliver, Robert W., George Woods and the World Bank. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1995.

Publication note

Oliver, Robert W., George Woods and the World Bank. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 1995.

Notes area

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

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

Disclosure status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

11 August 2003, 24 August 2007




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