Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Archives Online
Resources provided by A. Ross Johnson, History and Public Policy Program Fellow at the Wilson Center
The archives of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) are a major resource for study of the Cold War. The corporate and broadcast records, which were donated to the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, document the organization, policies, and broadcast programs of RFE/RL, one of the major U.S. instruments of soft power focused on the Soviet Union and Central/Eastern Europe. Additional RFE/RL research archives, placed in the custody of the Blinken Open Society Archive at Central European University, contain the RFE, RL, and RFE/RL research reports on developments in the Soviet Union and Central/Eastern Europe that were an important source of information about the region for scholars, journalists, and government officials. The research archives also contain extensive primary source material – radio monitoring, publications, refugee and traveler interviews, underground literature – that remains a valuable source for study of the USSR and Central Eastern Europe prior to 1991. Many of these archival resources have been digitized and placed online, and more archives will be made available online as resources permit. Below is a brief summary of the resources available
RFE/RL has published an overview of its various archival collections and links to partner institutions at: http://www.rferl.org/p/5806.html.
Hoover Institution Library and Archives now maintains two collections (representing the broadcast and corporate arms of RFE/RL). The Hoover Institution's holdings are comprised of 10.5 million pages and more than 100,000 sound recordings from the 1950s to 2006: http://www.hoover.org/library-archives/collections/radio-free-europeradio-liberty-records. As digitized, broadcast recordings, program transcripts, promotional films, and oral history interviews about the radios are placed online, they will be accessible here: http://digitalcollections.hoover.org.
The basic finding aids are available at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt4489q9wz/?query=rfe and http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt996nd6jz/?query=rfe.
Blinken Open Society Archives http://www.osaarchivum.org/archives contains RFE/RL research reports and (in cooperation with Hoover Institution) certain broadcast records and corporate records http://www.osaarchivum.org/digital-repository.
Polish Radio first digitized the RFE Polish Service recordings and has put them online at: http://www.polskieradio.pl/68,Radia-Wolnosci; however, future recordings will migrate to the Polish National Digital Archive (NDA) website. Additionally, NDA is now digitizing the vast collection of RFE Polish Service broadcast texts (scripts) and placing them online as they are processed at http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/3/36/0/?q=XARCHro:3+XTYPEro:zesp&order=syg_order&wynik=1&rpp=15&page=1#tabJednostki
Czechoslovak Documentation Center at the Czech National Museum has placed online a selection of RFE/RL Czechoslovak Service sound recordings, described at http://www.nm.cz/Historicke-muzeum/Oddeleni-HM/Ceskoslovenske-dokumentacni-stredisko/Zvukovy-archiv-Radia-Svobodna-Evropa/ and available as digital audio at http://en.esbirky.cz/search/fund/152335#googtrans(en).
Hungarian National Szechenyi Library, in cooperation with RFE/RL and Hoover Institution, has placed online all RFE Hungarian broadcasts during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, as recorded on transmitters in Germany, along with transcriptions of the low-quality recordings. http://www.magyaroktober.hu/. This is the sole authentic record of RFE Hungarian broadcasts during the Revolution. NSL has also digitized, in cooperation with the Hoover Library and Archives, all other preserved RFE Hungarian Service recordings and will put them online when resources permit.
Cold War International History Project, The Wilson Center has made available declassified U.S. Government and British Government documents and other records on RFE prior to 1972 at https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/radio-free-europe-and-radio-liberty. Most of these documents were located by Ross Johnson as sources for his book, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; the CIA Years and Beyond (Stanford University Press and Woodrow Wilson Press, 2010). Finally, a selection of Soviet and pre-1989 East European government documents on Western international broadcasting, including RFE/RL, was published in Johnson, A. Ross, and R. Eugene Parta, eds. Cold War Broadcasting: Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe—A Collection of Studies and Documents. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2010; this resource is available in the Digital Archive at https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/cold-war-broadcasting.
A. Ross Johnson is at History and Public Policy Program Fellow at the Wilson Center and Visiting Scholar, Hoover Institution; Adviser to the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Project, Hoover Archives; former Director, Radio Free Europe