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Microform: Harry S Truman Presidential Oral History Files

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA MFF 5
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: Microform: Harry S Truman Presidential Oral History Files
Date(s): 1961-[1989]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 628 microfiche
Name of creator(s): The Harry S Truman Library


Administrative/Biographical history:

Harry S Truman was born in Lamar, Barton County, Missouri, 8 May 1884. From 1906 to 1917 he operated the family farm near Grandview, Missouri. During World War One he served as 1st Lt, Battery F, and Capt, Battery D, 129 Field Artillery, 35 Div, US Army, and served in the Battles of St Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, Aug- Nov 1918. He was discharged with the rank of Maj. In 1922, Truman sought the Democratic nomination as county judge, thus beginning a ten-year judicial career. In 1934, Truman became a candidate for the US Senate, won the election, and took office in Jan 1935. Re-elected in 1940, Truman headed the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, a senate committee which investigated fraud in recent US military procurement policies. In 1944, leaders of the Democratic Party replaced Vice President Henry A Wallace with Truman as the party's vice presidential nominee on the 1944 election ticket alongside President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Upon Roosevelt's death on 12 Apr 1945, Truman became President of the United States. Unfamiliar with recent foreign policy developments, Truman initially retained all of his predecessor's cabinet appointees, including US Secretary of State Edward R Stettinius, Jr. Shortly thereafter, Truman's foreign policy developed as he announced preparations to continue for the detonation of an atomic test device in New Mexico on 16 Jul 1945, and attended the conference at Potsdam, Germany, with Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, which would shape post-war Europe. In Aug 1945 he ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, and accepted the surrender of all Japanese forces in the Far East. In the post-war years and throughout the Korean War, Truman espoused a foreign policy designed to allay the Cold War. In 1947, he announced what became known as the 'Truman Doctrine', which stated that the United States would support any nation threatened by Soviet-sponsored communism, and signed the presidential order creating the US foreign intelligence organisation, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Also announced in 1947 was the European Recovery Plan, or 'Marshall Plan', named after Gen George Catlett Marshall, US Secretary of State, which would see appropriations of US funds to support the European economies until 1952. Under Truman, the US and its allies organised in Apr 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In 1950, Truman committed US armed forces to the Korean War. After an initial period of public support, however, criticism quickly grew over US involvement in the region. The intervention of the People's Republic of China and the recall of Gen Douglas MacArthur, brought to the Truman administration additional pressures to alter its foreign policy direction. In 1952, Truman refused to seek re-election for President of the United States and left Washington for Independence, Missouri, where he lived for the remainder of his life. He died on 26 Dec 1972. Starting in 1961, the Harry S Truman Library's Oral History programme began to conduct interviews with some of the men and women who had made contact with Harry S Truman during his professional career. Interview subjects ranged in their professional experience, and included US armed forces personnel, international leaders, and political advisers and associates. All of the interviews were transcribed and made available in transcript form, ranging in length from fewer than 10 to over 1,000 pages.


Scope and content/abstract:

Harry S Truman Presidential Oral History Files is a themed microfiche collection composed of transcribed interviews relating to the professional career of Harry S Truman. From 1961 to 1989, the Harry S Truman Library conducted over 400 interviews for the oral history project, each relating to aspects of Truman's professional life, including his career as an artillery officer during World War One; district judge, 1922-1934; US Senator, 1934-1944; and President of the United States, 1945-1953. Included among the interviewees are Dean Acheson, US Secretary of State, 1949-1953; Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor, Federal Republic of Germany, 1949-1963; Richard Bolling, First Secretary, Office of US Political Adviser to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Tokyo, Japan, 1950; John H Chiles, Secretary, General Staff of the Far East Command, and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, 1948-1950; Clark McAdams Clifford, Special Counsel to the President, 1946-1950; 1st Lt Lorain H Cunningham, 129 Field Artillery, US Army, 1917-1918; Edgar C Faris, Jr, Secretary to Truman as Senator of Missouri, 1935-1938; Abraham Feinberg, friend of Truman, active in the creation of the State of Israel, 1945-1948; Raymond W Goldsmith, economist, US Department of State, 1947-1949; Gordon Gray, Secretary of the Army, 1949-1950 and Special Assistant to the President, 1950; (William) Averell Harriman, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1943-1946 and to Great Britain, 1946, Special Assistant to the President, 1950- 1951, and Chairman, NATO Commission on Defence Plans, 1951; Edwin A Locke, Jr, Personal Representative of the President to China, 1945, Special Assistant to the President, 1946-1947, and Ambassador in Charge of US Mission to the Near East, 1951-1952; Robert Abercrombie Lovett, US Secretary of Defense, 1951-1953; Sir Roger Mellor Makins, British Deputy Under Secretary of State, 1948-1952, and British Ambassador to the United States, 1953-1956; and Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, 1953-1969

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Interviews are arranged in alphabetical order.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be printed off the microfilm for research purposes and are charged at the cost to the Centre. Enquiries concerning the copyright of the original material should be addressed to the Harry S Truman Library, 500 W US Hwy 24, Independence, MO, USA, 64050, or

Finding aids:

Summary guide entry on-line at, and catalogue available in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Congressional Information Services, California, MD, USA

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Date of compilation: Oct 1999

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