Saturday, January 26, 2019

Archibald MacLeish: Public Servant

I've been trying to summarize Archibald MacLeish's public service:
He did succeed as a public figure. As Librarian of Congress from 1939 to 1944, he successfully reorganized its administrative structure, even while setting up public poetry readings and establishing a Chair of Poetry in English. He started the Quarterly Journal of Acquisitions for the library, and he offered resident fellowships for young scholars and set up the Fellows of the Library of Congress for notable writers and poets. He was also even more closely involved in the government. In 1941, he supervised the Office of Facts and Figures, which he combined with other agencies in 1942, relabeling it the Office of War Information. He even crafted speeches for the President. In March 1944, he attended the London Conference of Allied Ministers of Education. He stepped down from his position as Librarian in late 1944 and become an Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (Library of Congress, n.d.). He also helped develop the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (Katz, 1991). He even devoted a year representing the United States at the creation of UNESCO. Some of these jobs clearly required skills in propaganda, and MacLeish's literary training had prepared him for that (Buitenhuis, 1996).
I will cite the following three sources for the information provided above:
Buitenhuis, Peter. "Prelude to War: The Interventionist Propaganda of Archibald MacLeish, Robert E. Sherwood, and John Steinbeck." Canadian Review of American Studies. Volume 26, Issue 1, Spring 1996, pp. 1-30.

Katz, Barry M. 1991. "German Historians in the Office of Strategic Services." An Interrupted Past: German Speaking Refugee Historians in the United States After 1933. Pages 136-137.

Library of Congress, "Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)," 9th Librarian of Congress, 1939-1944.
If I've missed any major public service accomplishment by MacLeish, or made any factual errors, then let me know.



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