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William Harlan Hale papers

Call Number: MS 1140

Scope and Contents

The papers of William Harlan Hale, who was a prolific writer and editor, reflect the intellectual and political climate of Yale (1928-1931); the publishing world of New York in the 1930s; the atmosphere of the intelligence branches of the Allied forces during World War II in New York, London, and Germany; and the politics of the Cold War as seen from Europe in the 1950s when Hale was in Vienna attached to the American embassy. The material, which is particularly voluminous for the 1940s and 1950s, has been arranged in five series: I. Correspondence, II. Writings, III. Personal and Biographical Papers IV. Topical Files, V. Printed Matter.

Series I is divided into general and select correspondence. The General Correspondence, which makes up the larger portion of the series, is almost entirely professional, and largely correspondence with editors, publishers and writers about projected articles or about the various publications with which Hale was connected. Two such letters are those from Oswald Garrison Villard (1932 Dec 27) and Bruce Bliven (1941 Aug 7). In response to an article that Hale had written on architecture, Richard Neutra, the Austrian-born architect, wrote a four-page letter (1935 Jul 4) giving a detailed history of his arrival and subsequent career in the United States. The magazines with which Hale was connected and which figure most prominently in the correspondence are: American Heritage, Harpers, Horizon, the Nation, the New Republic and the Harkness Hoot. In 1930, as Yale undergraduates, Hale and Selden Rodman had been co-founders of this publication. The General Correspondence is arranged chronologically. The smaller section, Select Correspondence, is made up of correspondence with several persons with whom Hale had a substantial exchange, and a few family letters. Included here are a series of internal office memoranda, both to and from Hale while on the Reporter magazine (1954-1958); also copies of five letters to Hale from prominent persons which were sold by Hale in 1970. The writers are Robinson Jeffers, H. L. Mencken, Katherine Anne Porter, Thorton Wilder, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Series II is made up of manuscript drafts of many articles (1919-1970) and partial and complete drafts of books with related correspondence, research notes, reviews, etc. Also in this series are the texts of his broadcasts to Europe written for the Office of War Information (1942 Nov 9 - 1944 Jan 20).

In Series III, PERSONAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL PAPERS, are school and travel memorabilia, clippings, photographs, and a typescript diary kept by Hale (1951-1952) while he was in Austria as director of United States Public Affairs. A collection of books by Selden Rodman with flyleaf inscriptions to William Harlan Hale completes this series.

Series IV, TOPICAL FILES, contains important typescript and mimeographed materials collected (or written) by Hale while in Germany with the Psychological Warfare Branch of the Allied Expeditionary Force (1941-1945) and later as an officer in military intelligence (1948-1949). Taken together these documents reveal the psychological state and political ideas of German civilians and soldiers from the first day of American occupation. Many contain records of interviews, or analyze the results of questionnaires distributed among the general population. Of special interest are two reports on Buchenwald and Dachau, made on April 24 and May 12, 1945, respectively, depicting the situation in these camps almost from the moment of liberation. Included in this series are also transcripts of German broadcasts (1943 Feb 28-Jun 16) and Hale's notes and memoranda on the State Department (1955-1956).

Series V, PRINTED MATTER, has leaflets, periodicals, and books, dating chiefly from World War II, and arranged by issuing agency or country. It includes leaflets and newspapers issued by the Psychological Warfare Branch as part of its propaganda campaign during the war, campaign histories for both the European and Pacific theaters issued by the United States government (1944-1946), British publications, and a number of pieces of Nazi war propaganda as well as Nazi literature intended for home consumption. A rare item in this section is an early publication of the Nazi party, Deutschlands Erwachen, with photographs by Hans Hoffmann (ca. 1924). Collected by Hale during the 1950s are also some telling examples of anti-Soviet literature, largely in German, issued by the United States. A European view of this period is represented in the collection by several pieces of anti-American literature, mostly of French origin.

The papers were the gift of Mrs. William Harlan Hale in July and August 1975. For additional family papers, see the papers of William Bayard Hale (MS 814), father of William Harlan Hale. For related papers dealing with World War II, see the German Pamphlet Collection (MS 735), the World War II Collection (MS 671), the Historical Picture Collection (MS 713), and the Barbara Tuchman Papers (MS 574) for materials on the Burma campaign. For the papers of other journalists of the period, see the Hanson Baldwin Papers (MS 54), the Max Lerner Papers (MS 322), the Walter Lippmann Papers (MS 326), and the Dwight Macdonald Papers (MS 730).


  • 1915-1970


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. William H. Hale, 1975.


Arranged in five series: I. Correspondence. II. Writings. III. Personal and Biographical Papers. IV. Topical Files. V. Printed Matter.


9 Linear Feet (22 boxes, 1 folio)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, memoranda, reports, printed matter, and memorabilia, chiefly documenting Hale's career as a journalist, as a member of intelligence units in the United States Army during and after World War II, and later as a member of the foreign service in Austria (1950-1953). His correspondence is largely with editors, publishers, and writers about the projected articles, or about the magazines that he sucessively edited, especially the New Republic, the Reporter, and Horizon. Prominent correspondents are Max Ascoli, founder of the Reporter, Bruce Bliven, and Oswald Garrison Villard. During World War II and just after the end of the war, when Hale was on the staff of the Psychological Warfare Branch of the Allied Expeditionary Force, he collected numerous memoranda analyzing German public opinion, including both civilians and German prisoners of war. Also included are reports on visits to Buchenwald (1945 Apr 12) and Dachau (1945 May 24) immediately after the camps were freed. The collection contains more than one hundred leaflets illustrating the psychological warfare conducted by the Allies during the war, and printed propaganda issued by the Germans, the British, and the Americans as well. His service in Vienna is documented by a diary (1951-1952), State Department memoranda, and extensive anti-Soviet printed matter issued by the United States at the height of the Cold War.

Biographical / Historical

Born 1910, New York City, son of William Bayard and Olga Unger Hale. Educated at Riverdale Country School and schools abroad; B.A. Yale University 1931. Married Jean Laughlin Barker of Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1931; children: Katherine Laughlin, Jonathan Bayard, Elizabeth Douglas. Episcopalian. Democrat.

Pursuits have ranged over three fields: writing (history, biography, criticism, current affairs, fiction, and satire), editing (numerous magazines), and government service (recurrent).

Began as founder (with Selden Rodman) of the widely publicized Yale undergraduate magazine, the Harkness Hoot. Published first book, Challenge to Defeat: Goethe's World and Spengler's Century, in 1932. Joined Vanity Fair as associate editor in the same year, also contributing stories and sketches; columnist on Washington Post, 1933-1934; editorial associate, Fortune, 1934-1936. After contributing also to Harper's, the Atlantic Monthly, Story in its prime, etc., turned freelance to write a novel, Hannibal Hooker (1938), an adventure yarn, A Yank in the RAF (1940) before interruption by war service. Returned from the latter to write The March of Freedom (1946), a layman's history of America. Served on the New Republic 1946-1947 as senior editor and occasional contributor, leaving it on political grounds. Joined The Reporter at its inception (1948) as senior writer, and after a four-year time-out first to write Horace Greeley, a biography (1950) and then to serve in the Department of the Army and the Foreign Service abroad. Rejoined The Reporter as contributing editor, again writing essays and articles. Switched to Horizon as managing editor at its inception (1958), writing fairly frequent satirical and other pieces for it besides, while also engaged on a historical series for American Heritage that resulted in a book on prominent American movers and shakers overseas, Innocence Abroad (1958).

Continued as editor of Horizon until 1963; editor of Horizon Books 1963-1967, senior writer 1967-1968. In this period produced two further books, The Horizon Book of Ancient Greece (1965) and The Horizon Book of Eating and Drinking Through the Ages (1968). Also delivered occasional lectures and wrote documentary television scripts.

Government service: Office of War Information 1941-1945, first in charge of German language broadcasts from New York, then of various psychological warfare operations conducted from London; second to SHAEF as chief of Radio Luxembourg (September 1944) and subsequently to United States Forces European Theater as policy advisor on information control matters in Germany. In 1948-1949, tours of duty with Department of the Army as Lt. Col., Military Intelligence. In 1950, civilian tour of duty for the same in Austria, followed by appointment as Foreign Service Reserve Officer and First Secretary at Vienna, first as head of U.S. information activities in that country under quadripartite occupation, then as director of all U.S. Public Affairs there, 1952-1953.

Home: Woods End Lane, Wesport, Connecticut.

Died: July, 1974.

Based on a curriculum vitae prepared by W. H. Hale, 1961 June.

Guide to the William Harlan Hale Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Ruth Gay
March 1982
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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