Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Records of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Dates: 1984.

These records consist of transcripts of nineteen interviews conducted by John Major and Ursula Kenny in 1984 for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) radio program, “The Buck Stops Here.” The persons interviewed included participants in the events of the Truman Era and scholars with expertise in the period. The interviews dealt with a wide range of topics pertaining to President Truman and the course of his administration from 1945 to 1953.

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ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 5 linear inches (about 800 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: The following persons donated to the United States government any copyrights they possessed relating to their participation in the BBC radio program, “The Buck Stops Here”: Lucius Battle, Clark Clifford, Robert Ferrell, Alger Hiss, Roy Jenkins, Paul Nitze, Forrest Pogue, David Rosenberg, Dean Rusk, Martin Sherwin, Sir Oliver Wright, and Daniel Yergin. Other copyright interests in this collection are assumed to remain with the creators of the materials or their heirs.
Processed by: Thurman Oliver, Randy Sowell, and Amy Williams (2008).


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ORGANIZATIONAL NOTE

The British Broadcasting Corporation presented a radio program entitled “The Buck Stops Here” in 1984 to mark the centennial of the birth of Harry S. Truman. The program focused on important aspects of the Truman Presidency, and featured interviews with historians and political figures from the Truman years.

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The records of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) at the Truman Library consist of transcripts of nineteen interviews conducted by John Major and Ursula Kenny in 1984 for the BBC radio program, “The Buck Stops Here.” The persons interviewed included participants in the events of the Truman Era and scholars with expertise in the period. The interviews dealt with a wide range of topics pertaining to President Truman and the course of his administration from 1945 to 1953. The transcripts are arranged in alphabetical order in a single series, an Interview File, under the names of the persons interviewed.

The interview summaries that follow are also arranged alphabetically. At the end of each summary is the Library’s sound recording (SR) reference number for the audiotape of that interview. The tapes themselves are in the audiovisual section of the Library.

Each of the interviews was conducted by John Major, with the exception of Mrs. Margaret Truman Daniel, who was interviewed by Ursula Kenny. Alistair Cooke was not asked questions, but simply recorded his recollections. The transcripts contain a number of misspellings and typographical errors.

Summaries of Interviews

    Battle, Lucius
      The interview focuses on Battle’s impressions of President Truman during the years 1949-1953, when Battle was an assistant to Dean Acheson. Further discussion deals with the Korean War and German re-armament. The interview concludes with a discussion of the dismissal of General MacArthur. (SR99-12)
    Bingham, Jonathan
      Bingham shares his insights into the U. S. Point Four Program and its overall success in helping underdeveloped countries. (SR99-7)
    Clifford, Clark M.
      This interview covers Clifford’s tenure as Special Counsel to the President from 1946 to 1950. Topics discussed include foreign policy towards the Soviet Union and Israel, and President Truman’s politics and style while in office. (SR99-15)
    Cooke, Alistair
      Cooke discusses the Democratic National Convention of 1944. He outlines Roosevelt’s efforts to replace Henry Wallace with Harry Truman for the Vice Presidency, and discusses the “Wallaceites” and their removal from the convention through the invocation of the “fire rules.” (SR99-6)
    Daniel, Margaret Truman
      Daniel talks about President Truman’s personal qualities that he drew on as President. She discusses life in the White House, whether her father enjoyed being President, the foreign policy of his administration, why he was not a candidate in 1952, his interest in politics, and his retirement years. (SR99-20)
    Donovan, Robert
      Robert Donovan, a Truman scholar, presents his insights into various aspects of the Truman presidential era. Highlighted topics include Truman as a “compromise” candidate for the Vice Presidency in 1944, Truman’s feelings on Roosevelt’s waning health, Truman’s personality and presidential style, his two terms in relation to domestic and foreign policy, his decision not to run in 1952, and his achievements, both domestic and foreign. (SR99-5)
    Ferrell, Robert
      Robert Ferrell, a Truman scholar, begins by discussing the use of the atomic bomb. He addresses President Truman’s feelings toward Britain and Russia, and describes the differing views of Roosevelt and Truman regarding China. The interview continues with discussion of the Truman Doctrine, and concludes with an evaluation of Truman’s place in history and how Truman changed the course of American foreign policy. (SR99-14)
    Hiss, Alger
      Alger Hiss shares his thoughts on the following aspects of the Truman Presidency: Truman at the United Nations Conference in San Francisco; the Cold War and Truman’s attitude toward the Soviet Union; Truman’s decision to recognize the state of Israel and his conflict with State Department officials who were opponents of recognition; Truman’s loyalty program for employees of the federal government; and his views regarding the Hiss case. (SR99-10)
    Jenkins, Roy
      In this interview, the Right Honorable Roy Jenkins presents his personal assessment of President Truman, and comments on Truman’s impact on the world of his time. He also discusses the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Blockade, and the possible impetuosity of some of Truman’s decisions. (SR99-17)
    Nitze, Paul
      Paul Nitze, U. S. State Department official during the Truman years, discusses his role in the Strategic Bombing Survey. He also talks about the Marshall Plan, the economic revival of Europe, and U.S. aid to Japan. The interview concludes with a discussion of the world economy and foreign policy during the postwar years. (SR99-19)
    Pogue, Forrest
      Forrest Pogue discusses President Truman’s decision to send General George C. Marshall to mediate between Chinese communists and nationalists, Marshall’s appointments as Secretary of State and as Secretary of Defense, and his close working relationship with Truman dating back to Truman’s days as a U.S. Senator. Pogue also discusses the Marshall Plan and the removal of General MacArthur. (SR99-3)
    Rosenberg, David
      Rosenberg discusses President Truman’s reliance (or lack of reliance) upon atomic weapons as a deterrent to aggression by the Soviet Union, Truman’s thoughts on using atomic weapons in Korea, and his decision to go ahead with research and development of the hydrogen bomb. (SR99-4)
    Rusk, Dean
      Rusk shares his memories of various aspects of the Truman Presidency. Highlighted topics include a comparison of the presidential styles of Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson; American policy toward Palestine; the Soviet response to American demobilization after World War II; collective security; Truman’s decision to cross the 38th parallel during the Korean War; the relief of General MacArthur; and Truman’s place in modern American history. Also included is discussion of the importance of Europe and Asia to the United States, and Truman’s feelings toward Japan, the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet Union. (SR99-9)
    Sherwin, Martin
      Martin Sherwin discusses the use of the atomic bomb in August, 1945. He talks about why the bomb was used against Japan and how this decision affected postwar relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. (SR99-11)
    Stone, I. F.
      Stone presents his views on various aspects of the Truman Presidency. Highlighted topics include the 1947 loyalty program; the Truman Doctrine as a reflection of Truman’s anti-communism; the problem of McCarthyism; U.S. economic aid to Western Europe after World War II; the failure to extend similar aid to the Soviet Union and other communist countries; and Truman’s conduct of the Korean War. (SR99-1)
    Symington, Stuart
      Symington discusses his service in the Truman administration as Surplus Property Administrator, Secretary of the Air Force, Chairman of the National Security Resources Board, and head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. He also addresses such topics as the organization of the Department of Defense, President Truman’s administrative style, and the President’s support of his subordinates. (SR99-2)
    Thurmond, Strom
      Senator Thurmond talks about his opposition to Truman’s civil rights program, which led to his campaign for President as the candidate of the States’ Rights Democratic Party in 1948, and shares his opinions of Truman as President. (SR99-16)
    Wright, Oliver
      Sir Oliver Wright, British ambassador to the U.S., discusses American policy towards Great Britain after World War II, American conduct of the Korean War, and President Truman’s most important decisions. (SR99-18)
    Yergin, Daniel
      Yergin is asked why the atomic bomb was used and what effect it had on Soviet-American relations. A few questions about Germany, Israel, Korea, and U.S. national security are also addressed. (SR99-13)

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 INTERVIEW FILE, 1984
Transcripts of nineteen interviews conducted by John Major and Ursula Kenny for the BBC radio program, “The Buck Stops Here.” Arranged in alphabetical order.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • Battle, Lucius—January 24, 1984
  • Bingham, Jonathan—January 27, 1984
  • Clifford, Clark—January 23, 1984
  • Cooke, Alistair—Undated
  • Daniel, Margaret Truman—Undated
  • Donovan, Robert—January 25, 1984
  • Ferrell, Robert—January 18, 1984
  • Hiss, Alger—January 20, 1984
  • Jenkins, Roy—March 27, 1984
  • Nitze, Paul—January 24, 1984
  • Pogue, Forrest—January 24, 1984
  • Rosenberg, David—January 24, 1984
  • Rusk, Dean—January 26, 1984
  • Sherwin, Martin—January 27, 1984
  • Stone, I. F.—January 23, 1984
  • Symington, Stuart—January 25, 1984
  • Thurmond, Strom—January 24, 1984
  • Wright, Sir Oliver—January 23, 1984
  • Yergin, Daniel—January 21, 1984

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