Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Ralph Block Papers

Dates: 1918-1969.

General Representative of the Office of War Information in India, 1943-1946; Official with the Department of State, International Information Administration and U.S. Information Agency, 1946-1960.

The papers of Ralph Block consist mostly of correspondence between Block and government officials associated with the Department of State and the Office of War Information. Also in the collection are newspaper articles on Block’s work in India, printed materials concerning his involvement with the Democratic National Committee and the Motion Picture Democratic Committee, and reports on the Office of War Information (OWI) and the operations of the Psychological Warfare Team in Burma.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one-half of one linear foot (approximately 800 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: The donor gave his copyright interest in his own writings in this collection to the United States government. Documents created by government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents in this collection is presumed to remain with the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Willie L. Harriford, Jr. and Harry Clark, Jr. (1969).
Updated by: Brian Smith (2010) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and David Clark.


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1889 (June 21)Born, Cherokee, Iowa
1911A.B. degree, University of Michigan
1911-1942Worked as newspaper reporter and as a motion picture producer and screenwriter
1942-1943Assistant Regional Director, 9th Civilian Defense Region, U.S. Office of Civilian Defense
1943-1946General Representative of the Office of War Information in India and Special Assistant to the Personal Representative of the President of the United States in India
1946Received Medal of Freedom from War Department
1946-1960Official with the Department of State, International Information Administration and the U.S. Information Agency
1974 (January 2)Died, Wheaton, Maryland

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Ralph Block include documents dating from before and during Block’s career in government with the Office of War Information (OWI) and the State Department. Correspondence and reports regarding the OWI in India and Burma make up most of the collection. Further correspondence and printed materials relate to a loyalty investigation of Block during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

A lengthy report in the collection concerns the work of the OWI Psychological Warfare Team in Burma during World War II. The report includes actual examples of propaganda distributed in Burmese villages, detailed accounts of daily activities, lists of personnel (Americans, indigenous staff and Japanese POWs), accounts of printing procedures, and lists of material and equipment used by the team.

Another long report in the collection, from OWI Director Elmer Davis to President Truman, summarizes the activities of the OWI from 1942 to 1945.

The papers also include correspondence between Block and the Loyalty Security Board of the State Department concerning an investigation of his loyalty to the United States government and his eventual exoneration. Included in this material are a series of questions sent to Block concerning his past associations and activities, a full handwritten version of Block’s answers to these questions, and documents relating to his career that Block apparently compiled during the course of the investigation.

Other documents in the collection include newspaper clippings and other printed materials regarding Block’s work in India as General Representative of the OWI, his association with the Democratic National Committee and the Motion Picture Democratic Committee, and his career as a Hollywood producer and screenwriter. Also included in the collection are two identification cards with Block’s photograph and fingerprints.

Other collections at the Truman Library related to the OWI include the Philleo Nash Papers and the Charles Hulten Papers. Other collections related to loyalty investigations of government employees during the Truman administration include the Bernard Bernstein Papers and the John Stewart Service and Charles E. Rhett’s Papers. The Library also has an oral history interview with Ralph Block, which is available online.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 SUBJECT FILE, 1918-1969
Correspondence, financial records, handwritten notes, clippings from newspapers and magazines, printed materials, and other items. Arranged alphabetically.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • Clippings
  • Correspondence Regarding India
  • Loyalty and Security Clearance- Correspondence of Ralph Block
  • Loyalty and Security Clearance- General (Ralph Block)
  • Loyalty and Security Clearance- Printed Materials
  • Orders and Identification Cards used in India-Burma Theater of OWI
  • Report of OWI Psychological Team Operations in North Burma During World War II
  • Report to the President Regarding Office of War Information, June 13, 1942- September 15, 1945

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