Streaming Media

Location

Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania

Event Website

http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/lectures/scienceinfo_program.html

Start Date

25-2-2017 2:15 PM

End Date

25-2-2017 3:30 PM

Document Type

Presentation

Description

Alistair Black, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"All information flows toward it, or returns to it in a form worked up into shape": The Intelligence Branch and Libraries of the British War Office, 1873-1914

Intelligence has always been an aspect of organized warfare. It was not until the 1873, however, that the British Army effectively recognised this formally by establishing a dedicated division, under the auspices of the War Office, named the "Intelligence Branch," whose work was to be supported by collections of printed materials in libraries spread across a number of locations. Based on documents held in the National Archives (UK), this paper explores the ways in which the work of the War Office Intelligence Branch developed before the First World War in response to imperial and foreign-military challenges. Specifically, attention is paid to the type of information management methods that were employed. Significantly, these methods pre-dated those that emerged around the turn of the century in the first large multinational corporations, in counter-intelligence agencies like MI5 (1908) and in the Board of Trade, which inaugurated a Commercial Intelligence Branch in 1899. They also pre-dated, though subsequently paralleled, the late-nineteenth century emergence of a science of management, which included an identifiable information dimension.

Kathy Peiss, University of Pennsylvania

Information as Warfare: The American Transformation of the Internationalist Vision in WWII

Americans participated in the internationalist information movement of the interwar years, albeit with their own quirks and obsessions, especially a strange faith in microfilm. The descent into the Second World War exposed the weaknesses of the internationalist vision and resistances to universalization: the international book trade ended, scholarly exchange broke down, and nations concealed information to make war. In the United States, the first civilian intelligence agency, the Coordinator of Information--soon renamed the Office of Strategic Services--gathered librarians, archivists, and scholars to establish storage and retrieval systems for classified information. Strikingly, these were not primarily leading documentalists or scientists, but rather experts in the social sciences and humanities; their prior experience lay in Ivy League universities, research libraries, and New Deal cultural programs. Out of the wartime experience, a specifically American (and nationalist) version of internationalism and information emerged.

Comments

YouTube recording of Alistair Black begins at 1:17.

YouTube recording of Kathy Peiss begins at 33:20.

Share

COinS
 
Feb 25th, 2:15 PM Feb 25th, 3:30 PM

Session 7: Universalism and War

Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania

Alistair Black, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"All information flows toward it, or returns to it in a form worked up into shape": The Intelligence Branch and Libraries of the British War Office, 1873-1914

Intelligence has always been an aspect of organized warfare. It was not until the 1873, however, that the British Army effectively recognised this formally by establishing a dedicated division, under the auspices of the War Office, named the "Intelligence Branch," whose work was to be supported by collections of printed materials in libraries spread across a number of locations. Based on documents held in the National Archives (UK), this paper explores the ways in which the work of the War Office Intelligence Branch developed before the First World War in response to imperial and foreign-military challenges. Specifically, attention is paid to the type of information management methods that were employed. Significantly, these methods pre-dated those that emerged around the turn of the century in the first large multinational corporations, in counter-intelligence agencies like MI5 (1908) and in the Board of Trade, which inaugurated a Commercial Intelligence Branch in 1899. They also pre-dated, though subsequently paralleled, the late-nineteenth century emergence of a science of management, which included an identifiable information dimension.

Kathy Peiss, University of Pennsylvania

Information as Warfare: The American Transformation of the Internationalist Vision in WWII

Americans participated in the internationalist information movement of the interwar years, albeit with their own quirks and obsessions, especially a strange faith in microfilm. The descent into the Second World War exposed the weaknesses of the internationalist vision and resistances to universalization: the international book trade ended, scholarly exchange broke down, and nations concealed information to make war. In the United States, the first civilian intelligence agency, the Coordinator of Information--soon renamed the Office of Strategic Services--gathered librarians, archivists, and scholars to establish storage and retrieval systems for classified information. Strikingly, these were not primarily leading documentalists or scientists, but rather experts in the social sciences and humanities; their prior experience lay in Ivy League universities, research libraries, and New Deal cultural programs. Out of the wartime experience, a specifically American (and nationalist) version of internationalism and information emerged.

https://repository.upenn.edu/science_of_information/sessions/session/9