2.3. Online Archives


Online Archives


Philip Scranton, Rutgers University, Emeritus

Ed Balleisen, Duke University

Professor of History and Public Policy and author of Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff (2017).  Recent scholarship focuses on the evolution of regulatory governance.

Geoff Jones, Harvard Business School 

Andrea Lluch, CONICET - National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina

Andrea Lluch is a Researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina (CONICET) . She is also an Associate Professor and a member of the History, Business, and Entrepreneurship Research Group (GHE) at the School of Management, University of Los Andes - Colombia.

The chair of this session is: Ghassan Moazzin (University of Hong Kong)

Description of workshop 

This session aims to introduce colleagues to online collections that can support or contribute to business history research projects, including those used in depth by Phil Scranton to analyze enterprise practices in socialist Hungary and the PRC and the diverse sources drawn upon by Ed Balleisen in creating his prize-winning study of Fraud. Andrea Lluch and Geoff Jones will profile an ongoing collecting process that involves extensive interviews with key business actors in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, available online.

By convenor

Phil Scranton. Cold-War-era online sources are voluminous and readily available, including the 1.7 million translated reports in the Joint Publications Research Service collections (US Dept. of Commerce), over 1 million declassified CIA files (CIA Electronic Reading Room), and the Open Society Archives (Budapest, Radio Free Europe materials). All have reports on business activities world-wide, ca. 1946-1992.

Basic info re the three collections:

Archives: I – OSA, Radio Free Europe 

Online access to 60,000+ documents, 1951-92.

Coverage: Central & SE Europe, USSR; RFE as US intelligence arm, seeking accurate information.

Character: Interviews with exiles & reports from in-country informants (rated); Situation,Research & Background Reports; broadcast transcripts, etc

Access: 50-60% in English or translated into English, no restrictions, downloadable, but not keyword searchable.

Value: contemporary, on-site documentation, assessed for quality, internally referential.

Archives II – JPRS - Newsbank

Online access to 1.7 million+ docs, 1958-92       Coverage: Global, ca. 50% USSR, 35% other socialist, 15% ROW (esp. emergent states)

Character: Unclassified reports, articles, interviews, complaints, translated from 50 languages by 2,000 staff, 250-300,000 pages annually for 35 years (US Dept. of Commerce)

Access: All in English, keyword searchable, subscription necessary.

Value: actor descriptions of situations and processes, already assessed for utility to Am. Foreign policy, considerable scholarly use of original hard copies; Newsbank digitizes (2012)

Archives III – CIA Electronic Reading Room

Online access to ca. 1 million declassified docs (12 million pages), more added regularly.

Coverage: Global, emphasis on Cold War rivals, but much on LatAm, Africa, et al.

Character: Staff reports and analyses, Policy reviews, Translations, Summaries of informant info, Country profiles, Predictions (often terrible)

Access: All English, keyword searchable

Value: Inestimable (as in ‘we don’t know yet’), but reviewing files on PRC agriculture & industry suggests they are essential for Cold War history.

Ed Balleisen. I will sketch how access to multiple online archives facilitated both “micro-historical” and “macro-historical” research for my 2017 book, Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff.  Relevant databases include those that require subscriptions (newspapers; trade journals; legal treatises; court decisions) and those open to anyone (Google Books; SEC Historical Society oral history interviews).

For an online companion to Fraud, see: https://sites.duke.edu/suckersandswindlers/

Andrea Lluch and Geoff Jones, Creating Emerging Markets. We will discuss the construction and uses of the CEM oral histories and their use in research. Participants are encouraged to check out the CEM website ahead of time.

For more information or if you wish to participate in this workshop, please check this document.