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A Guide to the Voice of America Broadcast Archives


Researching VOA at the National Archives and Library of Congress

Your first step to researching the Voice of America (VOA) archives is to determine the age of the information you are seeking. Typically, VOA houses material for twelve years, after which it is retired to the National Archives and Records Administration.

Researching the VOA archives at the Voice of America

VOA is prohibited from releasing overseas program material in the United States under Section 501 of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, although this material can be reviewed at VOA headquarters in Washington, DC. If you are requesting a tape or transcript of a VOA broadcast from the last twelve years, you will need to schedule an appointment with the Office of Public Affairs to view or listen. Call (202) 203-4959, or e-mail publicaffairs@voa.gov.

Researching the VOA archives at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Tapes or transcripts of VOA broadcasts older than twelve years are available in the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch of the National Archives. You may write, e-mail, call, or go directly to the National Archives to complete your research.

National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
E-mail for general inquiries: inquire@arch2.nara.gov

Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch Phone: (301) 837-2000
Or toll free at 1-866-272-6272

There are over 20,000 titles of VOA broadcasts dating from 1945 through 1974 available by title or date on the NARA website, www.nara.gov. There are several ways to search the VOA archives using this site.

  1. Choose the search option on the Home page. To search for VOA broadcasts, follow these links: a) click on “NARA Archival Information Locator”; b) click on "Search for Archival Holdings”; c) click on “NAIL Expert Search”; d) you may search by various criteria. Control numbers are used to identify the sequenced tapes.
  2. To utilize the “Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States,” from the Home page (http://www.nara.gov), follow these links: a) click on the link “The Research Room”; and b) click on the link “Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives.” On this page enter the VOA record group number 306 in the box marked “Go to Record Group #”; it will take you to all USIA (VOA) records held by NARA.

For audio materials, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds all of the speech/documentary recordings VOA made from 1944 until February 1981 - transfers of these began in 1982.

National Archives and Records Administration’s New York Facility

The collection at the National Archives and Records Administration facility in New York includes Voice of America records documenting overseas broadcasts in several non-English languages and also include cover sheets; scripts with notes of deletions, additions, and revisions; and other background material:

Record Group 306
Records of the U.S. Information Agency

The U.S. Information Agency (USIA) was established by Reorganization Plan No. 8 and an Executive order of August 1, 1953. On. Oct. 1, 1999, USIA’s non-broadcast functions were merged into the U.S. Department of State, and the agency ceased operations. The media services of the USIA included the Voice of America.

Records Description
Dates: 1948-1954
Volume: 148 cubic feet

Address:
201 Varick Street
12th Floor
New York, NY 10014
(Entrance on Houston Street, between Varick and Hudson.)

Toll-free: 1-866-840-1752 or 212-401-1620
Fax: 212-401-1638
E-mail: newyork.archives@nara.gov

Hours:
Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: Open one Saturday a month from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (microfilm research only).
Closed all Sundays and Federal holidays.

Researchers must show a photo ID when entering the Varick Street building.

VOA Materials at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress holds World War II-era Voice of America recordings made while the Voice was part of the Office of War Information. The Library also holds more than 50,000 music recordings VOA produced from WWII through the 1980s. There are also a few other VOA collections at LC, including music from Africa and Arabic music tapes transferred a few years ago. The contact number at the Library of Congress is (202) 707-7833 (Recorded Sound at LC). Any of the reference librarians can help.

(revised 5/16/07)

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