Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Institute of Current World Affairs records, 1914-2018, bulk 1926-2011

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1528
Bib ID 7684435 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Institute of Current World Affairs
Title Institute of Current World Affairs records, 1914-2018, bulk 1926-2011
Physical Description 147 linear feet (98 record boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



The collection is arranged into 8 series.


Scope and Content

The Institute of Current World Affairs records document the history of the ICWA, its sister organization, the American Universities Field Staff, and its founders, Charles and John Crane. Documents include first-hand reports authored by Fellows and field staff, correspondence, minutes, planning documents, subject files, financial records, publications, and photographs.

Spanning almost a century, the ICWA archive tells the story ofboth the ever-evolving history ofthe organization itself, with its unique philanthropic mission and the important story of its founders, and international affairs and culture as witnessed and described by hundreds of journalists, scholars, artists, and policy makers, many ofwhom emerged as leaders in their chosen fields. The collection should be of tremendous value to researchers, whether they be interested in the organization itself, the history of the international affairs community and foreign policy, or the history and culture of a specific region.

  • Series I: Charles Richard Crane and John O. Crane Documents

    The Crane family papers consist materials collected about Charles Crane in efforts to document his life and work. The personal papers of his son John Crane, dating mainly from the 1960's, are also included. While the Crane family papers held by the ICWA are a selective record of the family's activities, they offer an important glimpse into Charles and John Crane's philanthropic efforts, and their relationship with the ICWA.

  • Series II: ICWA Newsletters, 1926-2011

    Comprised of original and printed reports filed by Fellows and distributed to ICWA members and select readers as newsletters, which take the form of letters to the ICWA Director. The letters detail the Fellows' travels, studies, and general conditions of life. Many are accompanied by illustrations, such as photographs, maps, and charts. Some related correspondence also forms part of this sub-group.

    This record group also includes reports from partner of fellows, individuals who weren't formally appointed as fellows, but whose letters to Walter Rogers were deemed of interest and were circulated and/or preserved through ICWA channels, and Alicia Patterson Fund Fellows.

    Over time the newsletters grew to resemble publications more and more. In 1995, the newsletters were reformatted, becoming known as ICWA Letters.

  • Series III: General Administrative Files

  • Series IV: Trustees' Minutes

    Comprised of governing documents, minutes, planning documents, correspondence, and other records prepared for Trustee and Member meetings, dinners, and events. Also includes lists of Trustees and Members from 1958-1978. A complete set ofbound minutes exists for 19261955. Subsequent bound volumes are housed in the ICW A offices. Foldered minutes (19321977, 1982-1998) include accompanying correspondence and materials.

    Records relating to the ICWA's 'introspection' retreats (1961-1975 and 1996-1998) are housed together. The retreats were held to allow Trustees, Members, Staff and former Fellows to examine and rethink the ICWA's mission and activities. In some instances, information gathered beforehand through surveys and correspondence, which are included.

  • Series V: Christmas Newsletters

  • Series VI: Directors' Files

    Includes correspondence, subject files, and related materials created and maintained by the ICWA's three Executive Directors, from its founding in 1926 until 1990.

  • Series VII: Publications

  • Series VIII: Archived Web Site, 2013-present

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Name of Collection; Box and Folder; Institute of Current World Affairs Records, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2009.2010.M077: Source of acquisition--Institute of Current and World Affairs. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--2009.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed 2013.

Revision Description

2014-12-05 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz and updated by Adrien Hilton

2017-03-30 Archived Website series added by Jane Gorjevsky

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Crane, Charles Richard, 1858-1939 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Institute of Current World Affairs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scholarships Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

The Institute of Current World Affairs is a Washington, D.C-based 501(c)3 which provides fellowships, allowing Americans under age 36 to live in a foreign country for two years. Their observations and research are published in monthly newsletters that are distributed to members.

Three men were instrumental in founding the Institute ofCurrent World Affairs (ICWA) -Charles and John Crane and Walter S. Rogers.

Charles Crane (1858-1939) was one of the heirs to the Crane Co. ofChicago, created by his father Richard Teller Crane in 1855. A world traveler and Woodrow Wilson supporter, Crane served as a member of Wilson's Special Diplomatic Commission to Russia (1917), a member ofthe American Section ofthe Peace Conference Inter-Allied Commission on Mandate in Turkey (1919), as co-director (with Oberlin College President Henry C. King) ofthe KingCrane Commission to study the Middle East following World War I (1919), and as American Ambassador to China (May 1920-June 1921). In later years Crane developed a friendship with King Abdul-Azziz ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, and assisted with oil exploration in the region. Charles married Cornelia W. Smith. One of his sons, Richard T. Crane was the private secretary to Secretary of State Robert Lansing.

His other son, John O. Crane traveled extensively with his father and Walter Rogers, and, with Rogers, established the Mutual News Exchange, an independent press service run out of Prague. The news service's need for well-trained, worldly scholar-journalists, led to the establishment of the Institute ofCurrent World Affairs, with a $1 million trust fund from Charles Crane. The ICWA was created to support fellowships abroad. John Cranewas one of the earliest Fellows.

Walter Rogers was a Chicago journalist who had worked his way through law school in the evenings. At the turn ofthe century he was working for the Crane Company. After traveling with Charles and John Crane, Rogers became the Executive Director of the ICW A when it was established in 1925, a position he occupied until his retirement in 1959. Rogers was known for his active recruitment of Fellows.

The American Universities Field Staff (AUFS) program was established by Walter Rogers in 1951, as a partner organization ofthe ICW A. The AUFS was a membership organization, supported by fees from as many as 20 American universities and grants from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and governed by top representatives ofthe member schools. The main purpose of the AUFS was to supply teaching pC(sonnel in international affairs at the member colleges from its pool of "Associates" --scholars living and studying abroad in their regions ofspecialization. Many ofthe original Associates w~re former ICW A Fellows and subsequent Fellows were often placed with an eye to their becoming Associates. Although Rogers' efforts to merge the ICWA and the AUFS proved unsuccessful, the two continued to be closely linked, sharing offices in New York. Former Fellow Phillips Talbot served as the first executive director of the AUFS.

Following Rogers' retirement in 1959, former Fellow Richard Nolte served as Executive Director until his retirement in 1978. Nolte briefly served as the U. S. Ambassador to Egypt in 1967.

His successor, Peter Martin, also a former Fellow, retired in 2005. Martin was a writer and senior editor at TIME magazine (1955-1970) and a founding editor of MONEY magazine (1970-l978), and the creator of the South North News Service.

Steven Butler the current Executive Director moved the offices ofthe Institute of Current World Affairs to Washington, DC in 2007. In addition to Butler, the ICWA currently employs Ellen Kozak (Publications Director) and Jim Guy (Bookkeeper and Program Assistant).