January 19, 2022

Cold War: Free Europe Committee – New Digital Collection of Encrypted Messages Available Online

Note: The following announcement was made earlier this year.

From the Open Societies Archive at Central Europe University, Budapest:

OSA is honored to announce public access to the first portionof the Free Europe Committee (FEC) compilation of Cold War digital records.

These 8,100 digital files were first available on November 3, 2015, for researchers only and covered the period of FEC activities from 1960-1964. OSA has only uploaded, this first chunk of a total database of 35,000 encrypted messages taking up 22 microfilm reels, ranging from 1960-1970.

Direct to Digital Records (Browse/Search)


Originally, the collection came from the Hoover Institution Library and Archive where it was stored since the early 1990’s. It arrived to OSA in 2014, on a total of 101 microfilm reels which were all digitized recently by OSA. It is important to mention that all of the paper records created by the FEC were destroyed after they were filmed on the microfilm reels.


Once processed, these historical records will shed more light on the US’s Cold War initiative to combat Soviet influence and distortion of information in Eastern Europe. OSA hopes that the public access to the new FEC digital collection will contribute to the better understanding of the trans-Atlantic connections, émigré aspirations, the operation of Radio Free Europe and finally the FEC institution per se as valuable resources for further scholarly research on the Cold War era.

A careful look at the microfilm reels showed at least two groups of historical records. On one side there was a correspondence from the FEC Presidential Office together with numerous encrypted short daily messages; while on the other side, there were records, charts and graphics from the Engineering Department. Daily exchanges of encrypted messages between FEC in the New York headquarters and Radio Free Europe in Munich covered a variety of themes ranging from administrative, technical, political, and those relating the program directives for Radio Free Europe. Some of the messages are particularly interesting because they give an account of political and historical events, such the Cuban Missile crisis or the shooting-down of the US spy-plane over the Soviet Union, etc.

Direct to Digital Records (Browse/Search)

Read the Complete Blog Post, Learn More About FEC

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.