This collection contains both the personal papers of Fred Rosenau and examples of air-dropped psychological warfare literature created by the O.W.I. Amongst his personal papers, which constitute the first series, there are information guidebooks and language aids for India and Burma, a large number of Indian newspaper articles, and photographs taken by Rosenau in Calcutta. However, letters to his family in New York City compose the bulk of the personal series. Along with detailing the experience of a young American living in India and his reactions to a distinctly different culture, the letters document the organization of his O.W.I. office and the duties of its workers. In one particular letter, dated January 7, 1945, (which was hand-delivered to his family and thus avoided censorship) Rosenau was able to write freely about his work, colleagues, and responsibilities in Calcutta. In addition, there are letters from the O.W.I. headquarters in New Delhi to Rosenau, including one in which the proposed post-war job was offered.
The second series contains general information about the O.W.I. and its aims. It mainly consists of documents and photographs relating to Rosenau's office. The series includes many examples of propaganda leaflets directed towards the Burmese and Thai peoples (with attached translations) which were produced by the Calcutta team. The representative works include news bulletins on the war's progress, warnings about future Allied bombings, and a variety of anti-Japanese and morale-boosting literature. It also includes examples of leaflets dropped over Japan, which were directed at soldiers rather than civilians in an attempt to undermine their faith in the military leaders. Click here to go to provenance and related collections note.
The collection is divided into two series.
Series 1: Personal Experience of Fred S. Rosenau
Series 2: Psychological Warfare
Biographical / Historical:
Fred Simon Rosenau was a student at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, when he joined the Overseas Branch of the Office of War Information (O.W.I.) in May 1944. After completing training at an unidentified military base camp, Rosenau traveled to Calcutta, India, where he served as Assistant Representative under the directorship of Mr. Teg Grondahl. The Calcutta office was part of the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater and as such its psychological warfare activities were directed towards Burma and Thailand. Initially Rosenau was responsible for leaflet production, including supervising their printing and delivery to air crews, as well as serving as an assistant to Grondahl. By the spring of 1945, however, Rosenau's role had been expanded and he was given new charges in the intelligence field, becoming more directly involved in the development and editing of "strategic" literature.
While in Calcutta, Rosenau lived in a series of different boarding houses. When he was not working (by the summer of 1945, his work load had been substantially reduced), he devoted his spare time to writing letters home, sightseeing around the city and neighboring areas of Bengal, and attending local cultural events. However, the heat and lack of proper sanitary conditions continued to frustrate Rosenau as he attempted to adjust to an Asian lifestyle.
Once the Japanese had surrendered in September 1945 and World War II had officially ended, Rosenau was offered a position by the Director of Psychological Warfare in India--William Carter--to join a new O.W.I news operation in Bangkok, Thailand. Its intent, as explained to Rosenau, was to fulfill the "need for American news" in Asia. Rosenau declined the offer since he was dissatisfied with the proposed salary and wanted to complete his college education. He left for the United States on the S.S. Muir in late September. Later, he attended the University of Chicago and received his bachelor of arts degree in 1947. His subsequent career is unknown. Rosenau died in 1985.
Materials in the Archives Center
The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC #60) contains some three hundred posters from World War I and II.
Princeton University Poster Collection (AC 433) has over 10,600 World War I and II posters.
The collection was donated to the Armed Forces History Division of the NMAH in January 1986, by Lucy W. Rosenau, daughter of Fred Rosenau. It was transferred to the Archives Center in January 1993.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.