Foreign Affairs

Cold War Era Agencies

Records of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Agencies (RG 469)

This is a collective records group for the several agencies responsible for foreign assistance that existed before the establishment of the U.S. Agency for International Development in 1961 (see RG 286). Included are records of the following organizations:

  • Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA). Established in April 1948 to administer the European Recovery Plan, also known as the Marshall Plan. ECA was responible for furnishing material and financial assistance to those European nations participating in the Marshall Plan. The agency was abolished in October 1951 and its functions transferred to the Mutual Security Agency.

  • Technical Cooperation Administration (TCA). Established in within the Department of State in September 1950. TCA was responsible for the technical cooperation programs authorized by Title IV of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1950, also known as the Point 4 Program. The program provided scientific and technical assistance to underdeveloped countries in an effort to further economic and social progress and maintain political stability. The agency was abolished in August 1953 and its functions transferred to the Foreign Operations Administration.

  • Mutual Security Agency (MSA). Established in October 1951 to oversee the mutual security program. MSA was responsible for providing military, economic, and technical assistance to friendly nations. The agency was abolished in August 1953 and its functions transferred to the Foreign Operations Administration.

  • Foreign Operations Administration (FOA). Established in August 1953 to centralize the control, direction, and operations of all foreign economic and technical assistance programs and to coordinate mutual security activities. FOA furnished military, economic, and technical assistance to friendly nations. The agency was abolished in May 1955 and its functions transferred to the International Cooperation Administration.

  • International Cooperation Administration (ICA). Established in June 1955. ICA was responsible for coordinating foreign assistance operations and conducting all non-military security programs. The agency was abolished in September 1961 and its functions transferred to the Agency for International Development.

  • Institute of Inter-American Affairs. Established in 1942 under the auspices of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (see RG 229) to strengthen friendship and understanding among the American Republics, especially in fields of public health, sanitation, agriculture, and education. Transferred to the Department of State in 1946, to the Technical Cooperation Administration (TCA) in 1950, and abolished in August 1953 with functions transferred to the Foreign Operations Administration (FOA).

Records

None of the foreign assistance agencies maintained a central filing system. Instead, each operating office maintained its own records. Using published sources such as agency reports and telephone books, organization manuals, and references in the records, researchers must identify the office or offices that dealt with the subject of research in order to locate documentation of interest.

The records can be arranged in variety of ways. Many offices used centralized files, but in almost all cases, there are separate files on special subjects maintained on an office-wide basis or maintained by individuals responsible for special topics. Over time, offices used a variety of filing schemes. Some organizations created their own filing systems while others used the file manuals prescribed for agency use.

Documentation on these agencies and their programs also will be found in the records of the Department of State, particularly the central file.

You can search the Online Catalog for entries from RG 469 or see a description in the Guide to Federal Records, or read blog posts on names and keyword searches in RG 469.

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