Center for Research Libraries - Global Resources Network

Resources for

Technical Documents in CRL Collections

Gwen Ihnat
Communications Specialist, Center for Research Libraries


Graph from Analysis of Operation of the Universal Magnetometer Head by M. S. Richardson and A. C. Weld, OSRD report no. 1776 (Mineola, N.Y.: Airborne Instruments Laboratory, 1943). From CRL collections.

Besides acting as a major partner with TRAIL, the Center for Research Libraries also houses some significant collections of technical reports:

U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development Reports

On June 28, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8807, which created the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). Its purpose was to assure “adequate provision for research on scientific and medical problems relating to national defense.”1 Essentially, this U.S. federal government agency coordinated scientific research for military purposes during World War II. Scientist and engineer Dr. Vannevar Bush, reporting directly to President Roosevelt, ran the agency, which superseded the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) and received almost unlimited access to funding and resources until it was discontinued at the end of 1947. Dr. Bush described the agency as “the medium through which scientists were joined in effective partnership with military men”.

Although the agency had a short lifespan, it developed a vast array of projects (especially during World War II), including research on more accurate bombs, reliable detonators, work on the proximity fuze, radar and early-warning systems, lighter and more accurate hand weapons, more effective medical treatments, more versatile vehicles, and most famously, the “S-1 Section”, the precursor to the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapons. At the agency’s close, Congress said of the OSRD, “The contribution it has made to the winning of the war is inestimable. Without such contribution, it is safe to say that victory would still await achievement.”

OSRD also used conscientious objectors from Civilian Public Service as subjects for research of malaria, altitude pressure, life raft rations, high altitude, frost bite, psycho-acoustics, poison gas, ingestion of and exposure to sea water, temperature extremes, climate, physiological hygiene, thiamine, bed rest, and aero medicine.

CRL’s collection contains technical reports of research OSRD conducted during World War II on warfare (for example, ballistics, fire control, radar, optics) and on medical topics. The reports were declassified and distributed to libraries beginning in 1946; CRL’s collection resulted from deposits by member libraries and is not complete but is extensive. The reports are arranged on the shelf by OSRD number or, if the report was not assigned a number, by the division under whose administration the report was produced. Two bibliographies are useful in identifying and verifying citations to reports:

  • Library of Congress. Navy Research Section/Technical Information Division. A catalog of OSRD reports. Z1223.S35 (This work covers only divisions 1–8 of the 23 administrative divisions.)
  • U. S. Department of Commerce. OSRD reports; a bibliography and index. (This work covers only reports with assigned OSRD numbers and only those declassified at the date of publication: June 1947.)

CRL also offers an online guide of OSRD reports, featuring declassified technical reports from World War II. These reports offer information on the aforementioned studies that the OSRD performed on contentious objectors during the war years, including such scientific subjects as the physiological effects of altitude, antimalarial drugs, sickness resulting from decompression, and the effects of bed rest.

German and Axis Technology Reports

This rare collection includes reports on technology, engineering, and industries, chiefly in Germany. Allied forces such as the Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, the British Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee, and the Field Information Agency, Technical captured and collected these reports during and immediately following World War II. Titles include Instrumentation and Control in the German Chemical Industry and A Survey of German Electro-plating Methods, as well as subjects such as chlorine plants, pharmaceuticals, viscose rayon plants, radar, and
the German clock and watch industry. The reporting agencies and CRL’s holdings include:

  • Allied Forces. Supreme Headquarters. Report [of the] Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee (C.I.O.S.) file, no. 1–33 [incomplete]. (Includes about 500 reports)
  • Germany (Territory under Allied Occupation, 1945—U.S. Zone). Field Information Agency, Technical. F.I.A.T. Final Report, no. 46–1313 [incomplete]. (Includes about 500 reports)
  • Great Britain. British Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee. B.I.O.S. Final Report, no. 1–1874 [incomplete]. (Includes about 1,500 reports)
  • U.S. Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency. J.I.O.A. [report], no. 1–174 [incomplete]. (Includes about 75 reports)
  • U.S. Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency. J.I.O.A. final report, nos. 68 and 80 only.

In addition to these major sources, CRL maintains a selection of domestic and international technical reports. Foreign sources include government-sponsored reports from Australia, India, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Yugoslavia, and other countries. For more information on CRL resources, consult CRL’s online catalog.