117 – Information Hunters

The old adage is ‘information is power’, and in this episode we’re going to be looking at the US operations to initially obtain information that was in the public domain. Post D-Day the mission changed to seizing books, documents and papers as the Allies advanced. In Europe after the close of hostilities in May 1945 the operations morphed once more to collecting, seizing and sorting books. The men tasked with this job were an unlikely band of librarians, archivists, and scholars.

It’s a particularly less well known corner of the war that historian Kathy Peiss throws the spotlight on in her book Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe.

Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research has examined the history of working women; working-class and interracial sexuality; leisure, style, and popular culture; the beauty industry in the U.S. and abroad; and libraries, information, and American cultural policy during World War II.