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Michael Josselson:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Josselson, Michael, 1908-1978
Title Michael Josselson Papers 1914-1991 (bulk 1960-1978)
Dates: 1914-1991
Extent 34 boxes (17.5 linear feet), 1 notecard filebox 1 oversize folder
Abstract: Correspondence, clippings, typescripts, holograph manuscripts, research notes, printed materials, photographs, financial records, personal records, and maps document the professional and literary endeavors of Michael Josselson from his early adulthood through his death, and continue up to 1991 with related materials collected after his death.
Call Number: Mansucript Collection MS-02229
Languages English, Russian, French, German, Italian, and Finnish.
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Gifts (G9164, G9743, G9796), 1992-1993
Processed by Stephen Mielke, 1998

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Michael Josselson was born March 2, 1908, in Tartu, Estonia, the son of a Jewish timber merchant. Following his primary education in Estonia, he attended secondary school in Berlin from 1920 to 1927. He attended one year each at the University of Berlin and the University of Freiburg from 1927 through 1928, then left school to work as a buyer in the Berlin office of Gimbel-May department stores.
Josselson, fluent in German, Russian, French, and English, excelled in his job, which required him to arrange wholesale purchases from suppliers in various European countries. By 1935, he sought to leave Nazi Germany and gained a promotion to manager of Gimbel Brothers' Paris office. He was so successful in that position that in 1937 he immigrated to the United States with his new French wife, Colette, to work in New York City as the managing director for all of Gimbels' European offices.
World War II brought about the collapse of European markets and in 1941 Josselson had to again work as a buyer for Gimbels. He and his wife separated that year and she remained in New York while he moved to Pittsburgh for his new position. They later divorced in 1949. Josselson became a US citizen in 1942 and was drafted into the US Army in 1943.
In the Army, Josselson received military intelligence training and was assigned to a communications unit in Europe as an interpreter. He was discharged as a 1st Lieutenant in 1946, although he remained in the reserves as a military intelligence officer until 1950.
From 1946 to 1949, Josselson worked as a cultural affairs officer for the US War Department's Office of the Military Government in Berlin. From 1949 to 1950 he worked on the public affairs staff of the US State Department's Office of the High Commissioner for Germany. In these positions he was responsible for the "de-Nazification" of top German intellectuals and leaders as well as the editing and dissemination of anti-Communist propaganda. It is during this period that Josselson purportedly became connected with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Josselson left the State Department in 1950 to help steer the newly created Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a liberal, anti-Communist organization founded by American and European intellectuals to expose Communist cultural oppression and to oppose all forms of totalitarian rule. As the Administrative Secretary of the CCF, Josselson arranged for financing from various sources, including organizations that operated as fronts to channel CIA funds. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, Josselson worked behind the scenes in various administrative positions as the CCF organized conferences, produced numerous publications, and created regional offices around the world. He claims to have sought non-CIA funding during this period, particularly from the Ford Foundation, but a series of news stories in 1966 exposing the CCF and CIA connection brought about Josselson's resignation as the Executive Director and the dissolution of the CCF in 1967.
After his resignation, Josselson continued to informally advise former CCF associates who created a new organization, the International Association for Cultural Freedom, which disavowed the CCF and the CIA but continued many of the CCF's programs. In the early 1970s, Josselson began extensive research for a biography of the Napoleonic-era Russian General Barclay de Tolly. Plagued by health problems, he relied heavily upon research and typing assistance, much of it provided by his second wife, Diana Dodge Josselson.
Josselson died in Geneva on January 7, 1978, following heart surgery. He had moved to Switzerland in 1961 to seek treatment for his circulatory problems and had already undergone several surgeries. At the time of his death, his manuscript for The Commander: A Life of Barclay de Tolly was finished except for the bibliography and index. Soon thereafter Diana Josselson completed the book, which was published by Oxford University Press in 1980.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, clippings, typescripts, holograph manuscripts, research notes, photocopies, reports, printed materials, photographs, financial records, personal records, and maps document the professional and literary endeavors of Michael Josselson from his early adulthood in the late 1920s through his death in 1978, and continuing up to 1991 with related materials collected after his death. The papers are organized into three series: I. The Commander: A Life of Barclay de Tolly, 1914-1990, undated [bulk 1970s] (18 boxes, 1 notecard filebox); II. Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1947-1991, undated [bulk 1960s] (9 boxes, 2 folders); and III. Personal, 1927-1988, undated (6 boxes).
The Barclay de Tolly series contains the largest amount of material and consists mainly of typescript and holograph drafts, research notes, and extensive photocopies of bibliographic materials used by Josselson during research for his book The Commander: A Life of Barclay de Tolly. The photocopies are mostly of Russian language books, journals, and published memoirs dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The majority of materials were created or collected by Josselson during the 1970s, and include the oldest item in the papers, a 1914 German map of Russia's Baltic provinces. Multiple drafts found in this series show extensive revisions to the work and include outlines and bibliographies.
Besides Russian language materials, there are also considerable amounts of French and German materials throughout the whole of Josselson's papers. Languages found in lesser amounts include Italian, Swedish, Finnish, and Spanish. English is present in greater amounts than any other single language, but is not in the majority.
Correspondence is present throughout the papers, but is concentrated in the Personal Series and the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) Series. The Personal Series correspondence consists mainly of copies of typed, outgoing letters from Josselson dating from the 1960s through the 1970s covering a wide range of topics, including the CCF and his book. Incoming correspondence is found mostly in CCF subject files. Correspondents present in Josselson's papers include: Raymond Aron, Ulli Beier, Daniel Bell, Francois Bondy, Willy Brandt, Zbignew Brzezinski, Theodore Draper, Pierre Emmanuel, John Kenneth Galbraith, George F. Kennan, Arthur Koestler, Irving Kristol, Melvyn Lasky, Minoo Masani, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Jayaprakash Narayan, Nicolas Nabokov, William Oppenheimer, Michael Polanyi, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Edward Shils, Iganzio Silone, Stephen Spender, and Shepard Stone.
Josselson's papers do not document his activities during the 1950s as well as in later years of his life. Some CCF materials he gathered to prepare a history of the Congress do give insight to the organization's formation in 1950 and its early activities, as does one folder of personal letters selected by Josselson for his daughter Jennifer's viewing. The majority of the papers, however, date from the early 1960s forward, coinciding with Josselson's move to Switzerland in 1961.
Virtually all subseries and folder headings were derived from folder titles created by Josselson or his wife, Diana. Mrs. Josselson also collected all papers dating after his death in early 1978, and created some of the correspondence and other materials included in the papers prior to 1978. Her handwriting can also be found on numerous letters and folders identifying dates and individuals.

Series Descriptions

Index Terms


Amburger, Erik, 1907- .
Arndt, Walter W., 1916- .
Aron, Raymond, 1905- .
Beier, Ulli.
Bell, Daniel.
Berlin, Isaiah, Sir.
Bondy, Francois, 1915- .
Brandt, Willy, 1913- .
Brzezinski, Zbigniew K.
Bundy, McGeorge.
Campenhausen, Balthasar von.
Chenu, Roselynne.
Chiaromonte, Nicola.
Draper, Theodore, 1912- .
Dubuis, Gisele.
Emmanuel, Pierre.
Freymond, Jacques.
Galbraith, John Kenneth, 1908- .
Goldstein, David I.
Hamilton, Mark.
Hook, Sidney, 1902- .
Hunt, John C.
Jelenski, Constantin, 1922- .
Kalline, Anna.
Kennan, George Frost, 1904- .
Kerkonnen, Karin.
Koestler, Arthur, 1905- .
Kristol, Irving.
Labedz, Leopold.
Laqueur, Walter, 1921- .
Lasky, Melvin J.
Longworth, Philip, 1933- .
Luthy, Herbert, 1918- .
MacAuley, Robie.
MacDonald, Dwight.
Madariaga, Salvador de, 1886- .
Masani, Minocherer Rustom, 1905- .
Mphahlele, Ezekiel.
Nabakov, Nicolas, 1903- .
Narayan, Jayaprakash.
Olsen, William C.
Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967.
Oprecht, Hans.
Passin, Herbert, 1916- .
Pipes, Richard Lloyd, 1930- .
Platt, Frank C. (Frank Cheney), 1932- .
Polanyi, Michael, 1891- .
Prosch, Georges von.
Raeff, Marc.
Ray, Sibnarayan, 1921- .
Rubenstein, Leonard.
Saron, Rosy.
Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, 1917- .
Schroeder, Johann Karl von.
Shils, Edward, 1910-1995.
Silone, Ignazio, 1900-1978.
Souvarine, Boris.
Spender, Stephen, 1909- .
Sperber, Manes, 1905- .
Stone, Shepard.
Warburg, Frederic, 1898- .


Congress for Cultural Freedom.
Ford Foundation.
Oxford University Press.


Barklai, de Tolli, Mikhail Bogdanovich, niaz', 1761-1818.
Anti-communist movements.
Authors, English--20th century.
Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815.
Soviet Union--History, Military--1801-1917.

Document Types


Detailed Description