Wikileaks? No. National Archives? Yes.
(Please note: The information here on how to access records may well be too old to be useful. Please visit the National Archives and Records Administration for current information.)
So what was happening with Peace Corps in Afghanistan in 1974? There are a handful of records online. One does describe Peace Corps in Afghanistan. To find out what was happening in 1974, read this:
A State Department cable, dated Mar 75, reads, in part, ” THE PEACE CORPS HAS HAD A FRUSTRATING YEAR, PRIMARILY BECAUSE OF THE DIFFICULT IN OBTAINING FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF AFGHANISTAN ITS (THE GOA’S) WISHES AND GOA PROGRAMMING PREFERENCES FOR PEACE CORPS AFGHANISTAN, AND SECONDARILY AND RELATEDLY BECAUSE ATTEMPTS TO BECOME INVOLVED IN SEVERAL ATTRACTIVE PROGRAMMING AREAS HAVE SO FAR BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL BECAUSE OF THE COLLAPSE IN 1973- 1974 OF SOME MAJOR HEALTH AND AGRICULTURE PROJECTS AND NON-REPLACEMENT OF VOLUNTEERS IN OTHER PROJECTS, ENGLISH TEACHING FOR A LARGER, MORE PREDOMINANT SHARE OF THE TOTAL PROGRAM. THIS PRESENT BALANCE AMONG PEACE CORPS PROGRAMS AREAS IS NOT OUR PREFERENCE: BUT THIS DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN WE HAVE DECIDED THAT THE DISPROPORATIONALELY LARGE PROJECTS/PROGRAMS IN TEFL ARE THEMSELVES INHERENTLY AND SUBSTANTIVELY UNSATISFACTORY…”(Reference: Electronic Telegrams (1975)
To read the rest of Embassy Kabul’s annual policy assessment of programs, including the Peace Corps, go to <http://www.archives.gov >Research Our Records/Archival Research Catalog/Online Public Access/key Peace Corps in the search box. At the top of the resulting list of Peace Corps collections, three electronic entries will appear. All entries appear to lead to the same cable. The Peace Corps program is described in detail in item #11 of the cable. The National Archives has recently posted State Department cables from 1973 – 1976 online. This entry and some for Peru are the only ones I have been able to locate that contain information about Peace Corps.
It is frustrating not to be able to place this particular cable in a context of the history of Peace Corps/Afghanistan. It would be so important to have had here the reports of Volunteers serving in Afghanistan during this time. Only in such a way could a real history be developed. However, in the context of current American involvement in Afghanistan, the entire cable is fascinating to read.
The National Archives also administers the Presidential Libraries. There are some 44 items accessible online under the title Peace Corps records. Most of these are from the JKF Library. It is an eclectic collection. It includes items from the Army Signal Corps and the old Army Air Corps, as well as photos of the student peace strikes at the University of California Berkeley, in 1940! It looks like a sort was done on the words “Peace” and “Corps”. To view these items online: Go to <http://www.archives.gov>Research our Records/Archival Research Catalog (ARC)/Record Groups and Collections/Index to Record Group in ARC in numeric order by RG number/400-490/490-Records of the Peace Corps/above the entry there will be a series of tabs – click on the one which says “digital”/ in the search box type “Peace Corps”/ The 44 items appear. I cannot link directly to these items because only the Home Page of the National Archives and Record administration is available as a hyperlink. From the Home page, one has to maneuver within the nara system. I have tried to show the path I used to find the items displayed or cited. I wanted to share with you all what I found of interest. The Home Page and subsequent web pages of the National Archives and Record Administration have instructions, tools, and suggestions on how purview the catalog. That is the best source.
But, it appears that few records of the Peace Corps are preserved. The record appears fragmented and scattered as to time, place, and program. For me, it is frustrating to read titles of documents that are available and not be able to access them online or during a short visit to the Archives. Next time I will share details of what a visit to Archives II in College Park, Md. might be like.
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