Americans All : good neighbor diplomacy in World War II
Sadlier, Darlene J.
In August 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt named Nelson A. Rockefeller to head the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA), a new federal agency whose main objective was to strengthen cultural and commercial relations between the U.S and Latin America in order to route Axis influence there and secure hemispheric solidarity. An art patron whose family owned Standard Oil, Rockefeller hired some the country’s top figures to head the various divisions dedicated to the fields of radio, film, print materials, art, libraries and educational activities. This was the US government’s first major investment in culture as a means not only to make friends abroad but also to influence the public at home My talk today is about selected CIAA investments in the arts, literature and radio as diplomatic forces. The specific projects that I am highlighting today are those based largely on my research at the Library of Congress in 2009—in the Hispanic Reading Room, and in the Divisions dedicated to Prints and Photographs, Manuscripts, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound. As I hope to show in my presentation, the Rockefeller agency drew upon myriad personnel and vast material resources both at home and abroad to create a hemispheric dialogue in which writers and artists for the first time had a significant voice.