The Franklin Book Programs as Cold War cultural diplomacy

Publishing American values: the Franklin Book Programs as Cold War cultural diplomacy

Louise S. Robbins


In 1951 librarians from the American Library Association’s International Relations Committee and publishers from the American Book Publishers Council Foreign Trade Committee met at the Library of Congress to discuss how to meet the “need for books in developing countries.” The nonprofit Franklin Book Programs they established existed from 1952 until 1978 and helped to make possible the publication of some 3,000 titles in languages such as Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, Indonesian, and Portuguese; involved the intelligentsia of each country in the process of book selection and translation; and established both a publishing infrastructure and a market for U.S. books in areas where there had been none. Why were these countries and languages chosen? Was the decision to establish a nonprofit organization that could accept funding from the federal government a result of concerns about Cold War censorship? Was the decision another manifestation of librarians’ and publishers’ assertions of the importance of free access to ideas as a counter to communist ideology? Was it a way to build an international market for American values or American publishers? This research uses archival sources and oral history to explore the motives and actions of behind the Franklin Book Programs.


If you tune into National Public Radio (NPR) these days, you might hear a short essay written and read by a prominent person–or a not-so-prominent person–in a series called “This I Believe.” The original 1950s “This I Believe” was a project of famed radio and television broadcaster Edward R. Murrow at a time when the United States was, as the NPR home page for the project says, about as divided as it is today. When Murrow’s broadcasts aired–and when many of the essays later found their way into print–the tensions at home reflected the struggles abroad. The United States was in a cold war against the Soviet Union, and extreme anticommunism at home created an atmosphere of suspicion. Murrow’s “This I Believe,” which he intended “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization” (National Public Radio, n.d.), would become a weapon in a war “for the hearts and minds” (1) of people, fought then, as now, chiefly in the Muslim world, especially the Middle East. In fact, an edition of This I Believe sprinkled with essays written by prominent Arabs would become a best-selling title of a little known American publishing venture called Franklin Publications, selling 30,000 copies in Arabic in six months’ time (Franklin Book Program Papers, 2001).

This I Believe was only one of some 3,000 titles published in a number of languages by Franklin Publications, later known as Franklin Book Programs. But book translation was only one of its activities. In 1969, when Carroll G. Bowen relinquished his position as publisher of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology Press and addressed the Annual Membership Meeting as Franklin’s new president, he described the purpose of the nonprofit corporation: “to help strengthen and, where necessary, to help create local book publishing industries in the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and to facilitate and increase the international flow of educational and cultural materials.” (2)

He enumerated activities that were far more expansive than those originally envisioned when a group of librarians from the American Library Association’s International Relations Committee and publishers from the American Book Publishers Council’s Foreign Trade Committee met in 1951 at the Library of Congress to discuss how to meet the “need for books in developing countries” (Smith, 1983). They decided that books by American authors would be much more likely to reach their intended audience if they were translated into the languages of potential readers. The organization they established with the U.S. government’s help in 1952 persisted until 1978. In addition to translations, Franklin published textbooks and weekly new readers’ magazines; developed dictionaries and encyclopedias; helped to train illustrators, publishers, textbook writers, and book sellers; and even helped to establish school libraries in some countries. (3) Franklin’s program originally focused on the Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East, of which Iraq is one, quickly moving into other Middle Eastern languages, such as Persian or Farsi, spoken in Iran and Afghanistan. Franklin entered these countries at a time during which they were a central arena in the contests of the Cold War and departed from them during a time of revolutionary upheaval. The effectiveness of the Franklin Book Programs in particular and cultural diplomacy in general are especially pertinent today as we wage a new kind of war in the Middle East.

An October 2001 editorial cartoon by Jim Borgman of the Cincinnati Enquirer, captioned “How to Terrorize the Taliban,” included a panel depicting a horrified Taliban being bombarded by tomes from above, including Chicken Soup for the Taliban Soul; it bears the label “Bomb them with books” (Borgman, 2001). While the organization, Franklin Publications, was a product of a cold, rather than a shooting, war, it was born not only of a belief that developing countries had both a need and a desire for American books but that the interests of the United States and even of world peace could be served by the publication of quality American books in the wide variety of languages of the Muslim world. As one New York Times Book Review writer said in 1952 of the importance of Franklin Publications, “No one pretends that you can shoot books out of cannons, but there is a passionate hope that if you make ideas work for democracy you won’t have to shoot the cannons at all” (Dempsey, 1952).

Following World War II, there were high hopes for democracy in the Middle East as elsewhere. Old colonial powers gave way to new nationalist forces, and the newly independent nations became objects of concern for the opposing superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States, which had become aware of the importance of information campaigns during World War II, through the Fulbright (1946) and Smith-Mundt (1948) Acts assigned responsibility for the postwar information campaign to the State Department. It was charged with promoting a “better understanding of the United States in other countries” and increasing “mutual understanding” between the United States and its world neighbors. While the thrust of these two laws was to present a “full and fair picture” of the United States, President Harry Truman enlarged the program, as the Cold War intensified, into the “Campaign of Truth” (Jennison, 1956). The International Information Administration (IIA; later the United States Information Agency) of the State Department directed this multifaceted program.

In 1951, when Francis R. St.John of the Brooklyn Public Library; Verner Clapp and Luther Evans of the Library of Congress; Dan M. Lacy, on loan from the Library of Congress to the IIA, and Datus C. Smith Jr., Princeton University Press publisher, among others, first gathered to discuss and plan what became the Franklin Book Programs, both domestic politics and foreign policy were driven by Cold War concerns. As Americans fought the war within against alleged communist infiltration, the nation’s efforts abroad focused on preventing newly independent nations from falling under the influence of Soviet communism. The Middle East was especially in turmoil. Britain recognized Israel in 1950, and Palestinians became permanent refugees. In 1951 Mossadegh became prime minister of Iran and nationalized the oil industry; two years later, the Shah was returned to power with the assistance of the CIA (Kinzer, 2003). King Abdullah of Jordan was assassinated while visiting Egypt. In 1952, at about the time when Franklin Publications filed its papers of incorporation, General Naguib seized power from Egypt’s King Farouk and shortly thereafter suspended the country’s constitution.

In order to mitigate the effects of Soviet influence, as part of its information campaign the IIA subsidized translations of American books it thought would help the American cause in the Middle East. IIA’s Dan Lacy was “very dissatisfied” with its program, however, for it depended on IIA people with no experience in publishing to work with “not very sophisticated or competent” local publishers. Lacy wanted to “establish a non-profit organization which would be run by American publishers” who would provide “professional training and advice” to the local overseas publishers with whom they worked. (4) For their part, the U.S. publishers, librarians, and others involved in Franklin’s founding believed that providing a system whereby American books could be translated into the local tongues of Middle Eastern peoples, published by local publishers, and sold at a low cost by local booksellers would not only provide a “better understanding of the United States” but would help to build a book publishing and selling infrastructure that would support the cause of education, literacy, and democracy in these developing countries. In addition, in the long run it would help to develop a market for American books.

Lacy arranged for the IIA to underwrite Franklin’s start-up costs to the tune of a half million dollars, (5) and on May 29, 1952, five notable publishers–Malcolm Johnson of Van Nostrand, Robert T. Crowell of Crowell, Robert F. deGraff of Pocket Books, Charles E. Griffith of Silver Burdett, and George P. Brett of Macmillan–filed the certificate of incorporation. (6) Datus C. Smith took a leave of absence from Princeton University Press, where he had experience publishing in Arabic, to serve as president while the corporation was launched. (7) The list of board members reads as a veritable who’s who of publishing, with other distinguished individuals, such as Librarian of Congress Luther Evans, librarian Francis St.John, and professor Harold Lasswell of Yale University also serving. Arthur S. Adams of the American Council on Education, responding to an invitation to join the board, certainly understood Franklin Publications as an instrument of U.S. policy. The venture, he said, “holds great promise of providing an effective means of reflecting clearly the essential features of democratic philosophy.” Providing American books to “the undeveloped countries of the world,” he concluded, “should be a potent force in combating the spread of Soviet ideology.” (8)

In September 1952 Datus Smith expanded on the mission of Franklin in a memorandum intended for internal use. Franklin’s constituency (defined as those “who put us in business and could put us out”) was a trio of concerns: those “in charge of U.S. foreign relations,” the publishing industry, and “humanitarian and general-welfare interests.” Presumably this last included librarians, although this last element was the least evident in Franklin’s organization as it got under way, a factor that troubled Smith, for he felt that the interests of neither the U.S. government nor the book publishing industry could be effectively served if Franklin were not authentically interested in the general welfare of the people of the target countries. Major policies should be determined by their effect on all three elements. In light of this tri-part constituency, Smith suggested that Franklin should have three strategic objectives: The first was “to strengthen the position of the U.S. and the free world, and to preserve world peace.” The second was to “increase the foreign distribution of American Books,” and the third was “To help the peoples of the Middle East, and thus to further the welfare of mankind.” The tactical objectives were likewise three, all three intertwined to meet Franklin’s goals: “1. To help strengthen the economic, social, and political structure of the Middle Eastern Countries. 2. To provide information and points of view regarding America, democracy, and the idea of an open society so that, if the people of the Middle East wish this, they can judge fairly, and not with the field having been abandoned to the totalitarians. 3. To further international cultural exchange.”

The means by which all these tactical objectives were to be obtained was the translation and publication of books. The books, Smith felt, should include practical manuals and handbooks in such subjects as agriculture and building; educational tools, such as textbooks and reference books; and general interest books, including children’s books and literature. Smith–and all of Franklin’s members–were insistent that, although they intended to help the United States, they did not intend to be propagandists. If Franklin, by making Western know-how and literature available in the Middle East, could improve its economy or standard of living, that would be an “important contribution to American interest and world peace.” “Even from the point of view of a propagandist,” he continued, “it must be pointed out that if America becomes identified in the Arab mind with the symbols of abundant water, healthy sheep, fruitful fields, and literate children–in the Arab world, not in Ohio or Kansas–that in itself will be a propaganda achievement of the first magnitude.” Smith concluded that in the “long view, which is the only defensible view when the medium of communication is the book,” the interests of the Middle East and the interests of the United States were “mutually supporting.”

In order to have books make a difference, they must be books that Middle Easterners themselves want, Smith asserted. And the books that had been translated under U.S. State Department auspices had not been successful, partly because of their association with the U.S. government, “which is the target of resentment and distrust because of the Israel business,” but also because the titles were too obviously propagandistic or chosen without regard to what Middle Easterners might want to read. Franklin would ask the people of the Middle East what books they wanted translated and keep at an arms-length from the State Department. “Our hearts must be pure,” Smith said. By taking the long view, and providing local control of book selection to the extent possible, Franklin would not only win the trust of the Middle East but would also “get closer to the Department’s strategic objective” of providing a positive view of the United States, while bolstering the opportunities for economic development and democratic change. (9)

The private, nongovernmental nature of Franklin Publications would enable it to do things the government could not do “in meeting the challenge of Communism on bookstands abroad.” Franklin chose to be quiet and urged discretion on the part of the IIA about Franklin’s source of funding. As the August 1952 IIA Newsletter said, it would be “inadvisable for the corporation to be publicly identified with the U.S. missions in any country in which it operates.” The corporation would lose credibility, the organization’s members believed, if the people with whom they worked in the Middle East saw Franklin, which was an autonomous corporation, as merely a mouthpiece for the U.S. government. Nevertheless, projects–which would begin with translations first in Arabic and then in the languages of other Islamic nations, including Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan–would be tailored to the needs of the United States Information Service. (10)

While the newsletter advertised that Franklin would meet the needs of the IIA, Smith and his colleagues insisted on autonomy in reality as well as appearance. They established several principles–reiterated and reasserted over the years–by which they conducted their work: First, titles for translation were to be selected by people in the local country, albeit from a list of suggested titles that had been screened by the IIA to make sure there were none judged inimical to the United States’ interest. Second, members of the local elite–educators, cabinet ministers, judges, even generals–were to be engaged to translate or edit the books. Third, actual publishing was to be done by a local publisher, who might receive additional training through Franklin, and local booksellers would sell the books. Last, but certainly not least, offices in each country were to be managed by nationals of that country, not by Americans. While Franklin acquired the rights to translate and publish the books on behalf of their publisher partners, they did not subsidize the publishing itself and required the publisher to pay a royalty on each title sold. (11)

These principles, particularly those on book selection, very quickly became a bone of contention between Franklin and the IIA and its successor, the United States Information Agency (USIA). In February 1953 Dan Lacy returned to the Library of Congress just days before Senator Joseph McCarthy launched an attack on the book selection policies of the overseas libraries of the Information Center Service (ICS), which Lacy had headed. (12) State Department officials, trying to ward off further accusations by McCarthy, sent multiple contradictory messages to ICS libraries around the world concerning authors whose works were not deemed acceptable for the libraries. A demand for “hard-hitting propaganda” and the threat that all Franklin projects cleared to begin would have to be cleared again under new McCarthy-inspired standards immediately complicated the new corporation’s work.

At the same time, anti-American sentiment was rising in the Middle East. St.John, Malcolm Johnson, and Smith, making a survey trip to Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Jordan in November 1952, reported that they arrived in Baghdad the day after riots occurred, and tanks were still in the streets. “Antagonism to the U.S. government policy [about Israel] is universal, and its intensity has to be experienced to be believed,” Smith reported in January 1953. (13) From the outset Franklin found itself performing a balancing act that required both delicacy in the Middle East and persistence in adhering to its principles at home. As early as 1953 Smith was willing to consider returning the 1952 appropriation and shutting down Franklin rather than “slip into the old groove of crudely glorifying the American way.” (14)

It would, in fact, be a combination of shifts in both domestic and international politics that would finally lead to Franklin’s demise, but in 1953 Smith was positively ebullient as he worked to establish the first office in Cairo and get the translations started. He was delighted with the selection of Hassan Aroussy as head of the office and with the number of prominent individuals who had agreed to translate or edit particular works. Among the books were two that reflected Franklin’s commitment to what Smith called “local values”: Sarah K. Bolton’s Lives of Poor Boys Who Became Famous and This I Believe. Each of these books was a collection–of short biographies in the former case and of statements of philosophy in the latter. Franklin used some of the original items in each collection but added others written about or by prominent Arabs, thus localizing the contents of the books. (15) This I Believe, the most popular title in Arabic, sold out a printing of 30,000 within six months (Franklin Book Program Papers, 2001).

The pattern established in Cairo–a local office, books translated and edited by prominent citizens of the local country, the support of “local values,” the use of local publishers–was repeated in other countries, most notably in Iran, and the scope of the projects began to grow. In 1963 Don Cameron, secretary of the corporation, reported ecstatically about developments in the Tehran, Iran, office: “This is a great day for Franklin, a testament and a flowering of the Franklin ideal…. The thing to remember is that we are doing something that cannot be done by governments, and is being done by a handful of individuals who have zeal and zest and are pure in heart. And ‘Frankleen’ (as they pronounce it here) gives hope for change and development.” (16) While other offices were not as wildly successful as Cairo and Tehran, both of which eventually became independent of Franklin, the pattern worked well from the outset, and by 1965 “A Checklist of Franklin Projects” listed programs in Cairo, Beirut, and Baghdad (in Arabic); Tehran and Tabriz, Iran (in Persian); Kabul (in Persian and Pushtu); Lahore, West Pakistan, now Pakistan (in Urdu); Dacca, East Pakistan, now Bangladesh (in Bengali); Kuala Lumpur (in Malay); Djakarta (in Indonesian); Lagos, Nigeria (in English and Yoruba); Enugu, eastern Nigeria (in English and Igbo); Kaduna, northern Nigeria (in English and Hausa); and Buenos Aires, Argentina (in Spanish). The largest programs remained those in Cairo and Tehran. (17)

In Tehran, where Franklin secured additional funding from the family of the Shah (after the CIA-sponsored overthrow of Mossadegh), the program flourished. In addition to the Regular Program (the translations), they launched a New Literates Program that provided simple books for adult readers; the Village Library Project; the Encyclopedia Project, which provided a translation of the one-volume Columbia-Viking Encyclopedia with articles selected specifically for Ivan; (18) the Wirerack Project (a mass book distribution project designed to improve the distribution system); textbook production under the auspices of the ministry of education; a Model Bookshop Project; a technical assistance program in aid of Afghanistan; a Persian Dictionary Project (started by Franklin and turned over to the Persian Culture Foundation); and a Textbook Institute, Sazeman Ketab (also turned over to an autonomous body). (19)

By 1956 new offices were opened in Dacca, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) as well as Djakarta, Indonesia (a Muslim though not a Middle Eastern country). Franklin had weathered a series of newspaper attacks in Egypt because one of their influential translators had come to their defense. The translations were selling briskly, including such unlikely sounding titles as Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers, which sold out in a month and had to be reprinted. Urdu books were being published in West Pakistan (now Pakistan). Afghanistan had ordered a thousand or more copies of several of the books, and the Iranian manager, Hamayoun Sanati, had arranged to have them airlifted free of charge to Kabul. “I feel that to carry American cultural influences into Afghanistan, which heretofore has had few non-Soviet cultural contacts,” wrote Datus Smith to the board of directors, “would almost serve as justification by itself for our whole Persian program.” (20)

Later that same year, Smith attributed Franklin success thus far to holding to its commitment to local values and participation. He described the company, just four years old, as being “most unusual.” Its personnel consisted of seven Americans, nine Egyptians, eight Iranians, six West Pakistanis, six East Pakistanis, and five Indonesians who ran the religious gamut from thirty-two Muslims to five Protestants, two Catholics (one of whom was Egyptian), and two Jews (one American, one Iranian). He held to an optimistic forecast in spite of the Suez crisis, food riots in Pakistan, and communist-led upheaval in Indonesia. Only in Ivan, where there was a police state, were things “relatively quiet.” Smith concluded that a “time of political troubles, when other sorts of contact between the U.S. and the local population are difficult or impossible, seems to us to be precisely the time when Franklin can make its greatest contribution.” (21)

Although political troubles seemed to be the order of nearly every year, so did a variety of publishing ventures. USIA money was gradually replaced with Agency for International Development (AID) funds, as publishing began to be viewed as economic development as well as cultural diplomacy. A small assortment of foundations also contributed funds. Major funding came from the national governments of the countries in which Franklin worked and from money owed to the U.S. government through the Food for Peace (P.L. 480) program, which allowed payment for food commodities in the local currency. This local currency, which frequently was not easily exchanged, could be expended for projects to enhance economic development.

P.L. 480 payments were used to support Franklin’s efforts in textbook publishing. This was especially true of the countries in which large textbook projects–especially Iran, Afghanistan (where Franklin had a ten-year contract to publish texts), and Pakistan–were carried out. These projects often involved training of local publishers in textbook design, graphics, and publishing techniques. In several countries school libraries were started with small sets of books. A children’s magazine called PAIK, similar to Weekly Reader, was supported in Tehran in the 1970s; this little magazine enjoyed a circulation of 7.5 million every two weeks in a country of thirty million, according to then president John Kyle. (22)

By that time, as successful as Franklin felt it had been in providing translations, stimulating book production, and establishing a positive American presence in Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East, it was floundering financially. As early as 1968 it experienced difficulties, but the problems only grew worse. By 1976 Franklin was prepared to spin the largest and most successful office, Tehran-Franklin, off into an independent organization. The board recognized that times had changed, both internationally and domestically, and it decided that Franklin should try to “leave a capability behind” rather than simply perpetuating itself. (23) By 1977 Franklin had decided to ask Datus Smith to resume the role of president in order to take charge of its transition to another phase or to provide an orderly dissolution.

In November 1977, in response to a letter from Smith about the future of Franklin, founding board member George Brett, then eighty-four years of age, wrote sadly, “Alas! our, shall I say, hidden fight against Communism has not produced the effects that we all wanted.” He worried that the country was going “soft on Communism” and that the world was in “greater danger today than it was when many of us started fighting against the creeping paralysis.” (24) In May 1978, pushed by world affairs and the realization that the goals established in 1952 for the corporation were no longer appropriate, Franklin Book Programs voted to dissolve itself. (25)

In the course of its life, Franklin Book Programs translated and produced more than 3,000 titles in many millions of copies (Benjamin, 1984, pp. 25-26). It published virtually all the school textbooks for grades 1-4 in Iran and great numbers more in Afghanistan and Pakistan. By providing books suitable for school libraries, it stimulated their development. Its most complicated project, according to Smith (1983, p. 263), was its adaptation and publication of the single-volume Columbia-Viking Encyclopedia in Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, and Indonesian. Franklin Book programs ultimately believed that stimulating the publishing infrastructure–which included training graphic artists; providing technical assistance to publishers; developing printing plants, bookstores, and libraries; and even supporting education and literacy efforts–were among its core activities. One of its major contributions, according to Curtis G. Benjamin (1984, p. 27), president of McGraw-Hill Publishing, was its “spirit and basic ideas,” the model of cooperation through insistence on “local values” in book selection, translation, publishing, and management.

What long-term effect did the Franklin Book Programs have? It is impossible to tell at this time from this vantage point whether it had an effect on the individual, personal level. Certainly sentiment toward the United States in the Middle East as a whole today seems more like than unlike the Middle East of fifty years ago, when Franklin entered the area. Publishing has certainly increased, and education has improved. When Franklin began its work, for example, Jordan had neither any library nor any institution of higher learning. Franklin’s contributions in technical training for publishing and textbook creation may have helped.

As hints of the impact it might have had, to date I have discovered only a few traces of Tehran-Franklin, the strongest office, in online postings on NetIran, an Iranian publication; on The Iranian, a Web site for the Iranian community in North America; and on the Society for Iranian Studies Web site. The first is a news clipping dated 1995 that announces a Farsi “talking book” produced by the “Persian section of the Franklin-Jahanbin publication company.” (26) At the same site, in a 1994 journal article on the Children’s Book Committee of Iran, one of its founders, Tooran Mirhadi, spoke of Franklin’s publication of an eighteen-volume children’s encyclopedia. “That translation affected us bitterly for it was mainly designed for American children at primary school levels,” she said, citing its coverage of animals and plants indigenous to North America and its emphasis on American history, “not suitable for the children of this land.” (27) Two more recent posts are biographical in content and respectful in tone, as might be expected of U.S.-based Web publications. One is an October 2005 obituary of a prominent Iranian translator who was “chief editor” for Franklin books and was credited with publishing books of quality and of training a “generation of writers and editors.” (28) The second is an introduction to the works of Zaman Zamani, who, as art director for Franklin Tehran in the 1960s and 1970s, illustrated “numerous children’s books including an extensive collection of textbooks for the elementary schools in Iran.” (29)

Without more extensive reading of the current literature of the target countries, and without interviewing people who live–or perhaps lived–in Iran and other target countries, any realistic estimate of Franklin Book Program’s impact will be virtually impossible. In 1956 Edward Laroque Tinker of the New York Times Book Review praised Franklin Publications for “bringing the mountain to Mohammed” by providing books that provided a “miniature of the aspirations, character, mode of living and manner of thought” of America, as well as a record of its “know-how” to the peoples of the Middle East so that they could learn “how decent, kindly and likeable” the inhabitants of the rest of the globe are. The Franklin Book Programs may have “brought the mountain to Mohammed” by providing books that told the people of the Middle East “what they want to know about us and what they can best apply to their needs” (Tinker, 1956), but from today’s vantage point it is apparent that “bombing” the Middle East with books did not alter attitudes toward American policies, even though it might have created some friends in the Muslim world and a market for American books. Nor, unfortunately, did it replace bombing with bombs.


Franklin Book Programs Archives, Princeton University Library, Princeton University. Cited as FBPA.


Benjamin, C. G. (1984). U.S. books abroad: Neglected ambassadors. Washington, DC: Library of Congress.

Borgman, J. (2001, October 10). How to terrorize the Taliban [Editorial Cartoon]. Wisconsin State Journal.

Dempsey, D. (1952, July 6). In and out of books [column]. New York Times Book Review, p. 8, column 1.

Franklin Book Program Papers. (2001). Preface to the Fielding Aid. Princeton University Archives.

Jennison, P. (1956, July). How American books reach readers abroad, Library Trends 5, 8-9.

Kinzer, S. (2003). All the Shah’s men: An American coup and the roots of Middle East terror. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

National Public Radio. (n.d.). This I Believe. Retrieved May 15, 2006, from

Robbins, L. S. (2001). The overseas libraries controversy and The Freedom to Read: U.S. librarians and publishers confront Senator Joseph McCarthy. Libraries & Culture, 36(1).

Smith, D. C., Jr. (1983). Books for developing countries: The Franklin Book Programs, Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, 40, 254-265.

Tinker, E. L. (1956, April 22). How the mountain was brought to Mohammed. New York Times Book Review, p. 5.


(1.) This phrase has been spoken almost endlessly on the national media since the United States entered Afghanistan and Iraq and has been used frequently to talk about cultural diplomacy since at least the Cold War.

(2.) “An Address by Carroll G. Bowen, President of Franklin Book Programs at the Annual Meeting of the Corporation, November 19, 1969,” FBPA, p. 2, Box 1, Folder 7.

(3.) “An Address by Carroll G. Brown.”

(4.) Dan M. Lacy, February 19, 1993, written amendments to interview by the author, Irvington NY.

(5.) According to Curtis G. Benjamin (1984, p. 94), the IIA “wholly financed Franklin’s startup costs through advance contractual arrangements.” The amount comes from Smith (1983, p. 956). Dan Lacy to Datus Smith, June 20, 1959, FBPA, Box 10, Folder 12.

(6.) Certificate of Incorporation of Franklin Publications, Inc., May 29, 1952, FBPA, Box 93, Folder 14.

(7.) As events transpired, Smith would remain president until 1967 and remain on the board, returning to the active management of the organization in 1977 to preside over its dissolution.

(8.) Arthur S. Adams to George C. Brett Jr., June 13, 1952, FBPA, Box 6, Folder 1.

(9.) Datus C. Smith, “Policy Memorandum for Franklin,” September 18, 1959, FBPA, p. 1, Box 3, Folder 5.

(10.) “New Book Corporation to Aid USIS,” IIA Newsletter, August 1952, p. 18, FBPA, Box 68 Folder 1.

(11.) These guidelines appear repeatedly in reports, minutes, and letters. They are summarized in Smith (1983, pp. 957-58).

(12.) For an extended discussion of this episode see Louise S. Robbins (2001).

(13.) Report and Recommendations by Datus C. Smith Jr., January 11, 1953, FBPA, Box 3, Folder 5.

(14.) Datus C. Smith, Policy Memorandum for Franklin, September 18, 1959, FBPA, Box 3, Folder 5,.

(15.) Datus C. Smith Jr., “Progress Report from Cairo (Under Date of April 19, 1953),” FBPA.

(16.) Datus C. Smith to Board of Directors, December 27, 1963, FBPA, Box 5, Folder 2.

(17.) “Checklist of Franklin Programs, “January 13, 1965, FBPA, Box 5, Folder 2.

(18.) This project was carried out in several of the countries.

(19.) See “Checklist of Franklin Programs.”

(20.) Datus C. Smith Jr., January 12, 1956, General Information for Board of Directors, FBPA, Box 5, Folder 5.

(21.) To Board of Directors from Datus C. Smith Jr., Annual Report and Comment on Operations, September 4, 1956, FBPA, Box 5, Folder 5.

(22.) John H. Kyle, June 27, 1973, President’s Comments at Board of Directors Meeting, FBPA, Box 1, Folder 3.

(23.) Executive Committee Minutes, July 16, 1976, FBPA, Box 1, Folder 8.

(24.) George P. Brett Jr. to Datus C. Smith Jr., November 8, 1977, FBPA, Box 7, Folder 6.

(25.) Minutes of Special Meeting, Members of the Corporation of Franklin Book Programs, Inc., May 17, 1978, FBPA, Box 1, Folder 6.

(26.) “Farsi Talking Book Speeds Understanding,” Iran News, March 14, 1995, Retrieved from .html (no longer accessible when access attempted on January 2, 2006).

(27.) “Getting Acquainted with the Children’s Book Committee of Iran, January-February 1994,” Zanan, Journal Social 3, 26-32. Retrieved January 2, 2006, from The encyclopedia of which she spoke was a Grolier’s Encyclopedia, the translation of which was financed by the Shah’s sister, the Princess Ashraf.

(28.) Editor02, “In Memoriam: Karim Emami 1930-2005.” Posted on October 2, 2005, by editor02. Retrieved January 2, 2006, from

(29.) Escape: Painting. Retrieved January 2, 2006, from

Louise S. Robbins is professor and director of School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously she was acting director and held various librarian positions at East Central (Oklahoma) University in Ada, OK. Robbins’s historical research, which focuses on libraries and intellectual freedom during the McCarthy period, has won awards from the Association for Library and Information Science Education, the Southwest Historical Association, the American Library Association, and the Library History Round Table. Her most recent book, winner of the Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award from the American Library Association’s Library History Round Table and the Willa Award from Women Writing the West, is The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000). She is also author of a number of articles and Censorship and the American Library: The American Library Association’s Response to Threats to Intellectual Freedom, 1939-1969 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996). Robbins has lectured widely in the United States and overseas, most recently in China, Korea, Japan, and Kyrgyzstan. She teaches in the areas of management and intellectual freedom, as well as in government information sources and services. She recently completed a two-year term as president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education.

COPYRIGHT 2007 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group