In Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe, cultural historian Kathy Peiss discusses how book and document collecting became part of the new apparatus of intelligence and national security, military planning, and postwar reconstruction. She focuses on ordinary Americans who found themselves in extraordinary situations, making decisions on the ground to acquire sources that would be useful in war zones and on the home front. Librarians’ and scholars’ skills, expertise, and aspirations aligned closely with American military and political objectives. Their activities helped transform American research libraries into great international repositories, shaped policies toward cultural heritage, and spurred the development of information science.
Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research and teaching center on 20th century U.S. social, cultural, and gender history. She is the author of Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (1986), Hope in a Jar: The Making of America’s Beauty Culture (1998), and Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style (2011).