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Collection Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) Reports

About this Collection

On June 27, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved an order External issued by the Council of National Defense, a First World War era group of six Cabinet Secretaries, revived to coordinate support for the upcoming war effort. This order established the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), directing that the committee to “correlate and support scientific research on the mechanisms and devices of warfare…”.

A year later, on June 28, 1941, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8807 External establishing a new Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) and the NDRC became one of its subordinate units. NDRC chairman Vannevar Bush was appointed director of the OSRD and given an expanded authority to enter into contracts (PDF, 2.95MB) and agreements for research studies, experimental investigations and reports in addition to initiating efforts to develop that research into new military technologies. The OSRD administered their work through 25 divisions, panels and committees that were subject based, such as Chemistry, Optics, Physics, Radar, and Transportation.

The materials from the OSRD represent original research conducted by the Allies during World War II. The tens of thousands of items in the Library's OSRD collection include technical reports, drawings, memos, medical research results, and other documents, which were either originally open access literature or which have since been declassified.

This collection includes declassified technical laboratory and field reports as well as other reference material from two of the OSRD’s 25 administrative divisions, Division 12: Transportation and Division 16 Optics/ Camouflage. The material was digitized from the microfilm collection and represents the “most important” research reports found in the hardcopy collection.  Information  on topics such as amphibious vehicle studies, DUKW design, bridge, ponton and ferry designs and much more, can be found in reports in Division 12 (Transportation). The Optics/ Camouflage (Division 16) collection includes reports on topics such as aerial photography, camouflage applications, periscopes and other optical instruments.

Please note, items in this collection were digitized from microfilm of varying quality, resulting in areas of poor legibility in some reports. For assistance in obtaining more legible images from the original documents, please contact the Science Reference Section via Ask-a-Librarian.