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A Look Back ... The Creation of Studies in Intelligence

“The game still swings on the educated and thoughtful man.”
—Sherman Kent, Studies in Intelligence 25th anniversary

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During the 1950s—when the Central Intelligence Agency was still in its infancy— talented analyst Sherman Kent noticed a lack of literature on the intelligence profession. He decided to do something about it. From Kent’s observation, Studies in Intelligence—an unofficial publication for the best thinking on intelligence—was born.

Sherman Kent: Father of American Intelligence

Sherman Kent came to Washington in 1950 to help establish intelligence production for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Kent’s greatest contribution to the Intelligence Community was the development of a formal analytical “tradecraft” and method. Kent emphasized that intelligence analysis must be relevant, rigorous, and insightful.

In addition to a standard tradecraft, Kent believed it was important to establish an intelligence literature and a journal for intelligence professionals.


The Birth of Studies in Intelligence

Kent envisioned a journal devoted to intelligence theory, doctrine, and techniques. He played a leading role in creating Studies in Intelligence in 1955.

To help guide this new journal, Kent  set its founding principles:

  • Intellectual rigor
  • A conscious effort to avoid unconscious bias
  • A willingness to hear other opinions
  • The use of outside experts as checks against in-house prejudges
  • A candid admission of shortcomings

The first issue of Studies in Intelligence was published in September 1955. It was a pilot issue that would test the viability of a journal. The first issue was small with a yellow cover. It lacked a masthead and a listing of editors, and did not call itself a journal. Instead, it was labeled a “monograph series.”

Kent’s groundbreaking essay highlighting the need for intelligence to become a true discipline with its own literature appeared in the first issue.

The next two issues were published each quarter and maintained the “monograph series” status. In these first few issues, some of Studies’ defining features were established, including:

  • A “bibliographic section,” which evolved into a book review section
  • Informed commentary on articles recently published


Studies’ Launch as a Journal

Studies continued for 16 months until it finally burst onto the scene as a full-fledged journal in fall 1957 with volume 1, number 4.  Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles showed his support by writing a foreword that noted the value of the journal. It sported a new cover and masthead, listing Sherman Kent as head of its editorial board.

The Studies board had the final say on what would appear in the publication. In addition to Kent, its founding members included some legendary CIA officers:

  • Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick
  • General Counsel Lawrence Houston
  • Senior economist Edward Allen
  • Former Legislative Counsel Walter Pforzheimer


Studies After Kent

Studies continued to grow and thrive under the direction of Kent, who retired in 1967. The next year, the Studies in Intelligence award was renamed in his honor. The Sherman Kent Award is presented for the “most significant contribution to the literature of intelligence submitted to Studies.”

Today, intelligence professionals and students of the profession contribute to Studies, writing about everything from the Office of Strategic Services—the predecessor organization to today’s CIA—to Vietnam to the 9/11 attacks. More than a thousand authors—from junior officers to Directors of Central Intelligence and even an unwitting Soviet intelligence officer or two—have contributed articles to Studies over the years. The quarterly journal is still published; unclassified articles are published in the Library section of


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Posted: Jul 15, 2011 12:17 PM
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2013 12:53 PM