1994

At Work with Donovan: One Man's History in OSS

By: John D. Wilson

Introduction

In 1941, I was serving as editor of the Survey of Current Business in the Department of Commerce, having left a position as Instructor of Economics at Harvard. I was due to return to Harvard in February 1942, but the Japanese attack on 7 December caused me to cancel that. Then, in March, Professor Edward S. Mason, a distinguished economist, asked if I would join the staff of the Research and Analysis (R and A) Branch at the Coordinator of Information (COI), the forerunner of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Mason was then a member of the guiding board of analysts of R and A. He put to me an irresistible proposal: that after a brief indoctrination, I travel to London to explore and report back on how the British were handling economic intelligence.