The Life and Work of Edward R. Murrow an archives exhibit

Murrow at IIE, 1932-1935

Murrow as Assistant Director of Institute of International Education (IIE), 1932-1935

In 1957, a resigned Murrow commented wrily about youngsters in radio and television not wanting to volunteer for IIE's new public relations committee.

Four years earlier, he summarized his own work for IIE and the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars in the 1930s as follows:

"In 1932, while considering an offer to go to China for a West Coast lumber company, was offered and accepted position as Assistant Director, Institute of International Education. This organization was jointly financed by Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundation, and was a sort of unofficial educational embassy, bringing foreign students to this country on fellowships, sending Americans abroad, arranging exchange professorships, publishing monographs on equivalence of degrees, etc. …

Late in 1933 became, without pay, the Assistant Secretary of the Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars. During the next two years handled all correspondence and financial affairs for this committee of distinguished educators. We raised and spent something of the order of a million-and-a-half dollars - brought to this country nearly a hundred German scholars who had been displaced by Hitler. It was the most personally satisfying undertaking in which I have ever engaged, and contributed more to my knowledge of politics and international relations than any similar period in my life."

– Edward R. Murrow, Outline Script Murrow's Career, December 18, 1953

Both documents barely hint at Murrow's longstanding commitment to and volunteering for IIE up to his death in 1965. They also barely reveal how his years at IIE and the Emergency Committee had been the perfect training ground for him to become the analytical, international, and well-connected broadcaster with a neck for summing up people and issues; work that firmly placed him in the Eastern Establishment, in U.S. and international government circles, and among the leading academic and political figures of his time in Europe and the U.S. It gave him an early appreciation of what Hitler's rise to power would mean for democracy, academic freedom, and Jews, and the work further exposed him to radio broadcasting at CBS for which Murrow had already organized and hosted radio programs as president of NSFA.

Induction into the Establishment: IIE and Stephen P. Duggan

Stephen Pierce Duggan, one of three IIE founders in 1919, had met Edward R. Murrow when the latter had been president of the National Student Federation of America, an organization co-founded by Duggan's older daughter in 1926. Duggan was a professor emeritus from the College of the City of New York where he had founded the departments of politics, education, and adult education. But he was also a lifelong reformer and peace activist who strongly believed that education and international contacts can foster understanding and peace. In his capacity as first president of IIE, Duggan managed to establish non-immigrant student visas, for example, without which the 1921 Immigration Act would have rendered international student exchanges impossible.

In the winter of 1931/32, Duggan hired Murrow as assistant director of IIE, which, at the time, was largely funded by the Carnegie Foundation. While Duggan set policy, traveled and lectured nationally and in Europe, Murrow's task was to run the office, evaluate programs and potential lecturers, give speeches, analyze foreign educational systems, write memoranda, travel, and organize various national and international projects.

A member of the Council of Foreign Relations and on the editorial board of its publication, Foreign Affairs, Duggan invited Murrow into his family and introduced him to the important clubs, institutions, and the Eastern Establishment. Murrow soon became the youngest member of the Council of Foreign Relations, probably the most influential foreign policy body outside of the U.S. State Department and, in those years, backed liberally by John D. Rockefeller Jr. The British counterpart to the Council was the Royal Institute of International Affairs also called Chatham House in London, UK. Murrow gave a talk at Chatham House on 'The International Aspects of Broadcasting' to British diplomatic and broadcasting circles in the fall of 1937. John Coatman, BBC's head of news, introduced Murrow to the closed meeting at Chatham House. Its director general was Sir Ivison Stevenson Macadam (1894-1974) who was a friend of Murrow's from his international travels as president of NSFA. Macadam himself was a co-founder and former president of the British National Union of Students.

Murrow and the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars, 1933-1935

In January 1933, Hitler became chancellor of Germany. On May 10, 1933, German students burnt tens of thousands of books. In response, in May 1933, 21 heads of U.S. universities and colleges founded the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars. The committee pledged to assist German scholars, who had been dismissed because of their politics or religion, in finding academic employment in the U.S. Stephen Duggan became its first secretary and second chairman and Edward R. Murrow its first assistant secretary, a position he would hold until 1935. For these first two years, IIE delegated Murrow to work mostly for the committee. Housed in IIE's office building, the committee eventually came to assist 335 scholars out of approximately 6,000 applications over the next 12 years.¹ Murrow's tasks in the first two years included finding positions and funding for applicants, arranging logistics, visas, negotiating with governments not the least of which were reticent U.S. consular offices abroad, interviewing candidates, and trying to help refugees with their daily difficulties. To carry out this work, Murrow needed to be up to date on issues, international politics, and the situation unfolding in Europe. He had to collect, assess and condense extensive information and analyze it, he had to work as administrator, speak, and write reports. He was called upon to assess particular circumstances and individuals for lectureships, keep up an extensive correspondence, and make and maintain contacts with such scholars as Albert Einstein, Emmy Noether, Reinhard Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Alfred Cohn, Martin Buber, Thomas Mann, Felix Friedlander, and Harold Lasky among others. Of the approximately 100 scientists placed during Murrow's time as the Emergency Committee's assistant secretary, approximately half were German citizens of Jewish confession. The remaining scholars were of other religious or atheist background. According to Murrow's own estimate, almost 98% of the funding paying for individual salaries and stipends came from Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee or Jewish private financiers.

The Committee's European counterparts were the Academic Assistance Council in England and the International Student Service (ISS), a student organization in Geneva that assisted in organizing the emigration of young people. Its general secretary, Dr. Walter Maria Kotschnig, was another friend of Murrow's he had met during his years at NSFA, and they stayed close for years to come. The two collaborated rescue efforts between ISS and IIE. When the Austrian born Kotschnig had to emigrate with his wife to the United States because of his political views, Kotschnig ended up working for the Emergency Committee and later served as IIE trustee from 1947 to 1952. Soon Kotschnig published several books, taught at a number of colleges, participated in the foundational conferences for the United Nations, and eventually worked for the U.S. government in various international organizations. Only twenty two years later did Murrow publicly talk about his work for the Emergency Committee in his acceptance speech for the Albert Einstein Commemorative Award, College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, New York (see page 4/5 of speech).

IIE and CBS Radio

In fall 1934, Stephen P. Duggan had Murrow assist him in setting up, researching, and organizing Duggan's 25-week lecture series on CBS radio which was to start in late 1934. Duggan had been asked to do lectures plus news commentary in a program called Last Week Abroad, aired on the American School of the Air, CBS's educational network. Duggan did his lectures in a style of neutral advocacy that would soon characterize Murrow's own approach when broadcasting on the radio. Carrying out all the behind-the-scene work, Murrow usually listened in to the show at the CBS studio in New York. At the time their CBS contact was again Fred Willis, a former friend from Murrow's years at NSFA, who by now was Director of Education and assistant to the president of CBS, William S. Paley. Throughout his NSFA presidency and while at IIE, Murrow had routinely arranged educational broadcasts with prominent individuals for CBS. And he had done broadcasts himself for both organizations. Impressed with his work, Fred Willissuggested Murrow for the new, purely administrative, position of Director of Talks to Coordinate Broadcasts on Current Issues. Their first choice, the renowned reporter Raymond Gram Swing, had withdrawn precisely because the position was not to involve any broadcasting. By that time in his life, Edward R. Murrow had come to realize that he had no future in academia - a job offer to become president of the women's Rockford College in Illinois was withdrawn when the committee realized that Murrow had fudged his age and academic credentials. He was overworked and at a dead end at IIE where its president Stephen P. Duggan had begun to reign in his assistant director in 1934 for fear of losing control of what Duggan considered to be his institute. The CBS position demanded the kinds of skills and interests for which Murrow had shown an aptitude: education, management, knowledge of political affairs, and contacts. Murrow accepted the CBS offer in fall of 1935.

Murrow and IIE in Later Years

Murrow would remain a trustee of IIE until his death; he was head of its board from 1946 to 1948. He served frequently on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees since his work schedule allowed him to attend its lunch meetings. He spoke at IIE events and conferences with Eleanor Roosevelt or Hubert H. Humphrey for example. He helped raise funds or addressed potential sponsors among them General Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Hay Whitney, or the Vanderbilt House. He asked for volunteers. And he participated in sponsor appeals with Milton Eisenhower and others.

During the war, the institute had granted unrestricted access to its files to the War Department, the Navy, and the FBI. However, during Murrow's term as head of the board, the institute repudiated the State Department's request to turn over scholarship applications of unsuccessful foreign candidates for the purpose of general information gathering by the State Department (March 1948). Some of IIE's noteworthy programs in the forties and fifties were for instance its cooperation with the International Rescue Committee and the World University Service to place Hungarian student refugees and professors in Austria after the Hungarian Revolution in 1956; its organization of a U.S.-wide educational tour for Soviet student editors in 1955; and its increase of scholarships to Asian, African, and Latin-American students.

Murrow's affiliation with IIE and its 1934 Summer Session in the Soviet Union and the cancelled 1935 Summer Session - both organized by Murrow - became a major thrust in McCarthy's 1954 accusation that Murrow had communist tendencies. After World War II, there was another McCarthy connection: Murrow had lost a personal friend to an early campaign of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Richard Nixon in 1948. The accidental death of Laurence Duggan, director of IIE, in 1948, was turned into an admission of guilt by HUAC and Richard Nixon. Laurence, Stephen Duggan's son and a friend of Murrow from the 1930s, had been accused and interviewed in connection with the Hiss investigation. Upon Laurence's death, rumors about his ties to the Soviet Union were spread by HUAC without providing any evidence.² In response, Murrow did a scathing radio broadcast about Laurence's accident and HUAC's allegations.

1) The committee's name was changed to the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars when Germany began its military occupation of other countries.

2) Only five decades later, records were made available that indicated that Laurence Duggan, indeed, had provided information to the Soviet Union; see here Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America - the Stalin Era (Random House: New York 1999). For an edited version of Murrow's broadcast about Laurence Duggan's death on December 21, 1948, 7:45pm, see Laurence Duggan 1905-1948: In Memoriam (1949).


Text and Selection of Illustration

Susanne Belovari, PhD, M.S., M.A., Archivist for Reference and Collections, TARC


Michelle Romero, M.A., Murrow Digitization Project Archivist


All images: Edward R. Murrow Papers, ca 1913-1985, TARC, Tufts University, used with permission of copyright holder.

Partial Bibliography

For a full bibliography please see the exhibit bibliography section. Books consulted include Persico (1988) and Sperber (1986); also Kendrick (1969).xxx

All documents from Edward R. Murrow Papers, ca 1913-1985, TARC.

Bederson, Benjamin, In Appreciation: Fritz Reich and the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, Physics in Perspective 7 (2005), 453-472.

The Rockefeller Foundation's Refugee Scholar Program: Emergency Program, 1940-1945, Rockefeller Foundation Archives Collections, (

For a list of rescued scholars see the following IIE website: (

German and Jewish Intellectual Émigre Collection - Finding Aid for the Walter Maria Kotschnig Papers, 1923-1984 (GER-053), M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives University Libraries / University at Albany / State University of New York Home page of the Institute of International Education, (

Inventory of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars Records, 1933-1945, Finding Aid, New York Public Library.

Kotschnig, Walter M., Unemployment in the Learned Professions: An International Study of Occupational and Educational Planning (Oxford University Press: London 1937).

Kotschnig, Walter M., Slaves Need No Leaders: An Answer to the Fascist Challenge to Education (Oxford University Press: London 1943).

Laurence Duggan 1905-1948: In Memoriam (1949).

Murrow, Edward, R., Outline Script Murrow's Career, December 18, 1953.

"Refugee Scholars," Time, Aug. 19, 1940 (online version).


Shotwell, James T., Channels of International Cooperation: A preliminary draft of a survey of the study of international relations in the United States (1933). Authors include: James Thomson Shotwell; George Augustus Finch; Edith E Ware; A Curtis Wilgus; Edward R Murrow; Heber Reece Harper; Alice S Cheyney; Carol Riegelman; Grover Clark. Confidential proof for members of the Committee on Problems and Policy of the Social Science Research Council and of the American National Committee on International Cooperation. Collaborators include: George A. Finch, Edith E. Ware, A. Curtis Wilgus, Edward R. Murrow, Heber Harper, Alice Cheyney, Carol Riegelman. Edited by Grover Clark. Corp Author(s): American National Committee on International Intellectual Cooperation; Social Science Research Council (U.S.) 1933. Published in revised form as: The study of international relations in the United States: survey for 1934 / edited by Edith W. Ware. New York: Columbia University Press, 1934.

Weinstein, Allen and Alexander Vassiliev. The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America - the Stalin Era (Random House: New York 1999).