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Samuel Halpern Papers

Identifier: GTM-20231010

Scope and Contents

This collection is currently unprocessed and access to it may therefore be limited. Researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for more information on access to this collection.

The collection consists of the papers of Samuel Halpern, an officer with the OSS and CIA from 1943 to 1974. The papers primarily document his post-CIA work as a writer and historian on U.S. intelligence and foreign affairs, especially CIA operations in Cuba in the 1960s. It includes correspondence with Richard Helms and a number of other individuals, dating from the 1970s to 2000s. Other documents include writings by Halpern, his commentary on other articles and reports, interviews, photographs, and subject files on topics such as U.S. intelligence operations and the potential U.S. invasion of Japan during World War II.

Box 1: Subject files on Cuba, Castro, Bay of Pigs, Missile Crisis, CIA assassinations, and Church Committee (1970s-2000s). Includes file on the 2001 Bay of Pigs conference in Cuba, with a photograph of Halpern and others with Fidel Castro. The box also contains Desmond FitzGerald memorial book (1967) and photographs of FitzGerald and his wife Barbara (1960s). Also contains a couple of oversized photographs.

Box 2: Notes on Senate and House Committee reports (Kennedy assassination, intelligence activities and other assassinations, CIA human drug testing, etc.).

Box 3: Files on Richard Helms, Walter Pforzheimer, and Elizabeth Bancroft. They include correspondence, interviews, and other materials. The box also contains a 62 page handwritten manuscript on Cuba by Halpern.

Box 4: College papers (National War College and George Washington University, includes glass slides), OSS and CIA personnel documents, and honors/certificates. The box also contains a memorial binder for Halpern.

Box 5: Halpern comments on manuscripts, Board memberships, Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, National Intelligence Study Center, National Strategy Information Center, and National Historical Intelligence Museum.

Box 6: Barton Bernstein/potential invasion of Japan during World War II subject files, Merdeka celebration (Malaysia, 1957), other files on Asia, and lists of attendees for Halpern’s Thursday lunches (1990s-2000s).

Box 7: OSS Society and associated groups, AFIO, CIRA, Challenge Inc., Smithsonian Institution classes taught, George H.W. Bush campaign, and conferences/symposia.

Box 8: Writings by Halpern, interviews with Halpern, photographs.

Box 9: Correspondence with Max Holland, Don Bohning, Seymour Hersh, Bayard Stockton, Ralph Weber, and Sedgwick Tourison. Includes an audio cassette recording of Max Holland’s “JFK and Cuba: The Missing Link.”

Box 10: Correspondence A-L and unidentified correspondence.

Box 11: Correspondence M-Z.

Box 12: College papers, films and documentaries, SAIS Cuba Study Group, and CIA 50th Anniversary.

Box 13: Published CIA Maps.


  • 1940s-2000s


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is currently unprocessed and access to it may therefore be limited. Researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for more information on access to this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical Note

Samuel Halpern (1922-2005) was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and received his undergraduate degree from City College of New York in 1942. He pursued graduate work at Columbia University and George Washington University and also attended the National War College.

His career as an intelligence officer began in 1943 when he joined the research and analysis branch of the Office of Strategic Services, in the Far East division. During World War II, he served in India, Ceylon and Burma.

From 1947 to 1959, he was with the Central Intelligence Agency, successor to the Office of Strategic Services, in the agency's Far East division. From 1959 to 1961, he was deputy chief of operations and executive officer for the Tokyo Station, and, from 1961 to 1964, executive officer for the CIA's Task Force on Cuba.

After attending the National War College from 1965 to 1966, he became executive assistant to the CIA's deputy director for plans.

The recipient of the agency's Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal of Merit, Mr. Halpern retired in 1974.

In retirement he was a consultant, lecturer and writer on intelligence and national security affairs and a founding member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He was a member of the OSS-101 Society and the Central Intelligence Retirees Association and was a volunteer for Talking Books at the Fairfax County Public Library and for the Resident Associates Program of the Smithsonian Institution.

[Source: Washington Post obituary]


12 Cubic Feet (12 boxes and 3 audio cassette tapes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations


The collection was organized by the donor prior to donation.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Anne Halpern, 2023.

Related Materials

Richard M. Helms Papers (GTM-GAMMS422, GTM-GAMMS423, GTM-GAMMS424, GTM-GAMMS425), the Cynthia Helms Papers (GTM-GAMMS426), and the William E. and Barbara Colby Papers (GTM-960101).

Samuel Halpern Papers
John Zarrillo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057