Cruising through the Central Intelligence Agency’s CREST Archive, one will find, among other things, that, whatever its other faults, the Agency has some respect for the English language and the finer elements of grammar and editing. Another document pulled from their stockpile pokes some fun at the organization’s compulsive collection of records - its accuracy itself manifested by the millions of pages, now available digitally, that they kept for decades.
The record, from October 1958, is a summation of an article, “A Taste for Paper” that the writer felt “eloquently caricatured many Organization employees.” It describes three types of paperlovers: the lover of other people’s paper; the lover of his fellow man, who peppers him with paper; and the lover of his own paper. All of these types fell into the fun folder labeled, “Papyrophile.”
While the recipient of this particular piece seemed to take issue with the accusation that he might measure some self-value in his accumulation of memos and message - note the huge, underlined “No” scrawled in the margins - the Records Management staff seemed certain that there would be at least a few company men deserving of the designation. Their department, after all, was the one tasked to hold onto those piles of paper being generated by the Agency’s activities, including hundreds of mentions of its least favorite magazines, thousands of letters, and a recipe for fudge.
Still, we all know that not everything properly makes it - or remains - in the CIA’s permanent record.
The papyrophile memo is embedded below.
Have a bit o’ the papyrophile in you? Help us dig through the CIA’s archives.
Image by Don Hankins via Flickr and is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0