The Ranft Collection, 1943-1976, MS 3008



Provenance:      The Ranft Collection was donated to the Maryland Historical Society Library in 2001 by Douglas Shepherd.   



Size:     2 linear feet (4 document boxes)



Access:            Access to this collection is unrestricted.



Copyright:        The Ranft Collection is the physical property of the Maryland Historical Society Library.  Literary rights, including copyright, in the unpublished writings contained in this collection have been dedicated to the public. 



Permission:       Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested in writing from the Head of Special Collections, Maryland Historical Society Library.



Preferred Citation:        The Ranft Collection, MS 3008

            Manuscripts Division, Maryland Historical Society Library





Biographical Info


            Joseph Leonard Ranft, Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 9, 1905.  His parents were Joseph Leonard Ranft, born 1874 in Baltimore, Maryland and Anna Ranft, born 1882 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Joe attended Army-Navy Preparation in Baltimore from 1919-1923.  He attended the University of Maryland, in Baltimore where he studied law.  He began his career in journalism at the Baltimore Sun.  From 1934-1936, Joe worked as a manager in Hamilton, Bermuda at the Bermuda News Bureau.  From 1936-1942 he was a reporter for the Washington Times-Herald.  Joe worked briefly for the Office of War Information as a radio editor.  During the 1940s he worked for United Press in New York and then the International News Service (INS) in Paris.  Joe covered the Nuremberg Trials for INS and was in Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. 


            While working for Radio Free Europe, Joe established their Athens Bureau during the late 1950s.  He became Chief of the News Division and then Program Manager of Radio Free Europe in New York.  During the 1960s he worked as a consultant in Washington, D.C., working for NASA, the US Information Agency, and the Agency for International Development (AID).  He also did free lance writing, mostly travel writing. In 1957, he wrote a speech for President Eisenhower on Hungarian freedom fighters. Joseph Ranft died of Cancer on August 13, 1974 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.


            Adele Allerhand Ranft was born on December 24, 1908 in Boston, Massachusetts.  Her father, Max Allerhand was born on December 27, 1861 in Vienna, Austria.  Her mother, Anna Allerhand was born on May 15, 1869 in Hanover, Germany.  Adele was a writer, mostly during freelance work, but she did work for the Washington Times-Herald during the late 1930s, early 1940s.  Joe and Adele were married on May 29, 1943.  Adele died in Washington, D. C. in January 1976.



Scope and Content


            The papers in the Ranft Collection span the years 1943 to 1976, with the bulk of the collection falling between the years 1948-1962.  The collection consists of letters, news articles, financial records, travel information and over a hundred photographs.  The collection has been arranged around Joseph and Adele Ranft.


            The bulk of the collection has been arranged within the Joseph Ranft (1905-1974) series. Joe Ranft was a journalist and self-described “intelligence specialist,” who worked for International News Service (INS) and Radio Free Europe.  The bulk of the series deals with Joe’s time with these two organizations. The Joseph Ranft series deals mainly with his work on Eastern Europe.  There are news articles, interviews, correspondence, press releases, and briefings dealing with the Communist Soviet Union presence in Eastern Europe. 


            The bulk of the Joseph and Adele Ranft series centers on their financial records and photographs.  There are over one hundred photos, most without a date or location/name noted.  The legal documents consist of an apartment lease, rabies vaccination papers for their cat Kukla, who they took to live with them in Athens, Greece, and various estate information. Also included is a folder containing various ephemera. 


            The bulk of the Adele Ranft series revolves around travel information, which covers the years 1951 to 1973.  Adele’s correspondence, both personal and professional spans the years 1943 to 1976.  There are numerous articles written by Adele, spanning the years 1943 to 1952.  Also included are various newspaper clippings and a list of quotations that Adele found interesting.


            The Ranft Collection offers insight into the political and economic situation in communist Eastern Europe, directly following World War II.  Much of Joe’s information came from interviewing refugees from Soviet controlled territories.  There are also many articles on U. S. foreign aid and policy.  Although Joe Ranft covered the Nuremberg Trials for INS, there are only a few items relating to this event.  One major weakness of this collection is that many of the items do not have dates.  Also, copies of Joe’s interviews do not state who is being interviewed.  For some items the content could not be determined as they were written in either French or Greek.  





            The Ranft Collection consists of three major series: 1) Joseph Ranft Papers; 2) Joseph and Adele Ranft Papers; and 3) Adele Ranft Papers.  The papers in this collection range from 1943-1976.


Series I: Joseph Ranft Papers; 1946-1974 (1.3 boxes; 0.60 linear feet)

This series includes personal and business correspondence, photographs, an unknown recording, a medal, a memory book, biographical information, obituaries, identification and press passes, literary works, press releases, briefings, published articles, speeches, and notes. The bulk of the correspondence falls between the dates 1946-1974.


            Subseries 1: Joseph Ranft Personal Information (Box 1; 4 folders)

This subseries consists of handwritten biographical information, obituaries, a memory book from his funeral and Joseph Ranft’s press passes and identification.  The biographical information appears to be a hand-written employment application; possibly for a government position.  It provides a significant amount of information and insight into Joseph Ranft.


            Subseries 2:  Joseph Ranft Professional Records (Box 1; 14 folders)

This subseries consists of items from Joe’s work as a journalist and in his words, “intelligence specialist for Albania-Bulgaria-Rumania area.” There are typed copies of interviews including one with a farmer in Turkey, to demonstrate the usefulness of U.S. foreign aid programs.  Copies of several chapters that was included in published books, including a supplementary chapter for This Man Truman by Frank McNaughton and Walter Hehmeyer.  There are several articles on Micronesia, and one on U.S. foreign aid.  Briefings, press releases, and articles consist of such topics as the U.S. image abroad, world food supply, U.S. foreign policy, organized crime, Soviet occupation, the Balkan Pact, Communism, the Marshall Plan, and the Agency for International Development (AID) in India and Vietnam.  There are numerous articles concerning Joe’s role as a consultant with AID’s Office of Agriculture and Fisheries.  In American Observer are articles on Red China, Cypress, Greece, Rhodesia, Southern Asia and Vietnam.  There are speeches, one written for Eisenhower; travel articles, such as on Costa Rica; newspaper clippings from his INS days, including ones on the Nuremberg Trials.  The majority of the articles are centered on Europe, with the time period of 1946-1960.  One folder contains handwritten notes on the French language.


Subseries 3 Joseph Ranft Correspondence and Award (Box 2; 3 folders)

This subseries consists of professional and personal letters, which are arranged in chronological order with those with no date at the front.  The professional correspondence is form Joe’s time at INS and Radio Free Europe.  Some of the letters concern his employment with Radio Free Europe, but the majority concern stories that he was working on.  Included is correspondence from his time as a consultant and his freelance writing.  The personal correspondence consists exclusively of letters that Joe sent to his wife Adele from when he was away covering stories.  Although of a personal nature the letters do give insight into Joe’s work and most especially into his personality.  The inclusive dates of the correspondence are 1946-1974, with the bulk falling from 1948-1958. The third folder contains a medal given to Joe by the Primate (Bishop) of Greece during Joe’s time in Athens with Radio Free Europe.


Series II: Joseph and Adele Ranft Papers; 1943-1975 (.70 Box; 0.40 linear feet)

This series concerns both Joe and Adele Ranft, and their time as husband and wife. 


            Subseries 1: Greeting Cards; (Box 2; 1 folder)

            Greeting cards are the only component of this subseries.  It consists of Valentine’s

            Day cards that Joe and Adele sent to one another.  They have no dates but are in

            excellent condition.


Subseries 2: Photographic and Audio material; (Box 2: 5 folders)

This subseries contains photographs of Joe as a journalist; photos of Adele and Joe, Athens and other unknown locations in Greece, Kukla their cat and various other unmarked photos.  There is a photo marked “Hiram K. Johnson, M.D. recently retired.”  The majority of the photos are in black and white with the exception of a photo of Joe’s parent’s grave marker.  There is a record in 45 format of an unknown recording, which is scratched.


Subseries 3:  Miscellaneous material; (Box 2; 1 folder)

This subseries consists of folder of blank note cards, various documents in Greek,

a partial bibliography, and a Radio Free Europe publication all of unknown date.


Subseries 4:  Financial and Legal Documents; (Box 3; 15 folders)

This subseries includes financial documents, such as: bank statements, cancelled checks, deposit slips, bank books, bills, receipts, and tax returns for the years 1967-1975; however financial records go back to the 1940s.  Legal documents consist of documents concerning their estate, including the estate of Anna Ranft, Joe’s mother.  Included is the rabies vaccination certification by the Army of their cat Kukla from when Joe and Adele lived in Greece.  Also included are two copies of Joe and Adele’s marriage certificate. 


Subseries 5: Ephemera; (Box 3; 1 folder)

There are assorted ephemera including, theater and musical programs, mostly in French; the Ranft Coat of Arms; a certificate presented to Joe, written in Greek; playing cards-including WWII marker; a map of France; and a map of Bermuda with routes for bicycles. 



Series III: Adele Ranft Papers; 1943-1976 (1 Box; 0.50 linear feet)

This series includes the personal and professional papers of Adele Ranft.


            Subseries 1: Identification; (Box 4; 1 folder)

            This subseries consists several forms of identification, including press passes.

Informative because it shows the many different news organizations that Adele

worked for over the years.  Contains identification from such news organizations

as Newsweek and the Washington Times-Herald.  There is also an affidavit

confirming Adele’s birth date.


Subseries 2: Correspondence; (Box 4; 1 folder)

The correspondence in this subseries pertains to both the personal and professional.  The dates range from 1943-1976and the correspondence has been place in chronological order.  The professional consists of rejection and acceptance letters from editors.  While the personal letters show the difficulties that Adele had with her family after the death of Joe, until her death in January 1976.


Subseries 3: Literary Productions; (Box 4; 7 folders)

This subseries consists of clippings from articles that Adele wrote, mainly from the Washington Times-Herald, with dates ranging from 1943-1952.  There are three sketches by Adele; her notebook and address book.  Two folders consist of newspaper clippings ranging in dates from 1942-1972; a list of quotations, and various fragments from manuscripts.  One folder consists of clippings on the death of James Joyce and includes one of his works.


Subseries 4: Travel Information; (Box 4; 4 folders)

The four folders in this subseries consist of information on freighter travel, and the Freighter Bulletin (1951-1972) from Travel Tips.  There is a Queen Elizabeth 2 brochure and items from AARP travel service.  Also included are issues of the Joyer Travel Report, dated March/April 1971-January/February 1973.




Box 1

Folder 1                       Joe Ranft, biographical information                   

Folder 2                       Joe Ranft, press passes and identification

Folder 3                       Joe Ranft, obituaries and sympathies, 1974

Folder 4                       Memory book, Joe Ranft, 1974

Folder 5                       Joe Ranft, Interviews

Folder 6                       Joe Ranft, Literary Works

Folder 7                       Joe Ranft, News Articles

Folder 8                       Joe Ranft, Press Releases

Folder 9                       Joe Ranft, Published Articles in War on Hunger, 1971

Folder 10                     Joe Ranft, Published Articles in American Observer, 1970

Folder 11                     Joe Ranft, Various published articles

Folder 12                     Joe Ranft, Speeches, Addresses

Folder 13                     Joe Ranft, Articles, 1941-1974

Folder 14                     Joe Ranft, Greece-Balkan Commission, 1940-1953

Folder 15                     Joe Ranft, Costa Rica, 1973

Folder 16                     Joe Ranft, Civil Service papers

Folder 17                     Joe Ranft, Briefings, 1947-1954

Folder 18                     French language notes, n. d.                 

Box 2

Folder 1                       Joe Ranft, Professional Correspondence, 1948-1974

Folder 2                       Joe Ranft, Correspondence to Adele, 1946-1966

Folder 3                       A Silver Medal from Primate of Greece to Joe

Folder 4                       Joe and Adele, greeting cards

Folder 5                       Photos of Joe Ranft

Folder 6                       Photographs, n.d.

Folder 7                       Photo-Hiram K. Johnson, M.D., n.d.

Folder 8                       Photo of Joe Ranft’s parents gravestone

Folder 9                       Unknown recording, n.d.         

Folder 10                     Miscellaneous, n.d.


Box 3

Folder 1                       Marriage Record, 1943

Folder 2                       Financial Records, 1940s

Folder 3                       Financial Records, 1950s

Folder 4                       Financial Records, 1960s

Folder 5                       Financial Records, 1970

Folder 6                       Financial Records, 1971

Folder 7                       Financial Records, 1972

Folder 8                       Financial Records, 1973

Folder 9                       Financial Records, 1974

Folder 10                     Financial Records, 1975

Folder 11                     New York apartment lease, 1964

Folder 12                     Joseph L. Ranft, estate, n.d.

Folder 13                     Adele Ranft, estate, n.d.

Folder 14                     Anna Ranft, estate, n.d.

Folder 15                     Rabies Vaccine Papers, 1953-54

Folder 16                     Ephemera, n.d.


Box 4

Folder 1                       Adele Ranft, Identification and vitals

Folder 2                       Adele Ranft, Correspondence, 1943-1976

Folder 3                       Adele Ranft, Articles, 1943-1952

Folder 4                       Adele’s Sketches, n.d.

Folder 5                       Adele’s notebook and address book

Folder 6                       Newspaper Clippings, 1942-1972

Folder 7                       Quotations, n.d.

Folder 8                       Manuscript fragments

Folder 9                       James Joyce

Folder 10                     Travel information

Folder 11                     Travel, 1951-1972

Folder 12                     Travel Tips Freighter Bulletin

Folder 13                     Joyer Travel Report, March/April 1971-Jan/Feb 1973





Subject/Name                                                              Box/Folder Location

Balkan Commission                                                                  b1-f13

Cats                                                                                         b2-f7, b3-15

City and Town Life                                                                   b1-f5

Cold War                                                                                 b1-f5-7, 12

Costa Rica-Description and Travel                                            b1-f14

Egypt-Farouk, King                                                                  b1-f5

Greece-Awards                                                                        b2-f4

Greece-Description and Travel                                     b1-f12-13, b2-f 7

Greece-Economy                                                                     b1-f6

Greeting Cards-20th Century                                                    b2-f5

International News Service                                                       b1-f6, 12, b2-f1-2

Micronesia-Politics and Government                                         b1-f5

Nuremberg War Crime Trials, Nuremberg,

Germany, 1946-1949                                                   b1-f12, b2-f2

Radio Free Europe                                                                   b1-f7, 12, 16, b2-f1

Speeches, Addresses, etc.                                                        b1-f5

Truman, Harry S.                                                                      b1-f5

United States-Agency for International Development     b1-f3-4, 7-8

United States-Foreign Aid                                                        b1-f5-6, 9

United States-Foreign Policy                                                     b1-f5

United States-Foreign Public Opinion                            b1-f6

Washington (D.C.)-Newspapers, Periodicals, and

Journalism-Washington Times-Herald               b1-f12, b4-f3




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