University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Ithiel de Sola PoolPapers 1935-1948

© 2011 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Pool, Ithiel de Sola. Papers




2 linear feet (4 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Ithiel de Sola Pool (1917-1984) researcher of communications technology and political culture. The collection chronicles Pool’s education at the University of Chicago during the 1930s and 1940s. The collection contains his student papers, course syllabi, class notes, readings lists, examinations and course assignments, newspaper clippings, and related materials.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Pool. Ithiel de Sola. Papers,[Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Ithiel de Sola Pool (b. October 26, 1917, d. March 11, 1984) was a researcher of communications and political culture. He was born in New York City to Rabbi David de Sola Pool (Ph.D., Heidelberg), a local spiritual leader of the Sephardic Congregation in New York City, and Tamer Hirshenson (Hunter College, the Sorbonne), a Palestinian-born daughter of a rabbi.

Pool attended school at Fieldston, an Ethical Culture School in New York City, and the University of Chicago. He received a B.A., 1938, M.A., 1939, and Ph.D., 1952 from the University of Chicago when social science was blossoming as an academic discipline under Robert Maynard Hutchins, whose pioneering leadership as an educator and university president from 1929 – 1945 did much to innovate the way in which political science was studied. During his time at the University of Chicago, Pool also assisted two professors, Nathan Leites and Harold Lasswell, in a wartime research project in Washington D.C. that studied the influence of Nazi and Communist propaganda.

Pool was a campus organizer and passionate Trotskyite. He collected newspaper clippings and leftist-leaning issues of various periodicals. Pool’s romance with revolutionary politics did not last, though, for he soon became disenchanted with revolutionary politics coming to believe revolutionary leaders manipulated idealistic symbols and imagery to establish totalitarian regimes. In his later life, Pool would become a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an advisor to the United States during the Cold War.

Pool held academic appointments at Stanford University and MIT, the latter of which he would hold for most of his career. Prior to his death from cancer, Pool spent approximately 30 years at MIT researching the impact of emerging communications technologies on global politics and culture. During his tenure at MIT, Pool became the founding chairman of the MIT Political Science Department as well as the founder of the MIT Communications Forum. Pool’s innovation and leadership helped grow the Political Science Department at MIT into one of the major academic disciplines of the school. Besides academic endeavors, Pool and his colleagues in the political science department were often advisors in different capacities of domestic and foreign governments.

Pool had a lasting influence on the study of political science. In American Business and Public Policy: The Politics of Foreign Trade (1963), co-authored by Pool, Raymond Bauer and Lewis Dexter, the politics of business are intensely examined through the use of hundreds of interviews with business leaders, congressman, lobbyists, journalists, and opinion makers, as well as eight detailed community studies. The study was aided by Pool’s background and interest in psychoanalysis. The principles of psychoanalysis in general and depth psychology in particular would undergird Pool’s work in political psychology as seen in the articles, “Newsmen’s Fantasies, Audiences, and Newswriting” (1959), as well as “Deterrence as an Influence Process” (1969), which would be a mainstay in Harvard-MIT arms control debates.

The publications of Forecasting the Telephone (1983) and Communication Flows: A Census of Japan and the US (1984), co-authored with Roger Hurwitz and Hiroshe Inose, would further Pool’s status as an authority on the impact of communications technologies on political and social culture. The latter study worked toward a quantitative analysis of communications in which mathematical and computer models could be developed to help study political decision-making. In “The Kaiser, the Tsar, and the Computer” (1965), Pool used computer simulations to access the factors of decision-making and perception in international disputes.

Besides his pioneering academic work, Pool led a successful fight in favor of academic freedom against government intervention and review of research involving human subjects. Pool also believed the classics of social and political thought were insufficient to understanding the landscape of modern communications technologies and their social and political ramifications. His seminal work, Technologies of Freedom (1983), can be seen as an attempt to harmonize forward-thinking accounts of communications technologies and traditional modes of social and political thought. Much like Pool’s life, this work reflects a persistent commitment to human freedom.

Pool died on March 11, 1984 from cancer.

Scope Note

The Ithiel de Sola Pool Papers contain his student papers, syllabi, reading lists, course notes, examinations and assignments, newspaper clippings, and related materials from his time spent as a student at the University of Chicago. The collection also includes correspondence between Pool, his professors, his father, and others.

The material spans the years 1935 – 1945. The collection is divided by course number, title, or professor’s name(s). Some files contain contents unrelated to courses, such as notes or newspaper clippings.

The strengths of this collection lie in Pool’s personal chronicle of a formative decade in the development of modern social science. It would be of interest to researchers looking into the birth of social science at the University of Chicago under the direction of President Richard M. Hutchins, or to those looking to gain a better appreciation of the academic foundations of one of the 20th century’s most pioneering researchers in political science.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:


Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Political Science 336, Comparative Political Parties, H.F. Gosnell; Political Science 369, Psychology of International Relations; Political Science 435, Scope and Method in Political Science; and Economics 209, undated

Box 1   Folder 2

Science and Metaphysics notes and papers, undated

Box 1   Folder 3

Political Science 383, Constitutional Aspects of Social Legislation, undated

Box 1   Folder 4

Constitutional Law I, Kenneth Sears, autumn 1937

Box 1   Folder 5

Briefs of Constitutional Law Cases, undated

Box 1   Folder 6

Political Science 204, Municipal Government, J.G. Kerwin, undated

Box 1   Folder 7

Political Behavior, Nathan Leites, undated

Box 1   Folder 8

Propaganda and Public Opinion, undated

Box 1   Folder 9

Political Science 398, Soviet Law, John N. Hazard, undated

Box 1   Folder 10

Aristotle, Politics, Richard McKeon, undated

Box 1   Folder 11

Political Science 358, Recent Political Theory, Charles E. Merriam, undated

Box 2   Folder 1

Political 255, Political Theory, J.G. Kerwin, autumn 1939

Box 2   Folder 2

Political Science 373, Contemporary Diplomatic Problems, Quincy Wright; Political Science 368, International Organization, undated

Box 2   Folder 3

Social Science I, undated

Box 2   Folder 4

Preliminary exams and course exams by Gosnell, Leites, Kerwin, Wright, Watkins, White, Pritchett, Sears, and Merriam, 1938 - 1940

Box 2   Folder 5

Aristotle, Physics, undated

Box 2   Folder 6

GLS 316, Content Analysis, summer 1942

Box 2   Folder 7

Political Science 201, Divisional Course in Political Science, fall 1936

Box 2   Folder 8

Political Science 357, American Political Theory, undated

Box 2   Folder 9

Political Science 263, Constitution and American Democracy, autumn 1937

Box 2   Folder 10

Political Science 341, Administrative Regulation, undated

Box 2   Folder 11-12

Economics 222, Economic History of Western Europe, John U. Nef, including correspondence with father and others, spring 1937

Box 3   Folder 1

French Social and Political Reformers in 18th Century, undated

Box 3   Folder 2

History 201, Barr, autumn 1936

Box 3   Folder 3

Philosophy 360, The Philosophy of the Seventeenth Century: Hobbes, Richard McKeon, autumn 1937

Box 3   Folder 4

French Public Service under the People’s Front, 1939

Box 3   Folder 5

International Law, Quincy Wright, undated

Box 3   Folder 6

"Section F," 1935, with clippings and articles, 1945 - 1948

Box 3   Folder 7

Letter to Louis Wirth, 1940; letters from M.L. Raney, 1941, and Robert M. Hutchins, 1945

Box 3   Folder 8

Political Science Honors, undated

Box 3   Folder 9

Political Science 348, Comparative Public Administration, winter 1940

Box 4   Folder 1

Great Books Seminar, Robert M. Hutchins and Mortimer Adler, 1936

Box 4   Folder 2

History and Literature of Western Civilization, 1946 - 1947

Box 4   Folder 3

Timaeus notes, undated

Box 4   Folder 4

Aristotle notes, undated

Box 4   Folder 5

Logical Problems in the Social Sciences, 1937

Box 4   Folder 6

Greek Political Theory and Practice, undated

Box 4   Folder 7

Bibliographies for Political Science, 1940

Box 4   Folder 8

Nature and History of Western Civilization, undated

Box 4   Folder 9

USSR notes, undated

Box 4   Folder 10

Comparative Science of Culture, undated

Box 4   Folder 11

Political Theory Seminar, Charles Merriam and T.V. Smith, undated

Box 4   Folder 12

Germany notes and newspaper clippings, circa 1941

Box 4   Folder 13

History of Marxist Attitude to War to 1917, undated