The Hoover Institution is a unit of Stanford University but has its own board of overseers. It is located on the campus. Its mission statement outlines its basic tenets: representative government, private enterprise, peace, personal freedom, and the safeguards of the American system. The institution is generally described as conservative, although directors and others associated with it resist this description, saying that the institution is not partisan and that its goal is "to advance ideas of supporting freedom and free enterprise."
The institution is housed in four buildings on the Stanford campus. The most prominent facility is the landmark Hoover Tower, which is a popular visitor attraction. The tower features an observation deck on the top level that provides visitors with a panoramic view of the Stanford campus and surrounding area. Additionally, the institution has a branch office in the Johnson Center in Washington, DC.
The Institution was set up by Herbert Hoover, one of Stanford's first graduates, who would later become the 31st President of the United States. He had been in charge of American relief efforts in Europe after World War I. Hoover's express purpose was to collect the records of contemporary history as it was happening. Hoover's helpers frequently risked their lives to rescue documentary and rare printed material, especially from countries under Nazi or Communist rule. Their many successes included the papers of Rosa Luxemburg, the Goebbels Diaries, and the records of the Russian secret police in Paris. Research institutes were also set up under Hoover's influence, though inevitably there were to be clashes between the moving force, Hoover, and the host university.
In 1919, Hoover donated $50,000 to Stanford University to support the collection of primary materials related to World War I, a project that became known as the Hoover War Collection. Supported primarily by gifts from private donors, the Hoover War Collection flourished in its early years. In 1922, the Collection became known as the Hoover War Library. The Hoover War Library was housed in the Stanford Library, separate from the general stacks. By 1926, the Hoover War Library was known as the largest library in the world devoted to the Great War. By 1929, it contained 1.4 million items and was becoming too large to house in the Stanford Library. In 1938, the War Library revealed building plans for Hoover Tower, which was to be its permanent home independent of the Stanford Library system. The tower was completed in 1941, Stanford University's fiftieth anniversary.
By 1946, the agenda of the Hoover War Library had expanded to include research activities; thus the organization was renamed the Hoover Institution and Library on War, Revolution and Peace. At this time, Herbert Hoover was living in New York City but remained integrally involved in the Hoover Institution and Library as a benefactor, fundraiser, and consultant.
In 1956 former President Hoover, under the auspices of the Institution and Library, launched a major fundraising campaign that allowed the Institution to realize its current form as a think tank and archive. In 1957, the Hoover Institution and Library was renamed the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace—the name it holds today.
In 1960, W. Glenn Campbell was appointed director and substantial budget increases soon led to corresponding increases in acquisitions and related research projects. In particular, the Chinese and Russian collections grew considerably. Despite student unrest in the 1960s, the institution continued to thrive and develop closer relations with Stanford.
The Hoover Institution's in-house publisher, Hoover Institution Press, produces multiple publications on public policy topics, including the quarterly periodicals Hoover Digest, Education Next, China Leadership Monitor, and Defining Ideas. The Hoover Institution Press previously published the bimonthly periodical Policy Review, which it acquired from The Heritage Foundation in 2001.Policy Review ceased publication with its February–March 2013 issue.
In addition to these periodicals, the Hoover Institution Press publishes books and essays by Hoover Institution fellows and other Hoover-affiliated scholars.
The Hoover Institution receives nearly half of its funding from private gifts, primarily from individual contributions, and the other half from its endowment.
Paul, Gary Norman. "The Development of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace Library, 1919–1944". PhD dissertation U. of California, Berkeley. Dissertation Abstracts International 1974 35(3): 1682-1683-A, 274p.