Whitney Shepardson

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Whitney Hart Shepardson (October 30, 1890 – May 29, 1966) was an American businessman and foreign policy expert. He headed the Secret Intelligence Branch of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.[1].

Shepardson was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. He attended Colgate Academy, where his father was principal.[2] He graduated from Colgate University before attending Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He completed his education at Harvard Law School. He would practice law only briefly, serving as an attorney for the United States Shipping Board between May 1917 and July 1918.[3]

Shepardson's involvement in international relations began when sent to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference by the State Department as an aide to Edward M. House, where he became secretary to the commission responsible for drafting the Covenant of the League of Nations. He was secretary also to a group of Americans seeking to organize the international relations institute which would become the Council on Foreign Relations. Shepardson was a founding member of the board. From 1920, he wrote for the Round Table, a British journal edited by former Beit Lecturer in Colonial History, Lionel Curtis.[4]

Between 1925 and 1927 he served as a director on John D. Rockefeller's General Education Board, specialising in the development of agricultural and biological research.[3] He was a director of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.[5]

Shepardson was president of Bates International Bag Company from 1928 to 1930. He was vice-president of International Railways of Central America, a transport arm of the United Fruit Company, from 1931 until 1942.[6]

After the outbreak of war in Europe he was appointed to lead the political group of the CFR's War and Peace Studies project. Following the involvement of the United States in war, he served with the Office of Strategic Services in Washington and London. In London, he was special assistant to the U.S. ambassador, and became first London head of Secret Intelligence.[7] He became head of the agency's Secret Intelligence Branch in 1943,[8] staying with the organization which would ultimately become part of the Central Intelligence Agency until 1946.

Post-war, he became director of the Carnegie Corporation's British Dominions and Colonies Fund.

From 1953 to 1956 Shepardson served as president of the National Committee for a Free Europe.


  1. The Whitney H. Shepardson Fellowship. Council on Foreign Relations. “Shepardson headed the Secret Intelligence unit of the Office of Strategic Services”
  2. Colgate's first Rhodes Scholar. Colgate University. “His father was then principal of Colgate Academy”
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Papers of Whitney Hart Shepardson. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.
  4. Deborah Lavin (1995). From Empire to International Commonwealth: A Biography of Lionel Curtis. Oxford University Press, 160. ISBN 0198126166. “wrote regularly for the Round Table until his death in 1920 when Shepardson succeeded him” 
  5. "Wilson Birthday Today; Foundation Will Observe 80th Anniversary of War President", New York Times (December 28, 1936). 
  6. (1953) The International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's who. 
  7. David K.E. Bruce (1992). OSS Against the Reich: World War Two Diaries. Kent State University Press. ISBN 087338427X. “first OSS Secret Intelligence chief in London” 
  8. Secret Intelligence. United States Central Intelligence Agency. “Headed from 1943 on by international executive and lawyer Whitney H. Shepardson”