Chief Historian – Office of the Secretary of Defense
November 25, 1949 – June 30, 1973
Chief DOD Historian 24 years
Past Chief Historian
November 25, 1949 – June 30, 1973
Rudolph A. Winnacker served as the first Historian for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and remained in that position for 24 years, establishing a firm foundation for the office and achieving a remarkable record of accomplishment.
Winnacker was exceptionally well qualified for the position. His academic background included a Harvard history Ph.D. and more than 10 years of teaching experience at the Universities of Michigan and Nebraska. During World War II he performed research work for the Office of Strategic Services. After an assignment as historian in the Office of the Secretary of War, he served on the faculty of the National War College and with the Army Historical Division.
As OSD Historian, Winnacker played a notably prominent role, particularly during the 1950s. In 1953 he was a staff member and advisor to the Rockefeller Committee whose report led to a major reorganization of the Department of Defense. Subsequently, at the express direction of Secretary Neil McElroy, Winnacker drafted DoD Directive 5100.1 that implemented the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1958. During these years he sometimes acted as a spokesman for the Secretary of Defense, holding press conferences on matters about which he could speak with authority.
In 1955, once again at the direction of the secretary, Winnacker coordinated and compiled work by military service historians to produce a detailed report entitled The Entry of the Soviet Union into the War Against Japan. The report received much public attention and laid to rest a long-existing controversy, particularly in Congress. Winnacker also had responsibility for important ongoing functions, including publication of the Annual Report of the Secretary of Defense, and the Annual Public Statements of the Secretary of Defense. Of special note was his persistent and successful collection of DoD and other documents and materials that formed the core of the current Historical Office Archives – a valuable research collection. Not the least of his multiple activities was his service for 20 years on the National Historical Publication and Records Commission as representative of the Secretary of Defense. In one of his final contributions, Winnacker oversaw the review for declassification and release of the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War.
All of these and many other activities were accomplished with the help of no more than two professional assistants and a secretary. For Winnacker it was a labor of love. He often expressed astonishment that he was being paid for doing something that he found so enjoyable and rewarding.
Alfred Goldberg (Col. USAFR)
Chief DOD Historian 34 years
Past Chief Historian
October 28, 1973 – November 28, 2007
Dr. Alfred Goldberg, an eminent and respected military historian, served as the Chief Historian for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for 34 years. He began his service to the United States in 1942 with the U.S. Army, rising from the rank of private to captain and deploying overseas with the Army Air Forces to England and France. He worked in various capacities, ultimately as a field historian. He left active duty in 1946, but remained in the reserves and retired from the Air Force in 1978 as a colonel.
From 1946 to 1965, Dr. Goldberg worked for the U.S. Air Force Historical Division as a senior historian. During that period, in addition to earning a Ph.D. in history from The Johns Hopkins University in 1950, he was a Visiting Fellow at Kings College, University of London in 1962–63; a lecturer at the University of Maryland for many years; and a recipient of a Social Science Research Council Fellowship. In 1964 Chief Justice Earl Warren brought him onto the Warren Commission staff, where Dr. Goldberg served as a historical advisor and as co-author and co-editor of the Warren Commission Report. From 1965 to 1973, Dr. Goldberg was a senior staff member at RAND and also lectured at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles.
In 1973, Dr. Goldberg assumed duties as the chief historian with OSD. He received the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Presidential Meritorious Award. He was a long-time member of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, whose members include distinguished historians, archivists, and members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. Keenly aware of the historic significance of the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Dr. Goldberg joined with other military historians in documenting the event and its effect on the Pentagon and the military and civilian workforce.
Dr. Goldberg is the author or editor of numerous historical books and articles, many of which have earned special recognition and prizes. Most notably, he is co-author of the Army Air Forces in World War II (7 volumes); editor and co-author of A History of the U.S. Air Force 1907–1957; co-editor of the Department of Defense: Documents on Establishment and Organization, 1947–1978; co-author of The Department of Defense, 1947-1997—Organization and Leaders; author of The Pentagon: The First Fifty Years; general editor, History of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (5 volumes); and co-author of Pentagon 9/11. In 2011, Dr. Goldberg received the American Historical Association's Herbert Feis Award for distinguished contributions to public history.