Although FRASER’s archival collections provide unique insight into the thoughts of important Federal Reserve policymakers, it would be a stretch to call most of them entertaining. Nevertheless, most of our archival collections contain at least a few treasures, in the form of poems, photographs, or personal letters. One of the strangest of these treasures is Wonderland Revisited, an unsigned four-page parody of the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

staffpicks_rieflermh1

Found among the papers of economist Winfield Riefler (held at the National Archives and digitized for FRASER), Wonderland Revisited is part of the records of his time in London during World War II. Riefler was a special attaché to the U.S. Embassy, working on behalf of the Bureau of Economic Warfare. Based on the documents with which it was filed (Box 2, Folder 8), this piece was likely written sometime in early 1942.

Riefler was cast as the Dormouse and his fellow players were British politician Dingle Foot,[1] influential Swiss businessman Hans Sulzer,[2] and Professor G. Keller (perhaps the Swiss negotiator Paul Keller).[3] In true Wonderland fashion, the actors discuss the economic and trade arrangements between the United Kingdom, the United States, and neutral Switzerland, which was continuing to trade with Nazi Germany. As outside readers of this play, we can sympathize with our fellow Alices, “or indeed anyone who was present only at the end of the party.”

While understanding the piece requires some familiarity with the history of World War II economics, even readers with just a basic understanding of World War II can be delighted by the image of a professorial Mock Turtle singing:

staffpicks_rieflermh2

The players in this little drama were instrumental in setting European trade policy during the war.[4] This four-page play—curiouser and curiouser though it may be—is a rich insight into their negotiations. With pieces like this one—letters, reports, and original research—the Winfield Riefler papers are a treasure trove of primary sources on the economic history of the mid-20th century.

 

[1] The Papers of Sir Dingle Foot http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0014%2FDGFT

[2]Neville Wylie. Britain, Switzerland, and the Second World War. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 81.

[3] See http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/swiss01.asp, which documents Paul Keller’s correspondence with Riefler and Foot.

[4] See Wylie.

Category: Staff Picks
Browse Inside FRASER:

@FedFRASER on Twitter




NEED HELP?

How To Use FRASER
Take a walk through the FRASER site, complete with instructions and explanations

FAQ
See answers to frequently asked questions

About FRASER
Learn about the scope of FRASER collections, technical details, and how FRASER got started

Contact Us
Contact us with any questions or feedback

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102