From Espionage to Academia: The Hayden B. Peake Historical Intelligence Collection

This post was written by Mike Rynearson, Research Services Assistant. Mike has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Security from Duquesne University and is currently earning his Masters Degree in International Security from George Mason University.

Almost all of us are familiar with the world of espionage and spycraft from our favorite movie or television show. Whether its James Bond or Sterling Archer, most people have some sort of preconceived notion as to what intelligence agencies do. The Hayden B. Peake Historical Intelligence Collections gives researchers a more accurate depiction of what it’s like to be a member of the Intelligence Community (IC).

Hayden B. Peake was the curator of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Historical Intelligence Collection (HIC). He served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations at the CIA. The HIC was first established by director Allen Dulles in 1954, who envisioned the collection as a working repository of books and periodicals that touched on all aspects of intelligence, beginning with the earliest written accounts of intelligence operations until modern accounts for use by the Intelligence Community, as a law library is used by lawyers.

Throughout his time as curator, Peake began to start a collection of his own. His collection highlights an intellectual and academic side to the world of intelligence that mostly strays from the reputation of shadowy figures carrying out missions in the dead of night, and portray the IC as an array of well-rounded intellectuals. Decades of work have culminated to the collection now held by the Special Collections Research Center. Donations began in 2013 and are continually growing until we reach the overall amount of about 10,000 materials which are mostly books. The collection contains a wide variety of publications all based around intelligence studies. Examples range from World War II OSS strategic plans for Japan to original communist party documents handed out during rallies. There are also a wide variety of spy novels, fiction and non-fiction, that have been written by former members of not just the CIA but also KGB and Egyptian Intelligence Service. The uniqueness of this collection is these are part of his personal collection and as a result many of the books include inscriptions, page markings and inserts that he added allowing researchers of this collection to gain insight not only about intelligence but about Hayden B. Peake himself.

“Fifty years under law : 1947-1997.” Central Intelligence Agency Office of General Counsel, JK468.I6 U532 1997, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

The collection also includes publications that would be nearly impossible to find outside of their respective agencies. Pictured here are two significant examples. The first is “Fifty Years under Law” by the Office of General Counsel to the CIA. It was printed as an accompaniment to a panel discussion head for those in the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence. The document was never publicly distributed and only given to those attending. Another piece is “Iraq and the Persian Gulf” by the British Naval Intelligence Division. It was designed to be a handbook for planners and soldiers assigned to the Persian Gulf during World War II. Like the CIA document, the intention of the publication was to only be for official use only.

“Iraq and the Persian Gulf.” Great Britain, Naval Intelligence Division, DS67.8 .G7, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

The Hayden B. Peake Intelligence Collection provides researchers with a plethora of sources to better understand the field of intelligence. Whether you’re an academic with an interest in intelligence studies, have aspirations to be in the Intelligence Community, or just think it would be fun to come in and look at some spy novels, this collection has something for you.



“Contributors.” Central Intelligence Agency. June 26, 2008.

“From Out of the Past: The Historical Intelligence Collection.” Kent. Volume 37, Number 1.

“The Historical Intelligence Collection: Applying the Past to the Present and Future.” Central Intelligence Agency. April 30, 2013. (no longer available)

Follow Special Collections Research Center on Social Media at our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.