I was very much interested in the piece by Barbara Baird, "Archivists Rescue Images of Hollywood's Past" (Times, Aug. 10). It is impressive to know that the picture collection is in the competent hands of such an expert as Sid Avery, who was chief of the U.S. Army's Pictorial Service and Laboratory in London during World War II. I was very much aware of the operations of Mr. Avery's setup,for during the war I was an embryonic picture editor in the Office of War Information, overseas branch, in New York City.
It was my first exposure to the importance of pictures as a tool for communication. What we were doing, in fact, was psychological warfare with words and pictures, telling the story of democracy in support of our armed forces advancing in the European theater of operations and the China-Burma-India territory.
We are so accustomed to the blessings of liberty and so ready to criticize its flaws as we experience them in our daily lives that we forget, or else are oblivious to the fact, that democracy is an unknown entity in many . . . areas. Of that I became acutely aware and sensitive as I selected pictures and captioned them appropriately for overseas distribution. I later directed the organization of the OWI pictures collection for transfer to Washington for permanent retention in the nation's archives.
Indeed, words are powerful tools, and so are pictures as backups. It is reassuring to know that the Hollywood past will continue to survive thanks to the dedicated direction of Sid Avery and his noble staff.