The text that follows is the introduction to the collection of microfilms in the guide published by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The guide is also available on this digital library in the Book section.
On the 67 rolls of this microfilm publication, M1750, are reproduced some of the Shanghai Municipal Police investigation files, 1894-1944. These files are part of the records of the Central Intelligence Agency, Record Group (RG) 263.
Before World War II, Shanghai was divided into three sovereign jurisdictions. The French Concession occupied a small area close to the city center while the largest jurisdiction, both in population and area, was the Chinese Municipality of Greater Shanghai; part of the Republic of China. However, the city's commercial and industrial core, the great port, fashionable clubs, hotels, and consulates aII were located in the third jurisdiction, the International Settlement, .an entity unique in world politics. This International Settlement did not belong to any one power; its ruling body, known as the Shanghai Municipal Council and elected by the ,"ratepayers," was composed of citizens of a number of powers. Although "international" in outward appearance, during most of its history the Council was effectively controJled by British interests. The settlement's law enforcement agency was the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP). While the force included Chinese, Indian, and later Russian and Japanese personnel, until World War II the Commissioner and senior officers were alwaj,s British. The functions of the police force were dictated by the strange political demarcations of Shanghai and by the opportunities they presented for criminal activity. ·The SMP.Special Branch also served as an intel1igence gathering and, occasionally, as an executive arm of the British Secret Intelligence Service in the Far East. As a center of political activity in China and the home of a cosmopolitan population (including thousands of White Russian emigr~. as well as 20,000 Jewish refugees), Shanghai was a natural target for intelligence operations by several powers.
In 1938, as the Japanese expanded their control over sections of China, they demanded increased representation on the Shanghai Municipal Council and also on its ·police force. After Pearl Harbor the Japanese invited the British and American personnel serving on both to continue their duties under Japanese supervision; however, by July 1942, all British officers of the SMP had been forced to resign. These individuals later spent the remainder of the war in internment camps. When the Japanese took over the city in December 1941, they left the collection of.police files largely intact. The only ones that they apparently removed were Special Branch reports on Japanese personalities. In the spring of 1949, as Communist forces approached Shanghai, the Nationalist Chinese garrison commander gave the remaining Special Branch files to the local American Strategic Services Unit (SSU), a military intelligence successor of the OSS. (The SSU was later integrated into the Central InteI1igence Agency.) When the files were hurriedly loaded on board an American warship, some of the boxes fell into the Whangpoo River; others were damaged when the ship transporting them ran into a typhoon. However, most of the files safely reached Japan and, eventually, the United States. General C. A. Willoughby, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (Military Intelligence), in General Douglas MacArthur's Far Eastern Command, used the files as the main source for his special investigation of Soviet double agent Richard Sorge, who served in Shanghai in the I930's. Several volumes of extracted materials were bound up for this purpose. The records were eventually transferred to the Central Intelligence Agency and later to the National Archives.
Records of the Shanghai Municipal Police transferred to the National Archives included both microfilm and original records. The major portion of the microfilm, 67 rolls identified as the "investigation files," was created by the U.S. Army, apparently in support of General Willoughby'"investigative activities. It is this Army-prepared microfilm that constitutes M1750. The criteria for selection of records to be film~ are not known; the effort did not always preserve the SMP's original filing-schemes and Sometimes only portions of a particular file were filmed. Nevertheless, the film makes accessible a substantial portion of some very interesting records, and numerous researchers have requested copies of it. This publication responds to that interest. Because this film was not created under ideal filming conditions, there are problems associated with its use. Archivists working with the files of the Shanghai Municipal Police in National Archives custody have learned that while there is considerable overlap between the microfilm and the paper records, many paper records were not filmed and some filmed files were not transferred to the National Archives in paper form. Appendix A is a list of investigative files of the S:MP from which records were selected for inclusion in Ml750. The arrangement of the listed files follows as closely as possible the order apparently intended by the Shanghai Municipal Police. The list includes records that exist only on paper, records that exist only on microfilm, and records that exist both on paper and on microfilm. The list distinguishes between these record types in the following manner: list entries for records that exist only on paper include a box number, a file number. and a file description, but no roll number; list entries that exist only on microfilm include a roll number, a file number, and a file description, but no box number; and list entries that exist in both paper and microfilm include a box number, a roll number, a file number, and a file description. In some cases file descriptions are transcribed file titles, even to the extent of retaining the original British spelling of words; but in most cases they are NARA-prepared summaries of file content.
Appendix B describes other records of the Shanghai Municipal Police that have been allocated to National Archives Record Group 263. These include the "Willoughby Collection," the SMP documents selected and bound in 20 volumes by G-2 (Military Intelligence) in connection with the Sorge investigation; a microfilm copy of registration cards of Russian emigrants, 1940-4S; a microfilm copy of registration certificates of the Russian Emigrants Committee, 1944-4S; a microfilm copy of the Tsingtao Registration Cards, 194649; and miscellaneous other records.