The Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit (IDO) opened in German-occupied Krakow, Poland, in 1940. The Sektion für Rasse- und Volkstumforschung (IDO-SRV) (Section for Racial and National Traditions Research) was an anthropological unit of the IDO that classified people by studying their anthropometric and genealogical information. The collection was seized by the United States and British armies after the end of World War II and given to the Smithsonian Institution on permanent loan once they were deemed of no further value for military intelligence.
In 2003, the Polish government requested this collection be transferred back to Poland. These records document the task force that was created by Cristián Samper, Director of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), at the request of the Secretary of the Smithsonian to investigate the legal, scientific, ethical, and archival issues related to the return of these records. In 2004, the task force recommended the records be returned after microfilm copies and digital surrogates had been made. In a ceremony at the Polish Consulate in New York on September 27, 2007, the IDO records were transferred from the National Anthropological Archives to Uniwersytet Jagielloński (Jagiellonian University), Krakow. (See also related records in Accession 05-091.)
These records were compiled and maintained by Ruth Osterweis Selig, Special Assistant to the Director, NMNH. Materials include correspondence, meeting minutes, notes, clippings, brochures, and reports. Some materials are in electronic format.