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World Bank Group Historical Chronology: Introduction

The World Bank Group Historical Chronology provides a comprehensive timeline of key events in World Bank Group history. Since its inception in 1944, the World Bank expanded from a single institution to an associated group of coordinated development institutions. The Bank's mission evolved from a facilitator of post-war reconstruction and development to its present day mandate of worldwide poverty alleviation. Whereas heavy infrastructure investment projects once dominated the Bank's portfolio, a broadened focus now includes social sector lending projects, poverty alleviation, and the Comprehensive Development Framework. The World Bank Group Historical Chronology highlights these changes in the institution's history.

Many of the items in the Chronology are "firsts", documenting the first occurrence of significant events, such as the first lending for each member country, the first meetings of consultative groups, first lending in a particular sector, etc. The chronology also includes membership dates for all member countries in each institutions within the World Bank Group.

The chronology is divided into separate section per decade, with salient world events highlighted at the beginning of each year. The Chronology 1944-2005 (2.7 MB PDF) is also available for downloading or printing.

The information has been compiled from previously published works, and has been supplemented by research in the World Bank Group Archives. The previously published works are:

Mason, Edward, and Robert E. Asher. The World Bank Since Bretton Woods.Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution, 1973.

Kapur, Devesh, John P. Lewis, and Richard Webb. The World Bank. Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution Press, 1997.

Salda, Anne C. M., Historical Dictionary of the World Bank. Lanham, Maryland, The Scarecrow Press, 1997.

The International Events sections of the chronology are heavily indebted to The Oxford History of the Twentieth Century, edited by Michael Howard and William Roger Louis (New York, Oxford University Press, 1998).

These published sources were supplemented by material maintained in the World Bank Group Archives. The most useful collections include:

Series 4117. IPA Press Releases, 1947 -
Series 3985. Administrative Circulars, 1947 - 1974
Series 4534. Administrative Circulars, 1973 - 1993
Series 4684. Administrative Circulars, 1981 -

Note: The Chronology was initially conceived as a means of providing World Bank Group staff  with historical context on the evolution of their institution. Thus it contains some items of an internal or administrative nature which will not be of primary interest to the general public, or the significance of which will not be obvious to those outside the institution.

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