Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Sir Robert G.A. Jackson papers, 1945-1983, bulk 1945-1947

Summary Information


This collection documents the work of Sir Robert G.A. Jackson, a UN administrator and development expert, as senior deputy director-general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) from 1945 to 1947.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0659
Bib ID 4078515 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Jackson, Robert G. A, Sir (Robert Gillman Allen), 1911-1991
Title Sir Robert G.A. Jackson papers, 1945-1983, bulk 1945-1947
Physical Description 1.5 linear feet (3 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



The collection has been arranged into two series.


Scope and Content

The collection consists of two boxes of material pertaining primarily to Sir Robert G.A. Jackson's role as senior deputy director-general of UNRRA, 1945-1947. It includes information on UNRRA's organization and finances, displaced persons, rehabilitation efforts in Greece, and Russian involvement in UNRRA. It also contains interviews with Jackson that covers many other aspects of his life and career. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, reports, and maps. The collection contains photocopies only; the originals remained in the possession of Sir Robert G.A. Jackson.

  • Series I: General, 1945-1983

    Series I consists primarily of correspondence, memos, reports, and meeting minutes, most of which concern the organization and administration of UNNRA as a whole, and involve discussions of staffing, efficiency, priorities, shipping, supplies, and finances. It also includes Jackson's final report on the "life and death of UNRRA" which gives his summary of the organization's creation, successes, and flaws.

  • Series II: Oral Histories, 1978-1983

    Series II contains transcripts of two oral history interviews with Jackson, one from 1978 and one from 1986. He discusses many aspects of his career and work with refugees, including the creation of UNRRA and UNICEF, the Jackson report, and his efforts to provide aid to Kampuchea.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Sir Robert G.A. Jackson papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Archival Materials

Herbert H. Lehman papers, Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Reproduction Note

Type of reproduction--Photocopies

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Correspondence, memoranda, documents Surveyed Julie Miller 05/--/87.

Papers processed Carolyn Smith Elena Locascio 2011.

Finding aid written Carolyn Smith 2013.

Revision Description

2013-06-04 xml document instance created by Carolyn Smith

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Gale, Humphrey Myddleton, 1890-1971 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Greece -- Economic conditions -- 1918-1974 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hasler, William J Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Herbert H. Lehman Collections (Columbia University) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
International relief Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jackson, R. G. A (Robert Gillman Allen) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
La Guardia, Fiorello H (Fiorello Henry), 1882-1947 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lehman, Herbert H (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mikoi͡an, A. I (Anastas Ivanovich), 1895-1978 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Morgan, Frederick, 1894-1967 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Noel-Baker, Philip, 1889-1982 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Refugees Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Soviet Union -- Foreign relations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 -- Civilian relief Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical sketch

Robert Gillman Allen Jackson was born in Melbourne, Australia on November 8, 1911. His father, Archibald Jackson, was one of the founders of Mentone Grammar School, which Jackson attended until he joined the Royal Australian Navy at age 18. Jackson transferred to the Royal Navy in 1937 and served in World War II in Malta. In 1940, he was chief staff officer to the governor and commander in chief of Malta, and created defense, rearmament, and supply schemes.

In 1941, Jackson was appointed adviser to Oliver Lyttleton, Minister of State in Cairo. There he worked with the Middle East Relief and Refugees Administration (MERRA), which was tasked with aiding 100,000 Polish refugees who had fled to Egypt, Pakistan, and Kenya. Jackson would take a special interest in refugee issues for the rest of his life. As director-general of the Middle East Supply Centre, he worked to encourage local agriculture in a large number of countries from 1942 to1945. During this time he also worked on the development of a supply route to bring aid to Russia and established an anti-locust campaign. He worked with Allied Forces Headquarters for Special Duties in Greece from 1944-1945 and at the British treasury in 1945.

From 1945 to 1947, Jackson served as senior deputy director-general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). UNRRA was responsible for overseeing post-war relief projects across Europe, Africa, and Asia, including the care of 8,500,000 displaced persons in Europe alone, providing aid to concentration camp survivors, reuniting children with families, and providing relief supplies to many countries.

After UNRRA was disbanded, Jackson supervised the transfer of its functions to other branches of the UN, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He also assisted in the establishment of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) and UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). In 1947, he became assistant to first secretary-general of the United Nations, Trygve Lie.

Jackson was considered one of the world's foremost experts on multiple purpose river development schemes - systems of dams and equipment that provide both power and other benefits, such as flood control or irrigation. From 1950 to 1953, he was permanent secretary for the Ministry of National Development in Australia and worked on the Snowy Mountain Scheme, a large hydroelectricity and irrigation complex. From 1953-1956, Jackson was chairman of the Preparatory Commission for Volta River Multipurpose Project in Ghana, which led to the construction of the Akosombo Dam, from and wrote a book about the experience, The Volta River Project (1956). He was also chairman of the Development Commission in Ghana, 1956-1961, and organized Royal Tours there in 1959 and 1961. He remained a consultant to the Volta River Authority, Ghana and a member of its board in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1962, Jackson worked as consultant to Paul Hoffman, first administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). By the time he retried from the program in 1971, he had worked with UNDP projects in 60 countries. From 1968 to 1971, Jackson served as commissioner in charge of the survey of the UN Development System. With Margaret Anstee and other UN administrators, he wrote A Study of the Capacity of the United Nations Development System in 1969. The "Jackson Report" argued that UN should operate as a unitary system, providing information and resources from a central location but allowing UN projects to be tailored to each country's individual needs by local people who know the situation best.

In 1972 and 1975, Jackson was under secretary-general in charge of the UN Relief Operation in Bangladesh, and he worked to bring aid to Kampuchean refugees in Thailand between 1979 and 1984.

Jackson's advice, particularly on development, was sought after worldwide; he was advisor to the President of Liberia (1962-1980s), to the government of India (1952, 1957; 1962-1963) and to government of Pakistan (1952), and offered assistance to Zambia (1973-1980s), Indo-China (1975-1980s) and the Cape Verde Islands (1975-1980s). He served on the advisory board of the Mekong Project, S.E. Asia (1962).

Jackson 's awards and honors included the Knight Commander of the Victorian Order (1962); Knight Bachelor (1956); Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (1944); Order of the British Empire (1941); and Companion of the Order of Australia (1986). Historian James Gibson wrote a biography Jackson, entitled Jacko, Where Are You Now? A life of Robert Jackson: Master of humanitarian relief, the man who saved Malta (Parsons, London 2006).

Jackson married Barbara Ward in 1950, and the couple had a son, Robert, Jr. Robert G.A. Jackson died in 1991.