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Series I: Bureau of Administration
Series II. Office of the Diplomatic Advisor
Series III. Office of the Director General
Series V. Office of the Far Eastern Affairs
Series VI. Office of the General Counsel
Series VII. Office of the Historian
At a Glance
This collection is arranged into 9 series.
Scope and Content
The reports and correspondence relating to UNRRA were arranged according to the nine administrative divisions of that organization that generated the documents: Bureau of Administration (26 reels); Office of the Diplomatic Adviser (4 reels); Office of the Director General (20 reels); Office of the Economic Adviser (4 reels); Office of Far Eastern Affairs (9 reels); Office of the General Counsel (19 reels); Office of the Historian (16 reels); Office of Public Information (1 reel); and Secretariat Executive Office (3 reels). Within each division, subsidiary bodies are typically separated into subject and country files.
The UNRRA papers are of primary importance to the study of the early years of the United Nations, United States foreign policy, and to the history of wartime and postwar relief and refugee initiatives in the 1940s. These reels are a secondary resource for the study of conditions in particular regions of the world (Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Soviet Union, China, Southeast Asia) as well as the expansion of bureaucratic structures (state and non-governmental, military and non-military) in the twentieth century.
Correspondence, memoranda, documents, minutes, committee reports.
Selected Glossary of Acronyms
AJDC -- American Joint Distribution Committee
APWR -- American Polish War Relief
AFHQ -- Allied Force Headquarters
AML -- Allied Military Lira
AMOMO -- Agricultural Machinery Operations and Management Office (China)
ASPO -- Administration Surplus Property Office
BOTRA -- Board of Trustees for Rehabilitation Affairs (China)
CARE -- Cooperation for American Remittance to Europe
CNRRA -- Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
CTP -- China Tractor Program
DP -- Displaced Person
ECITO -- European Central Inland Transport Organization
ERO -- European Regional Office
EUCOM -- European Command
FEA -- Foreign Economic Administration
HAO -- Home Accounting Office
HIAS -- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
IEFC -- International Emergency Food Committee
IGCR -- Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees
IRO -- International Refugee Organization
JAFP -- Jewish Agency for Palestine
JCRA -- Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad
MERRA -- Middle East Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
NARC -- North African Refugee Center
NCWC -- National Catholic Welfare Conference
OFLC -- Office of Foreign Liquidation Commission
OFRRO -- Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations
SACMED -- Supreme Allied Command Mediterranean Theater
SHAEF -- Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
SLAO -- Supplies to Liberated and Conquered Areas, Official Committee
SWPAO -- South West Pacific Areas Office
USFET -- U.S. Forces, European Theater
USPHS -- United States Public Health Service
WHO -- World Health Organization
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
Photocopies are not permitted. Microfilm reels do not circulate via Inter-Library Loan. Requests for copies should be made to the United Nations Archives.
This collection is located on-site.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Permission to quote or publish must be obtained in writing from the Director of United Nations Archives.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Records, Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
The primary repository of official UNRRA documents is the United Nations Archives in New York City and elsewhere. Record Group 17, in manuscript form, was the basis for this collection of microfilm reels. Also quite relevant are records pertaining to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Records of CNRRA and BOTRA were taken over by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei, Republic of China.
Unofficial correspondence of individuals involved with UNRRA in Europe are also an important way of understanding the organization's work. Among this potentially large group are those assembled at the Herbert Lehman Suite and Papers, part of Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Paul Baerwald, Hugh R Jackson, Robert G.A Jackson, Herbert H. Lehman, James G. McDonald, Marshall MacDuffie, and Richard Brown Scandrett) as well as the papers of Philip Caryl Jessup and Francis Bowes Sayre at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.
The relationship between UNRRA and broader U.S. military operations is explored in presidential libraries of Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as several record groups at the National Archives and Records Administration, Office of the National Archives, Washington DC: The Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion; State Department, Records Relating to the Problems of Relief and Refugees in Europe Arising from World War II and its Aftermath; General Records of the United States Department of State, Record Group 59 (country records as well as those records dealing with interaction with the UN).
The specific experience of UNRRA in Asia is documented in several collections at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University, including the individual records of Margaret Eleanor Fait, William J. Green, J. Franklin Ray, Oliver J. Todd, and Arthur N.Young, as well as the Register of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, China Office, Records, 1943-1948.
Records pertaining to efforts by non-governmental refugee organizations closely coordinated with UNRRA include those of CARE (Cooperation for American Remissions to Europe) at the New York Public Library, Archives and Manuscripts Division, and numerous organizational collections at the Library of the American Jewish Historical Society in Waltham, Mass., the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in New York City repositories such as the Leo Baeck Institute Archive and Library, the YIVO Institute Archive, and the Center for Migration Studies Library.
RELATED SECONDARY SOURCES:
Brown, William Adams Jr. and Redvers Opie. American Foreign Assistance. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1953.
Fairbank, John K., ed. Next Step in Asia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949. (see section on UNRRA by a former staffer Harlan Cleveland).
Hambidge, Gove. The Story of FAO. New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1955.
Iriye, Akira. Cultural Internationalism and World Order. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
Ostrower, Gary. The United Nations and the United States. New York: Twayne, 1998.
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, UNRRA in China, 1945-1947. Washington, D.C.: United Nations, 1948.
Woodbridge, George. UNRRA: The History of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1950.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Type of reproduction--Microfilm
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Microfilm copy of selected records at the United Nations Archives, ca. 1973
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Correspondence, memoranda, documents, minutes, committee reports Surveyed Julie Miller 05/--/87.
Finding guide prepared by Joshua Lupkin, with assistance of Edward LaLonde and Patrick Lawlor in December 2002.
Folder list based on typescript compiled by the staff of the Herbert Lehman Suite and Papers in June 1984.
2010-03-31 Legacy finding aid created from Pro Cite.
2014-02-20 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2016-03-17 XML document instance updatec by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2018-03-26 XML document instance updatec by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was created at a 44-nation conference at the White House on November 9, 1943 to confront the massive task of global reconstruction during and after World War II. Initially created as an arm of the United Nations, the name for the allied coalition fighting the Axis powers, it would eventually be subsumed under the heading of the international organization created in 1945 of the same name.
UNNRA was headed until 1946 by Herbert H. Lehman, a former governor of the state of New York and head of the U. S. State Department's Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations (OFRRO). Subsequent directors would include Fiorello LaGuardia and Major General Lowell Ward. Subject to the authority of the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) in Europe, UNRRAs activities were global and involved a vast array of activities. These encompassed immediate relief for populations affected by war as well as aid for the recovery of agriculture industry and social services. These activities were not limited just to countries that had been battlegrounds, as numerous countries received aid simply to deal with the widespread dislocation created by war. UNRRA was also active in the massive repatriations of millions of displaced persons that characterized the war years and immediate aftermath.
However, all of UNRRAs programs were not directly related to recovery from war. In many areas, particularly China, UNRRA programs were not only aimed a promoting recovery but economic, social, and political development over and above pre-war conditions. In this respect UNRRA became an example to many at the time for the efforts at modernization that were taking shape in the postwar world. Overall UNRRA was popular internationally. However within the United States, by far the largest donor to the program, there was increasing concern after the war that the country was carrying too great of a burden. Accordingly the United States allowed the mandate of UNRRA to expire on schedule in 1947. While this was a disappointment to many, aspects of UNRRAs programs were taken over by the new United Nations and its specialized agencies, particularly the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the International Refugee Organization (IRO) which inherited the care of 643,000 displaced persons in 1948.