Columbia University Archives

Columbia University in World War II collection, 1933-1975

Series VI: Selective Service

This series is comprised of an alphabetical file of correspondence, affidavits, forms and applications and memos regarding individuals (ca.1943-1945) who were considered vital to the university and were requesting deferment from military service ("occupational deferment"). Most correspondence is with Frank D. Fackenthal, Provost of the University, and local draft boards, though there are often letters from deans of schools (e.g., James Kip Finch of the School of Engineering, N.M. McKnight of Columbia College) advocating on behalf of a specific staff or faculty member. Correspondence pleads the cases of these individuals, arguing the importance of their work to the university and that their skills would be irreplaceable if drafted. Within the correspondence, there are often references to standard forms which are not necessarily attached to the cover letters (most of which are carbon copies of the original correspondence). Materials are arranged alphabetically within each folder.

Amongst the people applying for deferments were notable Columbia personalities such as Jacques Barzun, Karl Menges and Mario Salvadori. But not only professors and researchers were asking for deferments. Mr. Peter Mouzakis, First Cook who worked in John Jay Hall Dining Room was recommended for deferment by Thomas A. McGoey, director of University Residence Halls due to his "experience in handling the food preparation problem of 2,000 Midshipmen and trainees who are stationed at Columbia University." (letter, March 24, 1945). He was still classified as 1A (available immediately for military service) by his local Selective Service board.

A second set of alphabetical files contains correspondence, applications, forms, and memos for specific individuals seeking educational deferments in the immediate post-war period (1946-1947). Most of this correspondence is with Albert Jacobs, Assistant to Acting President Frank D. Fackenthal. Also included in this series are files with information and forms distributed to Columbia College students regarding selective service as well as files containing general policies and regulations of the Faculty Deferment Section of the U.S. Office of Education regarding such deferments from Selective Service (see article from New York Sun 6 August 1946). For instance, people involved in physics and engineering were considered important enough to avoid the draft; there were apparent successful attempts to broaden the definition of "important and indispensable" to educators in other fields, since there were so many GI's going back to school.

Selective Service Classifications encountered in this series: 1A: Available immediately for military service 2A: Deferred in support of national health, safety or interest 2B: Deferred in support of war production 4F: Registrants not acceptable for military service. Rejected for physical, mental or moral reasons

All external visitors, including alumni, must meet the University's primary COVID-19 vaccination series mandate and are required to adhere to the University's COVID-19 policies . After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.


Box 49 Folder 11-22 A-M, 1943-1946, (12 Folders)

Box 50 Folder 1-5 Mc-Z, 1943-1946, (5 Folders)

Box 50 Folder 6-7 A-Z, 1946-1947, (2 Folders)

Box 50 Folder 8 Policies, Instructions, Memos, 1946-1947

Box 50 Folder 9 Employer's List of Registrants, c., 1946

Box 50 Folder 10 Selected Service—Assorted Materials, 1940-1942 1948, 1940-1942, 1948

Box 50 Folder 11 Regulations—Vols. 1-6, 1940

Box 50 Folder 12 University Committee on National Defense—Information Bulletins, 1940-1941