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HUD 3139

American Defense, Harvard Group. Records of American Defense, Harvard Group : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 3139
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: American Defense, Harvard Group.
Title: Records of American Defense, Harvard Group, 1940-1945.
Date(s): 1940-1945.
Quantity: 28.7 cubic feet (82 document boxes, 1 portfolio box, 7 card boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: American Defense, Harvard Group was organized by a small group of Harvard faculty members to alert Americans to the dangers posed by the Axis powers after the fall of France in June, 1940 and to marshal aid to American allies in Europe and Asia. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Group helped mobilize support for America's war effort. The records are organized in the following series: Reports, Records of officers, Committee files, American Defense, Harvard Group News Bulletin.

Acquisition Information:

The Records of American Defense, Harvard Group were acquired through donation. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the descriptions and item lists.
The acquisitions are as follows:
  • 1940 American Defense, Harvard Group
  • 1941 American Defense, Harvard Group
  • 1941 J.D.M. Ford
  • 1944 Delmar Leighton
  • 1946 American Defense, Harvard Group
  • 1960 Wilhelm R.W. Koehler
  • 1965 Charles H. Taylor
  • 1971 Hugh O'N. Hencken
  • Accession number: 17513; 2006 October 3
  • Processing Information:

    The Records of American Defense, Harvard Group were first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1990. In April 2008, Dominic P. Grandinetti re-processed the material. Re-processing included integrating and reorganizing the collection, re-housing materials in the appropriate containers, placing documents into acid-free folders, establishing series and subseries, and preparing this inventory.
    News clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper.
    Call numbers were simplified and reassigned. A list of obsolete call numbers is included in this finding aid.

    Conditions on Use and Access:

    The Records of American Defense, Harvard Group are open for research.

    Related Material

    Small portions of the following collections in the University Archives have material related to American Defense, Harvard Group:
    Search HOLLIS, Harvard's online library system, for related publications held both in the University Archives and other Harvard libraries.
    United States Archives and Records Administration holds Records of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, Record Group 239, 1942-1947.

    History of American Defense, Harvard Group

    The American Defense, Harvard Group was organized by a small group of Harvard faculty members after the fall of France in June, 1940, to alert Americans to the danger posed by the Axis powers. Initially launched to aid America's allies in Europe and Asia and prepare America for eventual participation in the conflict, the Group helped mobilize support for America's war effort after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
    The Group sought support from Harvard faculty, administration, clerical staff, wives, and Cambridge residents. Eventually, its membership reached more than 1700 names, with an active roster of 240 volunteers. Moreover, the Group was in constant communication with colleges and universities. In the fall of 1941, Letters to the Faculties and Staffs of American Colleges and Universities, outlining the Group's activities at Harvard University, was circulated to other institutions, and encouraged the creation of similar defense groups. So successful was this appeal that by the end of the war 350 defense groups had been established at colleges and universities around the country.
    American Defense, Harvard Group initiated a number of activities to alert the general public to the war emergency. Through its radio and speaking programs, for instance, the Group participated in meetings, presented short-wave programs to France and England, and assumed responsibility for weekly radio broadcasts of the program New England Town Meeting of the Air. The Group organized newspaper publicity of its own activities, sending numerous letters-to-the-editor on various issues, and preparing special articles by members of the academic community for nationalpublication.
    Immediately after its formation, the Group assumed many practical responsibilities. It helped to provide homes and educational opportunities for refugee British children and their mothers sent to the UnitedStates. It investigated military and naval training opportunities for students, supported selective service policies, and cooperated with the Harvard and Navy ROTC programs. The Group studied and analyzed foreign language press and radio broadcasts in New England, with readers and listeners eventually reaching a high of 200 individuals representing 35 different languages. In cooperation with the United Service Organization, the Group helped to furnish a number of recreational rooms at Camp Edwards and Fort Devens and engaged in a wide variety of enterprises to support the morale of soldiers, including the presentation of civilian lectures, the donation of reading materials, and the promotion of musical concerts.
    In the course of its activities, American Defense, Harvard Group collaborated with several government agencies including the War Department, for which the Group prepared a manualon Totalitarianism; for the Office of Facts and Figures , a handbook on Nazism; and for the Navy Department , a manual on American history and government. In addition, aspecial committee prepared extensive lists and manuals on art monuments for the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas. Likewise,another committee assisted the Office of Strategic Services by compiling a list of educated personnel in enemy and enemy-controlled territories.
    The Group maintained a continuing interest in foreign affairs and post-war programs and policies. Reports and articles pertaining to the problems of peace, future international organization, international trade, and the reestablishment of international boundaries were regularly published.
    During the darkest days of World War II, when military defeats and reverses created deep concern in the public, the Group provided reasoned and somber examinations of the struggle with the Axis powers, combating defeatism, and promoting a sense of good will and national unity among Americans. The name, American Defense, was chosen by the Group to rally all Americans, regardless of political,economic, or religious affiliation, in defense of their country. The name Harvard Group was added to recognize the unique contribution made by those Americans associated with HarvardUniversity who were taking part in supporting the defense activities of the United States.
    When American Defense, Harvard Group was disbanded in June, 1945, its membership had the satisfaction of knowing that it had helped mobilize the moral and intellectual resources of the Harvard community in orderto support the war effort, making a significant contribution to the life of the nation in both war and peace.


    Scope of the Records

    The records reflect the Group's activities undertaken during World War II to support national defense and national unity, and to aid countries at war with the Axis powers. The material documents the Group's many relief efforts, press and publicity activities, educational endeavors including military training, morale building activities, and cooperative efforts with other agencies, both public and private.

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2016 October 14.

    Obsolete Call Numbers

    The following list provides a map to call numbers that were made obsolete by the archivist during the 2008 re-processing. All the materials for American Defense, Harvard Group now fall under the single call number HUD 3139.

    Container List