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UAI 20.941.10

Harvard University. Records relating to the Air Raid Precautions Organization at Harvard University, 1941-1943 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAI 20.941.10
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard University
Title: Records relating to the Air Raid Precautions Organization at Harvard University, 1941-1943
Date(s): 1941-1943
Quantity: 5.53 cubic feet (9 card boxes, 5 document boxes, 5 pamphlet binders, 3 accordion folders, 1 volume, 1 multi-ring binder)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Civil defense at Harvard University during World War II began even before American entrance into the conflict, when the Harvard Corporation created a Committee on Civilian Defense to survey the defense needs of the University, including the protection of the College's treasures and records in October 1941. One of the first steps initiated by the Committee on Civilian Defense was the establishment of an Air Raid Precautions School at Harvard, to teach faculty, students, and staff the basics of air raid defense. Letters, reports, memoranda, attendance forms, armbands, registration cards, circular letters, message forms, and placards in this collection document the efforts of Harvard University to protect University personnel and property during World War II, including the establishment of the Air Raid Precautions School at Harvard University in November 1941 and the civil defense activities of the Air Raid Precautions Organization.

Acquisition information:

The documents in this collection are University records and were acquired in the course of University business. Whenever possible the archivist noted the terms of acquisition in the folder list below.
The acquisitions are as follows:
  • 1948, Donald Scott
  • Processing Information:

    This inventory was created in July 2014 by Dominic P. Grandinetti from a cursory inspection of the material and a variety of information sources. Titles were devised by the archivist. The records were re-processed as Records relating to the Air Raid Precautions Organization at Harvard University, 1941-1943 and assigned the call number UAI 20.941.10.
    As part of this finding aid, the archivist created a listing of superseded call numbers to help researchers in identifying materials noted in previous citations. The listing (located at the end of this finding aid) provides references from the superseded call number to new box numbers.

    Researcher Access:

    Open for research.

    Preferred Citation:

    Harvard University. Records relating to the Air Raid Precautions Organization at Harvard University, 1941-1943. UAI 20.941.10, Harvard University Archives.

    Related material

    In the Harvard University Archives

    Historical note

    Civil defense at Harvard University during World War II began even before American entrance into the conflict, when the Harvard Corporation created a Committee on Civilian Defense to survey the defense needs of the University, including the protection of the College's treasures and records in October 1941. One of the first steps initiated by the Committee on Civilian Defense (in conjunction with the Massachusetts Committee of Public Safety, the Cambridge Committee on Public Safety, and the local Air Raid Precautions Organization) was the establishment of an Air Raid Precautions School at Harvard, to teach faculty, students, and staff the basics of air raid defense. The School, under the administration of emeritus Harvard Professor of Mathematics Julian L. Coolidge, provided instruction in medical care and first aid, incendiary bomb control, gas decontamination, firefighting, blackout and evacuation protocol, high explosive bomb disposal, the organization and administration of air raid precautions services, and air raid warden duties and responsibilities. The satisfactory completion of the course fulfilled the federal government's air warden requirements and allowed graduates to serve as wardens in their own communities as well as at Harvard University. Between November 1941 and October 1942, almost 1,000 members of the Harvard community trained as wardens. During World War II, many of the wardens were assigned duties in Harvard Yard and the surrounding area, with students serving as assistant wardens and floor wardens in dormitories. Harvard buildings with reinforced windows were set aside as shelters and First Aid stations were organized on campus. Evacuation drills and blackout tests were performed regularly. Sand and shovels were made readily available for protection against fires. Accordingly, the organization of civil defense at Harvard University enabled the school to become entirely self-sufficient in the event of an air raid on Cambridge.

    References

    Scope and Contents

    This collection documents the efforts of the Air Raid Precautions Organization and Harvard University to protect Harvard personnel and property during World War II. All manner of issues related to the development of air raid precautions at Harvard University are found in these records. Letters, reports, memoranda, attendance forms, armbands, registration cards, circular letters, message forms, and placards document the establishment of the Air Raid Precautions School at Harvard University in 1941 and the civil defense activities of the Air Raid Precautions Organization. Among the civil defense activities described in this collection are the appointment of block wardens, air raid practice alerts, evacuation drills of Harvard buildings, blackouts rehearsals, and the introduction of courses of instruction for air raid wardens. This collection also includes booklets and pamphlets describing an air raid warden's duties and responsibilities, civilian blackout rules, decontamination procedures after a gas attack, firefighting measures, and the provision of health care services during an emergency. The collection contains registration cards and questionnaires for Harvard personnel (faculty, students, and staff) to determine their availability for air defense service and voluntary defense work; enrollment applications to the Harvard Air Raid Precautions School; and such records as organizational charts, a telephone directory, memoranda, and correspondence, illustrating the network of air raid wardens, areas of coverage, and organization of the Air Raid Precautions Organization. Some of the more interesting items in this collection include a text book designed for an elementary course of civilian defense and used at the Harvard University Air Raid Precautions School entitled, Air Raid Precautions and the Warden's Job and descriptions of an incendiary bomb demonstration in Harvard Yard on October 28, 1942.

    General

    This document last updated 2014 July 11.

    General

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    Formats and genres

    Superseded call numbers

    To assist researchers in identifying materials noted in previous citations, the list below provides references from obsolete call numbers to new call numbers and box numbers. Please use the current call number, UAI 20.941.10, with the appropriate box number in place of superseded call numbers when citing material from this collection.

    Container List


    hua43014