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Register of the Herbert Hoover papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Title: Herbert Hoover papers
    Date (inclusive): 1918-1978
    Collection Number: 62016
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 169 manuscript boxes, 4 card file boxes, 2 oversize boxes (72.5 linear feet)
    Abstract: Writings, notes, typed copies of documents, printed matter, and financial records relating to American foreign policy and domestic policies during the presidential administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, World War II, and the early postwar years. Consists mainly of drafts of and supporting materials for the posthumous book by Herbert Hoover, Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath (Stanford, 2011).
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.


    The collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Herbert Hoover papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1962.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    1874 Born, West Branch, Iowa
    1895 A.B., Stanford University
    1914-1920 Chairman, Commission for Relief in Belgium
    1917-1920 Administrator, United States Food Administration
    1919-1923 Director, American Relief Administration
    1921-1928 United States Secretary of Commerce
    1929-1933 President of the United States
    1939-1940 Founder, Finnish Relief Fund
    1940-1942 Chairman, Committee on Food for the Small Democracies
    1946 Chairman, President's Famine Emergency Committee
    1947-1949 Chairman, Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government
    1953-1955 Chairman, Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government
    1964 Died, New York City

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The main body of Herbert Hoover papers is in the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa. The Herbert Hoover Papers in the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace consist primarily of drafts of, and supporting research materials for, what Hoover referred to as his Magnum Opus, which was left unpublished at his death. Centrally this was to be a critique of American foreign policy during the presidential administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. However Hoover also intended to provide a critique of New Deal domestic policies, to write about Communist infiltration into the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, and to describe World War II relief efforts with which he was involved. His planned approach was in part objectively analytical and in part autobiographical. How to organize these varied themes, how to integrate the analytical and autobiographical approaches, and whether to attempt to fit everything into one work or into several, proved to be thorny problems with which Hoover grappled uncertainly over a lengthy period.
    The successive drafts for the Magnum Opus make up the Unpublished Writings series, which is the heart of the collection. Hoover began writing while World War II was still in progress. The focus with which he began and to which he ultimately returned was on the diplomatic history of the war. Early drafts were referred to by his staff simply as the War Book. When tentative titles began to be assigned, each proved to be darker than the one before. "Lost Statesmanship" gave way to "The Ordeal of the American People" and it in turn to "Freedom Betrayed." Hoover's thesis was that Roosevelt had deliberately, deceptively and needlessly maneuvered the United States into the war, and that American participation and the war's outcome alike had been disastrous. This constituted a sharp dissent from the postwar triumphalist consensus in which Americans congratulated themselves on the victorious conclusion of a good fight in a righteous cause. For Hoover, on the contrary, the results of World War II were to be seen in its human and economic costs, in the extension of Communist rule over much of Europe and Asia, in the diminishment of America's moral stature with its complicity in this and with its use of atom bombs against civilians, and in the weakening of American democracy at home with the growth of war-swollen governmental bureaucracy and executive usurpation of legislative powers.
    Perhaps because of the disparity between popular perceptions and Hoover's own judgments, editing of the Magnum Opus proved to be unusually extensive and protracted and publication long postponed. The July 1961 version of what was then titled "The Ordeal of the American People" was designated by Hoover as the fourth edition but there had in fact been more than three earlier versions. Successive versions were dubbed the fifth through the tenth. Then came what was called the Z edition because it was hoped that it would be the last. It was not. Subsequent versions, of which four can be identified, were designated Z+H (the Z edition with further editing by Hoover). The last version is dated December 1964, two months after Hoover's death. It was evidently arranged by surviving associates and reverted to superseded texts in some places.
    The War Book saw published form only in 2011 as Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath, edited and with an introduction by George H. Nash (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press). Volume I of the published work conforms to the September 1963 Z+H edition. As Nash explains in his introduction, for Volume II he adopted subsequent changes that appeared to have been finalized by Hoover. Volume III, which Hoover left in the least finished form, draws on sections of earlier versions not included in the September 1963 or subsequent editing processes.
    The Unpublished Writings series includes other writings not represented in Freedom Betrayed, which Hoover had ultimately come to limit to wartime foreign policy. Foremost among these are his critiques of the domestic policies of Roosevelt's New Deal. Hoover characterized these as collectivist and as foreign to the American tradition. He found them to have affinities not only with socialism and communism but also with fascism. Publication of these writings is planned. Other writings dealing with Hoover's World War II relief efforts were published in somewhat different form in the fourth volume of his An American Epic (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964). There are also miscellaneous autobiographical writings.
    Changing notions of how the Magnum Opus was to be organized made for problems in arrangement of the Unpublished Writings series. The approach adopted has been to treat each version as a discrete bibliographic item, even though each version typically includes material re-used from previous versions and may in itself constitute only a portion of an intended greater whole. These items are arranged chronologically, highlighting the temporal progress of the composition process. At some point Hoover's staff arranged a large portion of the various drafts in files numbered Magnum Opus 1, Magnum Opus 2, etc. These followed approximate, but not exact, chronological order, and did not include all drafts. The reader who wishes to reconstruct this filing sequence may do so by following the notations in square brackets at the ends of relevant entries. These take the form of [MO1], [MO2], etc.
    The research materials upon which the Magnum Opus was based are to be found in four supporting series. The New Deal Subject File consists of material relating specifically to New Deal domestic policies. The Communist Subversion Subject File consists of material relating specifically to issues of Communist infiltration of the United States government. The World War II Subject File consists of material relating specifically to wartime diplomacy. The General Subject File is a catch-all for material not falling neatly into any of the three categories above. It deals primarily with postwar international relations and postwar American domestic policies, but includes some earlier material. In addition to printed and near-print source material, these series include typed copies made from such sources, notes and memoranda made by Hoover and his staff, a few letters, and some miscellaneous Magnum Opus draft passages categorized by subject and not readily assignable to larger Magnum Opus versions.
    A small Correspondence series consists of letters to and from Hoover relating specifically to the composition and prospects for publication of the Magnum Opus.
    The Published Writings series consists of printed copies of writings by Hoover available elsewhere and present here because Hoover referred to them in the course of composition of the Magnum Opus. Notable in this series are the page proofs of The Problems of Lasting Peace, which Hoover co-authored with Hugh Gibson in 1942.
    There are also a small Oversize File of collected printed matter, a small Audiovisual File, and a series of Hoover's personal Financial Records.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    United States--Foreign relations--1933-1945.
    United States--Foreign relations--1945-1953.
    United States--Politics and government--1933-1945.
    World War, 1939-1945--Diplomatic history.