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American Relief Administration European operational records
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  • Title: American Relief Administration European operational records
    Date (inclusive): 1919-1923
    Collection Number: 23001
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 853 manuscript boxes, 20 oversize boxes, 20 oversize folders, 1 microfilm reel (341.2 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, memoranda, reports, appeals, financial records, lists, and press summaries relating to American relief in Europe following World War I, and food and public health problems, economic conditions, and political and social developments, in Europe. American Relief Administration abbreviated throughout description as "ARA."
    Creator: Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
    Creator: American Relief Administration
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    Microfilm use only except Boxes 849-864 and map case items. Boxes 849, 869 and OCM7 may not be used without permission of the Archivist. Materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], American Relief Administration European operational records, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

    Alternative Form Available

    Also available on microfilm (980 reels).

    Historical Note

    (From Herbert Hoover, An American Epic,Volume III)
    "The name 'American Relief Administration' was known to hundreds of millions of people all over Europe... In order to retain the good will already created by this established organization and the continued full functioning of its staff, we decided, with this approval of the President, to set up a volunteer successor under the same name...
    On July 7, 1919, I sent a cable to our New York Office, requesting it to take the necessary steps to set up the new American Relief Administration... On July 12, they formed the new American Relief Administration, which was registered as a non-profit corporation, and elected the following officers:
    Herbert Hoover, Chairman; Directors: Alvin B. Barber, Julius H. Barnes, R. W. Boyden, Edward M Flesh, William A. Glasgow, John W. Hallowell, Howard Heinz, Vernon L. Kellogg, James A. Logan, Edgar Rickard, Alonzo E. Taylor, John B. White, and Theodore F. Whitemarsh ...
    As a second step in solution of major domestic food problems after the Peace, we had, with the President's approval, determined to continue the Food Administration Grain Corporation to carry out the guarantees... Since the new American Relief Administration would be its largest customer for the surplus arising from the guarantees, I secured the President's approval that it should act as the purchasing, transporting and accounting agency for the new organization...
    To carry out our relief work we had to assemble for Walter Brown a staff to administer the work in the various countries. I called for volunteers, and a sufficient number of our former staff agreed to make the sacrifice of further service...
    The task we had undertaken proved far greater than the single problem of children's relief in some twelve countries in Central and Eastern Europe which we had anticipated at the Peace. Originally, they had expected to end their labors with the harvest of 1920, but we were compelled to continue the children's relief in some countries until 1923. We were also compelled to find large amounts of relief for adults in these states and to undertake a huge relief for the great famine in Communist Russia...
    For an understanding of the financial resources of the new American Relief Administration, I give the amounts secured from various sources during its entire life. The final settlement of our accounts and our liquidation stretched over many years--in fact, until 1937...
    First, the official American relief agencies operating during the Armistice had on hand, at the moment Peace was signed, supplies in warehouses and cargoes en route amounting to 17,585 tons of food, medical supplies, and clothing valued at $6,625,051. The President authorized me to transfer these supplies to the American Relief Administration to complete their distribution...
    Second, the residue from the National Security and Defense Fund transferred to the new American Relief Administration by the President amounted to $1,660,573...
    Third... I have described the system by which the Grain Corporation, in providing supplies to the different countries during the Armistice, added to prices at which supplies were sold a small margin to cover losses and other contingencies. We had contracted with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that any balance in this fund should be used for general European children's relief, in which they would participate. The amount paid over to the new American Relief Administration from its inception until the end totaled $25,109,989...
    Fourth, in our official governmental relief activities during the Armistice we had set up a system of monetary remittances for Americans desiring to aid friends and relatives in Europe as an added relief. The system proved very difficult to operate... The American Relief Administration inherited the warehouses which its predecessor had established in many countries in Europe. The new method was to sell "food drafts" to individuals through American banks; the drafts, in denominations of ten to fifty dollars, could be sent by the purchaser to friends in Europe, and the food designated could be obtained from our warehouses. We also devised a "bulk draft" system whereby other American charities could obtain supplies from our warehouses when and where they needed them. The latter procedure freed them from maintaining their own purchasing and transporting facilities. The total amount of all food drafts sold was $24,302,916...
    Fifth, in 1920, we organized the American Council for the Relief of European Children, which made a public appeal for funds and received a total of $29,556,071. The American Relief Administration received $15,669,899 of this total...
    Sixth, we undertook the relief of intellectuals in Central and Eastern Europe. For these purposes, we raised $2,556,251 outside their own contributions. These funds were partially duplicated by the purchase of food drafts...
    Seventh, we joined with the Young Men's and Young Women's Christians associations in the organization of the relief of students. Their contributions, outside our own funds, were $273,244...
    Eighth, in January 1920, it was evident that certain countries--Armenia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland--could not get through the months of April, May, June, and July (prior to the harvest of 1920) without relief for adults... The Grain Corporation had earned a considerable profit from trading with Neutrals during the war... On March 30, 1920, with the support of President Wilson, I secured authorization for the Grain Corporation to sell flour to these countries from its profits, which amounted to $57,782,118...
    Ninth, on December 22, 1921, being aware that there still remained in the Grain Corporation treasury a part of its profits from trading with Neutrals, we secured authority from Congress to use this money for Russian relief. It amounted to $18,662,180...
    Tenth, on January 20, 1922, we secured authority from Congress for the War Department to furnish us surplus medical supplies for Russia and Armenia; this amounted to about $5,000,000... Although the American taxpayer was not called upon for taxes to pay for these appropriations from the Grain Corporation or the surplus medical supplies, all of which amounted to $81,444,298, these sums were, in reality, a gift...
    Eleventh, at the request of the Supreme Council, we undertook to battle the typhus epidemic which was sweeping westward from the old Russian trenches. For this purpose we had obtained anti-typhus equipment from the American, British, French, and German armies, the original cost of which was estimated by American Army officials at $60,000,000. It was not received until after the Peace. The American Army and the American State Department contributed the pay of their staff in this undertaking-amounting to at least $2,000,000...
    Twelfth, in our operations in Central and Eastern Europe, we undertook purchase, transportation, or organization for other agencies...
    Thirteenth, we took part in the relief of refugees going from Russia into Poland, Turkey, and Constantinople, for which we received a total contribution of $300,622...
    Fourteenth, we received gifts in supplies and/or in cash from many of the governments in whose countries we worked...
    The activities of the American Relief Administration extended from June 30, 1919, to the end of September, 1923. All of this involved chartering a multitude of ships and establishing financial contracts with forty governments and twelve private associations. Out of these transactions there arose a host of claims-amounts due us and claims of foreign governments for spoilage or underdelivery on contracts...
    It was indeed a tedious business, even involving appeals to the United States Supreme Court by some claimants. The burden of these settlements of the accounts of the official American Government agencies fell upon the new American Relief Administration and the Grain Corporation. We were unable to conclude all the affairs of the Government agencies and receive quittance certificates from the auditors until 1937..."
    Herbert Hoover's account picks up at the time when the term of the $100 million appropriation approved by Congress on February 25, 1919, was coming to an end. At Hoover's urging, President Wilson had established an independent American relief organization, the American Relief Administration, to manage those funds, and had appointed Hoover its director general.
    In June, as the Paris Peace Conference was drawing to a close, Hoover had already organized the delivery of over four million tons of food, clothes, and other relief supplies to twenty-two countries.
    Determined to see the ARA continue its operations, he informed the New York Office in July of his intention to have the Children's Relief Bureau--a private organization endowed by the ARA in April--become the successor of the official government agency. The new agency was to be named the American Relief Administration European Children's Fund, though the last three words in the title soon fell into disuse.

    Scope and Contents Note

    The European operational records of the American Relief Administration (abbreviated throughout as "ARA") deal mainly, as its name indicates, with relief in Europe, while operations in Russia are covered in a separate collection, the American Relief Administration Russian operational records, processed several years earlier. When it came time for the records of the European Operations to be organized, significant amounts of material relating to Russia were found, processed, and then transferred to the Russian operational records collection. Nevertheless, a few series still contain some documents related to relief activities in Russia and conditions therein.
    The bulk of the collection deals with the period 1919-1923, when the ARA was officially in existence (and officially so in Russia between 1921 and 1923), but many documents date from the year 1917 and some, like the account settlement and liquidation files of various offices, go up to 1938.
    The records of the American Relief Administration as a whole were originally divided into 15 categories. In order to ensure as much continuity as possible for the researchers who have relied on that initial arrangement, all materials found in a series remained therein, and the names of the series have, for the most part, been retained (though regrouped alphabetically), as well as a good portion of the original folder headings.
    We also kept as distinct entities the various series in the so-called "computer indexed file." Indeed, there had been an attempt in the 1960s to index all these documents, but the project never came to fruition, and they have now been processed from scratch. We have, however, retained the original distinction within each of those series between a general section and one divided into countries where relief operations took place.
    As for the original boxes labeled "Miscellany," they, as well as many other boxes unrecorded in the original series description, were brought together in a Miscellany series listed towards the end, before the newly-created oversize and art series.
    Finally, the photographs found among the manuscript material during processing were added to those previously pulled and organized, which had letter designations.
    The original series description is reproduced here in order to provide the corresponding new series titles, indicated in brackets in capital letters, along with the new box numbers:
    1. Russian Operations [cataloged separately as the American Relief Administration Russian operational records collection]
    2. FR Series (Russian Famine Relief) [transferred to American Relief Administration Russian operational records, Boxes 412-495]
    3. New York Office (Flour, Purchases, Shipping) [NEW YORK OFFICE SHIPPING RECORDS, Boxes 214-285]
    4. Paris Office [PARIS OFFICE, Boxes 286-460, and 3 boxes transferred to American Relief Administration Russian operational records, Boxes 518-520]. A previous inventory prepared for the original 163 boxes of this series is now obsolete
    5. London Office [LONDON OFFICE, Boxes 7-108, and 22 boxes transferred to American Relief Administration Russian operational records, Boxes 496-517]. A previous inventory prepared for the original 107 boxes of this series is now obsolete
    6. New York -Paris Cable File [NEW YORK OFFICE CABLE FILE, Boxes 109-180]
    7. R Sawtelle File [SAWTELLE FILE, Boxes 478-488]
    8. New York -Washington Correspondence [WASHINGTON OFFICE CORRESPONDENCE, Boxes 466-472]
    9. SS Hamburg Cable File [HAMBURG OFFICE CORRESPONDENCE, Boxes 1-6]
    10. Appreciations [APPRECIATION FILE, Boxes 473-477, and 10 boxes transferred to the American Relief Administration Russian operational records, Boxes 521-530]
    11. New York -London Cable File [NEW YORK OFFICE CORRESPONDENCE, Boxes 181-213]
    12. New York -Riga, Moscow, Vienna, Warsaw, Hamburg Cable File [RIGA OFFICE FILE, Boxes 461-465; other cities incorporated into NEW YORK OFFICE CABLE FILE, Boxes 109-180]
    13. Trustees and Executive Committee [TRUSTEES AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FILE, Boxes 489-490]
    14. Miscellany [MISCELLANY, Boxes 762-833, and 12 boxes transferred to the American Relief Administration Russian operational records, Boxes 548-559]
    15. Computer-indexed file:
    American Relief Administration (A) [GENERAL OFFICE FILE, Boxes 491-614, and 7 boxes transferred to the American Relief Administration Russian operational records,Boxes 531-537]
    European Children's Fund (AC) [EUROPEAN CHILDREN'S FUND FILE, Boxes 615-714, and 10 boxes transferred to the American Relief Administration Russian operational records,Boxes 538-547]
    European Relief Council (AR) [EUROPEAN RELIEF COUNCIL FILE, Boxes 727-740]
    European Technical Advisors (AT) [EUROPEAN TECHNICAL ADVISORS FILE, Boxes 741-744]
    American Relief Warehouses (AW) [AMERICAN RELIEF WAREHOUSES FILE, Boxes 719-726]
    U.S. Food Administration (UF) [UNITED STATES. FOOD ADMINISTRATION FILE, 745-753]
    U.S. Grain Corporation (UG) [UNITED STATES GRAIN CORPORATION FILE, Boxes 757-761]
    U.S. Signal Corps (US) [UNITED STATES. ARMY. SIGNAL CORPS FILE, Boxes 754-755]
    War Trade Board (WT) [UNITED STATES. WAR TRADE BOARD FILE, Box 756]
    Supreme Economic Council (S) [ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED POWERS (1914-1920). SUPREME ECONOMIC COUNCIL FILE, Boxes 715-717]
    Supreme War Council and Council of Ten [ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED POWERS (1914-1920). SUPREME WAR COUNCIL FILE, Box 718]

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    World War, 1914-1918 -- Civilian relief
    International relief
    Reconstruction (1914-1939) -- Europe
    Europe -- Economic conditions -- 1918-1945
    Europe -- Politics and government -- 1918-1945
    Child welfare -- Europe
    World War, 1914-1918 -- Europe