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Guide to the James S. Beddie Papers
Bernath Mss 4  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Related Material
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James S. Beddie Papers
    Dates: 1794-1975
    Collection number: Bernath Mss 4
    Creator: Beddie, James Stuart, 1902-
    Collection Size: 3.2 linear feet (8 boxes).
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: Includes various State Department records, e.g. material on the German War Documents Project (post-WWII), from an American scholar and Foreign Service Officer who spent his last years in Santa Barbara.
    Physical location: SRLF.
    Languages: English, German

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is stored off-site. Advance notice is required for retrieval.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    James S. Beddie Papers. Bernath Mss 4. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by James S. Beddie, 1971.


    Much of the following information is drawn from James Stuart Beddie, A Family History (Goleta, California, ca. 1986):
    James Stuart Beddie was born on July 29, 1902 in St. Paul Minnesota. His father, James, was a recent immigrant from Scotland who after first settling in Canada relocated to St. Paul where he worked in an administrative capacity for the railroad industry. Beddie's mother, Annette, was the daughter of a Swedish farm family that migrated to Minnesota in the 1860s. She worked as a dressmaker prior to marriage. A second child, William, was born in 1904. James Beddie received his earliest education at home under the tutelage of his father, but following a bout with scarlet fever, he entered the local public school system. After the death of Annette Beddie in 1910, other family members moved into the Beddie household in order to create a stable home life and Beddie and his younger brother continued with their education in St. Paul schools.
    Following his graduation from high school in 1918, Beddie entered Macalester College, located only a few blocks from his home, where his course of studies centered on history, English, and classical languages. In 1920, he transferred to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis where he commuted via streetcar. At the University, Beddie pursued his studies which continued to emphasize Latin and Greek authors while adding a number of classes from various fields of history. He also began training with the ROTC program on campus. Beddie graduated in 1922 and, due in part to a lack of any imminent job prospects, returned to the University in the hope of pursuing his Master's degree. After a year away from academics spent teaching high school English and Latin in Parkston, South Dakota, he was delighted to learn of his acceptance to Harvard to continue his graduate work in history. At Harvard, he followed a program centered on history, the classics, and for the first time, German language instruction which was to prove to be so valuable to his later career. In 1928, Beddie received his doctorate in medieval history with the acceptance of his dissertation entitled Libraries in the Twelfth Century: Their Catalogs and Contents.
    Beddie began his academic teaching career as a professor of history at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa. He later accepted a post at North Dakota State Teachers College in Minot. In March of 1931, Beddie received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in order to travel and undertake research in Europe in the area of medieval libraries and their catalogs. In that same year he married Floy Klein, an English professor whom he had met at Upper Iowa University. It was during this period of research and travel in Europe, principally Germany, that he began to focus on modern diplomatic and political history. Following his return from Europe to a nation still feeling the affects of the Depression, Beddie accepted several temporary academic appointments at small colleges. In 1936 he received notification of an appointment as an associate in historical research for the U.S. Department of State's Research and Publication Division. This was to be the beginning of over a quarter of a century of government service for Beddie.
    At the State Department Beddie performed various research and editing tasks, including a part in the production of Foreign Relations of the United States, a series of published reports on U.S. diplomatic policy. Events in 1930s Europe also promoted the publication of the documents pertaining to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, a project with which Beddie was also involved. The outbreak of war further enlarged the nature and scope of Beddie's assignments. In 1942, he took an even more active role in the war effort when he joined the Office of Naval Intelligence. He served in various posts in Washington, D.C., England, and occupied Germany. His assignments included aspects of research, translation and intelligence briefing.
    At the end of the war, Beddie returned to the State Department where he played key roles in the several post-war projects with which his name is most often associated. These were as co-editor (with Raymond James Sontag) of Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1939-1941 (published in 1948 by the State Department); and later, following his appointment as a Foreign Service officer in 1955, as American liaison to the German Document Project at Whaddon Hall in England 1956-1958. Beddie later served as director of the Berlin Document Center in Germany from 1959-1962. During this time period, Beddie also took a year's leave of absence from the State Department to travel to Sweden and Norway with his family, where he studied Swedish and Norwegian language, culture, history, government and politics at the Universities of Stockholm and Oslo. Prior to resuming his work on the German War Documents Project, Beddie prepared the annual report of the United States to the United Nations on "Human Rights in the United States in 1951." This was published by the State Department in 1953.
    Nazi-Soviet Relations, composed of captured German documents, was seen as an early salvo in the ideological battles of the Cold War. Both Secretary of State George Marshall and George Kennan, head of policy planning in the State Department, approved the rather early release and publication of the material. Publication was also a boon to diplomatic historians who often had to wait years longer for the official, larger scale government compilations of documents to be released. The publication received extensive media attention in the U.S. and abroad as well as a swift denunciation in the Soviet Union which issued a rejoinder entitled Falsification of History - An Historical Note. At Whaddon Hall, Beddie assisted in the editing and publication of multi-volume set of German diplomatic documents published jointly by the American and British governments under the title: Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945.
    Beddie's tenure at the Berlin Document Center was perhaps the highlight of his Foreign Service career. The Berlin Document Center (BDC) was in Beddie's words: "the not very informative name given to the huge archival collection operated by the United States government in West Berlin, and containing much of the captured German documentary material related to the activities of the Nazi party. The documents assembled in the BDC constitute a collection of archives, each with a separate past history and each connected with the other in that they all relate to the party or some of its activities, and all were either captured by the Americans in the closing days of World War II or came into American hands at a later date." Beddie's predecessor had noted that the skills needed by the director were those of: the archivist, the analyst, the librarian, the investigator, the file supervisor, the administrator, the interrogator, the political advisor, and the diplomat. Fortunately, Beddie's abilities proved to be up to the task.
    The contents of the archive were enormous and, when Beddie inherited the job, in considerable disarray. Material included some ten million names from the Nazi party membership files, some sixty thousand personnel files of SS officers, including the "racial" records of SS members who were married or seeking to marry; party correspondence, citizenship documentation, party census information and material from the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court) relating to charges and verdicts in special treason trials from the Nazi era. The last includes the papers pertaining to the famous White Rose resistance group.
    Archival material from the BDC was used extensively in providing evidence during the Nürnberg trials following the war and in later court actions undertaken by the German government to prosecute those accused of war crimes during the Nazi era. In one famous case, the last commandant of Auschwitz, living in hiding, was identified in part by comparison of his handwriting with that on the records held at the BDC. Scholars also have made use of the documents in the BDC for numerous works on the history of Nazi Germany. Fuller, more detailed accounts of the BDC are contained in Beddie's autobiography and, more succinctly, in Captured German and Related Records: A National Archives Conference, a copy of which is in Box 6, folder 4 of the collection.
    Faced with the approach of the mandatory retirement age for government employees, Beddie left the Foreign Service in May of 1962. He returned to teaching, holding positions at Iowa Wesleyan, Westminster College (Pa.), and Fort Lewis State College (Durango, Co.) between the years 1963-1968.
    In 1968 Beddie and his wife retired to Santa Barbara, California, eventually making their home in the Goleta area. In the fall of that year, Beddie participated in the National Archives Conference on Captured German Documents held in Washington D.C. Beddie maintained a life-long interest in the study of history. He belonged to a number of organizations, among them the Minnesota Historical Society, the Friends of the Goleta Library, where he served as president, the Mediaeval Academy of America, the American Historical Association, and was a contributor to the publications of the latter two. He also wrote his autobiography, cited above. James S. Beddie died on October 23, 1988 in Santa Barbara, California.

    Scope and Content of Collection


    The James S. Beddie Papers contain the following series:
    • Personal (Box 1). Biographical information, family documents, degrees/certificates, and correspondence, including the earliest material in the collection.
    • Chronological Files (Boxes 1-2). Primarily State Department memoranda and correspondence, 1923-1956.
    • Military Service (Box 2). Mainly correspondence, documents, and published material regarding Beddie's service in the U.S. Army and Navy, 1942-1957.
    • Whaddon Hall (Boxes 2-3). Correspondence and reports, mainly concerning transfer of the German Archives back to West Germany, 1955-1958.
    • Berlin Document Center (BDC) (Boxes 3-5). The core of the collection, this series includes unclassified correspondence, memoranda, and reports, as well as background files relating to the history of the BDC and numerous indexes/catalogs of documents in the BDC. Beddie was Director of the BDC, 1959-1962.
    • Academic/Teaching Posts (Box 5). Small amount of correspondence and other material relating to Beddie's activities 1963-1968, after he had left the BDC.
    • National Archives Conference on Captured German Documents (Box 6). Includes copy of a paper on the BDC delivered by Beddie, and transcripts of sessions at the conference held in Washington, DC, 1968.
    • Writings by Beddie (Boxes 6-7). Includes articles and reviews, a copy of the Beddie's paper for the National Archives Conference, contributions to the Department of State Bulletin, and a copy of Beddie's dissertation Libraries in the XIIth Century.
    • Printed Material (Box 7). Mostly relating to diplomacy and foreign relations, including some German material, ca. 1919-1932
    • Photographs (Box 8). Black and white photographs of Germany, ca. WWII, and a photo album entitled "Berlin: Every-Day Life at the Wall," ca. 1959-1962.

    Related Material

    Beddie, James Stuart. A Family History (Goleta, California, ca. 1986).
    Captured German and Related Records: A National Archives Conference, edited by Robert Wolfe (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1974).
    National Archives. Berlin Document Center Records. Many series are available on microfilm from Scholarly Resources.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Beddie, James Stuart, 1902- -- Archives.
    United States. Dept. of State -- Officials and employees.
    Berlin Document Center.