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United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration records, 1943-1949 

Creator: 
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
Phys. Desc: 
103 microfilm reels (103 microfilm reels)
Location: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was created at a 44-nation conference at the White House on November 9, 1943 to confront the massive task of global reconstruction during and after World War II. Initially created as an arm of the United Nations, the name for the allied coalition fighting the Axis powers, it would eventually be subsumed under the heading of the international organization created in 1945 of the same name. UNNRA was headed until 1946 by Herbert H. Lehman, a former governor of the state of New York and head of the U. S. State Department's Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations (OFRRO). Subsequent directors would include Fiorello LaGuardia and Major General Lowell Ward. Subject to the authority of the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) in Europe, UNRRAs activities were global and involved a vast array of activities. These encompassed immediate relief for populations affected by war as well as aid for the recovery of agriculture industry and social services. These activities were not limited just to countries that had been battlegrounds, as numerous countries received aid simply to deal with the widespread dislocation created by war. UNRRA was also active in the massive repatriations of millions of displaced persons that characterized the war years and immediate aftermath. However, all of UNRRAs programs were not directly related to recovery from war. In many areas, particularly China, UNRRA programs were not only aimed a promoting recovery but economic, social, and political development over and above pre-war conditions. In this respect UNRRA became an example to many at the time for the efforts at modernization that were taking shape in the postwar world. Overall UNRRA was popular internationally. However within the United States, by far the largest donor to the program, there was increasing concern after the war that the country was carrying too great of a burden. Accordingly the United States allowed the mandate of UNRRA to expire on schedule in 1947. While this was a disappointment to many, aspects of UNRRAs programs were taken over by the new United Nations and its specialized agencies, particularly the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the International Refugee Organization (IRO) which inherited the care of 643,000 displaced persons in 1948.

Scope and Contents

The reports and correspondence relating to UNRRA were arranged according to the nine administrative divisions of that organization that generated the documents: Bureau of Administration (26 reels); Office of the Diplomatic Adviser (4 reels); Office of the Director General (20 reels); Office of the Economic Adviser (4 reels); Office of Far Eastern Affairs (9 reels); Office of the General Counsel (19 reels); Office of the Historian (16 reels); Office of Public Information (1 reel); and Secretariat Executive Office (3 reels). Within each division, subsidiary bodies are typically separated into subject and country files. The UNRRA papers are of primary importance to the study of the early years of the United Nations, United States foreign policy, and to the history of wartime and postwar relief and refugee initiatives in the 1940s. These reels are a secondary resource for the study of conditions in particular regions of the world (Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Soviet Union, China, Southeast Asia) as well as the expansion of bureaucratic structures (state and non-governmental, military and non-military) in the twentieth century. Selected Glossary of Acronyms AJDC -- American Joint Distribution Committee APWR -- American Polish War Relief AFHQ -- Allied Force Headquarters AML -- Allied Military Lira AMOMO -- Agricultural Machinery Operations and Management Office (China) ASPO -- Administration Surplus Property Office BOTRA -- Board of Trustees for Rehabilitation Affairs (China) CARE -- Cooperation for American Remittance to Europe CNRRA -- Chinese National Relief and Rehabilitation Administration CTP -- China Tractor Program DP -- Displaced Person ECITO -- European Central Inland Transport Organization ERO -- European Regional Office EUCOM -- European Command FEA -- Foreign Economic Administration HAO -- Home Accounting Office HIAS -- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society IEFC -- International Emergency Food Committee IGCR -- Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees IRO -- International Refugee Organization JAFP -- Jewish Agency for Palestine JCRA -- Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad MERRA -- Middle East Relief and Rehabilitation Administration NARC -- North African Refugee Center NCWC -- National Catholic Welfare Conference OFLC -- Office of Foreign Liquidation Commission OFRRO -- Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations SACMED -- Supreme Allied Command Mediterranean Theater SHAEF -- Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force SLAO -- Supplies to Liberated and Conquered Areas, Official Committee SWPAO -- South West Pacific Areas Office USFET -- U.S. Forces, European Theater USPHS -- United States Public Health Service WHO -- World Health Organization