Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Ethan Theodore Colton papers
Date (bulk): 1918-1935
Collection Number: XX380
Creator: Colton, Ethan Theodore, 1872-
9 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box
3.6 linear feet)
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: The papers consist of correspondence, reports, writings, translations, and clippings, relating to European Student Relief
activities in Russia and other European countries, 1920-1925; and to social conditions, the educational system, and the status
of religion in Russia in the 1920s and 1930s. Includes the memoirs of E. T. Colton and 13 anti-religious Soviet posters. All
material is from 1917-1935, except for Colton's 1952 memoirs.
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
Language of Material: There are a few records in French, Czech, German, and some printed material in Russian and Polish
Collection is open for research.
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[Identification of item], Ethan Theodore Colton papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives
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 Socrates at
. Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in Socrates is larger than the number of boxes
listed in this finding aid.
Darius Alton Davis papers, Hoover Institution Archives
Russell McCulloch Story Papers, Hoover Institution Archives
American Relief Administration. European Operations Records, Hoover Institution Archives
American Relief Administration. Russian Operations Records, Hoover Institution Archives
Young Men's Christian Associations Collection, Hoover Institution Archives
American National Red Cross records, Hoover Institution Archives
Roy Ross Clark papers, Hoover Institution Archives
||Born, Palmyra, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
||Enters Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, South Dakota; becomes active in campus YMCA and Mitchell Epworth League
||Graduates from Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, South Dakota
||Staff member with Student Young Men's Christian Associations (YMCA)
||Works for YMCA to build local Associations' support for YMCA World Service
||Administers European Student Relief (ESR) aid services in Russia and Siberia and to Russian émigrés in Europe; serves as YMCA
liaison to American Relief Administration (ARA)
||ESR conference at Turnov, Czechoslovakia
||Arrives back in New York from field work in Europe
|by 1923 to at least 1924
||Works from Student Friendship office, 341 Madison Avenue, New York, NY
||ARA programs conclude
||ESR programs conclude (See Box 6)
||Executive secretary, YMCA World Services
|by 1925 to at least 1932
||YMCA Press correspondence is directed to Colton at 341 Madison Avenue, New York, NY
||Resident of Upper Montclair, New Jersey
The X Y Z of Communism (New York, Macmillan Company), a response to Bukarin and Preobrazhensky's
The A B C of Communism (1921)
||Retires from YMCA World Services executive secretary position at age 60, per YMCA requirement; continues YMCA committee work
||Annual lecture tours, writes books
Four Patterns of Revolution; Communist U.S.S.R., Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, New Deal America (New York, [YMCA] Association Press)
Forty Years with Russians (New York, Association Press), forward by John R. Mott
||Executive director, YMCA War Prisoners? Aid Services in United States
Toward the Understanding of Europe (New York, Association Press)
Memoirs of Ethan T. Colton, Sr., 1872-1952, self-published
The Russia We Face Now (Washington, D.C.: The Public Affairs Institute)
European Student Relief program (ESR) was instituted in 1918 as a complement to the US-government-funded
American Relief Administration (ARA) program, to provide European students, and later professors and technical workers, with food, clothing, and shoes,
and sometimes medical services, tuition aid, and textbooks, and other support for intellectual work. ESR relief work pursued
a limited scope, focusing on university-affiliated populations to support the reconstruction of war-torn Europe, and to build
goodwill between students in Europe and the U.S.
Colton's papers reflect the complicated organizational relationships in the administration of the American Section of ESR
(also known as ASESR). According to histories of the YMCA, the European Student Relief program was inaugurated by the
World's Student Christian Federation (WSCF), a Geneva-based organization founded in 1895 as a trans-national complement to the YMCA. WSCF founding general secretary
John R. Mott served as general secretary throughout the ESR period, while simultaneously serving as the general secretary
of the YMCA from 1915-1928, and from 1926-1937 as president of the YMCA's World Committee and the general secretary of President
Wilson's National War Work Council. While ESR was a program of the WSCF, in the public ESR was frequently conflated with the
ARA, and in ESR reports Colton is sometimes identified as a member of the staff of ARA Director General Colonel Haskell.
Documents in Colton's papers describe ESR's mission, organizational structure, personnel, and mode of operation (Box 2), and
note a Russian expulsion of the YMCA in 1918 (Box 1).
In supporting ESR work to build goodwill between students in the United States and war-torn Europe, the WSCF created a
Student Friendship Fund (SFF), which conducted publicity and fundraising work in the US, provided grassroots fundraising strategies and materials
to college students and Christian youth organizations, and collected donations of cash as well as second-hand clothing and
shoes for ESR to distribute in Europe.
Colton, Ethan Theodore,
Forty Years with Russians, New York, Association Press, 1940; especially pages 128, 132, and 161 on YMCA Press
Hopkins, C. Howard,
History of the Y. M. C. A. in North America, New York: Association Press, 1951; especially page 687
Nobel Foundation, "John R. Mott: The Nobel Peace Prize 1946," "Biography" and "Presentation Speech," 1946, [viewed 2010 January
26] http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1946/mott-bio.html ; http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1946/press.html
The World's Student Christian Federation: A History of the First Thirty Years, London: S. C. M. Press Ltd., 1948, especially pages 55, 79
Shedd, Clarence P.,
Two Centuries of Student Christian Movements: Their Origin and Intercollegiate Life, New York: Association Press, 1934
Shedd, Clarence Prouty, "and other contributors,"
History of the World's Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations, London: S.P.C.K., for the World's Committee of Young Men's Christian Associations, 1955; especially pages 355-6, 353, 472,
565, 674, 701
Stuer, Kenneth, "'For the Millions of Men Now Under Arms': American YMCA Prisoner-of-War Diplomacy in Western Europe," chapter
Pursuit of an 'Unparalleled Opportunity,' New York: Columbia University Press, 2008, [viewed 2010 January 12] http://www.gutenberg-e.org/steuer/
Scope and Content of Collection
The Ethan T. Colton papers in the Hoover Institution Archives consist of correspondence, reports, writings, translations,
and clippings, relating to European Student Relief activities in Russia and other European countries, 1920-1925; and to social
conditions, the educational system, and the status of religion in Russia in the 1920s and 1930s. Includes the memoirs of E.
T. Colton and 13 anti-religious Soviet posters. Except for Colton's 1952 memoirs, all material is from 1917 to 1935.
Colton spent his whole career with the Young Men's Christian Association. His early work to build local Associations' support
for the YMCA's World Service, or Overseas Division, was followed by his assignment to executive administration of the European
Student Relief program.
Colton's papers offer particularly vivid qualitative and quantitative data on conditions for civilians in university areas
throughout Europe following World War I, and U.S. and international food and clothing aid. The ESR reports were often in the
form of letters from ESR staff, and are rich with first-person accounts of conditions aid workers found in recipient countries
throughout Europe after World War I, and particularly Russia and Siberia in the wake of the Russian Civil War and subsequent
famine in Russia.
The documents exhibit the range of data and synthesis required for administering a large aid operation, assessing needs and
program effectiveness, and conducting publicity and securing donations to sustain or expand and improve the relief efforts.
The material also provides perspective on transition of government-administered operations to private non-governmental organizations.
After the ESR program concluded in 1925, Colton continued with YMCA Overseas work on behalf of Russian émigrés, and maintained
a focus on Russia and communism. Colton's papers reflect his collecting data, writing, and speaking about the practical impacts
of Soviet government policies; communist outreach to youth; the relation of communism to religion; the Russian Orthodox Church,
and Russian Orthodox religious figures under Soviet rule and official atheism. Some ESR reports and correspondence bear annotations
related to this later work.
Except for Colton's memoirs, his papers at the Hoover Institution Archives contain no material related to his post-retirement
reactivation as executive director of the YMCA War Prisoners' Aid Services in the United States during World War II.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
European Student Relief.
Student Friendship Fund.
Young Men's Christian associations.
Education Soviet Union.
Soviet Union--History Revolution, 1917-1921--Civilian relief.
Soviet Union--Social conditions.
World War, 1914-1918--Refugees.
World War, 1914-1918--Europe.