Scope and Contents Note
Title: American Relief Administration. European Operations Records,
Date (inclusive): 1919-1923
Collection number: 23001
American Relief Administration. European Operations
849 manuscript boxes, 17 oversize boxes, 7 oversize folders(347 linear feet)
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
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 will be abbreviated throughout description as "ARA"
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
Microfilm use only.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
Alternative Form Available
Also available on microfilm (980 reels).
[Identification of item], American Relief Administration. European Operations Records,
[Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.
World War, 1914-1918.
World War, 1914-1918--Civilian relief.
World War, 1914-1918--Europe.
Europe-Politics and government--1918-1945.
United States-Foreign relations.
(from Herbert Hoover,
An American Epic,
"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.
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
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
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
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
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 records of the European Operations of the American Relief Administration 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 Operations, 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 Operations 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
1. Russian Operations [cataloged separately as the American Relief
Administration. Russian Operations collection]
2. FR Series (Russian Famine Relief) [transferred to American Relief
Administration. Russian Operations, Boxes 412-495]
3. New York Office (Flour, Purchases, Shipping) [NEW YORK OFFICE SHIPPING RECORDS,
4. Paris Office [PARIS OFFICE, Boxes 286-460, and 3 boxes transferred to
American Relief Administration. Russian Operations, Boxes 518-520]. A
previous inventory prepared for the original 163 boxes of this series is now
5. London Office [LONDON OFFICE, Boxes 7-108, and 22 boxes transferred to
American Relief Administration. Russian Operations, 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
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 Operations, 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
14. Miscellany [MISCELLANY, Boxes 762-833, and 12 boxes transferred to the American
Relief Administration. Russian Operations, 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 Operations,Boxes 531-537]
European Children's Fund (AC) [EUROPEAN CHILDREN'S FUND, Boxes 615-714, and 10 boxes
transferred to the American Relief Administration. Russian Operations,Boxes 538-547]
European Relief Council (AR) [EUROPEAN RELIEF COUNCIL, Boxes 727-740]
European Technical Advisors (AT) [EUROPEAN TECHNICAL ADVISORS, Boxes 741-744]
American Relief Warehouses (AW) [AMERICAN RELIEF WAREHOUSES, Boxes 719-726]
U.S. Food Administration (UF) [UNITED STATES. FOOD ADMINISTRATION, 745-753]
U.S. Grain Corporation (UG) [UNITED STATES GRAIN CORPORATION, Boxes 757-761]
U.S. Signal Corps (US) [UNITED STATES. ARMY. SIGNAL CORPS, Boxes 754-755]
War Trade Board (WT) [UNITED STATES. WAR TRADE BOARD, Box 756]
Supreme Economic Council (S) [ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED POWERS (1914-1920). SUPREME ECONOMIC
COUNCIL, Boxes 715-717]
Supreme War Council and Council of Ten [ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED POWERS (1914-1920). SUPREME
WAR COUNCIL, Box 718]