Historical Society of Pennsylvania collection of World War II papers
The World War II collection is an artificial collection of materials solicited by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania beginning in 1942. The bulk of the collection was donated by the Office of War Information (OWI), the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), and the United Serv...
|Collection:||Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection of World War II Papers|
|Subjects and Genres:|
|Online Access:||Link to finding aid|
No Tags, Be the first to tag this record!
Processing Information: The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" Project.
This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.
Prior to 2009-2011, sections of this collection were processed to different levels. Portions of the collection were numbered 1534; the USO section, which was processed more fully around 1981, was previously numbered 1614; photographs previously in the V4 series were also added to the collection.
Materials Separated from the Resource: Blueprints of a building for Federal Cigar Company (architects: Nimmons and Fellows, Chicago), dated 1906, have been removed from the collection. The container is labeled "Plans of building #4, 12th & Washington Ave., August 10, 1950" and had been placed in the USO/Labor Plaza section of the collection, although there is no evidence that the Labor Plaza nor any other USO club was at that location. The old finding aid (circa 1981) says of the blueprints, "relationship to the USO Collection is obscure."
46.0 Linear feet 97 boxes; 38 volumes
Most of this collection is open for research use. However, box 43 folder 3 and box 97 folder 1 (USO of Philadelphia, "Employee payroll records" and "South Broad Street Club. Payroll ledgers") are restricted until 2030. Please contact the Archives for additional information.
The World War II collection is an artificial collection of materials solicited by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania beginning in 1942. The bulk of the collection was donated by the Office of War Information (OWI), the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), and the United Service Organization (USO) of Philadelphia. Smaller deposits were made by other community organizations and volunteers such as Mrs. Weber, a member of St. Mark's church who corresponded with servicemen. This collection, the bulk of which dates from 1938 to 1948, consists of press releases, administrative records, correspondence, financial records, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, posters, and ephemera.
The collection is organized into seven series: "Office of War Information, 1941-1943," "Committee to Defend America, 1940-1942," "United Service Organization (USO) of Philadelphia, 1940-1948," "Volunteer, government and community organizations, 1920-1947," "Photographs and newspaper clippings, 1941-1948," "Mrs. Weber's letters, 1943-1945," and "The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, War History Committee, 1942-1981."
The first series, "Office of War Information, 1941-1943," consists of two subseries: "Press releases, 1941-1943" and "Speeches, 1941-1943." The press releases subseries includes a mix of articles, reports, posters and pamphlets on numerous commodities, resources, products and industries. More specifically, the papers here are final reports that were released to the media by the OWI on everything from antifreeze to plastics, coal to clothing, as well as topics like absenteeism, sabotage and governmental departments. Rather than being a true archive of the OWI, this is a collection only of its public productions. It is organized alphabetically by subject or sponsoring agency/office/department. The speeches subseries covers similar topics, and is organized alphabetically by speaker.
The second series, "Committee to Defend America, 1940-1942," consists of correspondence, pamphlets, press releases, posters and ephemera from Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies and the Fight for Freedom Committee. Much of the collection is correspondence. The series is organized alphabetically by subject.
The third series, "United Service Organization (USO) of Philadelphia, 1940-1948" consists of five subseries. The largest subseries, "General administrative records, 1941-1948," includes financial records, internal memos and reports from the constituent agencies and affiliated clubs of the Philadelphia USO. "General administrative records" comprises material from the central USO body and is further subdivided into five sub-subseries: "Council, 1941-1947," is primarily financial records, legal documents, meeting minutes and correspondence; "Committee records, 1941-1948," comprises records from committees such as the Budget Committee, Publicity Committee and Women's Committee; "Agency activity reports, 1941-1948" contains reports submitted to the central USO body from constituent agencies and affiliated clubs regarding attendance and budget requests; "Correspondence, 1941-1948" is arranged alphabetically by subject; "Subject files, 1941-1948" contains mixed materials and is arranged alphabetically by subject. The second subseries is "Publications, 1941-1948." It includes press releases, pamphlets, newsletters, and flyers such as "On Leave," published weekly by the USO of Philadelphia to advertise events and activities for servicemen in the city. The third subseries, "Labor Plaza, 1943-1948," includes administrative records, correspondence, and ephemera. The fourth subseries, "Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), 1940-1948," contains materials related to JWB administration and servicemen clubs run by the JWB. The fifth subseries, "Stage Door Canteen, 1942-1948," contains administrative materials and ephemera, including signed guest books. Photographs from the Stage Door Canteen were removed to the fifth series, "Photographs and clippings."
The fourth series, "Volunteer, government and community organizations, 1920-1947" consists of correspondence, pamphlets, press releases, and posters presented by volunteer and community organizations. Included are: America First Committee, the American Palestine Committee, Fellowship House of Philadelphia, the American Friends Service Committee, and Friends of the Spanish Republic. Government organizations include a mix of local and federal organizations: the Office of Price Administration, School District of Philadelphia, and Office of Defense Transportation.
The fifth series, "Photographs and newspaper clippings, 1941-1948," is divided into five subseries. The first subseries, "War worker rallies, 1943-1945," consists mostly of photographs with scattered newspaper clippings related to rallies held at various industrial plants in Philadelphia. The folders are arranged alphabetically by company name. The second subseries, "United Service Organization of Philadelphia/Stage Door Canteen, circa 1942-1948," consists entirely of photographs. Most are candid shots of servicemen and entertainers taken inside Stage Door Canteen, but there are also press shots from the Philadelphia USO taken at fundraisers and events. The bulk of the newspaper clippings in the third subseries, "Clippings, 1941-1945," are related to war worker rallies such as those photographed in the first subseries. The fourth subseries, "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), 1944-1945," contains photographs of the women who participated in that federally sponsored program at work in factories. The fifth subseries, "Scrapbooks, 1940-1947," consists of scrapbooks related to the USO of Philadelphia, the Stage Door Canteen, the Committee to Defend America, and the Service Women's Club.
The sixth series, "Mrs. Weber's letters, 1943-1945," contains letters from servicemen to Mrs. Weber. During the course of World War II, Mrs. Weber, a member of St. Mark's Church, corresponded with over 76 Philadelphia servicemen lonely for a voice from their home town. The letters are arranged alphabetically by sender.
The final series, "The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, War History Committee, 1942-1981," contains correspondence between the War History Committee and prospective donors of World War II materials. There is also a folder with letters from an individual processing the collection in 1981, and photographs of Bob Hope.
Overall, this collection is a miscellaneous and uneven group of papers. The OWI series is extensive but consists only of publicly released materials. The CDA series contains correspondence and administrative documents but is not as extensive. The USO series is uneven. The Philadelphia USO and the Stage Door Canteen it administered are well represented in internal documentation as well as published materials, but the constituent agencies and other clubs are underrepresented. Many of these materials may be replicated elsewhere or available from government archives, but this collection is uniquely Philadelphian.
In late 1942, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania solicited materials to form an artificial collection to document the war effort of a number of community and social service agencies in Philadelphia. The bulk of the material donated came from the Office of War Information, the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, and the United Service Organization of Philadelphia. Smaller donations were made by other community organizations and volunteers such as Mrs. Weber, a member of St. Mark's church who corresponded with servicemen. The collection, which dates from 1938 to 1948, consists of press releases, administrative records, correspondence, financial records, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, posters, and ephemera.