Published Date

May 1, 1946

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

The pamphlets bound in these two volumes represent a war-time experiment in the education of a citizen army. The story of the initiation and development of this joint enterprise of the Information and Education Division of the United States Army and the American Historical Association is familiar to those to whom these volumes go as an acknowledgment of their interest and cooperation. The files of the Historical Service Board to whom the Association transferred the execution of the program will ultimately be available to the historian. It is necessary here to recall only the outlines of the enterprise.

In August 1943 Colonel Francis T. Spaulding representing the Army under authority of his superior, General Frederick H. Osborn, sought out the Executive Secretary of the American Historical Association and laid before him the plan of a series of discussion pamphlets to be used in voluntary forums on personal and public questions that the soldiers wished to discuss. Colonel Spaulding urged the project as a public service which the American Historical Association with its reputation for scholarship and impartiality was preeminently fitted to perform. Mr. Ford indicated his interest and called a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Association on September 2 which heard General Osborn and Colonel Spaulding and approved the signing of a contract with the Army. It also authorized the appointment of a director and staff and of an advisory board of historians and other social scientists.

The advisory board became the Historical Service Board and functioned faithfully and conscientiously until the end of its task on December 31, 1945. The following served on the Board: Professor Shepard B. Clough, Columbia University; Professor Robert E. Cushman, Cornell University; Dr. Guy Stanton Ford, American Historical Association; President Dixon Ryan Fox, Union College (January 30, 1945) ; Dr. Waldo G. Leland, American Council of Learned Societies; Dr. Edwin G. Nourse, Brookings Institution; Professor J. Salwyn Schapiro, College of the City of New York; Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Harvard University; Professor Robert R. Wilson, Duke University; Dr. Donald Young, Social Science Research Council.

It was a matter of great good fortune that Dean Theodore C. Blegen of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota accepted the directorship and was released for national service by the regents of his university. Under a less capable and energetic scholar and administrator the program might easily have failed of its purpose. Dean Blegen selected as his assistant director Mr. Thomas K. Ford, editorial writer on the St. Paul (Minnesota) Dispatch and Pioneer Press, as editor Miss Sarah A. Davidson, and as assistant editor Mrs. Selma P. Larson. When Dean Blegan returned to his university duties at the end of the first year he retained an active interest as a member of the Board and Mr. Thomas Ford assumed the direction of the project while the Executive Secretary of the Association, as Acting Director, kept in constant touch with both the staff of the Board and of the Information and Education Division of the War Department.

It was not all smooth sailing. Nor was the selection of topics and authors, the editing and checking of manuscripts an absolute guarantee of prompt printing and circulation. Patience and good will ultimately overcame even the most exasperating delays. Major Donald W. Goodrich and his successor Captain H. Donald Crawford served admirably as liason officers in the Education Branch. To Major Edward Evans, on whose shoulders fell responsibility for art editing and production, belongs great credit for the attractive appearance of the booklets.

No authors’ names were attached to the pamphlets. It was so planned and sometimes a pamphlet was so thoroughly a joint project, to which the staff members contributed much, that authorship would have been hard to allocate. Fees paid to the authors were no full recompense for the effort expended. Men and women laid aside other tasks or labored many added hours in response to the call to put scholarship at the service of the citizen soldiery. In all forty-four pamphlets were printed even though the end of hostilities caught many projected pamphlets still on the ways. Anyone who considers the substance and approach of these pamphlets may well ask, Should the end of a war stop what might be an even greater service in peace?

Without assigning names to pamphlets it is fitting to close this brief memorandum with a list of those who as authors made major contributions to one or more pamphlets: Frank S. Adams, Carl W. Blegen, Blair Bolles, Phillips Bradley, Arthur H. Brayfield, Albert L. Burt, Ralph D. Casey, Dean A. Clark, Katharine G. Clark, Thomas C. Cochran, Merle Colbe, Kenneth Colegrove, Vera M. Dean, Everett E. Edwards, Mario Einaudi, Robert N. Farr, Millard C. Faught, Sheldon Glueck, Lewis Hanke, Richard H. Hart, Herbert Heaton, Dorothy C. Kahn, Felix M. Keesing, Grayson L. Kirk, Clifford Kirkpatrick, Joseph G. Knapp, Eleanor Lattimore, Robert D. Leigh, Arthur O. Lovejoy, William Miller, Horace T. Morse, Ralph O. Nafziger, Anthony Netboy, Catherine Porter, Henry Reining, Jr., Thorsten Sellin, Horace Taylor, Robert Ulich, Dixon Wecter, Ray B. Westerfield, Edmund G. Williamson, John B. Wolf, Robert L. Wolff, Winslow H. Case (art).

Will you please accept these volumes as a token of appreciation for services thus acknowledged by the American Historical Association, the Historical Service Board, and the soldiers who have testified to their interest in the pamphlets.

Guy Stanton Ford
Washington, D. C.
May 1946