UNRRA selected records AG-018-013 : Bureau of Services

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2018.78.1
  • RG-67.068
1 Jan 1943 - 31 Dec 1948
Level of Description
  • English
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

149,349 digital images, JPEG


Biographical History

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was an international relief agency representing 44 nations, but largely dominated by the United States. Founded in 1943, it became part of the United Nations (UN) in 1945, and it largely shut down operations in 1947. Its purpose was to "plan, co-ordinate, administer or arrange for the administration of measures for the relief of victims of war in any area under the control of any of the United Nations through the provision of food, fuel, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities, medical and other essential services." Its staff of civil servants included 12,000 people, with headquarters in New York. Funding came from many nations, and totaled $3.7 billion, of which the United States contributed $2.7 billion; Britain $625 million and Canada $139 million. The Administration of UNRRA at the peak of operations in mid-1946 included five types of offices and missions with a staff totaling nearly 25,000: The Headquarters Office in Washington, The European Regional Office (London), the 29 servicing offices and missions (2 area offices in Cairo and Sydney; 10 liaison offices and missions in Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Trieste; 12 procurement offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and later Peru, Cuba, India, Mexico, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela; 6 offices for procurement of surplus military supplies in Caserta and later Rome, Honolulu, Manila, New Delhi, Paris, Shanghai), the sixteen missions to receiving countries (Albania, Austria, Byelorussia, China, Czechoslovakia, the Dodecanese Islands, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Korea, the Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia), and the Displaced Persons Operations in Germany. UNRRA cooperated closely with dozens of volunteer charitable organizations, who sent hundreds of their own agencies to work alongside UNRRA. In operation only three years, the agency distributed about $4 billion worth of goods, food, medicine, tools, and farm implements at a time of severe global shortages and worldwide transportation difficulties. The recipient nations had been especially hard hit by starvation, dislocation, and political chaos. It played a major role in helping Displaced Persons return to their home countries in Europe in 1945-46. Its UN functions were transferred to several UN agencies, including the International Refugee Organization and the World Health Organization. As an American relief agency, it was largely replaced by the Marshall Plan, which began operations in 1948. [Source: UN Original finding aid of records of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)]

UNRRA Bureau of Services. The Divisions of Welfare, Health, and Displaced Persons were first organized in Feb. 1944. On 3 May 1945 these functional Divisions, originally responsible directly to the Director General, were combined to form the new Bureau of Services. At the same time the functions of the Camps Division of the Bureau of Areas were transferred to the Displaced Persons Division and the Welfare Division in ERO was abolished. On 13 April 1946, the Welfare Division merged with the Displaced Persons Division to form the Division of Repatriation and Welfare. There was also established on this date the Office for Voluntary and International Agency Liaison (OVIAL), to consolidate the several units in UNRRA dealing with such agencies. In the process of its organization, the Organized Groups Section of the Office of Public Information and certain functions of the Group and Organization Branch of the Contributed Supplies Division were transferred to OVIAL. In Sept. 1946 the Division of Repatriation and Welfare was shorn of its welfare functions and became the Division of Repatriation. At various times, the functions of the Bureau of Services included the following: -Provided the basic necessities of life during emergency periods, including temporary mass feeding, temporary shelter, and direct distribution of supplies. - Ensured simple and fair procedures for determining which individuals and families were entitled to receive free supplies and services; ensured that the methods of distribution provided ready access to the supplies and services for all those who were entitled to receive them. - Organized special relief and rehabilitational services for individuals, families or groups who required particular types of assistance. - Reviewed requests for and made recommendations concerning supplies, equipment, and other facilities needed to carry out the functions listed above. - Coordinated and regulated the activities of voluntary organizations interested in carrying out relief and rehabilitation programmes overseas, in so far as these responsibilities had been delegated to the Administration by member governments. - Reviewed camp management operations and provided technical advice on management of camps; determined supply requirements of camps and policies affecting camps. - Arranged for the identification and registration of displaced persons, and for their care and repatriation or return to place of former residence. [Source: United Nations. Archives and Records Management Section]

Archival History

United Nations Archives and Records Management Section


Source of acquisition is the United Nations Archives and Records Management Section (UN-ARMS), UNRRA records AG-018-013. The collection was digitized through a cooperative agreement between the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Mémorial de la Shoah, France and the UN-ARMS. The USHMM Archives received copied collection via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum International Archival Programs Division in March 2018, and accretion in March 2019.

Scope and Content

Consist of correspondence, trainning materials, statistics, memorandums, reports of operations, newspapers in DP camps. Records relete to repatriation, welfare services, trainings and education, health of displaced persons, cooperation with the international organizations, health services for military, immigration of European children to USA, and matters of Jewish and other refugees.

System of Arrangement

Selected records arranged in six sub-series: 1. Executive Office, 1943-1948 [Selection of files: S-1248 to S-1249]; 2. Division of Repatriation and Welfare, 1943-1948 [Selection of files: S-1252 to S-1258]; 3. Displaced Persons Division, 1943-1948 [Selection of files: S-1259 to S-1262]; 4. Camps Division and the Bureau of Areas, 1943-1948 [Selection of files: S-1263 and S-1264]; 5. Office of Voluntary and International Agency Liaison OVIAL, 1943-1948 [Selection of files: S-1265 to S-1270]; 6. Health Services, 1943-1948 [Selection of files: S-1271 to S-1273]. Note: See the finding aid of detail arrangement of selected files.

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Copyright Holder: United Nations Archives and Records Management Section

Corporate Bodies



This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.