UNRRA selected records AG-018-012 : Washington DC Headquarters

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2015.246.1
  • RG-67.048M
1 Jan 1932 - 31 Dec 1949
Level of Description
  • English
  • Other languages
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

51 microfilm reels (digitized), 16 mm

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)]

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-018-012. The collection was initially filmed onto microfilms and copied through a cooperative agreement between the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Mémorial de la Shoah, France and the UN-ARMS. The USHMM Archives received the filmed collection via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum International Archival Programs Division in 2015.

Scope and Content

Selected files of the UNRRA Washington DC Headquarters: files on the European Mission, the Displaced Persons Division, the Welfare Division and Branches, history of the UNRRA; files of personnel recruitment, status, regulations, trainings, salary and causalities, decorations and awards, staff visits to Europe, China and Middle East; files on the UNESCO Staffing and Fellowship Programs, the voluntary agencies, economic recovery and educational rehabilitation, finance and administration, clothing and food collection, minutes of meetings of various Committees and UNRRA Council sessions, reports and memorandums; files on organization of the UNNRA, country agreements and other related files (organized alphabetically by the country name), chronological files of the Counsel, debates of the US Congress on Appropriation Bills, hearings reports in the US House and Senate, printed matters of the Bretton Woods Conference, 1944, and Yalta Conference, 1945; immigration law, immunities, naturalization law, the League of Nations matters, and public information: speeches, press, film, and radio programs; correspondence of the UNRRA directors: Herbert H. Lehman, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Lowell P. Rooks, Hugh Jackson, and other deputy directors; the Red Cross matters, copies of correspondence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Harry S Truman; reports to the US Congress, the UNRRA resolutions, and files of the UNRRA liquidation.

System of Arrangement

Selected records arranged in six series: 1. Executive Offices. Office of the Director-General, 1943-1949 (S-0517 and S-1533 to S-1535); 2. Office of the General Counsel. Executive Office, 1943-1949 (S-1536 to S-1538 and S-1672); 3. Office of the General Counsel. Insurance and Claims Division, 1943-1949 (S-1539 and S-1540); 4. Executive Office-Secretariat, 1943-1949 (S-1541 to S-1543); 5; Executive Office. Office of the Economic Adviser, 1943-1949 (S-1550 and S-1551); 6. Executive Offices. Office of the Diplomatic Adviser, 1943-1949 (S-1552 and S-1553).

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.