Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Online Sources on the New Deal

[Legal historians of taxation and immigration rejoice: the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library has just put on line the digitized Morgenthau Diaries and Press Conferences and the records of the War Refuge Board.  From the press release:]

FDR and Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
The Morgenthau Diaries and Press Conferences are some of the most unique resources in the Roosevelt Library. No other Cabinet official kept as complete a record of his official activities and his relationship to the President than Henry Morgenthau, Jr. During Morgenthau's nearly 12 years as FDR's Secretary of the Treasury, he compiled more than 860 diary volumes. These are not your typical diaries. Rather, they are Morgenthau's daily record of his official activities, including transcripts of his meetings and telephone conversations as well as copies and originals of the most important correspondence and memoranda that passed over his desk. These diaries were then expertly indexed by Morgenthau's trusted secretary, Henrietta Klotz.

Morgenthau also maintained a private "Presidential Diary." These diaries contain memoranda of his meetings with FDR, recollections of Cabinet meetings, and handwritten notes or chits passed between the two men. They provide a unique window into the personal and professional relationship of FDR and Morgenthau. During his Secretaryship, Morgenthau also delivered hundreds of press conferences which were transcribed and then microfilmed. These press conferences cover subjects ranging from New Deal monetary policy and war loan drives to refugee issues and post-war planning.

Records of the War Refugee Board

There was, perhaps, no greater contribution made by Henry Morgenthau, Jr., during his time as Secretary of the Treasury than his advocacy and commitment to the issue of rescuing Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe. Morgenthau's investigations into the State Department's obstruction of rescue efforts and his presentation of the evidence to the President resulted in FDR's creation in January 1944 of the War Refugee Board. As Treasury Secretary, Morgenthau served on the War Refugee Board, and the Board is credited with saving the lives of some 200,000 refugees.

The Records of the War Refugee Board, significant portions of which are now available in FRANKLIN, are housed at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. These records contain correspondence, telegrams, petitions, and press materials pertaining to policies, programs, and operations of the Board. This significant Holocaust-era collection includes insider's descriptions of extermination camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka, documentation of rescue efforts made by citizens and government agents alike, and correspondence with several major figures in international Jewish history.