Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons
Records, 1946-1953

Immigration History Research Center
University of Minnesota

Abstract | Provenance/Processing | Historical Sketch | Scope and Content | Container List

Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons
Records, 1946-1953
5 linear inches


The Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons (CCDP) was formed in 1946, initiated by the American Council of Voluntary Agencies and the National Committee on Immigration Policy.  Its objective was to seek temporary legislation suspending immigration quotas and allowing displaced persons to enter the United States. The CCDP aroused public concern through local committee groups, publications, films, etc., and also lobbied directly for passage of the desired bills. Though unsuccessful in obtaining passage of the Stratton Bill (HR2910) and Wiley Bill (S2242), the CCDP played some role in passage of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, and in its amendment in 1950.  The Committee disbanded after the adoption of this amendment.

Records include correspondence, financial records, and minutes.  Most correspondence is of Nathan W. Levin, who was involved in financial supervision of the Committee.  In English.  Inventory available.

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This collection was donated to the Immigration History Research Center by Nathan Levin in December 1975. Inventory prepared by Judith Friedrich in November 1982.  Inventory prepared for the Internet by Student Assistant Jessica Roskoski and Assistant Curator Heather Muir in 2001.

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Historical Sketch

The Citizen's Committee on Displaced Persons (CCDP) was formed in 1946, having been initiated by the American Council of Voluntary Agencies and the National Committee on Immigration Policy. The primary objective of the committee was to seek the passage of temporary legislation suspending immigration quotas and allowing displaced persons to enter the United States.

As a means to this goal, the committee focused on two major activities. First, it sought greater public awareness of the problem. This was accomplished through local committee groups, publications, films, etc. The motivation behind this was to arouse the public's concern so that their representatives in Congress might be notified. Secondly, the committee sought direct support from several Congressmen and through lobbying efforts, succeeding in getting several bills presented before Congress. Among these were the Stratton Bill (HR2910) and the Wiley Bill (S2242). The Stratton Bill was strongly supported by the CCDP but, like the Wiley Bill, did not gain the necessary support in Congress. One bill that was successful in passing was the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. The committee's role in the passage of this bill was not clear, but the minutes suggest that it was not entirely supported by the committee. In 1950, the bill was amended, in part due to CCDP lobbying efforts. As a result of this amendment, aid was extended to more than 400,000 refugees. The committee, having met its objective, was disbanded in July of 1950.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains the internal records of the committee. Absent are any of the committee's publications, fund-raising speeches, or records of specific lobbying activities. Included are the Executive Committee Meeting Minutes, general correspondence, and financial records.

The EXECUTIVE MEETING MINUTES provide a good sense of the CCDP’s activities. Since the actual committee publications, speeches or records of lobbying are not included in this collection, the minutes provide the best insights to committee involvement. In the early meetings, attention was focused on the organization of the committee. As time progressed, attention was turned to fund drives, public affairs and legislation in progress.

For the most part, meetings took the form of general discussion with some reports given by individuals. Regular reports presented include financial reports, progress reports on field organization, Washington Office developments, and a publicity progress report.

Beyond this general understanding of the committee's activities over the years, the minutes will also provide insights as to the issues facing the committee, particularly in dealing with the bills before Congress. Should we support this bill? What are the implications if we do not? What are the positive and negative aspects of it? These are all questions that the CCDP frequently discussed and are recorded in these minutes. Out of these discussions, understanding of the CCDP’s goals and objectives can be refined.

Frequency of the committee meetings varies. They tended to be held weekly with several periods of fortnightly meetings, depending on the need. Arrangement is chronological.

The GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE deals primarily with the concerns of this committee as an unincorporated organization. Major topics include financial affairs with the Chase National Bank and matters of legal concern with the committee's legal counsel, Cleary, Gottlieb, Friendly & Cox. Some office memoranda and correspondence dealing with the routine activities of the committee are also included.

The majority of the correspondence was sent or received by Mr. Nathan W. Levin, who was involved substantially with the financial supervision of the committee (general correspondence 1947 Nov. 7). Levin also worked as a financial consultant to Lessing J. Rosenwald, who was a major financial supporter of the committee.

The correspondence covers a period from December 11, 1946- April 15, 1953, and is arranged in a strict chronological order.

The FINANCIAL RECORDS series has been divided into three groups. The first is Income Tax Forms and Related Correspondence. This includes statements of salaries paid by the committee to staff members. It is arranged chronologically by year, and within the year, it is arranged alphabetically by employee name. Also included is a handwritten copy of the names, addresses, and income for persons on the CCDP’s payroll for the years 1947-1950.

Secondly are the unofficial statements and related correspondence. Statements are as follows: 1) statement of cash receipts and disbursements, 2) payroll, 3) budget, 4) contributions, and 5) lobbying reports. Frequency varies, but reports generally appear monthly. Arrangement is chronological by report date.

The official statements contain balance sheets for the period, statement of income, expense and deficit, and a summary of cash receipts and disbursements. These statements generally appear annually. S.D. Leidesdorf and Co., certified public accountants, compiled the reports.

Bibliographical Note and Separation Record

See “Refugee Asylum in the United States: How the Law Was Changed to Admit Displaced Persons,” International Migration (1975), 3-20, for an account of the committee's work, written by the committee's Secretary, William S. Bernard. Included in this article is a bibliography of additional sources to consult. This journal is available in IHRC Print Collection.

The following items have been transferred to the print collection and may be helpful for background information about the Citizens Committee and related organizations:

Auerbach, Frank L. The Admission and Resettlement of Displaced Persons in the United States. New York: Common Council for American Unity, 1950.

International Refugee Organization. The Experience of the IRO in the Field of International Migration Operations. Geneva, 1951.

U.S. Department of Justice. Department of Justice. Annual Report of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. 1949.

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Container List

Box Folder Contents
    Executive Meeting Minutes
1 1 1946 Dec. 20- 1947 Feb. 20
  2 1947 Mar. 7- 1947 May 28
  3 1947 Jun. 5- 1947 Oct. 30
  4 1947 Nov. 13- 1948 Mar. 25
  5 1948 Apr. 1- 1950 Jun.8
    General Correspondence
  6 1946 Dec. 11- 1947 Feb. 27
  7 1947 Mar. 1- 1947 Mar. 28
  8 1947 Apr. 2- 1947 Jul. 18
  9 1947 Aug. 1- 1947 Dec. 23
  10 1948 Jan. 5- 1948 Jun. 28
  11 1948 Jul. 15- 1948 Dec. 30
  12 1949 Jan. 10- 1949 Nov. 17
  13 1950 Jan. 3- 1950 Jun. 23
  14 1950 Jul. 18- 1950 Oct. 4
  15 1951 Jan. 9- 1951 Apr. 30
  16 1951 May 8- 1951 Dec. 26
  17 1952 Jan. 8- 1953 Apr. 15
    Financial Records
  18 Income Tax Forms, 1947-1950
    Unofficial Statements and Related Correspondence
  19 1947 Jan. 31- 1947 Jun. 30
  20 1947 Aug. 31- 1947 Dec. 31
  21 1948 Jan. 31- 1948 Dec. 31
  22 1949 Feb. 28- 1949 Jun. 30
  23 1949 Jul. 31- 1949 Dec. 31
  24 1950 Mar. 31- 1951 Mar. 31
    Official Statements
  25 1947 Jun. 30
  26 1947 Dec. 31
  27 1948 Dec. 31
  28 1949 Dec. 31
  29 1951 Mar. 3

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