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Division of Economic Stability and Development

Series consists of records of the Division of Economic Stability and Development. Included are the Economic and Employment Commission records, records of divisional sections (the Economic Development Section and the Technical Assistance Section), and a substantial volume of the official documents of the United Nations Scientific Conference on the Conservation and Utilization of Resources (UNSCCUR), as well as research papers submitted to UNSCCUR. The functions documented here were subsequently absorbed by the Regional Commissions Section situated within the Office of the Assistant Secretary-General (see series S-0543 and S-0932). Arranged in the order cited above.

Related records: S-0543 and S-0932.

Fiscal Division / Fiscal Commission

Series consists of administrative files of the Division and the files of the Fiscal Commission. The latter include interaction with non-governmental organizations and special economic missions. Arranged in the following order: administrative files of the Division, Fiscal Commission files, followed by the Director's correspondence and ephemera.

Economic and Social Council Secretariat

Series consists of the records of the Secretary of the Economic and Social Council, including Session working files (from the Second to the Thirteenth Sessions), the supporting documents relating to associated commissions, conferences, international organizations, specialized agencies, and administrative records relating to Council matters. Arranged in the order cited.

Office of the Assistant Secretary-General - Registry and Non-Registry

Series is comprised of the filing system numbered files of the Assistant Secretary-General relating to Culture-Education-Science matters, to the Economic and Social Council, to matters of development in health, to human rights and the Human Rights Commission, to narcotics (and the work of the Division of Narcotic Drugs), to non-governmental organizations, to the work of the Population Division, to refugee issues, to the work of the Temporary Social Commission (including the protection of youth), and includes studies on related matters. The predominant dates are 1946-1947 (with records dated in the 1930s related to health work within the League of Nations). Arranged in classification system order.

Related records: This series is followed by S-0917.

Human Rights Division

The Human Rights Division of the Department of Social Affairs consisted of an office of the Director, five Sections, and a secretariat. The five Sections were concerned with: (I) the work of the Commission on Human Rights; (II) freedom of information, forced labour, freedom of association, and the plight of survivors of concentration camps; (III) the work of the Commission on the Status of Women; (IV) prevention of discrimination, protection of minorities, abolition of slavery, and problems of statelessness; and (V) the work of the Ad Hoc Commission on Prisoners of War. The Human Rights Division gathered material relevant to these subjects and issues, undertook research, and supported the work of associated Commissions. Records of the Human Rights Division originate from Sections I, II, III, and V and span from 1932 to 1960. There are no records for Section IV.

Records for Section I pertain to the International Bill of Rights Project of the American Law Institute and the “Universal Declarations of Human Rights,” a group of unpublished studies by Dr. Luis Recasens-Siches.

Section II records relate to the Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour. They include memoranda between members of the Committee and the Division about hearings held by the Committee from 1951 to 1953. The files also contain reports and testimony about the existence of forced labour camps from non-profit organizations and individuals such as the American human rights activist Stetson Kennedy. The reports and testimony were submitted to the Committee by the United States Mission, the Chinese Delegation, and the International Commission Against Concentration Camp Practices.

Records from Section III detail the Section’s work for the Commission on the Status of Women. The records include: reports, working papers, and meeting agenda generated by the Commission; International Labour Organization (ILO) reports on the post-World War II employment of women; and correspondence between Section staff and representatives of Member States, the ILO, and NGOs. The correspondence largely pertains to the General Assembly resolution of 11 December 1946 [A/RES/56(I)] on the political rights of women, the inclusion of gender in the non-discrimination clause of an ILO draft convention, and a questionnaire sent to Member States on the legal status and treatment of women within the respective states.

There are also chronological files, which include: weekly reports prepared by the Chief of the Section and sent to the Director of the Division; Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolutions; and correspondence between the Chief of the Section, the Director of the Division, and other Division staff. The correspondence relates to: radio broadcasts produced by the Section featuring remarks by notable women such as Eleanor Roosevelt; a married woman’s right to a nationality; aid for survivors of Holocaust “experiments”; the right to equal pay for equal work; prostitution; and other subjects.

Section V records consist of bound and unbound lists of prisoners of war which were submitted by Member States to the Ad Hoc Commission on Prisoners of War. The lists identify foreign prisoners detained within the borders of Member States, as well as nationals detained in other countries. Some of the lists group the names into categories such as war criminals, deceased, escaped, and repatriated. The lists often contain personal information, for example, cause of death, next of kin, birth date, and army rank. Some of the lists include accompanying documentation, such as: officially certified declarations of absence for German prisoners; postcards sent by German prisoners later declared missing; petitions from an organization of relatives of Japanese prisoners; letters to family members from Japanese detainees in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); maps depicting locations of Japanese repatriates in China; and photographs, testimony, and correspondence relating to Italian soldiers held in the USSR.

S-0918 also includes records of Ezekiel Gordon, a senior officer in the Human Rights Division of the Department of Social Affairs (DSA) and the Division of Human Rights of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) from 1947 to 1962. Prior to joining the United Nations, Gordon served in the French Army in World War I and was a member of the Palestine bar. The bulk of Gordon’s records date from 1945 to 1949 and include reports on the protection of minorities, statelessness, and human rights. The records also contain Gordon’s subject files, which include reports on genocide and Gordon’s research material on the topic of slavery.

Population Division

S-0920 consists of records documenting the United Nations Population Division, a subdivision of the United Nations’ Department of Social Affairs. The records span from 1944 through 1953 and highlight the United Nations’ interest in migration trends and population change, as well as its efforts to improve the standardization of international census taking. The collection is comprised of conference files and research, some of which was maintained by the Office of the Director.

S-0920 contains two boxes of migration studies meeting materials. Records of the International Labour Organization’s Preliminary Conference on Migration held in April and May 1950 at the International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland, consist of planning memoranda and working papers on migration studies submitted by participating countries. Also included within the series are files for the International Labour Organization’s Inter-Agency Meeting on Migration Issues held at the International Labour Office in September 1950 and a follow-up conference in Naples in October 1951, as well as an International Seminar on Statistical Organization held in Ottawa in October 1952. In addition, several files document the work of United Nations committees formed to study migration patterns such as the Permanent Migration Committee of the International Labour Organization, the Inter-Divisional Committee on Migration, and the Technical Working Group on Migration.

The remainder (and bulk) of the collection consists of research on migration and population trends assembled by the United Nations Population Division. These files reflect the Population Division’s primary responsibility of compiling demographic data for United Nations offices and specialized agencies. During its earliest years, the division’s projects included a collaboration with the Statistical Office of the Department of Economic Affairs on a demographic yearbook for 1948 and assistance with the preparation of national censuses conducted by United Nations member states during and around 1950.

Included within these files are studies concerning the policies, prerequisites, and procedures of migration, as well as population and migration statistics by country. The series also includes documentation of the Population Division’s partnership with the Library of Congress on a comprehensive bibliography of migration studies during the early 1950s.

Population Division files originally maintained by the Office of the Director include an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary source material on population trends, data tables addressing inconsistencies among census taking techniques, and correspondence regarding division activities. Files maintained specifically by the office of Frank Wallace Notestein, the Population Division’s first director, include population estimates by country and data concerning demographic changes due to World War II. The latter deals with such topics as displaced persons receiving United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration support and World War II casualty figures.

Division of Social Welfare

S-0921 consists of records documenting the United Nations’ Division of Social Welfare, a subdivision of the United Nations’ Department of Social Affairs. The records span from 1920 through 1954 and highlight the United Nations’ interest in social welfare services across the developing and developed world. The collection includes correspondence, interoffice memoranda, conference files, committee reports, working papers, and research notes and addresses a myriad of topics ranging from post-World War II refugee camps to penal reform.

S-0921 contains the records of several offices and sections within the Division of Social Welfare: Office of the Director, Office of the Deputy Director, Social Policy and Development Section, Social Defence Setion, Social Services Section, and Housing and Town and Country Section.

Office of the Director:
Files belonging to the Office of the Director document the administration and activities of the Department of Social Affairs and, more specifically, the Division of Social Welfare. Departmental and divisional reports, meeting minutes and materials, correspondence, and memoranda highlight programme initiatives and illustrate the breadth and depth and the Division’s scope. Topics addressed within the files include child welfare, family protection, juvenile delinquency, housing, migration, social defence, standards of living, and the trafficking of women and children.

In addition, several files concern the issue of refugees and displaced persons following World War II. These files detail the activities of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the creation of the United Nations’ International Refugee Organization (IRO) which was designed to continue refugee work after the UNRRA was disbanded. Also included are files for commissions and committees on which members of the Division of Social Welfare served, seminars hosted by the Division, and specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations whose work overlapped with that of the Division.

The papers are arranged in a loose alphabetical order, maintaining the original filing scheme of the Office of the Director. Subject files on similar topics appear throughout the Director’s files.

Office of the Deputy Director:
The files originating from the Office of the Deputy Director focus on topics similar to those of the Director. Arranged in loose alphabetical order, the papers highlight the work of the Division of Social Welfare and include correspondence, memoranda, reports, meeting and conference materials, and additional documentation of divisional activities. Also included are papers for several sessions of the Social Commission, the Temporary Social Welfare Committee, and the Economic and Social Council. In addition, there are records of the International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) which was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 1946 to assist children living in war-torn countries.

A large group of records, nearly two full boxes, pertains to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Proposed by United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and founded on 9 November 1943 following an agreement between 44 nations, UNRRA was formed to coordinate relief efforts for victims of war who resided in United Nations Member States and countries governed by Member States. Such relief was expected to come in the form of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and repatriation or resettlement assistance. These files document both the work of UNRRA and the transfer of its advisory social welfare services to the United Nations as stipulated by Resolution 58 of the United Nations General Assembly.

Social Policy and Development Section:
The Social Policy and Development Section files are comprised of papers formerly belonging to the Studies and Research Section, the Research and Publications Section, and the Refugee Division and Section. The Studies and Research Section subject files are arranged in loose alphabetical order and describe some of the scientific and cultural research activities undertaken by the United Nations. Additional files pertain to the United Nations Research Laboratories, an idea first proposed by delegates attending a May 1946 meeting of the Sub-Committee on Natural Sciences of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations. The purpose of the laboratories was to facilitate and coordinate international research efforts ranging from nutrition and disease control to soil erosion and reforestation.

In an effort to better gauge and prioritize international research needs, the United Nations called upon experts in a number of fields. Among those consulted was Albert Einstein, then at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. A letter signed by Einstein and dated 19 March 1947 confirms the physicist’s appointment with one of the members of the Division of Social Welfare. A typescript transcription of Einstein’s March meeting along with handwritten edits by Einstein records the conversation between the two. The letter and the transcript can be found in the Studies and Research Section files (S-0921-0032-0003).

The Research and Publications Section consists of three files of black and white photographs taken at the United Nations’ social welfare seminars held in Latin America during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Two of the files contain images of participants of the United Nations Social Welfare Seminar held in Medellín, Colombia in August 1947. The third file holds an album with one hundred small (3 ¼ by 4 ½) photographs taken at child welfare seminars held in 1952 and 1953.

The bulk of the Social Policy and Development Section files belong to the Refugee Division and Section. Administrative files include agenda and minutes from Division and Section meetings, progress reports, and documentation on specialized agencies with whom the Refugee Division and Section cooperated. Requests from refugees and displaced persons living in United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) camps in Europe express despair, sadness, anger, and confusion following the War, as well as hope for a better future. In these letters refugees asked for assistance in locating missing relatives, returning home, and rebuilding their lives in places where they trusted their liberties would be restored. Correspondence between UNRRA personnel and Division staff paint an equally telling image of life in the camps both for the victims of war and for the personnel providing their services.

Additional files illustrate the work of the Division of Social Welfare and the role it played in the creation of the State of Israel. Included are reports concerning Palestine and Jewish migration from Europe to the Middle East. These outline both the one-state and two-state solutions for governance of the area. Documentation details the General Assembly’s decision to accept the Partition Plan favoring two separate states for the Arab and the Jewish communities and the responses which followed this decision.

Several of the files belong to the Special Committee on Refugees and Displaced Persons, a committee formed on 16 February 1946 by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The committee convened in London from 8 April to 1 June 1946 to review the refugee and displaced persons situation following the end of World War II and to produce a report which would later be presented at the second session of the Economic and Social Council in June. The committee’s efforts focused on defining the terms “refugee” and “displaced person” in order to determine which individuals would be entitled to government support. Members of the committee were also responsible for gathering data on refugees, as well as repatriation and resettlement efforts.

The committee’s final report proposed the creation of the International Refugee Organization (IRO), a non-permanent specialized agency of the United Nations. The bulk of the Committee’s papers in S-0921 pertain to the IRO and the work leading up to its creation, including drafts of its constitution and memoranda regarding Member States’ willingness to ratify it. Reflected within these files are Joint Planning Committee meetings conducted by members of the United Nations, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), and the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (IGC). The purpose of these meetings was to plan for the transfer of services from existing refugee organizations to the newly-created IRO.

Two boxes of files underscore the activities of the Preparatory Commission for the International Refugee Organization, the commission formed to initiate the work of the IRO before a Director-General was appointed. The files contain correspondence, cables, progress reports, and addresses presented at meetings and conferences.

The Social Policy and Development Section also encompasses the records of the Interdepartmental Working Group on the Evaluation of Advisory Social Welfare Services. This working group was tasked with evaluating the transfer of social welfare activities from UNRRA to the United Nations according to General Assembly Resolution 58 and the integration of those activities within the broader United Nations mission. The papers consist of alphabetically arranged files on advisory services in various countries, drafts of the final evaluation report compiled by the committee, and background information on the history of the United Nations’ social welfare programme.

Social Defence Section:
The Social Defence Section consists of subject files on juvenile delinquency, prevention of crime, and treatment of offenders. Correspondence and reports document the efforts of the International Penal and Penitentiary Commission, an intergovernmental organization which transferred its functions to the United Nations on 1 December 1950, and the United States Working Group on Social Welfare Activities of the United Nations. Also documented are meetings of international organizations and experts concerned with the prevention of crime; government responses to the United Nations questionnaire on prison reform; and reviews of international criminal policies.

Country files comprise the bulk of the Social Defence Section’s papers. They are arranged in alphabetical order and contain research compiled for the Division of Social Welfare’s study on a variety of topics, including juvenile delinquency, probation, prevention of crime, treatment of offenders, and general criminal statistics.

Social Services Section:
The Division of Social Welfare’s Social Services Section was responsible for administering and evaluating the advisory social welfare functions transferred from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to the United Nations. Through Resolution 58 of the General Assembly, provisions were made to send social welfare experts to work with the governments of United Nations Member States, as well as to coordinate continuing education fellowships for welfare specialists, to accelerate rehabilitation of the disabled, and to improve training programmes and materials used by emerging social work professionals.

The files contain information about national and international youth organizations, specialized agencies of the United Nations working with youth services, and government legislation concerning youth guidance. A study by the Division of Social Welfare on economic measures of family assistance makes up the bulk of the collection and consists of two sets of alphabetically arranged country files. The first set of files contains correspondence between the Division of Social Welfare and government representatives outlining the purpose and scope of the study, acknowledgements of delivered information, and requests for additional materials. The second set of country files holds information provided by the Member States participating in the study, as well as notes taken by Division staff on legislative information. Much of the published reference material submitted by Member States to the Division of Social Welfare in preparation for this study is contained in ten boxes at the end of the collection (S-0921-0081 – S-0921-0090). Other files from the Social Services Section contain information about studies on child war victims and adoption services.

Housing and Town and Country Planning Section:
There is one box of files belonging to the Housing and Town and Country Planning Section. The bulk of these files pertain to an International Meeting of Experts on Tropical Housing held in December 1947 in Caracas, Venezuela. Additionally, there are files for the Advisory Committee on Planning and Coordination of the Social Commission and the Interdepartmental Technical Ad-Hoc Committee on Housing and Town and Country Planning.

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