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George Field Collection of Freedom House Files

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Held at: Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Field, George, 1904-

"The vital test of freedom...is the degree to which the individual may differ from society and still be protected by it in the right to make his own decisions." [Levenstein, Freedom's Advocate: A Twenty-Five Year Chronicle, p.x.]

This statement characterizes the philosophy of freedom as practiced by the organization Freedom House, which was founded in October, 1941 just before the entry of the United States into World War II. Among its founding members figured George Field, Dorothy Thompson, Wendell L. Willkie, Herbert Agar, Herbert Bayard Swope, Ralph Bunche, Father George B. Ford, Roscoe Drummond, and Rex Stout. It was an organization that took as its goal the defense of freedom, and its founders saw Freedom House as "both a physical structure in New York and a social force in America." [Levenstein, p.x] An outgrowth of the groups, Fight For Freedom, Inc., and the New York City Chapter of the Committee to Defend America By Aiding the Allies (under the direction of George Field), Freedom House carried on the momentum that had been built by these two pre-war organizations through their efforts to create an awareness of the concept of freedom as practiced by many individuals in a democracy. In order to house the organization and to serve as a memorial to Wendell L. Willkie, the Willkie Memorial Building was bought in 1945. In addition, the Willkie Memorial Building housed many other non-profit agencies that reflected similar philosophies as Freedom House and Wendell Willkie's vision. These agencies were invited by Freedom House to work in the building.

During its existence under the direction of George Field, Freedom House sponsored Annual Freedom Awards. These awards were presented to individuals or groups of individuals who had significantly aided the cause of freedom and had done so in a way that was sympathetic with the views of Freedom House. Freedom House also hosted conferences, sponsored research projects, lectures series and other educational programs, and published policy statements, pamphlets, and other written materials relating to issues of freedom of individuals and geographical regions.

In 1967 George Field retired as director of Freedom House, and in 1970 he left his position on the board as Secretary, permanently severing all ties with Freedom House. Disagreements in matters of ideology and administration had cause great resentment between George Field and his successor, Leonard Sussman. Perhaps the greatest disagreements centered around the handling of financial matters of Freedom House. George Field and Leonard Sussman had very different ways of approaching the budgetary concerns of Freedom House, especially in relation to the philosophy of Freedom House and the Willkie Memorial Building. In 1985 George Field entered into the life of Freedom House once more for a short time when the Willkie Building was sold to the Republic National Bank and all organizations were ordered to vacate the building, and the non-profit agencies sued Freedom House and the Willkie Memorial for protection from this order. The eleven agencies were awarded $700,000 to help in their relocation. Freedom House retained the balance of the amount for which the Willkie Building was sold, approximately $2,000,000. The legal files for the case are in the collection, as well as many letters and other materials relating to the case. In George Field's mind, the settlement of this case was extremely unsatisfactory. The entire case revolved around issues of "restricted" funds and other financial concerns, which he felt jeopardized the ideological bases of Freedom House, and represented a great degree of secrecy and misrepresentation--all for quick profit. George Field writes that "President Reagan's rationalizations and the rationalizations of Freedom House spring from the same polluted wells. In place of the future I had once envisioned, I now see complacency and poverty of spirit....If we are to recapture our democratic values, the pendulum must swing again, and an inspiring leader devoted to the goals of a free society must come forth before it is too late" (George Field, 1988).

Consists of records assembled by George Field relating to Freedom House, a clearinghouse for major organizations dedicated to promoting the principles of freedom and democracy. Included are correspondence with world leaders, educators, journalists, authors, and others, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fiorello LaGuardia (mayor of New York City), Charles Poletti (New York State Supreme Court justice), Herbert Morrison (secretary of the London Labour Party), and author Hendrik Willem van Loon; reports on the Patterson Memorial Conference (1958) concerning race relations; photographs; Freedom House printed matter; meeting minutes of the board of directors (1941-1969); and financial reports (1949-1968).

The papers were given to Princeton University Library by George Field in March of 1977; additional papers were given in December of 1990.

Originally there were three scrapbooks containing correspondence, publications, and photographs. Because of the high acid content and extreme brittleness the scrapbooks were disbound and the materials interfiled within the appropriate series.

This collection was processed by Melissa Johnson in January 1993. Finding aid written by Melissa Johnson in January 1993.

No appraisal information is available.

Publisher
Public Policy Papers
Finding Aid Author
Melissa Johnson
Finding Aid Date
1998
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Collection Inventory

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES I: BY-LAWS (1941-1966) consists of the by-laws of Freedom House dating from 1941 through 1966, as well as the by-laws and certificate of incorporation of the Willkie Memorial of Freedom House, Inc. from 1945-1946.

Physical Description

1 box

Freedom House By-Laws, 1941. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Willkie Memorial of Freedom House, Inc. Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws, 1945-1946. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES II: MINUTES (1941-1966) includes the minutes of the Trustees Meeting of Freedom House on May 10, 1966 in which the trustees discussed Freedom House's views on the Vietnam War. These are the only Trustee Meeting minutes. Also included are the minutes of the Board of Directors, dating from 1941 to 1969; this run is complete. The minutes are arranged chronologically. Additional copies of meeting minutes can be found in Series XII: Legal Files, where they have been kept as legal documents supporting the court case against Freedom House.

Physical Description

1 box

Trustees Meeting, 1966 May 10. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Board of Directors, 1941-1969. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES III: CORRESPONDENCE (1934-1985) consists of correspondence files, arranged chronologically. The majority of the correspondence is incoming only to George Field, although there are a few letters from him. There is both business and personal correspondence, however the majority is business. Correspondents include individuals such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Charles Poletti (Justice, Supreme Court, New York State), Herbert Morrison (Secretary of the London Labour Party), Hendrik Willem Van Loon, and many others. There is quite a bit of correspondence that is substantial in nature, rather than simply an exchange of pleasantries. The correspondence of Herbert Morrison and Hendrik Willem Van Loon is especially substantial.

Physical Description

1 box

Correspondence, 1934-1985. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES IV: SUBJECT FILES (1942-1969) consist of folders, arranged alphabetically by subject, that were put together by Field. Often the folders only include newspaper clippings and other printed materials.

Physical Description

1 box

Civil Rights, 1949. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Churchill, Winston, 1942. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Cousins, Norman, 1962. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Cuba, 1963. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Ford, Father George B, 1958. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

John Birch Society, 1961. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Khrushchev, Nikita, 1955. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

McCarthy, Joseph, 1954. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Thompson, Dorothy, 1944. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Vietnam, 1966-1968. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES V: ANNUAL REPORTS (1943, 1950, 1961-63, 1966) contains an incomplete run of reports written by the Public Affairs Committee of Freedom House. The report dating from 1943 is a typical annual report that lists the activities of the organization during its second year of existence. The other reports are titled as a "Balance Sheet of Freedom" and list national and international major events effecting freedom, thus providing an summary of the views of Freedom House on these events. There is also an annual report to the President of the United States in 1950 stating Freedom House's support of the Korean War, specifically the events of June 25, 1950 and after.

Physical Description

1 box

Annual Reports, 1943. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Report to the President of the United States, 1950. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES VI: FINANCIAL FILES (1949-1969) consist of accountants' reports prepared by Harry Lefker & Company (1949-1951) and Louis J. Lifshey & Co. (1952-1969) for the finances of Freedom House, and the accountants' reports prepared by Harry Lefker & Company (1948-1951) and Louis J. Lifshey & Co. (1952-1969) for the Willkie Memorial of Freedom House, Inc. Also included is a list of the major contributors to Freedom House for the years 1965 to 1966.

Physical Description

2 boxes

Freedom House Financial Reports, 1949-1969. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Willkie Memorial of Freedom House Financial Reports, 1953-1969. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Freedom House Contributors, 1965-1966. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES VII: PATTERSON MEMORIAL CONFERENCE (1958) consists of the transcripts of the panel proceedings of a conference in which twenty Southern and twenty Northern leaders met to engage in a discussion of race relations. On the flyleaf of one of the notebooks George Field wrote that this conference would be a time when these individuals would be "free from personal public identification until after the report [was] completed and each of them indicate a willingness to endorse the report of the conference."

Physical Description

1 box

Panel I and Joint Session Panels I & II, 1958 January. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Panel II, 1958 January. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES VIII: ANNUAL FREEDOM AWARDS (1942-1969) contains information on the awards ceremonies and individuals presented with the Freedom Awards each year. The amount of material varies with each year, but in most cases there is always a program for the ceremony. Correspondence with the recipients can be found in the correspondence series, and photographs can be found in the photographs series.

Physical Description

1 box

Inaugural Dinner, 1942. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945 October 7. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Wendell Willkie Birthday Dinner, 1946 February 18. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

George C. Marshall, 1947 October 19. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg, 1948 October 10. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Lucius D. Clay & David E. Lilienthal, 1949 October 13. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

James B. Conant & Matthew B. Ridgway, 1952 October 5. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

United Nations Soldiers in Korea, 1953 November 22. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Winston Churchill, 1955 October 9. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arkansas Gazette, 1958 October 14. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Dr. Paul-Henri Spaak, 1959 November 16. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Alan Paton, 1960 October 5. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Mayor Willy Brandt, 1961 October 6. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Jean Monnet, 1963 January 23. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Mrs. Medgar Evers, 1964 November 26. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Rev. George Barry Ford, 1964 December 1. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Hon. Harry S Truman, 1965 April 13. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966 February 23. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Pablo Casals, 1968 April 8. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Hon. Earl Warren, 1969 October 14. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES IX: PUBLICATIONS (1938-1949) consist of the various publications put out by Freedom House including programs, pamphlets, letter to the editor by Field, newsletters, and newspaper clippings.

Physical Description

2 boxes

Programs, 1944-1949. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Pamphlets, undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Pamphlets, 1938. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Pamphlets (scattered dates), 1951-1969. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Letters to the Editor, 1946-1970. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Newsletter, 1940-1967. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Newspaper Clippings, undated. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Newspaper Clippings, 1933-1970. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES X: WRITINGS (1962-1990) contains writings by George Field related to Freedom House. "To Complete the Record" and "The End of a Dream. A Freedom House Memoir" both relate, in Field's words, the disappointment and frustration he felt at the end of Freedom House's existence and tell his story of events.

Physical Description

1 box

Outline for City College Gov't and Law Society, 1962. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

To Complete the Record, 1970. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

To Complete the Record: Part II, 1985. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

The End of a Dream. A Freedom House Memoir, 1990. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES XI: "OUR SECRET WEAPON" (1942-1943) consists mostly of samples of letters written in by listeners to the CBS radio program produced by Freedom House and hosted by Rex Stout that debunked Axis propaganda. The program reach millions of Americans in the United States, and was sent via shortwave to the Armed Forces, to Latin America and was reprinted for use in army camps. People wrote in to compliment Rex Stout and Freedom House for the show, as well as to complain, ask questions, and most often, to ask that they be sent a transcript of a show. Also included are letters from soldiers in the Army, sailors in the Navy, and publicity materials. Photographs of Rex Stout and other people affiliated with "Our Secret Weapon" can be found in the photographs series. Some later correspondence from Rex Stout to George Field can be found in the correspondence series.

Physical Description

3 boxes

Physical Description

2 boxes

1942 August 9 - August 16, 1942 August 9 - August 16. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

1942 August - 1943 August, 1942 August - 1943 August. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Army Letters, 1942 September - 1943 May. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Navy Letters, 1942 August - 1943 April. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Press Letters, 1942 September - 1942 December. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Newspaper Clippings, 1942-1943. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Publicity, 1942 August - 1942 October. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

General, 1943 January - 1943 June. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES XII: LEGAL FILES (1985) consist of the court transcripts and affidavits produced during the legal case that ensued after the Willkie Memorial Building was sold in 1985 to the Republic National Bank. All of the non-profit organizations that had existed in the building were ordered to leave, but refused, and sued Freedom House and the Willkie Memorial for protection from the effects of the order. The case files contain the affidavits, and also contain copies of letters, newspaper clippings, and meeting minutes that were used as evidence in the hearing. Because many of these items are not found in appropriate series in this collection these legal files constitute an important source for the George Field Collection of Freedom House Files.

Physical Description

1 box

Willkie Memorial Building Lawsuit, 1985. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Arrangement

No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Scope and Contents

SERIES XIII: PHOTOGRAPHS (1941-1969) contains photographs taken throughout the existence of Freedom House, although some photographs predate Freedom House and are from the period during 1941 when the New York City Chapter of the Committee to Defend America By Aiding the Allies and Fight For Freedom were working together. The photographs from the Freedom Rally in Madison Square Garden (May 7, 1941) all pre-date Freedom House, but a majority of the individuals were closely involved with Freedom House. Most are publicity shots taken at events sponsored by Freedom House.

Physical Description

1 box

Freedom House, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

"Our Secret Weapon", dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Print, Suggest