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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 16043

Unitarian Service Committee. Case Files, 1945-1951.


Unitarian Service Committee case files, mostly correspondence, on displaced persons sponsored under its adoption plan. The records cover 1945-1951.


  • Creation: 1945-1951.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.


10 boxes

The Unitarian Service Committee offered assistance to displaced people during and after World War II in a number of ways, some of which are documented in this collection. Under the USC "adoption" plan, sponsors in the United States usually sent a package of food monthly via the USC to a needy family or individual in Europe, as well as occasional clothing packages. The USC also assisted people in finding shelter and employment in the United States. In relation to these efforts, the USC had to file documents known as "assurances" with the Displaced Persons Commission. These assurances stated that individuals placed by the USC in the United States would be suitably employed at prevailing rates of pay without displacing other persons from employment; that they would not become public charges; and that such persons would have safe and sanitary housing.

The Unitarian Service Committee was one of eleven organizations which joined forces in 1944 to create the Central Location Index, which was established to provide a central index for registering the names of people displaced as a result of war, and to ascertain the whereabouts of such people so that they and their relatives and friends could establish mutual contact. In conjunction with the Index, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) established the Tracing Bureau to help survivors locate relatives who had survived the concentration camps.

Most of the records in this collection consist of the correspondence between USC caseworkers, people in need, and individuals who were attempting to help them. Some of the caseworkers were Maria Oppenheimer, Friedl Reifer, Erna Sternberg, and Muriel Towle.

Biographical / Historical

The Unitarian Service Committee was formed as a standing committee of the American Unitarian Association in May 1940. Its purpose was to be a committee to investigate opportunities both in America and abroad for humanitarian service. During and after World War II, the Unitarian Service Committee aided hundreds of displaced persons in occupied countries, allowing many of them to find passage to the United States. The present-day Unitarian Universalist Service Committee continues to endeavor to advance human rights and social justice throughout the world.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

General note

The number after the slash in each entry in the following list indicates the box number, and the number in parentheses is the folder number. Portions of this collection have been digitized for a collaborative project with the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine (CDJC), France. Those items have a "See digital image" link.

Unitarian Service Committee. Case Files, 1945-1951: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Divinity School Library, Harvard University Repository

Special Collections at Harvard Divinity School Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies. Known as Andover-Harvard Theological Library since 1911, it was renamed the Harvard Divinity School Library in 2021.

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