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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 16103

Unitarian Service Committee. Medical Missions. Records, 1942-1967.


This collection consists of records related to the medical missions conducted by the Unitarian Service Commitee. They include missions throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America, among others. The records span 1942-1967.


  • Creation: 1942-1967.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.


82 boxes

This collection includes correspondence, reports, newsletters, clippings, applications, financial records, and photographs concerning the medical missions conducted by the Unitarian Service Committee. The bulk of the collection dates from 1948 to 1955 and focuses most heavily on material related to Europe. The collection also includes administrative records such as Board of Directors minutes and fundraising records which relate to the work of the medical missions. This collection is the largest of several collections at the Andover-Harvard Library which focus on the medical missions conducted by the Unitarian Service Committee.

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.

In 1942 the Commission on Hygiene of the Coordinating Committee for Relief in the Camps at Nimes, France conducted a study on malnutrition in the internment camps. The Unitarian Service Committee was part of this coordinating committee. In 1945, the USC organized an Italian Medical Nutrition Mission in order to study malnutrition in Italy. This was conducted in cooperation with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Out of this project grew the idea of the medical missions, first suggested by Dr. Maurice B. Visscher. The purpose of these missions was to exchange information and to further international relationships with other countries. In 1946, the USC sent medical missions to Poland and to Czechoslovakia in cooperation with UNRRA. These missions were successful, and in January 1947, a USC Medical Projects Department was established under the direction of Dr. Erwin Kohn. In 1947 a medical mission was sent to Austria under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization. In 1948 there were medical missions to Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland and Finland, and a dental mission to Austria in August of 1948. In 1949 refresher courses for displaced person physicians, pharmacists and dentists took place in Germany with the International Refugee Organization (IRO). Medical missions conducted by the USC continued to take place into the 1960s, to countries such as Japan, Germany, Colombia, Israel, Iran, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Turkey.


This collection is organized into eleven series. The medical missions series are organized alphabetically by country and then chronologically within the country. In addition, due to its size, Series I is also organized into subseries by country. Series XI is organized alphabetically by organization. The remaining series are arranged chronologically.

  1. Series I. Medical missions, Europe
  2. Series II. Medical missions, Asia
  3. Series III. Medical missions, South America/Central America/Caribbean
  4. Series IV. Medical missions, Africa
  5. Series V. Medical missions, Middle East
  6. Series VI. Medical missions, mixed
  7. Series VII. Missions, United States
  8. Series VIII. Board of Directors and committee records
  9. Series IX. Financial and fundraising records
  10. Series X. General correspondence
  11. Series XI. Affiliated organizations

Related Materials

For related collections, please see bMS 16011, bMS 16181, and for information on medical missions conducted in later years, please see collections bMS 16025 and bMS 16101.

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. Medical Missions. Records, 1942-1967: 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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