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Collection Overview

Council on Books in Wartime
Council on Books in Wartime Records
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
43 boxes and 1 folder
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-43


The Council on Books in Wartime Records (1942-1947), an organization of publishers and other literary professionals focusing on the promotion of books and reading to further the war effort, consists of records from the preliminary foundation meetings at Times Hall, New York, through the cessation of formal operations in 1946. The major activities of the organization were focused on its two subsidiary publishing ventures, the Armed Services Editions (1943-1947) and the Overseas Editions, Inc. (1944-1945). The Records consist primarily of correspondence of council members, publishers, printers, booksellers, librarians, and the general public. Also present are meeting minutes, press releases, bulletins, radio scripts, contracts, financial records, letters from servicemen, a few photographs of authors and council members, newspaper clippings, and posters. At its last annual meeting in January 1946 the Council's Board of Directors determined that at the end of operations "such records of the Council as merit preservation shall be deposited in an appropriate public institution such as Princeton University Library." The Records were subsequently acquired by Princeton University Library and then librarian Julian P. Boyd.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of the records of the Council on Books in Wartime. Included are records from the preliminary foundation meetings at Times Hall, New York City, through the cessation of formal operations in 1946. There are administrative files containing minutes of the Board of Directors, headed by Archibald Ogden, the Executive Committee, chaired by W. W. Norton, and annual meeting proceeedings; subject files of correspondence on various other committees, book publishing projects with the Army, Navy, and Office of War Information, and book list plans (Imperatives and Recommended Books); radio program scripts for book dramatizations on "Words at War" and author interviews on "Fighting Words" and "Books are Bullets"; and financial statements.


The Records are divided into six series with relevant subseries as follows:

Collection Creator Biography:

Council on Books in Wartime

The Council on Books in Wartime was a non-profit organization founded by booksellers, publishers, librarians, authors, and others, in the spring of 1942 to channel the use of books as "weapons in the war of ideas," the Council's motto. Its primary aim was the promotion of books to influence the thinking of the American people regarding the war, to build and maintain the will to win, to expose the true nature of the enemy, to disseminate technical information, to provide relaxation and inspiration, and to clarify war aims and problems of peace.

The Council consisted of a Board of Directors, with Archibald Ogden as Executive Director (1943-1945), and an Executive Committee, with W. W. Norton as Chairman (1943-1945), succeeded by Richard L. Simon, and various other members including John Farrar, S. Spencer Scott, Henry Hoyns, Bennett Cerf, Joseph Lippincott, Clarence Boutell, William Sloan and Datus C. Smith. Various committees worked under the Executive Committee, including the Radio Committee, Forum and Fairs Committee, Motion-Picture Committee, Library Committee, Recommended War Books Committee, Childrens Book Committee, Imperative Book Committee, Promotion and Press Committees, and the Washington Committee. The Council co-operated with the Office of War Information (OWI) and other Government agencies, but was itself a voluntary, unpaid, non-Governmental organization.

The Council attempted to achieve its goals by acting as a clearinghouse for book-related ideas, by being an intermediary between the book-trade industry and government agencies, by offering advice to publishers, and by handling all forms of public relations including distribution of reading lists and pamphlets, lectures, radio programs, newsreels, and book promotion and publication.

Two subsidiary organizations sprang from the Council on Books in Wartime, the Armed Services Editions (ASE) and Overseas Editions, Inc. (OEI). Armed Services Editions founded in February 1943 sought to alleviate the shortage of reading matter for men in the Services by publishing inexpensive paperbound books in pocket size to sell to the United States Government, at cost, and then distributing these to servicemen overseas. The books were primarily current publications, recreational in nature, including popular novels, some classics, books on the war, other non-fiction, humor and anthologies. In 1944 ASE incorporated as Editions for the Armed Services, Inc. to protect its funds in the event of lawsuits. Personnel and management however, remained the same.

ASE selected books to be reprinted from publishers' lists through a committee including John Farrar, Jennie Flexner, Mark Van Doren and Amy Loveman. These selections were subsequently approved for publication by representatives from the Army (Ray L. Trautman), and the Navy (Isabel Du Bois). Philip Van Doren Stern was manager of the ASE. From its beginning in the fall of 1943 to its post-war end in the fall of 1947 ASE printed 1,324 titles and delivered 122,951,031 books to the U. S. Government.

Overseas Editions, Inc. intended to publish translations of American books to distribute to civilians in overseas countries liberated by Allied troops in order to inform the people of Europe about America, democracy, and current events. Its management committee members were Stanley Rinehart, William Sloane and Marshall A. Best, who served under the direction of Archibald Ogden. The choice of books for OEI was made by the Office of War Information and approved by the same advisory committee serving the ASE. The books were printed in pocket book format and sold at prevailing retail prices. Between February and November, 1945 OEI published 72 titles (22 in English, 22 in French, 23 in German, and 5 in Italian) and shipped 3,636,074 volumes overseas.

With the end of the war the Council on Books in Wartime ceased active operations on Jan. 31, 1946, but maintained its corporate entities to deal with the dispersal of remaining funds and the safekeeping of records.

Collection History


OVERSEAS EDITIONS, INC. (complete set of books from the collection transferred to Firestone Library, Jan. 1992)

Basso, Hamilton, Mainstream, 2 Engl

Becker, Carl, How New Will the Better World Be?, 2 Engl, 2 Fren, 2 Germ

Benet, Stephen V., America, 2 Engl, 2 Germ, 2 Ital

Bowen, Catherine, Yankee from Olympus, Engl 1, Fren 2, Germ 2

Brogan, Denis W., A Free State, Germ 1

Brown, Harry, A Walk in the Sun, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Burns, Eugene, Then There Was One, Fren 2

Chinard, Gilbert, Thomas Jefferson, Fren 2

Commager & Nevins, Pocket History of the United States, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Dulles, F. R., The Road to Tehran, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Fast, Howard, Citizen Tom Paine, Engl 2, Fren 3, Ital 2

Fortune Editors, Japan, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Furnas, J. C., How America Lives, Engl 2, Fren 2

Grew, Joseph, Report From Tokyo, Fren 2, Germ 2

Hemingway, Ernest, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Engl 1

Hersey, John, Into the Valley, Ital 2

Holt, Rackham, George Washington Carver, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Hough, Donald, Captain Retread, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Jaffe, Bernard, Men of Science in America, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Kazin, Alfred, On Native Grounds, Engl 2, Germ 1

Lilienthal, David, TVA, Democracy on the March, Engl 2, Germ 2

Lippmann, Walter, U.S. Foreign Policy & U.S. War Aims, Engl 2, Fren 2

Marshall, George C., American High Command Report, Fren 2, Germ 2, Ital 2

Miller, Max, Daybreak for Our Carrier, Engl 2

Pratt, Fletcher, The Navy's War, Germ 2

Pyle, Ernest, G. I. Joe, Engl 2, Fren 2

Ratcliff, John, Science Yearbook of 1944, Germ 2

Rourke, Constance, Audubon, Fren 2

Saroyan, William, The Human Comedy, Engl 2, Ital 2

Sherrod, Robert, Tarawa, Fren 2, Germ 2

Steffens, Lincoln, Boy on Horseback, Fren 2, Germ 3

Steinbeck, John, Bombs Away, Fren 2

Stimson, Henry, Prelude to Invasion, Germ 2

Trumbull, Robert, The Raft, Engl 2, Fren 2, Germ 2

Van Doren, Carl, Benjamin Franklin, Engl 2, Germ 2

White, E. B., One Man's Meat, Germ 2

Books published in conjunction with the Office of War Information, the Navy Department or the War Department (transferred to Firestone Library, Jan. 1992).

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Barbara Volz in January 1992. Finding aid written by Barbara Volz in January 1992.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Council on Books in Wartime Records; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-43

Find More

Related Materials

Princeton University Library manuscript collections include the Selected Papers of William M. Sloane (C0236) and the Publishers' Weekly Collection (C0690). Also of interest may be the book History of the Council on Books in Wartime, 1942-1946 by R. Ballou, and I. Rakowsky published in 1946 (PUL call #14101.5.271).

In addition, Princeton University Library's Rare Books Department holds a collection of sample copies of "Editions for the Armed Services" (Armed Services Editions) contained in 12 archival boxes and cataloged as a unit, call # (Ex) PN861.E34 (an annotated list is in process). From the Records two groups of books have been transferred to Firestone Library; a complete set of copies of Overseas Editions books in English and foreign languages (see separate list), and 11 books published by the Council in conjunction with the Office of War Information, the Navy Department, and the War Department (see separate list).


Books published in conjunction with the Office of War Information, the Navy Department or the War Department (transferred to Firestone Library, Jan. 1992). Henri, Raymond. The U. S. Marines on Iwo Jima. New York, New York: Dial Press, 1945. Hough, Donald & Arnold, Elliot. Big Distance. New York, New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1945. Karig, Walter & Kelly, Welbourn. Battle Report: Pearl Harbor to Coral Sea. New York, New York: Farrar & Reinhart, 1944. Miller, Max. Daybreak for Our Carrier. New York, New York: McGraw- Hill, 1945. Miller, Max. The Far Shore. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1945. Thruelson, Richard & Arnold, Elliot. Mediterranean Sweep. New York, New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1944. United States. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Our Flying Navy. New York, New York: Macmillan, 1944. United States. Office of War Information. War Atlas for Americans. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944. United States. War Dept. General Staff. General Marshall's Report; The Winning of the War in Europe and the Pacific. Simon and Schuster, 1945. United States. War Dept. Our Army at War. New York, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944. Yank, editors of. The Best from Yank, the Army Weekly. New York, New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1945.

Council on Books in Wartime. Editions for the Armed Services, Inc.; A History, Together with the Complete List of 1324 Books Published for American Armed Forces Overseas. New York, 1948. (7 copies) Council on Books in Wartime. A List of the First 774 Books Published for the American Armed Forces Overseas. New York, Editions for the Armed Services, Inc., n.d. (1 pamphlet)

Subject Terms:
Book industries and trade -- United States -- 20th century.
Publishers and publishing -- United States -- 20th century.
Soldiers -- United States -- Books and reading -- 20th century.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Libraries.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Literature and the war.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Propaganda.
Genre Terms:
Radio scripts.
Council on Books in Wartime
Armed Services Editions, Inc.
Overseas Editions, Inc