Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Fosdick, Raymond B. (Raymond Blaine), 1883-1972
Raymond Blaine Fosdick Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1898-1971 (mostly 1917-1952)
26 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-26


Raymond Blaine Fosdick (1883-1972) served as Under Secretary General for the League of Nations (1919-1920) and as President of the Rockefeller Foundation (1936-1948). The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence related to military life during World War I, the formation and activities of the League of Nations, and the administration of the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1920s through 1940s. The collection also contains various writings and personal memorabilia.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The majority of the collection consists of correspondence related to military life during World War I, the formation and activities of the League of Nations, and the administration of the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1920s through 1940s. Frequent correspondents include Newton D. Baker, Admiral Richard Byrd, Sir Eric Drummond, Huntington Gilchrist, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Arthur Sweetser. To a lesser extent, the collection contains articles, book reviews, reports, and speeches, mostly pertaining to World War I or the Rockefeller Foundation. A small number of photographs of Fosdick and his associates are also included.


The collection is arranged into three series.

Collection Creator Biography:

Fosdick, Raymond B. (Raymond Blaine), 1883-1972

Raymond Blaine Fosdick (1883-1972) was a lawyer, public servant, and author. He was born in Buffalo, New York to parents Frank and Amy. Fosdick attended Princeton University, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1905 and a graduate degree in 1906. He continued his studies at New York Law School, where he earned his LL.B. while concurrently working at the Henry Street Settlement on New York City's Lower East Side.

After graduating from law school in 1908, Fosdick served as Commissioner of Accounts for the city of New York from 1910 to 1913. He investigated city and county government in an effort to rid New York of corrupt politicians and corporations participating in illegal activities.

On January 1, 1913, Fosdick was retained by the Bureau of Social Hygiene, funded by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., to make a comprehensive study of all aspects of police administration and work in Europe. His travels in Europe in 1913 were the basis for his book European Police Systems, published in February 1915. From 1915 to 1916, Fosdick was a member of the New York City Board of Education, an organization that concentrated on the development of educational facilities.

Upon the United States' entry into World War I, Mr. Fosdick was released by the Bureau to take the chairmanship of the Commission on Training Camp Activities of the Army and Navy Department. The goal of this department was to keep morale high among soldiers stationed at home and abroad. It sponsored activities that promoted health, athletics, and recreation in order to "conserve the vitality of the men." Various rules and regulations were established by the Department that prohibited prostitution, gambling, and alcohol. In this role, Fosdick worked closely with organizations such as the Young Men's Christian Association and the Red Cross.

During part of this period, Fosdick was also a special representative of the War Department in France and a civilian aide to General Pershing during the Paris Peace Conference. In 1919 and 1920, Fosdick served as Under Secretary General for the League of Nations until it became clear that the United States was not going to ratify the League of Nations covenant. He returned to the Bureau of Social Hygiene and resumed his work on police systems in the United States, publishing American Police Systems in 1920.

From 1920 through 1936, Fosdick was part of the Curtis, Fosdick, and Belknap law firm. In 1921, he became a board member at the Rockefeller Foundation. Fosdick also became a member of the General Education Board and the International Education Board in 1922 and 1923, respectively. In 1933, he was commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to study alcohol regulation, which resulted in the book Toward Liquor Control published that same year.

Fosdick was elected president of the Rockefeller Foundation and assumed the position on July 1, 1936. Under Fosdick's leadership, the organization contributed to medical research, developments in agriculture, and programs in the humanities and social sciences. Fosdick worked at the Rockefeller Foundation until 1948. In his retirement, Fosdick authored a book about the organization, 1952's The Story of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Fosdick wrote many other books over the course of his lifetime, including an autobiography, Chronicle of a Generation, which was published in 1958. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the title of Commander in the French Legion of Honor. Raymond Fosdick died in Newtown, Connecticut at age 89.

Collection History


Raymond Fosdick donated his papers to Princeton University in 1966 .


No information about appraisal is available for this collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Lawcedrea Walker from September 1992 to March 1993. Finding aid written by Lawcedrea Walker from September 1992 to March 1993.

During initial processing, the correspondence in this collection was divided into two series: professional serial numbered correspondence and correspondence arranged by correspondent or subject. In 2015-2016, the serial numbered correspondence was reorganized by correspondent or subject, and the two correspondence series were combined into a single series. The finding aid was revised by Rachel Van Unen in 2016 to reflect these changes.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

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.

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:

Raymond Blaine Fosdick Papers; 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 1-26

Find More

Related Materials

Prior to the donation of his papers to Princeton University, Fosdick transferred some correspondence to their respective owners. Files relating to the Commissioner of Accounts are in the New York City Municipal Archives, files in reference to the Commission on Training Camp Activities for the War and Navy Department are in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and correspondence pertaining to the Rockefeller Foundation is at the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York.


Fosdick, Raymond B., Chronicle of a Generation: An Autobiography (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1958)

Subject Terms:
International relations -- 20th century.
Military training camps -- Canada -- 20th century.
Military training camps -- United States -- 20th century.
Public administration -- 20th century.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Peace.
World War, 1914-1918 -- War work -- Europe.
Genre Terms:
Anti-saloon League of America
United States. War Dept. Commission on Training Camp Activities
The Rockefeller Foundation
League of Nations.
Institute of International Research
New York (N.Y.). Commissioner of Accounts
Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937
Byrd, Richard Evelyn, 1888-1957
Rockefeller, John D., Jr. (John Davison), 1874-1960
Antarctica -- Discovery and exploration -- 20th century.
New York (N.Y.) -- Politics and government -- 1898-1951.