Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Liberty Loan Committee
Liberty Loan Committee Records
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
54 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-54


The Liberty Loan Committee coordinated campaigns to sell U.S. Treasury bonds to the American public from 1917 to 1919 in order to fund United States involvement in World War I. The Committee was managed by the Federal Reserve. The Liberty Loan Committee Records document the four Liberty Loan and the Victory Loan campaigns and include advertisements, committee memoranda, forms and descriptions of the loans, and subscription information.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Liberty Loan Committee Records document the four Liberty Loan and the Victory Loan campaigns and include advertisements, committee memoranda, forms and descriptions of the loans, and subscription information. Additionally, the records include materials about other organizations active during World War I, especially those involved in fundraising and aid work, including the sale of war savings stamps by the National War Savings Committee.

Please see the series descriptions in the contents list for additional information about individual series.


The Records have been arranged in five series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Liberty Loan Committee

The Liberty Loan Committee coordinated campaigns to sell U.S. Treasury bonds to the American public from 1917 to 1919 in order to fund United States involvement in World War I. The Committee was managed by the Federal Reserve. Campaigns to promote the sale of the bonds were conducted by Federal Reserve District and emphasized the patriotic duty of citizens to aid the war effort through the purchase of the bonds.

United States entry into World War I necessitated a huge increase in government spending, both for the U.S. military and in aid for the Allies. One of the main fundraising efforts for the government were four Liberty Loans and a fifth Victory Loan, which sold U.S. Treasury bonds to the American public. The sale of the loans were managed by the Federal Reserve, which had been established only a few years earlier. The Federal Reserve Banks, and therefore the bond sale campaigns, were organized by twelve Federal Reserve Districts: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco. The Federal Reserve was also responsible for managing the distribution of the funds in the nation's banks and withdrawing funds as they were needed by the government.

The Liberty Loan committees organized highly successful advertising campaigns based on patriotism to inspire the American public to buy the bonds, allowing the Treasury to sell them at a lower interest rate than the market would have set. The advertising campaigns took many forms. The Committee distributed posters and pamphlets, buttons and stickers, and many businesses decorated their store front windows with the ads. Prominent politicians, sports figures, and artists publicly bought bonds, inspiring their fans and supporters to do the same. "Four Minute Men" spoke after movies and plays about the importance of buying bonds. Parades were held featuring wounded veterans, and there were war-exhibit trains and aerial demonstrations by skilled fighter pilots that traveled across the country. More than 100,000 clergymen of many denominations delivered Liberty Loan sermons, and in May 1917 the National Women's Liberty Loan Committee was organized under the premise that women would provide a moral force in war finance. The Liberty Loan Committee became one of the largest committees in American history.

The First Liberty Loan of $2 billion was offered to the public in May and June 1917 and quickly oversubscribed by an estimated 4 million Americans. All four subsequent loans were also oversubscribed, in the first three by an increasing number of individuals. The Second Liberty Loan was offered in October 1917, the third was offered April to May 1918, the fourth, the largest of the loans, was offered September to October 1918, and the Victory Loan was offered from April to May 1919. All together, the Liberty Loans raised over 21 billion dollars for the United States war effort. Given the huge sums of money involved, the government needed to balance the movement of the money to avoid disturbing money markets, and the government also required the funds sooner than the Liberty Loan campaigns could provide. One of the most significant tools used to resolve this was through issuing certificates of indebtedness, which were also coordinated by the Federal Reserve. These certificates were short term government loans with low interest rates. Eighty-four series were issued up to June 1921, mostly in anticipation of liberty loans or receipts from taxes, spreading out the payment of funds to the government.

The Liberty Loan campaigns were successful in achieving the Treasury Department's object to market a huge increase in debt at a relatively low direct cost to the Treasury. The public bought most of the debt, and commercial banks bought approximately 20% of the total issue of the loans. The Loans also marked a significant shift in American credit, moving lending and borrowing into the social mainstream, where before it had been the province of skilled investors only.

Collection History


The scrapbooks were transferred to the Mudd Manuscript Library in February 2008 from the General Collection in Firestone Library, Princeton University. No other provenance or acquisition information is available for this collection.


No materials were separated from this collection during processing in 2008.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Adriane Hanson, Clelia Douyon and Grace Loro in 2008. Finding aid written by Adriane Hanson in August 2008.

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:

Liberty Loan Committee 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 1-54

Find More

Related Materials

The Mudd Manuscript Library holds many collections related to World War I, including the papers of government officials, soldiers, journalists, individuals involved in aid work, peace negotiations and the economic rebuilding of Europe, and collected materials related to the war. Researchers wishing to access these collections should search for the subject "World War, 1914-1918" or related terms in the Princeton University Library Finding Aids website. Collections at the Mudd Manuscript Library of particular relevance to the Liberty Loan Committee Records include the Papers of the Woodrow Wilson Project Records and other collections on Wilson, and the papers of Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison, Secretary of State Robert Lansing, Chairman of the Commission on Training Camp Activities Raymond Blaine Fosdick, and the Carey Cartoon Collection on foreign policy issues during World War I.

Related collections at other institutions include records on the Liberty Loans within the United States Treasury and other department records at the National Archives, a small collection of records of the Four Minute Men (who disseminated information on Liberty Loan campaigns) at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, and a small collection of records of the Bronx Liberty Loan Committee at the New York Historical Society.


The following sources were consulted during the preparation of the organizational history: The ABC of the Federal Reserve System by Edwin W. Kemmerer. Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, 1936. "History Lesson: Loans for Nearly Everyone" by James Grant. Barron's National Business and Financial Weekly, June 6, 1992. A History of the Federal Reserve by Allan H. Meltzer. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2003. "Liberty Loan Triumph Seen Ten Years After" by Carson H. Hathaway. The New York Times, May 8, 1927.

Subject Terms:
Banks and banking -- United States.
Bonds -- United States.
Debts, Public -- United States.
Finance, Public -- United States.
Liberty bonds.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Finance -- United States.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Propaganda -- United States.
Genre Terms:
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System U.S.
National War Savings Committee (U.S.)
Strong, Benjamin, 1872-1928