Introduction: The Papers of Henry Lewis Stimson, 1867-1950


The Henry Lewis Stimson Papers hold a special place among the great manuscripts collections that are the pride of the Yale University Library. Each year the Stimson papers are used by approximately 100 scholars, representing the heaviest concentration of use of any of our manuscripts collections. The publication of a microfilm edition of the correspondence and certain related papers of Henry Lewis Stimson (and, separately, of a microfilm edition of the diaries) is exceptionally noteworthy. The ready availability of a microfilm copy of the papers will be an important aid to all scholars working in twentieth century history.


Though Yale University has a long and honorable record in the field of documentary publication, it is only within the past two years that microfilm has been used as a medium of some of these publications. The increasing importance of the role of microfilm is, of course, the direct result of the steadily increasing size of the collections of manuscripts now being deposited in libraries, and there is no sign of a reversal of this trend. The Stimson papers comprise 170,000 pages, which would have taken several lifetimes to issue in traditional letterpress form, assuming that financial backing could have been found for such a project. Though it has certain shortcomings, microfilm will in more and more instances serve to satisfy research needs in those cases where it is impractical to hope for exhaustively and meticulously edited and indexed printed editions of the papers of great men. Even in cases where printed editions are planned or already under way, microfilm can fill scholarly needs in the long interval between initiation and completion of such projects. The Stimson papers and diaries are our first major microfilm publications. They will not be the last.


Those who have been involved in projects of this magnitude will know how large is the total number of persons who must, at various times, contribute their labor and knowledge if the work is to be brought to successful completion. One must first express gratitude to Professor John Morton Blum, who, as Acting Director of Yale University Libraries, lent his encouragement and approval to the initiation of this project, which in 1969 represented a sharp departure from previous policy. The necessary consent and approval of Mr. McGeorge Bundy, executor of the Stimson Literary Trust, was also quickly and graciously given. From the beginning the proposal had the support of Dr. Oliver W. Holmes, Jr., then Executive Director of the National Historical Publications Commission. The help and advice of Mr. Fred Shelley of the National Historical Publications Commission have been indispensable. Ms. Diane Kaplan, the general editor and mainstay of the project for two and one-half years bore the brunt of the enormous and complex job of arranging, annotating and preparing the materials for filming, of inspecting the film on completion, of preparing this guide, and of attending to innumerable vital details. In the last few months of the project, when we were in sore need of additional editorial help, we had expert assistance from Ms. Ruth Gay. Mr. David Maslyn has given able assistance in many aspects of carrying forward the project, and in developing working arrangements with Yale Library Photographic Services, the staff of which has been patient, careful, and industrious in the filming of these 169 reels.


Herman Kahn
Association Librarian for Manuscripts and Archives


Biographical Sketch


The death of Henry Lewis Stimson on October 20, 1950 in his eighty-third year, marked the end of an unusually long career in public service. Condolence messages spoke mostly of his later achievements, his service to the nation during World War II and his term as President Hoover’s secretary of state. He had outlived most of those who knew about his beginnings in public life nearly half a century earlier. Frequently mentioned in the tributes that followed his death were the ideals that guided him all his life: justice, the rule of law, the duty of public service, and personal integrity.


In writing about his forebears, Stimson described them as “sturdy, middle-class people, religious, thrifty, energetic, and long-lived.”1 A Stimson connection could be traced back to King Philip’s War and Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress was one of his ancestors. Henry L. Stimson was the first child of Candace Wheeler and Lewis Atterbury Stimson. Lewis Stimson, a graduate of Yale, served in the Union Army in the Civil War and then joined his father’s banking firm in New York. He married “Cannie” Wheeler in Paris in 1866 and Henry, nicknamed Harry or Hal, was born on September 21, 1867. Two years later a sister Candace, called Nan, was born.


In 1871 Lewis A. Stimson moved his wife and young family to Berlin, Zurich, and then to Paris where he commenced studying medicine. In Paris the family enjoyed the friendships of James Russell Lowell and George Eliot. In 1873 the family returned to New York to allow Lewis to obtain a medical degree at the Bellevue Hospital Medical School.


In June, 1876, Candace W. Stimson died. Overwhelmed by the loss of his wife Lewis Stimson absorbed himself in his surgical practice and teaching, leaving the children at the home of his parents in the care of his sister Mary Stimson, “Aunt Minnie.” The family was extremely close, and Stimson grew up surrounded by a wide circle of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and a great-grandmother who told him stories of her childhood talks with George Washington. His uncle, Henry A. Stimson, was a well-known clergyman and founder of Carlton College in Minnesota and his grandmother, Candace Turber Wheeler, gained recognition as a poet, artist, and skilled craftswoman. Visits to Grandmother Wheeler were frequent and it was through her that young Harry developed his love of nature and the wilderness.


Until he was thirteen Stimson attended New York schools and was tutored by his father. Then, dissatisfied with the conditions of life in the city, his father entered him in Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. In later years Stimson grew to appreciate fully the experience at Andover, noting in his autobiography, “It opened a new world of effort and completion. It also opened to me a new world of democracy and of companionship with boys from all portions of the United States.”2 In 1905 Stimson was elected a member of Andover’s board of trustees and subsequently served as the president of the board until 1947.


Stimson graduated from Andover in 1883 at the age of fifteen, too young to be admitted to Yale. He did a year’s additional preparation at Andover and entered Yale’s class of ’88 in the fall of 1884. Stimson later criticized Yale’s academic program, its system of rote learning, and the lack of opportunity for individual thinking, but praised the school for its “potent democratic spirit.” The friendships he formed there were lasting ones and included Amos Alonzo Stagg, Fred Solly, Irving Fisher, Morison Waite, and Gifford Pinchot. Stimson won many prizes for oratory and literary work, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, was tapped for Skull and Bones, and graduated third in his class of 124.


At one time Stimson had seriously considered studying for the ministry but decided on a legal career instead. In the fall of 1888 he entered Harvard Law School. The training received at Harvard with its stress on individual thinking and a broad philosophical outlook offered a remarkable contrast to Yale. “Harvard Law School,” Stimson said, “created a greater revolution in my power of thinking…while the faith in mankind that I learned on the campus at New Haven was greater and stronger than any such faith I achieved at Harvard.”3


He left Harvard in the spring of 1890 with a Master of Arts degree. In the fall he returned to New York City to serve a clerkship in the office of Sherman Evarts, a prerequisite to taking the bar examination. After passing the examination in June, 1891, Stimson was eager for challenging work. Through his father’s Yale classmates he was introduced to Elihu Root and was offered a clerkship in his firm. After a year with Root and Clarke, Stimson accepted a junior partnership. He was admitted to the firm on January 1, 1893, together with Bronson Winthrop who was to become his lifelong partner.


In 1893 Stimson married Mabel Wellington White, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles White of New Haven and a direct descendant of Roger Sherman. Although Stimson had proposed to Miss White during his senior year at Yale, his father made the couple promise to wait until Henry was established in his profession before announcing the engagement. Five years after graduating from Yale Stimson was earning $2,000 a year. The wedding on July 6, 1894, began fifty-seven years of what he later called “perfect companionship.”


His experience during the decade of the 1890’s was important for the future of Stimson’s career. The most important influence was Elihu Root himself from whom Stimson learned politics as well as law. Stimson appeared in court with Root and learned the evolving legal practices relating to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act from America’s leading corporation lawyer.


In the mid-1890’s Stimson, with other civic-minded citizens had joined in the formation of Good Government Clubs to arouse the public conscience to problems of corruption in government. Though successful in increasing the public awareness these groups found themselves powerless to change the entrenched political system. In 1892 Stimson had voted as a Cleveland Democratic though he had no use for Tammany Hall. He thought the local Republican organization was not much better, but since change had to be effected through the existing party system, Stimson decided to follow Root’s example and join the Republican party. Stimson worked first in his own assembly district to register Republicans and make sure that they voted on election day. Stimson’s efforts in the party between 1895 and 1901 brought him state prominence and notice from Theodore Roosevelt.


The Spanish-American War also changed Stimson’s thinking. When war broke out in April, 1989, Stimson, though without military training, enlisted in Squadron A of the New York National Guard, but did not see service outside of the United States. The memory of America’s unpreparedness for this war in later years made Stimson an advocate of universal military training and an early supporter of United States preparation for combat in World Wars I and II.


In 1899 President McKinley made Elihu Root secretary of war in his new cabinet. When Root went to Washington he left his lucrative law practice in the hands of Winthrop and Stimson. By 1903 Stimson was able to afford a country residence, which he established in West Hills, Long Island, and called Highhold. By the end of 1905 Stimson’s annual earnings from his law firm amounted to $20,000.


In 1906 President Roosevelt offered Stimson the position of United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. Roosevelt was out to make war on corporate transgressions and bust the trusts. The New York Southern Judicial District as the seat of much corporate activity needed a competent, intelligent, loyal man for the job. Even though it meant a 50 percent loss in income Stimson was ready to serve. In reorganizing his office so as to try all important cases himself, he drafted young talent and numbered Felix Frankfurter, Thomas D. Thacher, Henry A. Wise, and Goldthwaite Dorr among his protégés. In his term of service from 1906-1909 he prosecuted the New York Central Railroad for rebating, the American Sugar Refining Company for weighing frauds, Charles W. Morse for misappropriating funds from the Bank of North America, and James Gordon Bennett of the Herald for indecency in his personal columns. He had tried to indict Joseph Pulitzer for criminal libel at Roosevelt’s request, and had defended the president’s action in connection with the dishonorable discharge of black soldiers after the Brownsville incident. Speaking extemporaneously at a Yale reunion in 1908 Stimson said of this work, “The profession of the law had never been thoroughly satisfactory to me, simply because the life of an ordinary New York lawyer is primarily one essentially devoted to making money.” Referring specifically to the job of a United States attorney he continued, “There has been an ethical side of it which has been more of an interest to me, and I have felt that I could get a good deal closer to the problems of life than I ever did before, and felt that the work was a good deal more worth while.” After resigning from the United States attorney’s office in 1909 Stimson returned to his law practice. In 1909 he was given serious consideration as a possible candidate on the fusion ticket for mayor of New York. At this same time, as a friend of Gifford Pinchot, Stimson was drawn into the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy, a dispute dividing progressives from Taft Republicans.


In 1910, as the choice of Theodore Roosevelt and the progressive element of the Republican party, Stimson ran unsuccessfully for governor of New York against John A. Dix. Stimson did not have a politician’s zest for campaigning, and the press referred to him as a “human icicle.” The importance of the 1910 campaign for Stimson’s career was that he did not win. He never ran for a major elective office again, but the campaign marked him as Roosevelt’s man.


In the spring of 1911 when President Taft was searching for a new secretary of war Henry Stimson made a promising candidate. In order to unify the Republican party, Taft wanted an appointee who would be acceptable to Roosevelt. Stimson fitted the description and was, in fact, encouraged by Roosevelt to accept the post. On entering office Stimson found himself in the midst of a power struggle between Chief of Staff Leonard Wood and Adjutant General Fred Ainsworth. Stimson was eventually compelled to defend the prestige of the chief of staff against the adjutant general’s insubordination. In February, 1912, he forced the resignation of the politically powerful Ainsworth. Subsequent Congressional backlash against Wood and Stimson’s support for him cemented a lasting bond of friendship between the two. As secretary of war, Stimson also accomplished a reorganization of the nation’s small military force, oversaw the construction of the Panama Canal, and familiarized himself with the administration of colonial possessions, including the Philippines.


Unfortunately, in the election of 1912 Stimson was caught in the middle of the rift between Roosevelt and Taft. Balancing his friendship and debt to Roosevelt against loyalty to Taft and the Republican party, Stimson chose to support Taft. Roosevelt did not soon forgive him, and it was not until the United States was threatened by war in Europe that the two men spoke to each other again.


After leaving the cabinet in March, 1913, Stimson returned to New York and Winthrop and Stimson. He remained active in the New York Republican party, trying to keep progressive ideals alive and at the same time engineer a partial reconciliation between Bull Moosers and Taft-Root Republicans. In 1914 he was elected as a delegate-at-large to the New York Constitutional Convention of 1915 and again left his law practice in April of 1915 to participate in the proceedings at Albany. Stimson’s plan for reorganization of the state government revealed his own brand of progressivism which called for a powerful, efficient, centralized system headed by a strong executive. His program showed less concern for social reform. One can see in his support for such measures as the shortened slate of elective offices and the lengthened list of gubernatorial appointees his belief in a strong executive and, perhaps, too, his distrust of the mass of voters. Root, as president of the convention, had appointed Stimson to chair the Committee on State Finances and serve on the Committees on State Officers and on Judiciary. Proposals from these three committees embraced many of Stimson’s ideas on “responsible government” and included an amendment outlining an executive budget plan. Though the new constitution was rejected by the voters of New York, many of Stimson’s ideas were implemented later.


All through 1915 Stimson had stressed preparedness in speeches for the National Security League, convinced that the United States would soon be forced to enter the war in Europe. Following his own advice, in the fall of 1916, he enrolled for training under Leonard Wood at Plattsburgh Training Camp and was pronounced fit for service. After the United States’ declaration of war Stimson accepted a commission in the Reserve as a judge advocate, but in September, 1917, was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the 305th Regiment, Field Artillery, of which he was second in command. In December he went overseas, spending nine months in France, most of it at the American General Staff College in Langres. He returned to the United States in August, 1918, and was discharged in December. The title “Colonel” continued to be used by his friends.


Although his law practice was his primary concern between 1918 and 1926, Stimson retained his interest in public affairs. He was vocal in his objections to some features of Wilson’s peace plan and the League of Nations, but urged Republican senators to vote for the treaty. He supported Leonard Wood for the Republican presidential nomination in 1920. He continued to lobby for the executive budget, opposed the veterans’ bonus, protested when the New York Assembly refused to seat duly elected socialist members, and served with Charles Evans Hughes in 1925 on a commission to advise Governor Alfred Smith on the reorganization of state departments.


In 1926 the perennial dispute between Chile and Peru over the provinces of Tacna and Arica re-emerged. In an attempt to resolve the dispute Secretary of State Kellogg sought out Stimson as someone with a “detached mind” to provide an analysis of the situation. Stimson’s actual contribution to the settlement of this issue was minor but his advisory brief brought him recognition from the Coolidge administration.


Later in 1926 Stimson traveled as a semiofficial representative of the president to the Philippines where he was the guest of his old friends Governor General and Mrs. Leonard Wood. Wood had aroused antagonism among the Filipino leaders and his administration had been experiencing difficulties. During his stay Stimson talked with Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmeña and culminated his visit by presenting a memorandum of a plan to achieve better relations between branches of the Philippine government. The plan recognized the need for effective executive authority but combined it with responsible cabinet government. On his return he reported directly to President Coolidge.


In the spring of 1927 Coolidge appointed Stimson a special emissary to Nicaragua and granted him power to act for the government in seeking a solution to the civil war in that country between liberals and conservatives. In April Stimson sailed for Managua. He conducted talks with President Diaz and other conservatives and with General Moncada, the liberal leader. Eventually a settlement providing for a national election under American supervision was agreed to, known as the Peace of Tipitapa. By the time he left Nicaragua in May Stimson had succeeded in restoring a general peace. Stimson believed that a major lesson had been learned from these negotiations, that friendly, frank discussions and an attitude of impartiality toward all participants could achieve constructive results in Latin American relations. He recorded his impressions of his work later in 1927 in American Policy in Nicaragua.


When Governor General Leonard Wood died in the summer of 1927, Quezon and Osmeña urged President Coolidge to appoint Stimson in his place. Guaranteed the support of these two leaders, Stimson accepted and sailed for Manila in February, 1928, for his “last short adventure before old age.” Stimson’s program included the clarification of the position of governor general in the executive department, establishment of a working relationship with the legislature, and progress in industrial and economic development by attracting foreign capital. These policies, especially the last, were not unanimously supported by all Filipinos. Stimson asserted that individual freedom and self-government would come more quickly to the Philippines if they had a more highly developed commerce and industry. Filipino leaders continued to fear that independence would not be granted and the extensive foreign investment would lead to economic dependence and exploitation.


The Stimsons found life agreeable in the Philippines - living in the Malacañan Palace, traveling through the islands, and enjoying the viceregal privileges of the office of governor general. But, Hoover, on being elected president, offered Stimson a cabinet post, and Stimson agreed to accept the portfolio of the State Department. The Stimsons returned to Washington, and Stimson took the oath of office on March 28, 1929.


One of Stimson’s first tasks was finding a place to live in Washington. In midsummer the Stimsons finally settled on a large and lavish Southern colonial style mansion in the heart of northwest Washington called Woodley. The grounds were extensive and in later years Cordell Hull found them to be ideal for his croquet matches.


Stimson entered his new office as a recognized believer in international cooperation. In October, 1929, British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald met with Hoover and Stimson at Rapidan in the Virginia mountains, a meeting which opened the way to a general conference of major naval powers on limiting fleet strengths. Representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, France, Italy, and Japan met in London in January, 1930, with Stimson as head of the United States delegation. The final results of this conference were disappointing and the build-up of naval armaments continued.


The Hoover administration also made new overtures of good will toward Latin American nations and raised once again the hopes for American participation in the World Court. In 1929 a serious conflict between the Soviet Union and China was averted. Stimson later looked back at his first two years in office as a period of peace and trust.


Almost overnight, however, the weaknesses of the post-World War I economic and political arrangements became startlingly apparent. By the spring of 1931 an international economic depression had produced a major political crisis. In May the Credit Anstalt, the largest bank in Austria, collapsed and financial panic swept Europe. Continuing monetary chaos in Central Europe meant that a political upheaval was certain along with the repudiation of all foreign debts. To meet this crisis Hoover proposed a one-year moratorium on all intergovernmental debts, including German reparations payments to the Allied powers and all war debts owed by the Allies to the United States. After the moratorium was announced Stimson departed for Europe to meet with leaders and attend the conference on intergovernmental debts.


In September, 1931, when Stemson was still deeply concerned over the world financial crisis, cables from the Far East indicated that Japan had invaded Manchuria in flagrant violation of the Kellogg Pact, the Nine Power Treaty, and the covenant of the League of Nations. For three months Stimson continued to communicate with Kijuro Shidehara, Japan’s foreign secretary. He hoped that the Japanese government could control the leaders of its armed forces, but Japanese aggression continued. By January 3, 1932, all of Manchuria was in Japanese hands. In reaction, Stimson decided to use moral sanctions. In a note to both China and Japan on January 7 he invoked the nonrecognition doctrine which was designed to reinforce the Kellogg Pact. If the fruits of aggression were recognized, Stimson believed, war would again be sanctioned as a legitimate instrument of national policy.


But this message did not deter the Japanese, who proceeded to attack Shanghai. Stimson, voicing United States policy, insisted on the maintenance of China’s independence and territorial integrity. The Japanese refused to concur in the definition of China as an “organized people” and continued their advance. Stimson saw a sharp difference between the views of the East and West on these matters and predicted that if the friction between them continued it would be almost impossible to prevent an armed clash.


In the spring of 1932 Stimson attended the disarmament conference held in Geneva. In the summer he campaigned for the re-election of Hoover. After Hoover’s defeat Stimson met with President-elect Roosevelt and Cordell Hull to discuss problems in foreign affairs, meanwhile preparing the way for conversations which he hoped to arrange between Roosevelt and the bitter Herbert Hoover, a plan which was never consummated.


In the interval between 1933 and 1940 Stimson divided his time between Washington and New York. Almost every summer he vacationed in Scotland. In 1936 he published a book about Japanese aggression titled The Far Eastern Crisis. In 1937 he was elected to serve a two-year term as president of the New York City Bar Association. He supported Roosevelt’s basic views of foreign policy but was deeply skeptical of New Deal domestic legislation and vigorously denounced the administration’s attempt to reorganize the Supreme Court. Stimson kept a watchful eye on the developing drama in foreign affairs. He wrote letters to the New York Times demanding action against Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, deploring the Ludlow amendment, and favoring an embargo on arms to Spain and Japan. Stimson made himself a champion of China’s cause and favored a “get tough” policy toward the Japanese. When the American Committee for Non-Participation in Japanese Aggression was formed in the summer of 1938 Stimson agreed to serve as its  honorary chairman.


Stimson had continued to visit Roosevelt at the White House through October, 1934. Then, a misunderstanding occurred and though they corresponded occasionally Stimson’s direct access to the president was gone. Stimson was greatly surprised, therefore, when Roosevelt offered him the post of Secretary of War in June, 1940. Stimson accepted, seeing the invitation as a call to duty. Stimson’s frequent outspoken remarks about the need for United States aid to help Europe fight fascism had no doubt impressed the president. But, the appointment was also a political stroke. Roosevelt on the eve of his campaign for a third term had hoped to confound his critics by creating a “cabinet of national unity.” When the announcement was made at the Republican National Convention then meeting in Philadelphia, Stimson and the new Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, another Republican, were both read out of the party. His nomination confirmed by the Senate, Stimson was sworn in on July 10.


At first Stimson had doubts as to the permanence of his position in the Roosevelt cabinet. He thought he might be cast out after the November election. At most, he foresaw eighteen months preparing the War Department to cope with its increasing responsibilities. One of Stimson’s first urgent tasks was the enlarging of the Army. From two hundred thousand in 1940 it eventually reached a peak of eight million. Stimson supported enactment of selective service legislation. When the lottery was begun Stimson was the blindfolded man who drew the first capsule. Stimson also advocated support for Britain and worked for the passage of Lend-Lease. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, came almost as a relief to Stimson. The uneasy wait between peace and war was over. Mobilization began in earnest and Stimson took part in strategy sessions between the United States and Britain. He always believed that the European front should take precedence over the Pacific theater and he urged an early cross channel invasion of Europe instead of campaigns in the Mediterranean and Middle East.


During the progress of war Stimson had to fight continual battles over mobilization of industry and the procurement of supplies and manpower, deal with questions affecting black troops, justify the relocation of West Coast Japanese-American citizens, and develop plans for the postwar government of Germany. He made several inspection tours of army bases in the United States, visited Britain in 1943, and joined Omar Bradley and George Patton in France after the invasion of Normandy. His devotion to his work won him the deep friendship with General George Marshall.


The work was rigorous for a man Stimson’s age and he continued to amaze the nation with his stamina. His regime called for him to rise at 6:30 for work at the department. After a full day’s work he would return to Woodley for a vigorous game of deck tennis. He continued also to enjoy the pleasures of horseback riding. Social engagements were cut to a minimum; he and Mrs. Stimson would spend quiet evenings at home. Almost every weekend they would escape to Highhold to confront the more enjoyable problems of running that household and farm.


As the war in Europe was coming to a conclusion in the spring of 1945 Stimson was beginning to suffer from coronary heart disease. But when President Roosevelt died suddenly in April and an inexperienced Harry Truman came into office Stimson promised Truman that he would remain on the job until the end of war with Japan was in sight.


In the fall of 1941 Stimson had been named by Roosevelt to a committee along with Vannevar Bush and James B. Conant to advise him on nuclear fission policy. When Truman became president, it was Stimson, as senior advisor on the military employment of atomic energy, who first informed him of the existence of the Manhattan project. News of the successful detonation of an atomic bomb was relayed to Stimson at Potsdam on July 16, 1945, where plans for postwar Europe were being discussed. Stimson conveyed the information to Truman and a decision, since the subject of much debate, was made to use the bomb if Japan refused surrender terms. Stimson selected the targets of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Stimson’s last cabinet debate was on the future uses of atomic energy. He insisted that the United States and the Soviets be brought into equal partnership on this subject, in an effort to confine the use of atomic energy to peaceful purposes. He felt that for the United States to negotiate with the Soviets with the bomb “on our hip” would “irretrievably embitter” future relations with Russia. He was voicing once again his faith that the best way to make a person or nation trustworthy was to trust them.


The war officially ended on September 2, and Stimson, then 78, weakened by his heart condition, retired from the War Department three weeks later. The years following retirement were not active ones. Stimson returned to Highhold to recuperate, but was plagued by painful attacks of arthritis. Much of his time was occupied in writing. He wrote articles defending the decision to drop the bomb, justifying the legality of the Nuremburg war crimes trials, and supporting the Marshall plan. In 1948 he completed his autobiography, written with McGeorge Bundy, “On Active Service in Peace and War. His last letter to the New York Times was written on March 27, 1950, and decried the attacks by Senator Joseph McCarthy on the State Department. Six months later he died at Highhold.




1 Henry Lewis Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York, 1947, 1948), xii.


2 On Active Service, xiii.


3 On Active Service, xv-xvi.



Provenance, Nature, and Organization of the Papers


The Stimson Trust was established by Henry Lewis Stimson in the fall of 1948 to preserve Stimson’s correspondence, speeches, writings, diaries, and various other collected documents, and ultimately to make these materials available for research purposes to scholars and the public. Under the terms of the trust the first segment of the Henry L. Stimson papers were deposited in Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library in the spring of 1949. This shipment was composed of papers from Highhold, the Stimson law office in New York City, and materials that had been stored in a warehouse in Brooklyn. It consisted of almost all of Stimson’s personal papers prior to March 4, 1933. Not included were papers created by Stimson as a practicing attorney, which remained in the files of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam, and Roberts. The trustees expressed their intention to make additional gifts to the library of the remaining Stimson papers and the diary. At the time of Stimson’s death in 1950 the papers which had arrived at Yale in 1949 had still not been formally donated, and it was not until 1952 that these papers (for the period prior to 1933) became the property of the university. By this time a portion of the papers from the post-1933 period had also arrived at the Yale Library.


In 1949 an inventory of the newly-arrived material was made and an elaborate system for arranging and cataloging was begun. Each item was to be numbered and recorded on slips in triplicate so that a card catalog by author, date, and subject could be developed. The papers were arranged in chronological order excluding printed material, newspaper clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, and bound volumes of miscellaneous materials. Thus much correspondence that had previously been arranged by subject was now incorporated into a single chronological series.


The work of arrangement and cataloging proceeded slowly. The Stimson Trust had commissioned Elting E. Morison to write a biography of Stimson and had given him permission to use the papers in his own quarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition, Morison had taken for his use a quantity of additional papers that were still at Highhold at the time of Mrs. Stimson’s death in 1955. As these papers began to trickle back to New Haven, it was decided to simplify the cataloging process. Items were no longer numbered, and catalog cards were made only for the more important letters. When, in July, 1959, the trustees authorized the library to make all papers including the diaries available to scholars without restriction, the cataloging and arrangement process was still going on. This work was completed in the early sixties and at that time the papers were estimated to contain 115,000 items. Stimson family correspondence in the possession of Morison was given to the Library in 1960 with the stipulation that these papers be kept under seal for twenty-five years.


Since that time there have been two substantial contributions to the collection. In 1965 Sherman Kent donated two more volumes of printed speeches which had been given to him by Stimson for the purpose of editing a volume of significant public statements. The other addition came from Dr. Philip Stimson in 1969 and consisted of family correspondence, history, and memorabilia.


The user of this material should be aware that the Yale University Library has made no attempt to obtain copies of Stimson papers and letters existing elsewhere, of which there may be no copy in Yale’s collection. For instance, the library of Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, has material which relates to Stimson’s service as a member of the board of trustees. The official records of the War Department and the State Department for the periods of Stimson’s government service are in the National Archives, and must be used by any serious student of Stimson’s career.


Information for Users of the Microfilm


The microfilm publication of the Henry Lewis Stimson papers consists of 169 reels of film, each reel approximately 1000 frames long. The papers have been filmed in the IB or IIB format, and unless otherwise indicated have been filmed at 12 1/2:1 reduction ratio. The papers have been filmed in the order in which they are now maintained in the Manuscripts and Archives at the Sterling Memorial Library. They are in the following six series: I. General Correspondence; II. Memoranda, Minutes of Meetings, Notes on Conversations and Interviews, and Miscellaneous Papers, 1929-1933, 1940-1945; III. Speeches, Writings, and Other Public Statements; IV. Special Subjects; V. Family Correspondence; and VI. Selected Documents of the State Department, 1929-1933. There are three additional reels of film at the very end which do not fit into any of these series.


A description of each series and an explanatory note for each of the 169 reels have been printed in this guide. The notes offer a general survey of each reel in the context of Stimson’s life, but are not an exhaustive analysis or catalog of the reel’s contents.


Persons who have previously used the papers at the library may notice that there has been some rearrangement of series. This has been done to facilitate the location of material. A collection of newspaper clippings, routine business, financial, and legal papers, and photographs have not been filmed.


Advice on Property Rights and Citation


The papers copied on the microfilm edition of the Henry Lewis Stimson Papers are the property of the Yale University Library. This edition has been issued by the Yale University Library primarily for the purpose of making these valuable materials more easily accessible to scholars. Researchers who make use of the microfilm edition must conform to the “fair use” principles and the literary property right laws that govern the research use of all original manuscript materials. This means that unauthorized publication or photographic reproduction of any material in the microfilm edition is expressly forbidden.


The Stimson Papers, of course, contain vast quantities of letters and other material not written by Henry Lewis Stimson, but sent by others to him. Users of the microfilm are reminded that under the common law doctrine governing literary property rights, the right to publish a personal letter or a manuscript belongs to the writer or his heirs, unless they have specifically divested themselves of this right. This right is independent of and separate from the ownership of the letter or manuscript itself. This means that the Yale University Library, although it is the owner of the Stimson Papers, is not able to authorize the publication of all the materials they contain.


All persons wishing to publish any part or excerpt from the microfilmed materials should request authorization from the Associate Librarian for Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.


In citing documents in the microfilm edition the researcher should credit Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, as custodian of the original papers. The following is a suggested form for citations: Henry Lewis Stimson to Woodrow Wilson, 1913 March 4, Henry Lewis Stimson Papers (Microfilm edition, reel 10), Manuscript and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut.




Series I: General Correspondence
Reels 1 - 125


The general correspondence series comprises 125 reels of the microfilm publication and is the largest series on the film. It spans Stimson’s entire career from 1884 to his death in 1950.


The first eleven reels are composed of twenty-four volumes of letterpress copies of outgoing letters for the period 1891-1913. Each of these volumes contains approximately 500 letters. The books have been filmed in the following order: personal letters; official letters as secretary of war; official letters as United States attorney. Each volume except the first has its own index to the addressee of every letter. In addition, the volumes created in the office of the secretary of war on reels 7-10 contain a subject index. In these indices addressees are listed on the top half of the page, and subjects on the bottom half. The letters in all of the volumes are usually arranged in chronological order.


Every letter in these letterbooks has been filmed, but blank numbered pages have not been filmed. In certain instances the thin tissue copies in these volumes are almost illegible owing to the blurred or poorly made copy, fading, or tears and wrinkles in the page. In such cases a target indicating the illegibility of the original document has been filmed with the letter.


The remainder of the correspondence has been placed in a single chronological sequence. In cases of undated items, dates have been supplied in brackets, where possible, to the closest day, month or year. Items with only year dates were filmed at the beginning of each year; items with year and month dates were filmed at the beginning of the month. Items that could not be dated at all were placed in alphabetical order and filmed at the end of the series. Where there is more than one letter bearing a single date the letters have been alphabetized by name of writer. Copies of Stimson’s outgoing letters have been chronologically interfiled with the other correspondence. Enclosures have been filmed following the letter of transmittal. Non-Stimson correspondence that is unexplainably in the files has been filmed on reel 168 as “Correspondence of Others.” Most family correspondence will be found in the family correspondence series, but family letters that contain discussions of public issues or of Stimson’s public career will be found in the general correspondence. Mabel White Stimson’s non-family correspondence has been arranged in chronological order and filmed on reel 124. Condolence letters received by Mrs. Stimson on the death of her husband have been filmed on reel 125.


Reel notes for this series have been written in a narrative style to describe major events and issues of the time. These notes enlarge on details missing in the biographical sketch and provide a sampling of the more important or most frequent correspondents and subjects in the reel. The reader is cautioned against assuming that all persons or subjects that appear in the reel are mentioned in the reel note. A reader interested in a specific person is encouraged to consult Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, for information that may be available in catalogs kept in the department. In general, speeches and articles mentioned in these reel notes will be found in the “Speeches, Writings, and Other Public Statements” series on reels 129-136.


Series II: Memoranda, Minutes of Meetings, Notes on Conversations and Interviews, and Miscellaneous Papers
Reels 126 - 128


Though comprising only three reels, this series is one of the most valuable for the periods 1929-1933 and 1940-1945. Copied on these reels are such materials as notes preparatory to cabinet meetings, minutes and notes of cabinet meetings, memoranda of engagements, aides-memoire, summaries of problems and proposals for their solution, and various types of research material. These materials were all produced during Stimson’s periods in the cabinet. The series is arranged in chronological order.


Series II: Speeches, Writings, and other Public Statements
Reels 129 - 136


The material in this series is divided into three subseries, by type, i.e. speeches, writings, and other public statements. Within each subseries the material is arranged chronologically. The papers for any particular pronouncement will always contain notes, a draft, or a printed copy, but may also include outlines, research memoranda, working drafts, and extensive research material. In some cases mailing lists are also present, but these have not been filmed.


“Speeches” includes radio talks, commencement addresses, classroom lectures, and some speeches which were prepared but never delivered.


“Writings” includes all works intended for publication: articles, letters to the editor, memorial tributes, books and introductions to works of others. The papers produced in connection with the writing of Stimson’s three books have been removed from their chronological position in the “Writings” subseries. The material for The Far Eastern Crisis contains a reference file useful for research on the conflict between China and Japan in the early thirties. For the convenience of the researcher interested only in the period 1929-1933 this material has been placed after the “Memoranda, Minutes of Meetings” series on reel 126. The material for On Active Service and My Vacations has been filmed on reel 136.


The subseries “Other Public Statements” includes press releases, testimony before congressional hearings, preparatory notes and transcripts of interviews, notes used at press conferences, and transcripts of press conferences.


Series IV: Special Subjects
Reels 137 - 146


The “Special Subjects” series contains ten reels. Each reel is composed of one or more segments, each segment representing a separate subject unit. Each segment may contain any of several different kinds of material, but none of them contains any correspondence of Henry L. Stimson. Each segment has its own internal organization; in most cases it is chronological. The beginning of a segment has been indicated by the triple filming of a target giving the segment title.


Series V: Family Correspondence and Other Family Papers
Reels 147 - 159


The family papers are divided into two subseries. The first, “General Stimson Family Papers,” is composed of all correspondence between Stimson family members that is not addressed to or written by Henry Lewis Stimson. Such Stimson family members include Mabel White Stimson and her relatives, as well as Henry L. Stimson’s relations. Correspondence in this subseries dates back to the 1840’s. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the name of the recipient, and then chronologically under each name. The husband’s surname has been used in alphabetizing the names of married women. In a few cases, copies of letters sent to nonfamily members have been placed with the writer’s incoming correspondence. Speeches, diaries, poems, or other personal material has been filmed with each person’s letters.


The subseries, “Family Correspondence of Henry L. Stimson,” is composed of letters both to and from family members. Letters by Stimson’s law partners and secretaries which discuss family matters are also found here. The subseries is arranged in chronological order and spans the years from 1874-1950. The subseries does not contain any correspondence which refers to Stimson’s public career. Letters which contain discussions of politics, current events, meetings with public figures or the like have been placed in the general correspondence series.


The last reel in the “Family” series contains documents relating to family history and genealogy, and items of Stimson’s personal memorabilia.


In accordance with a stipulation of the donors, the thirteen reels containing the “Family” correspondence will not be available for purchase and use until 1985. The series contains the bulk of material from the recent donation by Philip Stimson. It should be stressed again, however, that all letters relating to Stimson’s public career are available on the reels in the general correspondence series.


Series VI: Selected Documents of the State Department
Reels 160 - 166


This series consists of copies of official State Department records created in or for the office of the secretary of state between 1929 and 1933. The series comprises seven reels of film. The major portion of this series consists of reports from the various divisions of the State Department, memoranda of conversations with diplomatic representatives and of transatlantic phone conversations, and departmental administrative records. Most of the documents are carbon copies of original State Department records now in the National Archives. The originals are not yet available in a National Archives publication.


Kept with this series are several folders of mimeographed State Department press releases issued between 1929 and 1933. These press releases are duplicated in Press Releases, a publication of the State Department, also kept with the series. Neither set of press releases has been filmed. Two printed volumes of the Registers of the Department of State (January, 1930 and January, 1932) are also kept with this series, but have not been filmed.