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Diaries of Henry Lewis Stimson, 1909-1945


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Introduction: The Diaries of Henry Lewis Stimson in the Yale UniversityLibrary

Introduction: The Diaries of Henry Lewis Stimson in the Yale UniversityLibrary

 

The Diaries: Their History and Present Organization

 

The Henry Lewis Stimson diaries, spanning the years 1909-45,cover a long public career and offer scholars an invaluable historical source.Stimson began keeping the diaries in 1909 when he was forty-two years old.Characteristically, he made a conscious decision at that time to keep a fullrecord of his public life, and the diary was maintained down to his last day inpublic office on September 21, 1945. Although the diaries are full of stronglyexpressed views on people, issues, and events, many statements are veiled orguarded, and revelations of the private man are few and inadvertent. As apolitical document, however, and as a political testament, the diaries stand asa significant personal account of the career of an American statesman of thefirst rank.

 

The diaries are most detailed during those years thatStimson held public office, as secretary of war under President William HowardTaft (1911-1913), colonel of field artillery with the American ExpeditionaryForce in France (1917-1918), special envoy to President Calvin Coolidge toNicaragua (1927), governor general of the Philippine Islands (1928-1929),secretary of state under President Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), and secretary ofwar under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (1940-1945).During the last two periods, Stimson made almost daily entries and frequentlyplaced supporting documentation with the account. His method of work at thattime was to bring home each night selected papers which were used for referencepurposes while he dictated his entry for that day into a dictaphone machine.His dictation was usually transcribed the next morning by his secretary andordinarily amounted to not less than two pages or more than five pages for eachday. Although this method produced a fuller account than is to be found in thediary for other years, his account of daily happenings often seems incomplete andhaphazard. Many topics received careful attention, but others, equallysignificant, were mentioned only briefly or ignored. For the non-cabinet years,the coverage is even more general and casual.

 

Stimson kept his diaries in his office during the Rooseveltyears, referring to them occasionally. After his retirement in September, 1945,he took them to his home, Highhold, in Huntington, Long Island. Thehand-written marginal notes appearing throughout the diaries were for the mostpart written by Stimson himself, probably during the preparation of OnActive Service in Peace and War. This account of Stimsons public career,on which he collaborated with McGeorge Bundy, was published in 1947. In 1948,he named Yale University Library as the depository for his diaries as well asfor his massive collection of papers. The diary volumes were actually broughtto Yale in 1956. With the exception of a few handwritten volumes, the fifty-twovolumes of diaries are in typescript, each containing an average of about 180 pagessecured in a spring binder.

 

In 1971, Manuscripts and Archives of Yale UniversityLibrary, with the permission of the Stimson Literary Trust, undertook to indexthe diaries and to film them for publication. In preparing them for filming,each volume was separately paginated, the page number appearing in the upperright hand corner. When filmed, the fifty-two volumes filled nine reels, eachreel containing approximately 1,200 frames. The frames are numberedconsecutively to the end of each reel. The index prepared for each reel wasfilmed at the beginning of that reel. The diaries were filmed in the IB formatat a 12 1/2:1 reduction ratio.

 

The indices to Reels 1-9 have been filmed on Reel 10. Itshould be noted that this reel contains the nine separate indices, one for eachreel, and not a single consolidated index.

 

Using the Index

 

The index which appears at the beginning of each reel wasmade from the original diary transcript and is designed to help readers locateproper names, important place names, dates, and significant topics throughoutthe volumes copied on that reel. There is, however, no cumulative index to allthe reels. Whenever certain conditions, legislation, or events are best knownby popular name, they are listed under those names in the index, even thoughStimson did not use them in the diaries. An example of this type of entry is Nightof the Long Knives. Subject entries for such topics as the Spanish CivilWar and Neutrality also provide access to Stimsons view on theseissues. Beginning with Reel 4 in 1931, it became clear that certain key peopleare mentioned in the diaries so many times that it would be impractical toindicate each such mention individually by page number. In such cases, fromvolume 19 to the end, an inclusive designation for the number of timesmentioned has been used.

 

During the period of World War II there are special entriesunder War Production and Labor, and these subjects may also beapproached through the key figures associated with them: Sidney Hillman, WilliamS. Knudsen, Lewis B. Hershey and Clarence A. Dykstra. Since important militaryand civilian advisors during the war period are included in nearly each dailyentry, they are best traced in connection with their appropriate subject: e.g. Chiefof Staff, Selective Service, Scientists and scientific warfare, and Warplans and strategy. Among those included in this category are John J.McCloy, Harvey Bundy, Robert A. Lovett, Franklin Knox, George C. Marshall, andHarry Hopkins.,

 

When discussing war plans Stimson did not always refer to anoperation by its assigned code name. To be consistent, however, the indexershave used the code name even where Stimson did not. Generally, discussions ofwar plans may be found under the generic heading War Plans or under thegeographic area to which the plan pertains. In a very few instances, obliquereferences to the formulation of strategy are listed in the index althoughlittle substantive material will be found in the diary. This has been done whenother sources indicate that strategic planning took place at that time. Theinternment of West Coast Japanese, which also raised questions about othernationalities, can be traced in the index under the headings Aliens in theU.S., and Japanese-Americans, evacuation and internment of. Problemsof wartime security are covered in the index for Reel 7 under such headings as:Army, U.S.: courts martial and military justice, and Security andcensorship.

 

Diary volume numbers are designated in Roman numerals, withpage numbers following in Arabic. The date of the entry is in parentheses.During most of his years in the State and War Departments, Stimson meticulouslydated his daily diary entries. Occasionally, however, he wrote retrospectiveentries, and in the diary these always bear the date on which the entry waswritten, not the date of the event. Although the retrospective date is oftenquite obvious from the text, the date used in the index, is, in almost everycase, the date on which it was written, not the retrospective date.

 

In cases where Stimson uses only surnames, the indexers haveendeavored to identify the fierst names, and although this was not alwayspossible, the use of titles instead of names was avoided. The onlyabbreviations used are the initials for Theodore Roosevelt (TR), Franklin D.Roosevelt (FDR), and Stimson himself (HLS). The United States (US) isabbreviated in subentries, as are state names.

 

Advice on Property Rights and Citation

 

The papers copied on the microfilm edition of the HenryLewis Stimson Diaries are the property of the Yale University Library. Thisedition has been issued by the Yale University Library primarily for thepurpose of making these valuable materials more easily accessible to scholars.Researchers who make use of the microfilm edition must conform to the fairuse principles and the literary property right laws that govern the researchuse of all original manuscript materials. This means that unauthorizedpublication or photographic reproduction of any material in the microfilm editionis expressly forbidden.

 

The Stimson diaries contain a small number of documents notwritten by Henry Lewis Stimson, but sent by others to him. Users of themicrofilm are reminded that under the common law doctrine governing literaryproperty rights, the right to publish a personal letter or a manuscript belongsto the writer or his heirs, unless they have specifically divested themselvesof this right. This right is independent of and separate from the ownership ofthe letter or manuscript itself. This means that the Yale University Library,although it is the owner of the Stimson diaries, is not able to authorize thepublication of all of the materials they contain.

 

All persons wishing to publish any part or excerpt from themicrofilmed materials should request authorization from the Associate Librarianfor Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut06520.

 

In citing the microfilm edition the researcher should creditManuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, as custodian of the originalpapers. The following is a suggested form for citations: Henry Lewis StimsonDiaries, XV, 20 (microfilm edition, reel 3), Manuscripts and Archives, YaleUniversity Library, New Haven, Connecticut.