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by David A. Langbart

Even before the United States formally entered World War II, the conflict had a significant impact on the Department of State.  In the 36 months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Department saw many changes both in activities and structure.  To provide a convenient summary of those changes for use by officials speaking to the public, in June 1941, the Office of the Director of Personnel prepared an untitled memorandum describing the expansion of the Department’s activities and the changes in organization.  While the document admittedly lacks much in the way of style, it does provide a useful and valuable overview of the various changes taking place in the Department of State in the years leading up to U.S. entry into World War II, thus providing a picture of that agency and its myriad organizations and activities as participation in the war approached.

A survey of the present activities of the Department of state indicates that there has been an extraordinary increase in the volume and scope of its activities since the beginning of the unsettled international situation in July, 1938.  This increase is definitely reflected in the work of every division and office, with the exception of the Division of International Conferences, the Treaty Division, the Office of the Editor of Treaties, and the Foreign Service School, and has necessitated the establishment of numerous administrative and policy machineries.  The total authorized permanent and temporary staff of the Department of State in Washington has been increased from 939 at a total annual cost of $2,241,000 on July 1, 1938, to 1,503 at $3,301,540 on June 1, 1941.  This represents an increase of approximately 60 percent in the total number of personnel and of 47 percent in the total annual cost of salaries.

The work of the American Foreign Service likewise has been increased in the interest of the national security and measures have been enforced to strengthen our diplomatic and consular offices and to adapt their personnel to emergency needs.  Its total permanent and temporary staff has increased in number from 3,757 on July 1, 1938, to 4,500 on June 1, 1941, an increase of approximately 20 percent.  The increase of 743 in personnel includes approximately 300 officers and employees transferred from the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture under the President’s Reorganization Plan No. II, whereby the functions of the Foreign Commerce Service and of the Foreign Agricultural Service were consolidated with the Foreign Service of the United States for the purpose of economy, efficiency, better functional grouping, elimination of overlapping and duplication of effort, and of insuring greater service to our commercial and agricultural interests.  Forty of our offices have been closed because of the conflict abroad, and 40 new offices have been opened.

The growth in the volume and variety of work handled in the Department has been accelerated greatly during the past year.  There has been an intensification in all fields of activities involved in the conduct of our foreign relations: political, economic, cultural and social, and in all related administrative activities.  Our normal governmental contacts have broadened out to cover associated activities of all other governmental agencies and an increasing number of private institutions and individuals, and the Department of State maintains close technical relations with the principal agencies and interdepartmental groups established during the crisis to assist in the national defense program.

It is obvious that the work of all of the geographical or strictly political divisions has increased almost immeasurably as a result of the disturbed international situation and the existence of widespread and serious hostilities in three of the four regions over which these divisions have jurisdiction in political matters; that is, in the regions for which the European Division, the Far Eastern Division and the Near Eastern Division have the responsibility for the conduct of our foreign relations.  The work of the Division of the American Republics has increased manyfold as a result of many lines of cooperative activity that are being carried on with other republics of the Americas, as a part of the general program of Western Hemisphere solidarity that is so vital to our future economic welfare and the safety of the democratic form of government in this hemisphere.  This work not only involves an enormous increase in reports and other communications which are received and must be evaluated and acted upon, but it places on the State Department, and particularly on the Division of the American Republics, the supervisory responsibility for a considerable number of cooperative projects being carried on by other departments and agencies of the Government under appropriations made available to the State Department by Congress for those purposes.

In order to give effect to the Department’s expanded activities, numerous adjustments have been made in the organization of the Department.

The Division of Cultural Relations was established in July, 1938, for the purpose of encouraging and strengthening cultural relations and intellectual cooperation between the United States and other countries[.] [I]n carrying out these functions, it has charge of the work of the Department in relation to the exchange of professors, teachers, and students between the countries; cooperation with other countries in the fields of music, art, literature, and other intellectual and cultural fields; collection and distribution of libraries of representative works of the United States and suitable translations thereof; Government participation in international broadcasts; and, generally, the improvement and broadening of the scope of American cultural relations with other countries.

As a result of the emergency, all activities of the Division have been intensified for the promotion of Hemispheric solidarity and in this connection, the Division works in close cooperation with the Office of the Coordinator of Commercial and Cultural Relations between the American Republics.

A Division of International Communications was established in August, 1938, for the purpose of centralizing in one division, under qualified technical experts, our international relations as to aviation, shipping, and telecommunications.  Since the outbreak of the war, the most important problem which has resulted in increased activities in the Aviation Section of this Division covers the plan for the extension of American air transport services in the other American republics and the cooperation of American air carriers in building up national air transport lines in these republics, all with a view to bringing about the elimination of Axis influence and control over aviation in these countries.  Very substantial progress has already been made with respect to the general program in Colombia and Ecuador.  Plans for the building up of a national airline in Bolivia with the technical assistance of the Pan American Grace Airways, together with the extension of the international trunk line of this company into Bolivia, are now well under way, as well as plans for eliminating Axis influence in air transportation in Brazil.

This general program has entailed a number of complexities involving detailed studies of corporate organization, and economic and political considerations.  The President has approved the allocation from his Emergency Fund of the sum of $8,000,000 to be expended under the general direction of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in the acceleration of activities in this field.  The administration of this fund gives rise to problems, such as the approval of estimates of expenditure for aircraft, improvements of or establishment of airport facilities, acquisition of stock in reorganized national companies and the employment of necessary personnel.  Owing to severe restrictions on the allocation of aircraft because of the requirements of our national defense and the policy of cooperation under the Lend-Lease Bill in furnishing supplies to Great Britain, an acute problem arises in the matter of obtaining the necessary United States Aircraft to supply local lines in the other American republics.  The President has directed the Priorities Board to release the requisite number of aircraft in accordance with an estimate drawn up in the Division of International Communications, and many problems are involved in the acquisition and apportioning of this equipment and in obtaining the release by our National Defense service of the necessary pilot personnel to serve in the air transport services in the other American republics, in obtaining the necessary mechanics and ground personnel to serve in connection with the operation of air transport services under this general plan of aeronautical development.

In addition to the foregoing activity and to the increase in its normal functions in the field of international aviation, the Section has been engaged in the negotiation of agreements with countries for the use of landing bases; in the arrangement for the flights by United states Army and Navy aircraft over other countries, particularly the countries between the United States border and the Canal Zone, and Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, in order to reach the United States naval bases at Guantanamo and the military base at Puerto Rico, and countries in the northern part of South America; in the handling of requests of the British Government by American manufacturers; and in rendering assistance to officials of this Government and private individuals in obtaining transportation facilities to and from Europe by means of Pan American Airways and vessels of the American Export Lines.

The increase in the activities of the Shipping Section has been reflected mainly in the following categories: (1) repatriation of American citizens, involving the maintenance of information regarding available vessels and arranging for an expansion of their passenger facilities; (2) immobilized shipping, involving the conduct of negotiations with reference to the possible utilization of immobilized Danish shipping, the consideration of proposals for the purchase of German and Italian vessels in this Hemisphere, and of proposed legislations looking toward the acquisition of these idle ships by the United states; (3) American seamen, involving problems arising from restriction placed on seamen by the Neutrality Act, questions regarding war bonus, and problems of repatriating seamen which have been made more difficult due to the great curtailment of shipping services available; (4) Inter-American shipping, involving problems concerning the adequacy of shipping services and concerning freight rates, as a result of which the Inter-American Maritime Conference was held in Washington on November 25, 1940; (5) merchant ship control, involving many problems arising as a result of the placing of control upon the movement of foreign merchant ships from United States ports; (6) shipping shortage, involving the rendering of assistance in obtaining space for various shipments; (7) foreign seamen, involving matters pertaining to the activities of foreign seamen in this country and pertaining to the control of such activities; (8) sales of vessels, involving the furnishing of advice to the Maritime Commission regarding the proposed sale of vessels to foreign purchases [sic] and the handling of questions arising from restrictions placed on such sales; (9) vessel transfers, involving numerous problems with reference to the transfer of American-owned vessels which were registered in European countries prior to the outbreak of the war; (10) taxation, involving problems arising because of the need of outlying possessions of European countries to raise additional revenues; and (11) emergency shipping legislation.

The Telecommunications Section has been concerned with the following activities which are particularly affected by the present emergency: participation in the meetings of the National Defense Communications Board, and cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission in the monitoring of foreign broadcasts directed toward the Western Hemisphere; collaboration with United States short wave broadcasters for improvement of broadcast to foreign countries, especially the other American republics, to counteract adverse propaganda from foreign sources or ignorance of current events through foreign censorship of radio; study of propaganda from European short wave broadcasting stations and, generally, of subversive radio activities, including foreign language broadcasts in the United States; the handling of technical interference problems involving competition with Italy and other countries for emergency use of short wave frequencies, seizure by Germany of Broadcasting stations, and frequencies, in conquered territories and the problems of priorities raised thereby; plans for clearer reception abroad of United States news services, speeches and official pronouncements from this country, and problems concerning discrimination abroad against United States news service and of press rates; study of the interruption of telecommunications facilities between the United States and belligerent countries, and protection of United States telecommunications interests in conquered territories; handling of problems concerning motion pictures, including protests of foreign countries against displays of motion pictures because of objectionable political implications, etc., display of objectionable foreign films in the United States, protection of United States motion picture interests abroad; handling of problems concerning the exchange of meteorological information in the Atlantic Ocean area and possible [sic] its restriction because of aid to belligerent warships; the handling of problems of radio with respect to neutrality, and problems with respect to possible disposal of United States interests in trans-Pacific cables in the present emergency, and proposals for the establishment and operation of United States controlled communications systems in the other American republics.

The Special Division was established on September 1, 1939, for the purpose of handling special problems arising out of the disturbed conditions abroad.  Its work falls principally under the following headings: whereabouts and welfare of Americans abroad; evacuation and repatriation of Americans abroad; liaison for the Department with the American Red Cross; representation of the interests of other governments by this Government.

An average of 2,000 whereabouts and welfare inquiries per month was handled in 1940 by the Division, the desired information being obtained in about 95 percent of the inquiries.  Estimates for 1940 and the first four months of 1941 place the volume of funds transmitted abroad on behalf of American citizens through the Division at $600,000 and $237,000, respectively, or an average of approximately $52,000 for each of the eighteen months ending April 30, 1941.  Assistance has been rendered in effecting the repatriation of more than 130,000 Americans since the outbreak of war in Europe.

The work of the Special Division on behalf of the Red Cross includes the furnishing of information and advice, the transmission of messages and funds abroad in connection with relief work, and assistance with the dispatch of Red Cross vessels.  The volume of this work increased fairly steadily throughout 1940 and has expanded rapidly in recent months.  During the four initial months of 1941, approximately 1400 items of correspondence, or an average of 350 a month, have been handled on behalf of the Red Cross.  In the same period approximately $340,000 of funds were transmitted abroad for that organization.

The work involved in the representation of foreign interests deals with every aspect of diplomatic and consular procedure, with administrative matters at foreign posts, with involved questions of policy, of international law and of the interpretation of international conventions.  In addition to the representation of the interests of from one to nine of fourteen belligerent governments (Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Union of South Africa, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Norway, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Netherlands, and Egypt) at each of forty-nine widely-separated posts in Europe, Africa Asia, and the Caribbean, there has been an extension of representation in behalf of Panama, Cuba, and China, and there has also been undertaken as a new task the representation of Haitian interests in three European countries.

The amount of funds received in the Department from foreign governments for use in representing their interest has been as follows:

1940……………… $2,166,927.48
1941……………… $1,044,990.00
(through April 30)

Since December, 1940, additional funds for the representation of British interests in France have been made directly available in that country for the account of the British government at a rate exceeding $100,000 per month.

Coincidental with the establishment of the Special Division, need became apparent for the centralization of liaison between the State, War, and Navy Departments which theretofore had been conducted, in [a] decentralized manner, by the geographic and technical divisions.  In November, 1939, a Liaison Office was established under the supervision of the Under Secretary for the coordination of communications between the three departments and for the expeditious handling of certain matters relating directly to defense policy.  This Office is also charged with the initial responsibility for action within the jurisdiction of the Department of State in regard to the sending of United States military, naval, and aviation missions to the other American republics, and for the coordination of arrangements for the reception and training in the United States of officers from the armed forces of the other American republics as students in advanced courses in the United States military and naval service schools.

In July, 1940, the Central Translating Office was established and charged with the translation of publications of the Government for distribution in the other American republics; with initiation and formulation of policy with respect to the adaptability of publications for distribution; and with the administration of programs adopted for the distribution of translated material.

The development of the program of inter-American cooperation has made it necessary for the Central Translating Office to carry out such additional duties as the following: the translation of important addresses on foreign policy delivered by the President, Secretary of State, and other responsible officers; supervisory responsibility over translations made by other Government departments and agencies; interpreting and translating services in connection with inter-American conferences; translation of material related to the program of cooperation with the other American republics originating in the Department of State; and also originating from outside sources.

In November, 1940, there was established the Division of Foreign Activity Correlation, which is charged with the conduct and correlation of such foreign activities and operations as the Secretary of State may direct, and with such other functions as may be assigned to it by the Secretary.

The Division of Special Research was created in February, 1941 to conduct special studies in the field of foreign affairs; to analyze developments and conditions arising out of present disturbed international relations; and to collaborate in this field with other Government agencies.

The Division of Controls was established in the Department of State on January 3, 1939, to supersede the Office of Arms and Munitions Control as a result of increased responsibilities directly attributable to the international situation.  The present Division of Controls is charged with the following duties: registration of manufacturers, exporters, and importers of arms, ammunition, and implements of war; issuance of licenses for the exportation and importation of arms, ammunitions, and implements of war, and also for the exportation of tin-plate scrap and helium gas; it exercises such supervision of the international traffic in arms as falls within the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State and administers the provisions of the Act of Congress approved June 8, 1938, under the terms of which agents in the United States of foreign principals are required to register with the Secretary of State.  Since July 1940, the Division has had the duty of acting for and on behalf of the Secretary of State in the issuance, revocation, and amendment of licenses authorizing the exportation of articles and materials designated by the President as necessary to the national defense.  The Secretary of State serves as Chairman of the National Munitions Control Board; his duties as Chairman are performed through the Division of Controls, whose Chief is Executive Secretary of the Board.  The Division maintains close technical relations with the appropriate divisions of the War and Navy Departments and with the President’s Liaison Committee on Arms Purchases.  There follow figures indicating the increase in the work of this Division:

July, 1938 March, 1941
Correspondence 1,482 7,175
Certificates of Registraction issued, renewed, or amended 3 73
Export licenses revoked, expired, or cancelled 46 54
Export licenses issued and amended 509 23,814
Export licenses rejected 4,532
Applications returned (for various reasons) 6,774


In February 1940, A Division of Commercial Affairs was created to replace the former Consular Commercial Office and charged with the direction of the activities of the Foreign Service which pertain to the protection and promotion of American commercial and agricultural interests abroad (except that functions now vested in other Divisions and Offices of the Department with respect to matters of protection are not affected by this order) and the distribution of information submitted by the Foreign Service on these subjects and on economic developments abroad to the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and to such other governmental departments and agencies as may appropriately receive it; the commenting upon, censoring, and grading of reports and other information submitted by the Foreign Service on commercial, agricultural, and economic matters; and the maintenance of liaison within the scope of its functions between the Department of State and the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and other governmental departments and agencies.

In June, 1940, there was established the Division of Commercial Treaties and Agreements to supersede the Division of Trade Agreements.  The Division is charged with the supervision of the formulation, negotiation, and administration of all commercial treaties and agreements having to with the international commercial relations of the United States and with cooperating in the formulation of international commercial policy.  It has general responsibility for the Department’s contacts with American export and import interests with reference to commercial treaties and agreements and problems arising in connection with the importation and exportation of goods.  Although the war has necessarily curtailed the work of the Division in some respects, with particular reference to the negotiation of treaties and agreements, this curtailment has been more than offset by the greatly increased need for studying developments in connection with the commercial interests of the United States, the policing of treaties and agreements, and by the emergency activities for which the Division has responsibility, such as studies of the economic trends in all countries for protection of our post-war economy, the negotiation of commodity agreements concerning surplus products, such as coffee, the increased economic cooperation with the other American republics, and the new function of coordinating the activities of the Department in assisting foreign governments, and purchasers sponsored by foreign governments, to purchase and export from the United States such articles as the public interest may permit or require.  In addition, the Division works in close cooperation with a Special Assistant to the Secretary of State who has been charged, as of April 30, 1941, with the responsibility for coordinating the activities of the Department relating to the administration of the Lend-Lease Act.

In August, 1940, the work of the Visa Division was reorganized to meet new requirements with respect to the control of the movements of aliens in the interest of our national security.  As indicative of the expansion in the work of the Division, the Visa Division has been handling under its new activities a monthly average of 200 cases sponsored by the President’s Advisory Committee on Political [R]efugees, 2,500 rabbi cases, and has examined for possible subversive activities, a monthly average of 22,000 copies of visas issued.

Steps are now being taken to charge the Visa Division, within the scope of the authority of the Department of State, with the coordination of, and supervision over, all activities relating to alien visa control.  In carrying out this function, the Visa Division is charged with the initiation of policies and procedures in respect to problems relating to alien visa control within the scope of the Department’s authority for the administration of the Immigration Laws and Regulations and for the fulfillment of the international obligations of the United States under treaties and agreements concerned therewith; with the assembling, coordination, and examination of all information necessary to determine the admissibility of aliens into the United States in the interest of public safety and national defense policies; with collaborating with geographic divisions and other divisions of the Department of State, and with investigative, intelligence, and other agencies of this Government concerned in the formulation, coordination, and execution of activities relating to the foregoing; with making appropriate recommendations to American Foreign Service Officers for their final consideration concerning individual visa applicants; with the control of immigration quotas to insure the regulation of immigration into the United States within the numerical limits prescribed by law; and with dealing with the Department’s correspondence and contacts with representatives of foreign governments in this country, with Members of Congress, and with applicants, sponsors, and other interested individuals and organizations.

The work of the Passport Division at this time is directly concerned with and affected by the present emergency.  The control of travel of American citizens throughout the world through the granting or withholding of passport facilities is of vital importance in preserving the neutrality of the United States.  Such control must be and is applied in the light of changing conditions and to secure to American citizens the greatest freedom of movement consonant with the interests of this Government.  The determination of citizenship status, prerequisite to granting of diplomatic protection, is required in innumerable cases of persons in war-torn areas.  Every function of the Division must be carried on subject to and adapted to the international situation.

It is estimated that the Division is handling during the emergency about 2 per cent less in number of applications and about 64 percent more in correspondence.  These figures do not accurately reflect the increased work resulting from the present emergency requiring greater consideration and investigation to determine the necessity of all requests for passport facilities for travel or residence outside the Western Hemisphere, the inspection of all passports of persons departing the United States, and taking up, inspection, and filing of passports of all persons returning to the United States, the carrying out of a program of replacing all valid passports, the assistance rendered to other Divisions in connection with the evacuation and repatriation of citizens from war areas, the additional investigative work in preventing misuse of American passports by subversive groups and espionage agents, the investigations of suspected violations of the Neutrality Act, and the ever-increasing volume of correspondence from persons seeking to establish citizenship to secure or retain employment or social benefits in this country.

The foregoing is an indication of the expansion in activities which is common to all divisions and offices of the Department, with the exceptions which have been noted.  The several political officers and the geographic and technical divisions of the Department have greatly expanded their activities during the months of crisis in order to assist the National Defense Program.  There has been an intensification of activities in all fields of foreign policy, and the staffs of the divisions and offices have been expanded to insure competent control and direction of the many important matters arising having a direct bearing upon our national security.

To insure effective assistance in these activities, steps have been taken to inspect diplomatic missions and consular offices of the United States with a view to strengthening them and adapting their personnel to emergency needs.  Included in this type of action was the placing of additional military, naval, and air attaches in the countries where crisis conditions were likely to develop, with a view of assisting the chiefs of missions in ascertaining the true state of affairs and to make available the most accurate reports possible, not only to the Department of State, but to the War and Navy Departments.  The Department, long before the war, on the basis of studies, issued confidential instructions to the diplomatic missions and consulates for the care and evacuation of American citizens upon the rise of crisis conditions.

Similarly, the administrative divisions of the Department have expanded their activities.  As an example, the Division of Accounts was established in September, 1938, in lieu of the Bureau of Accounts, to meet the need for greater efficiency in the handling of the accounts of the Department of State, including its establishments in foreign countries.  The volume of its activities has more than doubled since July, 1938, and its personnel has expanded from 41 to 80.

As an indication of the increase in work, the number of telegrams billed to interested parties increased from 4,405 in the fiscal year 1938 up to 28,373 up to May 22, in 1941; the number of checks received and scheduled to the Treasury Department increased from 3,987 in 1938 to 16,824 up to May 22, 1941.  In connection with the representation of interests of foreign governments, covering deposits totaling $3,250,000, the Division is receiving from 55 Foreign Service posts accounts varying in size from 1 to 2,500 vouchers and require from 1 to 80 cash book forms for their scheduling.  Against these accounts there have drawn hundreds of drafts, each of which must be scheduled for payment from the funds of the Government to which it relates.

The duties of the Division of Foreign Service Administration, appreciably due to the greatly increased movement and turnover of Foreign Service personnel; the closing and opening of offices, which has been made more difficult by necessary precautions due to the war; foreign exchange control and foreign credits frozen in the United States; constant attention to mail and courier routes; difficulties in transmitting furniture and food supplies because of hazardous transportation; evacuation of families of American personnel; and changes in costs of living, which in some cases have been altered drastically.

In connection with the emergency, the Division of Research and Publication likewise has had additional work to perform, such as the formulation and direction of instructions to Foreign Service Officers abroad in European and South American countries to obtain samples of Nazi propaganda, and the safeguarding of shipments to the United States of scientific and technical publications from war areas.  There has been considerable more work in the preparation of memoranda providing essential background in the determination of foreign policy, and in the furnishing to the public of information concerning the current situation.  The work of the Office of the Geographer has increased materially in volume and responsibility as a result of problems regarding present and pre-war sovereignty questions, problems related to neutrality and relief of Americans abroad, changes in geographical names, international boundary disputes, and boundary and territorial changes throughout the world.

The increase in the written and telegraphic communications of the Department is reflected in the following record maintained in the Division of Communications and Records, which is charged with the receipt, [subject] classification, recording, distribution, and preservation of the Department’s correspondence and the receipt and dispatch of its telegraphic messages:

Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year
(July to Dec. 1940)
Incoming 759,678 839,181 578,156
Outgoing 240,882 284,126 174,409
Messages 65,554 115,955 90,201
Groups & words 5,038,303 7,996,825 5,807,549

In addition to expansion in its regular activities and the emergency activities under the Department of State, the American Foreign Service is rendering great assistance to other Government departments and agencies engaged in defense activities by obtaining information needed by them in the performance of their regular duties.  This includes assistance to the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department and to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in the acquisition of supplies and reserves of strategic materials; surveillance of ship movements in foreign ports and reporting to the Navy Department concerning vessels that might be used for combat purposes; arrangements for stationing military and naval attaches and observers at various places abroad; conducting the bulk of the detailed negotiations in connection with the leasing of sites for naval bases in British possessions in this Hemisphere; transmission by diplomatic pouch and courier service of [the] extra volume of mail between [the] War and Navy Departments and their attaches and observers abroad; enforcement of the more stringent visa requirements at the Canadian and Mexican borders, and controlling entries from Cuba, Central America, et cetera, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, and the issuance of new passports in order to prevent fraudulent entries into the United States; conduct of the program of inter-American relations, in collaboration with various United States governmental and other organizations.

It is felt that the present and growing increase in the activities of the Department of State is in line with its primary responsibility for national defense, since defense policy is merely one phase, however important, of foreign policy taken as a whole.

Once the United States formally entered the war in December 1941, even more changes in the Department’s organization and activities took place.  Some were minor, such as new names for old offices: the Special Division was renamed the Special War Problems Division.  Others were major.  Ultimately, the Department underwent what was perhaps its most radical and far-reaching organization in January 1944, even as wartime activities and post-war planning continued.  This reorganization established new hierarchical levels as well as numerous new organizational elements.  Whereas previously, most organizational elements were at the “division” level and reported directly to one of a number of Assistant Secretaries of State with varying responsibilities, in the 1944 reorganization, many of the divisions were elevated to “office” status with numerous subordinate divisions.  The new offices continued to fall under the supervision of an Assistant Secretary.  For example, the Division of Far Eastern Affairs became the Office of Far Eastern Affairs with division-level organizations for Chinese, Japanese, Southwest Pacific, and Philippine Affairs.  In a later reorganization, the Assistant Secretaries gained functional titles and by 1946, for example, the Office of Far Eastern Affairs was reporting to the Assistant Secretary of State for European, Near Eastern, African and Far Eastern Affairs, one of six titled assistant secretaries.

While many of the organizations created in the immediate pre-war and wartime periods were established to handle the exigencies of the world situation and might have been expected to go out of existence once peace returned, a number of them morphed into more or less permanent bureaus and offices, some with us today.  For example, many of the duties of the Special Division/Special War Problems Division became the responsibility of the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs which eventually led to the current Bureau of Consular Affairs.End.

[Source: Attachment to memo-note from Assistant Secretary of State G. Howland Shaw to the Secretary of State, June 20, 1941, file 111/838, 1940-44 Central Decimal File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State, National Archives, College Park, MD]


Author David A. Langbart is an archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives.  He specializes in the records of the Department of State and the other foreign affairs agencies.  Any opinions expressed in the commentary herein belong to the author and do not reflect those of any agency of the U.S. Government. 


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