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Series IV: Civilian Defense
This series contains correspondence, memos, lists, minutes, newsletters, newspaper
clippings, and ephemera (actual ID cards and armbands) concerning the activities
of the civilian defense program at Columbia University. Issues include civilian
defense courses, air raid drills, and building control activities. The original
order of this series was lost prior to processing so a new order was imposed based
on the subject matter of the materials.
Correspondence in this series is primarily from Nicholas McKnight, Director of the
Civilian Defense Program, but a significant amount of communication also comes
from Fon W. Boardman, Jr. who was Assistant to the Director of the Civilian
Defense Program. Boardman was in charge of ID card and armband distribution, a
well documented aspect of the program in these files. In addition to
correspondence and materials concerning the activities of the various committees
and the Student Auxiliary Corps within the university community, McKnight’s
dealings with suburban defense organizations (particularly in New Jersey), the NYC
Police Department, and the local New York civilian defense councils is also
Three incidents are of particular note. These include December, 1941
correspondence between McKnight and representatives of Harvard, McGill University,
University of Pennsylvania, Stanford and Yale regarding the civilian defense
activities at those institutions; December, 1941 and early January, 1942
correspondence from students and staff concerning how they could help the war
effort on campus in the wake of Pearl Harbor; and correspondence within the
Barnard file concerning civilian defense activities on that campus and how it
would work within the larger program forming at Columbia.
Air Raid Alarm Information, 1941-1942
Air Raid Drills,
Building Control—Academic Buildings & Dormitories, c. 1941-1942