Before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, New York began mobilizing for the impending war. Governor Herbert H. Lehman, a banker with international connections, anticipated the conflict and readied the Union's most populous state for the demands of war. The New York State War Council was initially composed of a small group of business, government, and civic leaders. By war's end, it would be a statewide organization which administered programs concerned with child care, discrimination, civil defense, salvage collection, social welfare, farm labor, and education, and involved over 100 communities. The records of the War Council will prove valuable to those interested in these topics as well as issues such as volunteerism, community mobilization, inter-governmental cooperation, women's history, local history, and social history of the home front.
The records are part of the holdings of the New York State Archives and consist of over 140 series totalling over 300 cubic feet. Some records have been, or are scheduled to be, microfilmed (see Appendix A). Microfilm copies are available on inter-library loan and for purchase. Microfilming is supported, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This finding aid provides general histories for War Council agencies, and summary descriptions of each series. Full series descriptions are included in the microfilm copies of the records and are available at the New York State Archives and onlinethe New York State Library's automated catalog, Excelsior. Many series have container or folder lists which provide more detailed information on their contents. These are also available at the State Archives and in the microfilmed copies of selected record series(see Appendix A).
Records in the State Archives may be used at the Archives' research room. Certain record series have been microfilmed by the State Archives, and the film may be borrowed on inter-library loan or purchased. For further information please contact us.
This guide was prepared by Senior Archivist Daniel J. Linke, who wrote a majority of the series descriptions. Principal Archivist Kathleen Roe and student interns Mary Heathwaite, David Hill, Nancy Rogers, and Sarah Talley also described some of the records. Finally, none of this work would have been possible if not for the efforts of Karl D. Hartzell, who collected the records for the State immediately following World War II and left a thorough paper trail which allowed for easy identification of most of the record groups.