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HISTORY TOPICS

League of Nations

Frank B. Kellogg accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Oslo, Norway, 1930. Location no. por 11913 r13World War I — "the war to end all wars" — culminated in the Treaty of Versailles, which set up a framework for an organization — a "society of states" — that would "promote international cooperation and . achieve international peace and security." The organization was called the League of Nations, seated at Geneva. The League was made up of an Assembly composed of all nations, a Council composed of the major powers, a Secretariat, and the Permanent Court of International Justice (the World Court) whose seat would be at The Hague. Signatories to the Covenant and the League agreed not to resort to war; to reduce armaments; to submit disputes to diplomatic arbitration; to guarantee peace through the rule of international law; and through collective action, to protect member states against aggression.

Despite efforts of its supporters, including Frank B. Kellogg, Republican Senator from Minnesota, who tried to win approval of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles, the proposal failed to be ratified by the United States Senate. Almost alone of the great powers, the United States opted out of membership in the League of Nations. The League of Nations was formally instituted in January 1920, and served its role until 1946, when it was succeeded by the United Nations. For the next seventeen years, Kellogg continued to serve the nation as diplomat, as Secretary of State, as co-author of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of Paris-efforts for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize-and as U.S. representative to the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague.

GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:

  • The Irreconcilables: The Fight Against the League of Nations, by Ralph Stone.
    [Lexington, Ken.]: University Press of Kentucky, [1970].
    MHS call number: JX1975.5.U5 S75.
  • Wilson and the League of Nations: Why America's Rejection?, edited by Ralph A. Stone.
    New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1967.
    MHS call number: E766 .S8.
  • The Years of Opportunity: The League of Nations, 1920-1926, by Byron Dexter.
    New York: Viking Press, [1967].
    MHS call number: JX1975 .D545.

PRIMARY RESOURCES:

  • Frank B. Kellogg Papers.
    This archival collection (1890-1942) includes correspondence, memoranda, speeches, background materials, clippings, memorabilia, and other papers of this U.S. senator from Minnesota (1917-1923), ambassador to Great Britain (1923-1925), secretary of state (1925-1929), and judge on the Permanent Court of International Justice [World Court] (1930-1935). Besides reflecting the issues and activities associated with these positions, the papers also provide considerable information about state and national Republican party politics, and about U.S. politics in general. Kellogg saved only part of his Senatorial files and they document, among other topics, the Versailles treaty; post-World War I governments and economic conditions in Europe, including the League of Nations. Papers from Kellogg's service as ambassador provide information on the European military, diplomatic, social, and economic scene; revision of the schedule of World War I reparations payments by Germany; and the official and social life of an ambassador. Much of the papers focus on Kellogg's years as secretary of state (1925-1929). They are particularly valuable for informal or unofficial discussions about international relations and the development and execution of American foreign policy. Papers from his subsequent service on the World Court continue many of these themes.
    MHS call number: M332; the papers are described in detail in Deborah K. Neubeck’s "Guide to a Microfilm Edition of the Frank B. Kellogg Papers," filed as M332 in the green Manuscripts Notebooks (there are 54 reels of microfilm, but not all relate to this topic), or use an electronic version of the guide.
    Note: Microfilm may be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan.
  • A.J. and Marie McGuire Papers.
    This archival collection (1896-1964) includes Marie McGuire's papers. She was active in the League of Women Voters and the Democratic Party; attended most of the Conferences on the Cause and Cure of War; served as executive secretary of the League of Nations Association of Minnesota (1930-1932); as secretary of the St. Paul unit of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies; as executive secretary of the Minnesota United Nations Association (1943-1949, 1954-1956); and as an official observer at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco (1945).
    MHS call number: P929; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks — filed under P929 — for a detailed list of boxes (there are 13 boxes, but not all relate to this topic).
  • Woodrow Wilson
    • "Addresses of President Wilson on first trip to Europe, December 3, 1918, to February 24, 1919."
      Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1919.  MHS call number: D642 .W75.
    • "The League of Nations: Address Delivered by the President of the United States at Boston, Mass., on February 24, 1919, on the plan for the League of Nations …;"
      Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1919.
      MHS call number: JX1975 .U6 1919a.
    • The Messages and Papers of Woodrow Wilson.
      New York: G.H. Doran, [1924].
      MHS call number: E766 .U56.
  • Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
    • Minneapolis Star
    • Minneapolis Tribune
    • St. Paul Dispatch
    • St. Paul Pioneer Press
  • Visual Resources Database subjects that may be useful for this topic:
  • Check the library catalog for other materials.