Guide to Federal Records

Records of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas

(Record Group 239)
61 cu. ft.

Table of Contents

  • 239.2 RECORDS OF THE COMMISSION l942-47 57 lin. ft. and 10 rolls of microfilm
  • 239.3 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL) 1943-46 1,613 items
  • 239.4 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL) 1943-46 19,950 images


Established: Under the chairmanship of Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, June 23, 1943, and announced by Secretary of State Cordell Hull, August 20, l943.

Functions: Cooperated with the U.S. Army in protecting cultural treasures and gathered information about war damage to such treasures. Compiled data on cultural property appropriated by the Axis Powers and encouraged its restitution. Compiled maps showing locations of areas or sites in enemy or enemy-occupied areas that were to be spared destruction if possible.

Assisted by the private American Defense-Harvard Group and by the American Council of Learned Societies' Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas, which turned over its research files to the commission.

Abolished: June 30, l946.

Successor Agencies: Department of State (restoration of art objects), as announced by department, August 16, 1946.

Finding Aids: H. Stephen Helton and Philip C. Brooks, comps., William J. Lescure, rev., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas," NC 124 (Aug. 1965).

Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.

Subject Access Terms: World War II agency.

Textual Records Washington Area 59 cu. ft.
Maps and Charts College Park 1,489 items
Aerial Photographs College Park 124 items
Still Pictures College Park 19,950 images

Top of Page

57 lin. ft. and 10 rolls of microfilm

Textual Records: Minutes, 1943-46. Applications and letters of recommendation, 1943-46. Correspondence and other records of Commissioner Paul Sachs, 1942-46. General correspondence, 1943- 46. Fiscal records, 1943-47. Lists and handbooks concerning cultural institutions in Europe, 1943-45. Allied military government records, including final reports of the Mediterranean and European Theaters of Operations, drawn from the "Analytical File," 1945-46. Reports of the Art Looting Investigation Unit, including some reports of the Office of Strategic Services and the Strategic Services Unit, 1945-46. Microfilm copy of lists of war damaged areas and buildings in Japan, origin unknown, 1946 (10 rolls).

Related Records: Department of State central decimal file, in RG 59, General Records of the Department of State. Records of the Civil Affairs Division, in RG 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs.

Subject Access Terms: Art looting; Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section.

Top of Page

1,613 items

Maps (1,489 items): Base maps of provinces, regions, and cultural sites in Europe and Asia, photocopied with overlays marking sites that were to be spared destruction (a few maps are originals with manuscript overlays), 1943-46; with accompanying documentation, consisting of a set of instructions for the preparation of maps, lists of maps, and site identification lists attached to the maps.

Aerial Photographs (124 items): Italian and Spanish cities, and Tinian Island in the Marianas, ca. 1944.

Subject Access Terms: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Corsica, Czechoslovakia, Dalmatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Indochina, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Java, Korea, Marianas, the Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Sardinia, Sicily, and Yugoslavia.

Top of Page

19,950 images

Photographs: Europe, North Africa, Palestine, the Philippine Islands, Burma, China, and the Netherlands East Indies, collected by the Photo Archives Unit, showing depositories and looted artwork, effects of bomb damage and vandalism to cities and monuments, liberation by the Allies, and commission employees, 1943-46 (PA, RC; 19,650 images).

Survey of war damage to cultural institutions and monuments in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1946 (SFM, 300 images).

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

Top of Page

Guide to Federal Records >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272