National Archives at Riverside

Records of the Office of Civilian Defense

Records Available at the National Archives at Riverside

The Office of Civilian Defense (OCD) was established in the Office for Emergency Management by Executive Order 8757 of May 20, 1941.  The OCD was created in response to President’s Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proclamation of September 5, 1939, declaring the United States to be a neutral nation in World War II and at the same times strengthening its national defense “within the limits of peacetime authorizations.”

The OCD was created to coordinate “Federal civilian defense activities which involve relationships between the Federal Government and State and local governments.” It was to assist State and local governments in the establishment of local defense councils, plan to assure protection of life and property; recruit and train auxiliaries all to provide adequate measures in the event of emergency.  It took over the functions and records of the Division of State and Local Cooperation of the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense.   The nine regional offices that coordinated the work of State and local defense organizations were closed June 30, 1944, and Executive Order 9562 of June 4, 1945, closed the OCD, effective June 30, 1945.

The Director of OCD established nine Regional Civilian Defense Areas on July 10, 1941.  In each Area a Regional Office of Civilian Defense was established.  The Office was managed by a Regional Director.   The function of the Regional Office was to disseminate communications from the Washington Office; to report regulation violations in their jurisdictions to the Washington Office; to coordinate civilian defense measures of the State and local governments and of Federal agencies operating in the Region; and to coordinate military plans with civilian defense measures.  The boundaries of each region were kept coterminous with the War Department Service Commands.  The OCD Regional Offices were abolished on July 1, 1944, due to the change in the war situation.

At the time of termination, the Regional Offices were located as follows:

Region I – Boston, Massachusetts


Region VI – Chicago, Illinois

Region II – New York, New York


Region VII – Omaha, Nebraska

Region III – Baltimore, Maryland


Region VIII – Dallas, Texas

Region IV – Atlanta, Georgia


Region IX – San Francisco

Region V – Cleveland, Ohio



Region IX was comprised of the region office, located in San Francisco, California, which served Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.  The region office included an administrative division, civilian war services, the director's office, the evacuation and transportation division, medical division, protection branch, and public counsel section.  A Northern California-Nevada Sector Office, which was also located in San Francisco, California and a Southern Sector Office, located in Pasadena, California, which oversaw much of the Region’s work in southern California and Arizona.  Staff of the protection branch was also located in Los Angeles.

For more information about the Office of Civilian Defense and their records, see the, Inventory of the Records of the Office of Civilian Defense.  Vol. 1.  National Office, 1941-1945. Washington, D.C., Records Retirement Unit, Office of Civilian Defense, 1945; and Inventory of the Records of the Office of Civilian Defense.  Vol. 2.  Regional Offices, 1941-1945. Washington, D.C., Records Retirement Unit, Office of Civilian Defense, 1945.

Region IX. Southern Sector Office

Region IX. Protection Branch