McDonald, James G. (James Grover), 1886-1964

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Epithet: High Commissioner for Refugees

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000976.0x000390

James Grover McDonald was born on November 29, 1886 in Coldwater, Ohio. His parents, Kenneth and Anna Dietrich McDonald, operated a hotel, and the family's five children worked alongside their parents. The family later moved to Albany, Indiana, to operate a second hotel, and there McDonald met Ruth Stafford, whom he would marry in 1915. The couple would have two daughters, Barbara Ann and Janet.

McDonald studied at Indiana University, earning an A.B. degree in 1909 and a master's in History, Political Science, and International Relations in 1910. He won a teaching fellowship in history at Harvard Graduate School and then returned to Indiana University in 1914 as assistant professor of history. He taught until 1918, with a break in 1915-1916 to visit Spain as a Harvard University traveling fellow. He also taught summer sessions in international affairs at the University of Georgia in 1916 and 1917.

At the recommendation of his Harvard advisors, McDonald moved to New York City and took a position with the Civil Service Reform Association, which was committed to ending government corruption. From 1919 to 1933, McDonald served as chairman of the Foreign Policy Association, an organization dedicated to educating the public about foreign affairs. McDonald presided over Foreign Policy Association Luncheons, which were broadcast over WEAF and NBC. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, he gave weekly talks on international relations over the same radio stations, speaking on current world events. McDonald traveled extensively and made trips to Germany nearly every year, experiencing Hitler's rise to power firsthand.

In 1933, McDonald became League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was faced with the task of negotiating refugee possibilities with Germany prior to World War II. In a meeting with Hitler in 1933, he became aware of Nazi goals to exterminate the Jewish population. McDonald struggled to help Jews and other persecuted individuals leave Germany, but found that his ability was restrained by League policies. He was respected and admired for his efforts and was awarded the American Hebrew Medal for Promotion of Better Understanding between Christian and Jew in America.

In 1935, McDonald resigned from the position. In his resignation letter, he detailed the mistreatment of minorities in Germany and urged the League of Nations to take proactive measures not only to help refugees, but to recognize and address the problems in Germany that forced them to leave in the first place. The letter was widely circulated and was one of the first denouncements of the Nazi government by an international diplomat.

McDonald returned to New York, and from 1936 to1938 he worked on the editorial staff of the New York Times, specializing in editorials on international relations. In 1938 he returned to the problems of the refugees, serving as chairman of the President's Advisory Commission on Political Refugees. The Commission was involved mainly in working with the State Department to adapt immigration laws to the crisis in Germany. McDonald served on the Commission until 1945.

In 1946, McDonald served with the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine, a British and American committee charged with forming a policy on the admission of Jews into Palestine. McDonald traveled throughout the reason to hear the testimony of Jews and Palestinians, and became a strong supporter of unlimited immigration into Palestine by European refugees, and of the eventual creation of the state of Israel.

In 1948, President Truman asked McDonald to serve as a U.S. representative to Israel, and McDonald moved to the newly formed country along with his daughter, Barbara. The following year, he became the first U.S. ambassador to Israel and served for two years, working to forge a strong connection between the two countries during a period of upheaval. McDonald resigned as ambassador in 1951 and returned to the US, where he became chairman of the Advisory Council of the Development Corporation for Israel.

McDonald wrote about his personal experience as an ambassador in his book My Mission to Israel, published in 1951. His extensive diaries, now held by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, have also been published in an annotated, multi-volume collection, The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald.

In addition to his long career in international affairs, McDonald was also a member of the Board of Education of the City of New York (1940-1942); president of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (1938-1942); and a member of the Harvard Club of New York.

James G. McDonald died in 1964.

From the description of James G. McDonald papers, 1838-1972 [ Bulk Dates: 1914-1962]. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 489374832

BIOGHIST REQUIRED James Grover McDonald was born on November 29, 1886 in Coldwater, Ohio. His parents, Kenneth and Anna Dietrich McDonald, operated a hotel, and the family's five children worked alongside their parents. The family later moved to Albany, Indiana, to operate a second hotel, and there McDonald met Ruth Stafford, whom he would marry in 1915. The couple would have two daughters, Barbara Ann and Janet.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED McDonald studied at Indiana University, earning an A.B. degree in 1909 and a master's in History, Political Science, and International Relations in 1910. He won a teaching fellowship in history at Harvard Graduate School and then returned to Indiana University in 1914 as assistant professor of history. He taught until 1918, with a break in 1915-1916 to visit Spain as a Harvard University traveling fellow. He also taught summer sessions in international affairs at the University of Georgia in 1916 and 1917.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED At the recommendation of his Harvard advisors, McDonald moved to New York City and took a position with the Civil Service Reform Association, which was committed to ending government corruption. From 1919 to 1933, McDonald served as chairman of the Foreign Policy Association, an organization dedicated to educating the public about foreign affairs. McDonald presided over Foreign Policy Association Luncheons, which were broadcast over WEAF and NBC. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, he gave weekly talks on international relations over the same radio stations, speaking on current world events. McDonald traveled extensively and made trips to Germany nearly every year, experiencing Hitler's rise to power firsthand.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED In 1933, McDonald became League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was faced with the task of negotiating refugee possibilities with Germany prior to World War II. In a meeting with Hitler in 1933, he became aware of Nazi goals to exterminate the Jewish population. McDonald struggled to help Jews and other persecuted individuals leave Germany, but found that his ability was restrained by League policies. He was respected and admired for his efforts and was awarded the American Hebrew Medal for Promotion of Better Understanding between Christian and Jew in America.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED In 1935, McDonald resigned from the position. In his resignation letter, he detailed the mistreatment of minorities in Germany and urged the League of Nations to take proactive measures not only to help refugees, but to recognize and address the problems in Germany that forced them to leave in the first place. The letter was widely circulated and was one of the first denouncements of the Nazi government by an international diplomat.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED McDonald returned to New York, and from 1936 to1938 he worked on the editorial staff of the New York Times, specializing in editorials on international relations. In 1938 he returned to the problems of the refugees, serving as chairman of the President's Advisory Commission on Political Refugees. The Commission was involved mainly in working with the State Department to adapt immigration laws to the crisis in Germany. McDonald served on the Commission until 1945.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED In 1946, McDonald served with the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine, a British and American committee charged with forming a policy on the admission of Jews into Palestine. McDonald traveled throughout the reason to hear the testimony of Jews and Palestinians, and became a strong supporter of unlimited immigration into Palestine by European refugees, and of the eventual creation of the state of Israel.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED In 1948, President Truman asked McDonald to serve as a U.S. representative to Israel, and McDonald moved to the newly formed country along with his daughter, Barbara. The following year, he became the first U.S. ambassador to Israel and served for two years, working to forge a strong connection between the two countries during a period of upheaval. McDonald resigned as ambassador in 1951 and returned to the US, where he became chairman of the Advisory Council of the Development Corporation for Israel.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED McDonald wrote about his personal experience as an ambassador in his book My Mission to Israel, published in 1951. His extensive diaries, now held by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, have also been published in an annotated, multi-volume collection, The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED In addition to his long career in international affairs, McDonald was also a member of the Board of Education of the City of New York (1940-1942); president of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (1938-1942); and a member of the Harvard Club of New York.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED James G. McDonald died in 1964.

From the guide to the James G. McDonald Papers, 1838-1972 [, Bulk Dates: 1914-1962]., (Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886-1960. Papers, 1894-1960 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
creatorOf Carnegie Council on Ethics & International Affairs. Carnegie Council on Ethics & International Affairs records, 1914-1996. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Papers of Cecilia Razovsky, undated, 1913-1971 American Jewish Historical Society at the Center for Jewish History
referencedIn Hand, Learned, 1872-1961. Papers, 1840-1961 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Brooklyn Museum. Office of the Director. Laurence Page Roberts records, 1938-43. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
creatorOf Vol. XCIV (ff. 177). Jan. 1924-Oct. 1926.includes:ff. 1-3v, 72, 83-101v, 103 Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe: Correspondence between Lord Cecil and Lord Bledisloe: 1909-1931: Partly signed.ff. 4, 50 Lady Moyra de Vere Cavendish, wife of ... British Library
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Vol. CXVII (ff. 424). Feb.-Aug. 1941.includes:ff. 1, 8 Mrs E. M. White, professional indexer; of Radlett: Correspondence between Lord Cecil and Mrs E. M. White: 1941. f. 3 David Marshall Mason, MP; founder, Sound Currency Association: Letters to Lord... British Library
creatorOf Vol. xxvi. (ff. 266). 1924-1926.includes:ff. 1-3, 12 Richard Burdon Haldane, Viscount Haldane: Letters to H. W. Steed of Richard Burdon Haldane: 1924.f. 4 Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith; Prime Minister: Letter to H. W. Stee..., 1924-1926 British Library
creatorOf McDonald, James G. (James Grover), 1886-1964. James G. McDonald papers, 1838-1972 [ Bulk Dates: 1914-1962]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Foreign Policy Association. Foreign Policy Association records, 1918-1996. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn The Hadassah Medical Organization Papers in the Hadassah Archives, 1918 - 2009 Hadassah
referencedIn Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
creatorOf Vol. C (ff. 254). Jan.-July 1935.includes:ff. 1-5, 115, 153-159, 216, 217, 232 Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha, Baron Hore-Belisha: Correspondence, partly on his behalf, between Lord Cecil and Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha: 1934, 1935: Signed. f. 6 Newspapers... British Library
referencedIn Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948. Charles Evans Hughes papers, 1914-1930. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn High Commission for Refugees from Germany Collection, 1933-1935 Leo Baeck Institute Archives
referencedIn Frank, Jerome, 1889-1957. Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (inclusive), 1929-1957 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Gilchrist, Huntington, 1891-1975. Papers of Huntington Gilchrist, 1913-1973 (bulk 1919-1955). Library of Congress
referencedIn Jan Peerce collection of sound recordings, 1932-1983 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf McDonald, James G. (James Grover), 1886-1964. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1956. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn New York Times Company records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers, 1823-1999 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, 1861-1933. Papers, 1847-1933 Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Vol. XCII (ff. 168). Nov. 1915-March 1921.includes:f. 5 Army; England: Memorandum rel. to treatment of wounded in France: circa 1914-1915.: Copy. ff. 7, 8 Navy; England: Memoranda rel. to oil reserves: [1915?]. ff. 9, 11 Walter Hines Page, US diploma... British Library
creatorOf Vol. CX (ff. 176). June-July 1938.includes:ff. 1-13 Speeches: Lord Cecil: addresses, speeches and broadcast talks, with related correspondence: circa 1897-1949, n.d.: Copies, drafts, etc.f. 14 Printed Matter: Oslo, Norway: Menu for dinner in hono... British Library
creatorOf Vol. CI (ff. 239). Aug.-Dec. 1935.includes:ff. 1, 25 Colonel Alan Geoffrey Charles Dawney, of the BBC; afterwards of the War Office: Correspondence between Lord Cecil and Col. Alan Geoffrey Charles Dawney: 1935: Signed.f. 3 David H. Mills, of the... British Library
creatorOf McDonald, James G. (James Grover), 1886-1964. Letter, 1954 June 6, "on route home", to [Joseph Lee and Edith McDonald, Hanover, N.H.]. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf McDonald, James G. (James Grover), 1886-1964. Interview [sound recording], ca. 1958. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn The Hadassah Medical Organization Papers in the Hadassah Archives, 1918-2009 Hadassah the Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
referencedIn Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (bulk 1929-1957) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Johnson, Grace A. (Grace Allen), 1871-1952. Papers in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1840-1952 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn McNutt, Paul V. (Paul Vories), 1891-1955. Mss., 1899-1955 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn The Bruno Walter papers, ca. 1887-ca. 1966 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn Burlingham, Charles Culp, 1858-1959. Papers, 1876-1960 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Papers of Grace A. Johnson in the Woman's Rights Collection, 1840-1952 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Stone, Elihu, 1888-1952. Papers, 1913-2015 Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society
creatorOf James G. McDonald Papers, 1838-1972 [, Bulk Dates: 1914-1962]. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Roscoe Pound papers, 1888-1964 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Oscar I. Janowsky Papers, undated, 1916-1993 American Jewish Historical Society
referencedIn Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (bulk 1929-1957) Yale University Library
creatorOf Vol. XXXI (ff. 203). July 1932-1934.includes:ff. 2-5 Hilary Aidan St George Saunders, writer; Librarian of the House of Commons: Correspondence between Lord Cecil and H. A. St. G. Saunders: 1922-1932: Signed.f. 6 von Renthe-Fink, League of Nation... British Library
creatorOf Bliss, W. H. Miscellaneous papers on the opium trade, 1922-1925. Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. corporateBody
associatedWith Ben-Gurion, David, 1886-1973. person
associatedWith Bentwich, Norman De Mattos, 1883-1971. person
associatedWith Ben-Zevi, Isaac, Pres. Israel, 1884-1963. person
associatedWith Brooklyn Museum. Office of the Director. corporateBody
associatedWith Burlingham, Charles Culp, 1858-1959 person
associatedWith Carnegie Council on Ethics & International Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith Cecilia Razovsky person
associatedWith Development Corporation for Israel. corporateBody
associatedWith Development Corporation for Israel. Advisory Council. corporateBody
associatedWith Foreign Policy Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Frank, Jerome, 1889-1957. person
associatedWith Gilchrist, Huntington, 1891-1975. person
associatedWith Grace Allen (Fitch) Johnson, 1871-1952 person
correspondedWith Hand, Learned, 1872-1961 person
associatedWith Herbert H. Lehman Collections (Columbia University). corporateBody
associatedWith High Commission for Refugees (Jewish and Other) Coming from Germany. corporateBody
correspondedWith Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886- person
associatedWith Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948. person
associatedWith Inman, Samuel Guy, 1877-1965. person
associatedWith Janowsky, Oscar I. (Oscar Isaiah), 1900- person
associatedWith Johnson, Grace A., 1871-1952. person
associatedWith Kotschnig, Walter Maria, 1901- person
associatedWith Lathem, Edward Connery. person
associatedWith League of Nations. corporateBody
associatedWith Mason, Daniel Gregory, 1873-1953 person
associatedWith McDonald, Edith. person
associatedWith McDonald, Joseph Lee, 1892- person
associatedWith McNutt, Paul V. (Paul Vories), 1891-1955 person
associatedWith National Broadcasting Company, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith National Broadcasting Company, inc. Blue Network. corporateBody
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith New York Times Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Peerce, Jan, 1904-1984 person
correspondedWith Pound, Roscoe, 1870-1964 person
correspondedWith Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, 1861-1933 person
associatedWith Stone, Elihu David, 1889-1952 person
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. President's Advisory Committee on Political Refugees. corporateBody
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Walter, Bruno, 1876-1962 person
associatedWith Wright, Walter Woodman, 1915- person
associatedWith Wurfbain, André L. person
associatedWith Wurfbain, André L. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Cardiff, Glamorganshire
Acton, London
Israel
United States
United States
Hertfordshire, England
Scutari, Turkey (?)
Israel
United States
Israel.
Palestine
Germany
Palestine
Oslo, Norway
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Subject
Political refugees
World War, 1939-1945
Holocaust
Refugees, Political
Refugees--Germany
International relations
Israel--Politics and government
Refugees
Immigration policy and research
Ambassadors
Diplomatic and consular service, American
Occupation
Ambassadors
Activity

Person

Birth 1886

Death 1964

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 20212225