The search for source materials used in this volume provided the writer with a special glimpse into the ways in which various government agencies have treated what was until recently considered a sensitive subject. Most important documents and working papers concerning the employment of black servicemen were, well into the 1950's and in contrast to the great bulk of personnel policy papers, routinely given a security classification. In some agencies the "secret" or "confidential" stamp was considered sufficient to protect the materials, which were filed and retired in a routine manner and, therefore, have always been readily available to the persistent and qualified researcher. But, as any experienced staff officer could demonstrate, other methods beyond mere classification can be devised to prevent easy access to sensitive material.
Thus, subterfuges were employed from time to time by officials dealing with racial subjects. In some staff agencies, for example, documents were collected in special files, separated from the normal personnel or policy files. In other instances the materials were never retired in a routine matter, but instead remained for many years scattered in offices of origin or, less often, in some central file system. If some officials appear to have been overly anxious to shield their agency's record, they also, it should be added, possessed a sense of history and the historical import of their work. Though the temptation may have been strong within some agencies to destroy papers connected with past controversies, most officials scrupulously presented not only the basic policy documents concerning this specialized subject, but also much of the back-up material that the historian treasures.
The problem for the modern researcher is that these special collections and reserved materials, no longer classified and no longer sensitive, have fallen, largely unnoted, into a sea of governmental paper beyond the reach of the archivist's finding aids. The frequently expressed comment of the researcher, "somebody is withholding something," should, for the sake of accuracy, be changed to "somebody has lost track of something."
This material might never have been recovered without the skilled assistance of the historical offices of the various services and Office of the Secretary of Defense. At times their search for lost documents assumed the dimensions of a detective story. In partnership with Marine Corps historian Ralph Donnelly, for example, the author finally traced the bulk of the World War II racial records of the Marine Corps to an obscure and unmarked file in the classified records section of Marine Corps headquarters. A comprehensive collection of official documents on the employment of black personnel in the Navy between 1920 and 1946 was unearthed, not in the official archives, but in a dusty file cabinet in the Bureau of Naval Personnel's Management Information Division.
The search also had its frustrations, for some materials seem permanently lost. Despite persistent and imaginative work by the Coast Guard's historian Truman Strobridge, much of the documentary record of that service's World War II racial history could not be located. The development of the Coast Guard's policy has had to be reconstructed, painstakingly and laboriously, from other sources. The records of many Army staff agencies for the period 1940-43 were destroyed on the assumption that their materials were duplicated in The Adjutant General's files, an assumption that frequently proved to be incorrect. Although generally intact, the Navy's records of the immediate post-World War II period also lack some of the background staff work on the employment of black manpower. Fortunately for this writer, the recent, inadvertent destruction of the bulk of the Bureau of Naval Personnel's classified wartime records occurred after the basic research for this volume had been completed, but this lamentable accident will no doubt cause problems for future researchers.
Thanks to the efforts of the services' historical offices and the wonder of photocopying, future historians may be spared some of the labor connected with the preparation of this volume. Most of the records surviving outside regular archives have been identified and relocated for easy access. Copies of approximately 65 percent of all documents cited in this volume have been collected and are presently on file in the Center of Military History, from which they will be retired for permanent presentation.
The bulk of the official records used in the preparation of this volume is in the permanent custody of the National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C. The records of most military agencies for the period 1940-54 are located in the Modern Military Records Branch or in the Navy and Old Army Branch of the National Archives proper. Most documents dated after 1954, along with military unit records (including ships' logs), are located in the General Archives Division in the Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland. The Suitland center also holds the other major group of official materials, that is, all those documents still administered by the individual agencies but stored in the center prior to their screening and acquisition by the National Archives. These records are open to qualified researchers, but access to them is controlled by the records managers of the individual agencies, a not altogether felicitous arrangement for the researcher, considering the bulk of the material and its lack of organization.
The largest single group of materials consulted were those of the various offices of the Army staff. Although these agencies have abandoned the system of classifying all documents by a decimal-subject system, the system persisted in many offices well into the 1960's, thereby enabling the researcher to accomplish a speedy, if unrefined, screening of pertinent materials. Even with this crutch, the researcher must still comb through thousands of documents created by the Secretary of War (later Secretary of the Army), his assistant secretary, the Chief of Staff, and the various staff divisions, especially the Personnel (G-1), Organization and Training (G-3), and Operations Divisions, together with the offices of The Adjutant General, the Judge Advocate General, and the Inspector General. The War Department Special Planning Division's files are an extremely important source, especially for postwar racial planning, as are the records of the three World War II major commands, the Army Ground, Service, and Air Forces. Although illuminating in regard to the problem of racial discrimination, the records of the office of the secretary's civilian aide are less important in terms of policy development. Finally, the records of the black units, especially the important body of documents related to the tribulations of the 92d Infantry Division in World War II and the 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea, are also vital sources for this subject.
The records managers in the Office of the Secretary of Defense also used the familiar 291.2 classification to designate materials related to the subject of Negroes. (An exception to this generalization were the official papers of the secretary's office during the Forrestal period when a Navy file system was generally employed.) The most important materials on the subject of the Defense Department's racial interests are found in the records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The majority of these records, including the voluminous files of the Assistant Secretary (Manpower) so helpful for the later sections of the study, have remained in the custody of the department and are administered by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Administration). After 1963 the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary (Civil Rights) and its successor organizations loom as a major source. Many of the official papers were eventually filed with those of the Assistant Secretary (Manpower) or have been retained in the historical files of the Equal Opportunity Office of the Secretary of Defense. The records of the Personnel Policy Board and the Office of the General Counsel, both part of the files of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, are two more important sources of materials on black manpower.
A subject classification system was not universally applied in the Navy Department during the 1940's and even where used proved exceedingly complicated. The records of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy are especially strong in the World War II period, but they must be supplemented with the National Archives' separate Forrestal papers file. Despite the recent loss of records, the files of the Bureau of Naval Personnel remain the primary source for documents on the employment of black personnel in the Navy. Research in all these files, even for the World War II period, is best begun in the Records Management offices of those two agencies. More readily accessible, the records of the Chief of Naval Operations and the General Board, both of considerable importance in understanding the Navy's World War II racial history, are located in the Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Division, Washington Navy Yard. This office has recently created a special miscellaneous file containing important documents of interest to the researcher on racial matters that have been gleaned from various sources not easily available to the researcher.
Copies of all known staff papers concerning black marines and the development of the Marine Corps' equal opportunity program during the integration period have been collected and filed in the reference section of the Director of Marine Corps History and Museums, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. Likewise, most of the very small selection of extant official Coast Guard records on the employment of Negroes have been identified and collected by the Coast Guard historian. The log of the Sea Cloud, the first Coast Guard vessel in modern times to boast a racially mixed crew, is located in the Archives Branch at Suitland.
The Air Force has retained control of a significant portion of its postwar personnel records, and the researcher would best begin work in the Office of the Administrative Assistant, Secretary of the Air Force. This office has custody of the files of the Secretary of the Air Force, his assistant secretaries, the Office of the Chief of Staff, and the staff agencies pertinent to this story, especially the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, and the Director of Military Personnel. The records of black air units, as well as the extensive and well-indexed collection of official unit and base histories and studies and reports of the Air staff that touch on the service's racial policies, are located in the Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. These records are supplemented, and sometimes duplicated, by the holdings of the Suitland Records Center and the Office of Air Force History, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. Other Air Force files of interest, particularly in the area of policy planning, can be found in the holdings of the National Archives' Modern Military Branch.
The records of the Selective Service System also provide some interesting material, but most of this has been published by the Selective Service in its Special Groups (Special Monograph Number 10, 2 vols. [Washington: Government Printing Office, 19531). Far more important are the records of the War Manpower Commission, located in the National Archives, which, when studied in conjunction with the papers of the Secretaries of War and Navy, reveal the influence of the 1940 draft law on the services' racial policies.
The official records of the integration of the armed forces are not limited to those documents retired by the governmental agencies. Parts of the story must also be gleaned from documents that for various reasons have been included in the personal papers of individuals. Documents created by government officials, as well as much unofficial material of special interest, are scattered in a number of institutional or private repositories. Probably the most noteworthy of these collections is the papers of the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces (the Fahy Committee) in the Harry S. Truman Library. In addition to this central source, the Truman Library also contains materials contributed by Philleo Nash, Oscar Chapman, and Clark Clifford, whose work in the White House was intimately, if briefly, concerned with armed forces integration. The President's own papers, especially the recently opened White House Secretary's File, contain a number of important documents.
Documents of special interest can also be found in the Roosevelt Papers at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and among the various White House files preserved in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library. The Central White House file in the John F. Kennedy Library, along with the papers of Harris Wofford and Gerhard Gesell, are essential to the history of equal opportunity in the early 1960's. Most of these collections are well indexed.
The James V. Forrestal Papers, Princeton University Library, while helpful in tracing the Urban League's contribution to the Navy's integration policy, lack the focus and comprehensiveness of the Forrestal Papers in the National Archives' Office of the Secretary of the Navy file. Another collection of particular interest for the naval aspects of the story is the Dennis D. Nelson Papers, in the custody of the Nelson family in San Diego, California, with a microfilm copy on file in the Navy's Operational Archives Branch in Washington. The heart of this collection is the materials Nelson gathered while writing "The Integration of the Negro in the United States Navy, 1776-1947," a U.S. Navy monograph prepared in 1948. The Nelson collection also contains a large group of newspaper clippings and other rare secondary materials of special interest. The Maxie M. Berry Papers, in the custody of the equal opportunity officer of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, offer a rare glimpse into the life of black Coast Guardsmen during World War II, especially those assigned to the all-black Pea Island Station, North Carolina.
The U.S. Army Military History Research Collection at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, has acquired the papers of James C. Evans, the long-time Civilian Aide to the Secretaries of War and Defense, and those of Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., the chairman of the Army's special personnel board that bears his name. The Evans materials contain a rare collection of clippings and memorandums on integration in the armed forces; the Gillem Papers are particularly interesting for the summaries of testimony before the Gillem Board.
The papers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, are useful, especially if used in conjunction with that library's Arthur B. Spingarn Papers, in assessing the role of the civil rights leaders in bringing about black participation in World War II. The collection of secondary materials on Negroes in the armed forces in the Schomburg Collection, New York Public Library, however, is disappointing, considering the prominence of that institution.
Finally, the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Washington, D.C., has on file those materials collected by the author in the preparation of this volume, including not only those items cited in the footnotes, but also copies of hundreds of official documents and correspondence with various participants, together with the unique body of documents and notes collected by Lee Nichols in his groundbreaking research on integration. Of particular importance among the documents in the Center of Military History are copies of many Bureau of Naval Personnel documents, the originals of which have since been destroyed, as well as copies of the bulk of the papers produced by the Fahy Committee.
The status of black servicemen in the integration era has attracted considerable attention among oral history enthusiasts. The author has taken advantage of this special source, but oral testimony concerning integration must be treated cautiously. In addition to the usual dangers of fallible memory that haunt all oral history interviews, the subjects of some of these interviews, it should be emphasized, were separated from the events they were recalling by a civil rights revolution that has changed fundamentally the attitudes of many people, both black and white. In some instances it is readily apparent that the recollections of persons being interviewed been colored by the changes of the 1950's and 1960's, and while their recitation of specific events can be checked against the records, their estimates of attitudes and influences, not so easily verified, should be used cautiously. Much of this danger can be avoided by a skillful interviewer with special knowledge of integration. Because of the care that went into the interviews conducted in the U.S. Air Force Oral History Program, which are on file at the Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center they are particularly dependable. This is especially true of those used in this study, for they were conducted by Lt. Cal. Alan Gropman and Maj. Alan Osur, both serious students of the subject. Particular note should be made of the especially valuable interviews with former Secretary of the Air Force Eugene M. Zuckert and several of the more prominent black generals.
The extensive Columbia University Oral History Collection has several interviews of special interest, in particular the very revealing interview with the National Urban League's Lester Granger. Read in conjunction with the National Archives' Forrestal Papers, this interview is a major source for the Navy's immediate postwar policy changes. Similarly, the Kennedy Library's oral history program contains several interviews that are helpful in assessing the role of the services in the Kennedy administration's civil rights program. Of particular interest are the interviews with Harris Wofford, Roy Wilkins, and Theodore Hesburgh.
The U.S. Marine Corps Oral History Program, whose interviews are on file in Marine Corps headquarters, and the U.S. Navy Oral History Collection, copies of which can be found in the Navy's Operational Archives Branch, contain several interviews of special interest to researchers in racial history. Mention should be made of the Marine Corps interviews with Generals Ray A. Robinson and Alfred G. Noble and the Navy's interviews with Captains Mildred McAfee Horton and Dorothy Stratton, leaders of the World War II WAVES and SPARS.
Finally, included in the files of the Center of Military History is a collection of notes taken by Lee Nichols, Martin Blumenson, and the author during their interviews with leading figures in the integration story. The Nichols notes, covering the series of interviews conducted by that veteran reporter in 1953-54, include such items as summaries of conversations with Harry S. Truman, Truman K. Gibson, Jr., and Emmett J. Scott.
Many of the secondary materials found particularly helpful by the author have been cited throughout the volume, but special attention should be drawn to certain key works in several categories. In the area of official works, Ulysses Lee's The Employment of Negro Troops in the United States Army in World War II series (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1966) remains the definitive account of the Negro in the World War II Army. The Bureau of Naval Personnel's "The Negro in the Navy," Bureau of Naval Personnel History of World War II (mimeographed, 1946, of which there is a copy in the bureau's Technical Library in Washington), is a rare item that has assumed even greater significance with the loss of so much of the bureau's records. Presented without attribution, the text paraphrases many important documents accurately. Margaret L. Geis's "Negro Personnel in the European Command, 1 January 1946 - 30 June 1950," part of the Occupation Forces in Europe series (Historical Division, European Command, 1952), Ronald Sher's "Integration of Negro and White Troops in the U.S. Army, Europe, 1952-1954" (Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Army, Europe, 1956), and Charles G. Cleaver, "Personnel Problems," vol. III, pt. 2, of the "History of the Korean War" (Military History Section, Headquarters, Far East Command, 1952), are important secondary sources for guiding the student through a bewildering mass of materials. Alan M. Osur's Blacks in the Army Air Forces During World War II: The Problem of Race Relations (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1977) and Alan Gropman's The Air Force Integrates, 1945-1964 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1978), both published by the Office of Air Force History, and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., and Ralph W. Donnelly's Blacks in the Marine corps (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1975) provided official, comprehensive surveys of their subjects. Finally, there is in the files of the Center of Military History a copy of the transcripts of the National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs (26 April 1948). Second only to the transcripts of the Fahy Committee hearings in comprehensiveness on the subject of postwar racial policies, this document also provides a rare look at the attitudes of the traditional black leadership at a crucial period.
As the footnotes indicate, congressional documents and newspapers were also important resources mined in the preparation of this volume. Of particular interest, the Center of Military History has on file a special guide to some of these sources prepared by Lt. Col. Reinhold S. Schumann (USAR). This guide analyzes the congressional and press reaction to the 1940 and 1948 draft laws and to the Fahy and Gesell Committee reports.
In his Blacks and the Military in American History: A New Perspective (New York: Praeger, 1974), Jack D. Foner provides a fine general survey of the Negro in the armed forces, including an accurate summary of the integration period. Among the many specialized studies on the integration period itself, cited throughout the text, several might provide a helpful entree to a complicated subject. The standard account is Richard M. Dalfiume's Desegregation of the United States Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1953 (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1969). Carefully documented and containing a very helpful bibliography, this work tends to emphasize the influence of the civil rights advocates and Harry Truman on the integration process. The reader will also benefit from consulting Lee Nichols's pioneer work Breakthrough on the Color Front (New York: Random House, 1954). Although lacking documentation, Nichols's journalistic account was devised with the help of many of the participants and is still of considerable value to the student. The reader may also want to consult Richard J. Stillman II's short survey, Integration of the Negro in the U.S. Armed Forces (New York: Praeger, 1968), principally for its statistical information on the post-Korean period.
The role of President Truman and the Fahy Committee in the integration of the armed forces has been treated in detail by Dalfiume and by Donald R. McCoy and Richard T. Ruetten in Quest and Response: Minority Rights and tee Truman Administration (Lawrence, Kansas: The University of Kansas Press 1973). A valuable critical appraisal of the short-range response of the Army to the Fahy Committee's work appeared in Edwin W. Kenworthy's "The Case Against Army Segregation," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 275 (May 1951):27-33. In addition, the reader may want to consult William C. Berman's The Politics of Civil Rights in the Truman Administration (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1970) for a general survey of civil rights in the Truman years.
The expansion of the Defense Department's equal treatment and opportunity policy in the 1960's is explained by Adam Yarmolinsky in The Military Establishment: Its Impacts on American Society (New York: Harper & Row, 1971). This book is the work of a number of informed specialists sponsored by the 20th Century Fund. A general survey of President Kennedy's civil rights program is presented by Carl M. Brauer in his John F. Kennedy and the Second Reconstruction (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977). The McNamara era is treated in Fred Richard Bahr's "The Expanding Role of the Department of Defense as an Instrument of Social Change" (Ph.D. dissertation, George Washington University, 1970).
Concerning the rise of the civil rights movement itself, the reader would be advised to consult C. Vann Woodward's masterful The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 3d ed. rev. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), and the two volumes composed by Gesell Committee member Benjamin Muse Ten Years of Prelude: The Story of Integration Since the Supreme Court's i954 Decision (New York: The Viking Press, 1964), and The American Negro Revolution: From Nonviolence to Black Power, 1963-1967 (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1968). Important aspects of the civil rights movement and its influence on American servicemen are discussed by Jack Greenberg in Race Relations and American Law (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959) and Eli Ginzberg, The Negro Potential (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956).
Finally, many of the documents supporting the history of the integration of the armed forces, including complete transcripts of the Fahy Committee hearings and the Conference on Negro Affairs, have been compiled by the author and Bernard C. Nalty in the multivolumed Blacks in the United States Armed Forces: Basic Documents (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1977).