Guide to the Portsmouth Council of Defense Records, 1942-1945

Collection number: MC 169
Size: 3 boxes (1.00 cu.ft.)

About the Portsmouth Council of Defense

Civil defense, sometimes referred to as civilian defense, was the organized non-military effort to prepare Americans for military attack. It truly began to come of age, both worldwide and in the United States, during World War I, but it was during World War II that a significantly greater use of civil defense was made. The Portsmouth Council of Defense was part of the federal hierarchy for civilian defense during World War II. Each state had its own council to coordinate civilian defense within its borders. The Civil Defense Corps, run by the Office of Civilian Defense, organized approximately 10 million volunteers who trained to fight fires, decontaminate after chemical weapon attacks, provide first aid, and other duties. As the threat of air raids or invasions in the United States appeared less likely during the war, the focus on the Civil Defense Corps, air raid drills, and patrols of the border declined but the other efforts continued. More recently, the term and practice of civil defense have fallen into disuse and have been replaced by emergency management and homeland security.

The Portsmouth Council of Defense operated out of the second floor of the Portsmouth City Hall. Gerald Foss was its chairman.

About the Portsmouth Council of Defense Records

The majority of the information in the collection comes from Gerald Foss, chairman of the Portsmouth Council of Defense. The papers, which consist mainly of correspondence between various agencies and individuals, as well as a variety of memoranda and subject files, span the period 1942-1945. Information included in the files includes lists of names of those involved in the Portsmouth defense set-up, including heads of division, air raid wardens, air raid precaution instructors, sector wardens, zone wardens, members of the police department, those authorized to drive during a blackout, messengers, roll calls of U.S. citizens defense and U.S. citizens service corps, and civilian animal defense.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Portsmouth Council of Defense Records, 1942-1945, MC 169, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donation: Gertrude Foss, January 7, 2001 (Accession number: 2000.1)

Collection Contents

Series 1: Correspondence

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1Correspondence, Mar-Apr 1942
Box 1, Folder 2Correspondence, May 1942
Box 1, Folder 3Correspondence, June 1942
Box 1, Folder 4Correspondence, July 1-14, 1942
Box 1, Folder 5Correspondence, July 15-31, 1942
Box 1, Folder 6Correspondence, Aug 1942
Box 1, Folder 7Correspondence, Sept 1942
Box 1, Folder 8Correspondence, Oct 1942
Box 1, Folder 9Correspondence, Nov 1942
Box 1, Folder 10Correspondence, Dec 1942
Box 1, Folder 11Correspondence, Jan 4-20, 1943
Box 1, Folder 12Correspondence, Jan 21-29 1943
Box 1, Folder 13Correspondence, Feb 2-12, 1943
Box 1, Folder 14Correspondence, Feb 15-27, 1943
Box 1, Folder 15Correspondence, Mar 2-12, 1943
Box 1, Folder 16Correspondence, Mar 13-30, 1943
Box 1, Folder 17Correspondence, Apr 1-16, 1943
Box 1, Folder 18Correspondence, Apr 19-27, 1943
Box 1, Folder 19Correspondence, May 1943
Box 2
Box 2, Folder 1Correspondence, June 1943
Box 2, Folder 2Correspondence, July-Aug 1943
Box 2, Folder 3Correspondence, Sept-Dec 1943
Box 2, Folder 4Correspondence, Jan-May 1944
Box 2, Folder 5Correspondence, June 1944-1945

Series 2: Memoranda

Box 2, Folder 6Memoranda, including operations letters, May-Aug 1942
Box 2, Folder 7Memoranda, including operations letters and protection memoranda, Sept-Dec 1942
Box 2, Folder 8Memoranda, including operations letters and protection memoranda, Jan-May 1943
Box 2, Folder 9Memoranda, including operations letters and protection memoranda, June-Sept 1943
Box 2, Folder 10Memoranda, including operations letters and protection memoranda, Oct 1943-June 1944
Box 2, Folder 11Memoranda, undated
Box 2, Folder 12Memoranda: Office of Civilian Defense Circulars, Operations Letters, etc., Dec 1942-Nov 1943

Series 3: Subject Files

Box 2
Box 2, Folder 13Blackout Regulations, etc.
Box 2, Folder 14Cambridge (MA) Committee on Public Safety, Dec 1942
Box 2, Folder 15Civilian Animal Defense
Box 2, Folder 16Chemical Warfare and Bomb Reconnaissance
Box 2, Folder 17Child care Survey
Box 2, Folder 18Emergency Personnel: Air Raid Wardens
Box 2, Folder 19Emergency Personnel: Essential Telephone Numbers
Box 2, Folder 20Emergency Personnel: Fire, Police, Utilities, Military
Box 2, Folder 21Emergency Personnel: Identification Cards and Information
Box 2, Folder 22Emergency Personnel: Medical Division
Box 3
Box 3, Folder 1Evacuation Plans
Box 3, Folder 2Field Exercises
Box 3, Folder 3Gas Specialist Schools
Box 3, Folder 4National Housing Agency
Box 3, Folder 5Nutriton Committee and Agriculture
Box 3, Folder 6Ordinances
Box 3, Folder 7Pre-Induction Information Committee
Box 3, Folder 8Radio Stations and Addresses
Box 3, Folder 9Shelters and Emergency Equipment
Box 3, Folder 10Victory Gardens: Applications
Box 3, Folder 11Victory Gardens: General
Box 3, Folder 12Wireless Radio Communications
Box 3, Folder 13Miscellaneous Papers