Ohly, John H. Papers

Dates: 1917(1940)-ca. 1984

Attorney in the War Department, 1940-46; Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, 1947-49; official with the Department of State, Mutual Security Agency, Foreign Operations Administration, International Cooperation Administration, and Agency for International Development, 1950-68; independent researcher and historical consultant to the Department of Defense, ca. 1969-84

See also Oral History

The papers of John H. Ohly document his career as attorney in the War Department specializing in labor relations, as an intimate aid to Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal, as a government official and independent researcher studying and advocating foreign economic and military aid programs, and as an historical consultant to the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense File is particularly important for the study of the Truman administration's defense policies. The John H. Ohly Administrative File subseries in the Department of Defense File includes a record, organized by subject, and describing the issues involved and related actions taken, of practically all the documents that came to Ohly's office. Ohly has called this record "a guide to what went on [during] the first 18 months in the life of the Office of the Secretary of Defense." The rest of the material in the Department of Defense File supplements this record.

[ Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 64.4 linear feet (about 128,000 pages)
Access: Open, with the exception that some documents are temporarily restricted in accordance with the provisions of Elizabeth Ohly's deed of gift and of the requirements of the executive order governing the administration of classified information.
Copyright: Elizabeth Ohly donated her copyright interest in any unpublished writings, including her husband's, in this collection or any other collection in the possession of the United States Government to the people of the United States. In addition, documents prepared by United States Government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents that do not fall in the above two categories is presumed to remain with the writers of the documents.
Processed by: Dennis Bilger, Raymond H. Geselbracht, Shaire Simon, Mary Jo Minter, and Anita Smith

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
1911   Born, Brooklyn, New York
1933   A.B., Williams College
1936   LL.B., Harvard Law School
1936-37   Harvard University School of Law Moot Court Assistant
1937-40   Practiced law with Breed, Abbott and Morgan, New York City
1940-46   Attorney in the office of the Assistant Secretary of War, and later the Under Secretary of War, specializing in labor relations, manpower and related matters
1946, June-Dec.   Special Assistant to the Secretary of War
1947, Jan.-Sept.   Executive Secretary, President's Advisory Commission on Universal Training
1947, Sept.- 1949, Oct.   Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense
1949-50   Deputy Director and Acting Director, Mutual Defense Assistance Program, Department of State
1951   Assistant Director, Office of International Security Affairs, Department of State
1951-52   Special Assistant for Mutual Security Affairs, Department of State
1952-53   Assistant Director for Program, Office of Director, Mutual Security Agency
1953-   Deputy to the Director for Program and Coordination, Mutual Security Agency
1953-55   Deputy Director for Program and Planning, Foreign Operations Administration
1955-59   Deputy Director for Program and Planning, International Cooperation Administration
1959   Consultant, President's Committee to Study the United States Military Assistance Program
1959-68   Official with the International Cooperation Administration and Agency for International Development
ca. 1968-75   Independent researcher, prepared a report entitled "A Proposal for an Attack on the Problem of Public Support"
1979-84   Part-time consultant in the historian's office of the Department of Defense
1990, Sept.9   Died, North Adams, Massachusetts
[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of John H. Ohly document his entire career in government, which began in 1940 with his accepting a position in the War Department and included later assignments in the Department of Defense and in several agencies having responsibility for foreign economic and military assistance. The papers also document Ohly's work after 1968 as an independent researcher and as an historical consultant to the Department of Defense. The collection throughout reflects the considerable care that Ohly took to accumulate in his files everything that he could that related to his responsibilities. It also reflects the great attention that he gave his papers toward the end of his life. The arrangement scheme described in this finding aid is based on that which Ohly created prior to sending his papers to the Truman Library in 1990. The inventory that Ohly prepared for his papers is filed in the first folder of the John H. Ohly Administrative File subseries of the Department of Defense File.

The collection has six series: The Chronological File,Ethe War Department File, the Department of Defense File, the Foreign Aid File, the Ford Foundation Project File, and the Printed Materials File.

The al File documents Ohly's work in the War Department and with government agencies concerned with foreign aid. His work as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal is not covered in this series; the Department of Defense series includes a separate al File subseries. Although the series is composed entirely of carbon copies, many of the documents are not duplicated elsewhere in Ohly's papers.

The War Department File documents primarily Ohly's work from September 1940 to June 1946 as an attorney in the office of the Assistant Secretary of War, and later the Under Secretary of War, specializing in labor relations and manpower issues, and, during the last ten months of this period, organizing his unit's files and writing histories of its operations, and especially a history of the plant seizure program during World War II. There does not appear to be any material in this series relating to his work from June through December 1946 as a special assistant to the Secretary of War--despite Ohly's identification of about twenty files relating to this period in Attachment D to his inventory. There is a small amount of material in the series that documents Ohly's assignment from January to September 1947 as executive secretary of the President's Advisory Commission on Universal Training. The series contains information about such subjects as anti-labor attitudes, the condition of work for government employees, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, labor legislation, the labor supply, plant protection, plant seizure, labor statutes, and the War Department's labor policy. About a third of the material in the series concerns plant protection and plant seizures.

The Department of Defense File is probably the most important series in the collection for the study of the Truman presidency. Ohly was, with his fellow Special Assistants Marx Leva and Wilfred J. McNeil, the core of the small staff allotted to the Secretary of Defense prior to the passage of the 1949 amendments to the National Security Act. This series comprises a significant part of the documentation of the formative period of the Department of Defense. It is divided into four subseries: a John H. Ohly Administrative File, a al File, a Subject File, and an Historical File.

The John H. Ohly Administrative File, which combines different types of materials that Ohly accumulated to help him to carry out his responsibilities in the most effective way, includes what he called his "Special Control Files" and described as "unquestionably the most important historical material in my files." Most, though not quite all, of the material in this subseries relates to Ohly's tenure in the National Military Establishment and the Department of Defense. The "Issues Books," which are described below, contain material that documents a much longer period in Ohly's career.

Perhaps what Ohly called his "Basic Index," comprising about 700 pages, is the most remarkable group of documents in this