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American Council of Learned Societies' Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas

In early 1943 a group, known as the American Council of Learned Societies, appointed a committee to address protection of Europe’s art by identifying civilian experts who could liaise with the military. They also prepared pamphlets that detailed known German looting. Theirs and several other similar groups’ entreaties to government officials coalesced at about the same time. On June 23, 1943, FDR approved the formation of the “American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas” widely known as “The Roberts Commission,” after its chairman, Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts. Thus was born the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“MFAA”) section under the auspices of the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies.

The “Venus Fixers” as they were sometimes called by fellow troops—“Monuments Men” by most others—were mostly young museum directors and curators, art professors and architects who volunteered for service. After the war, many would become leaders of the most prominent museums in the United States. Virtually every major American museum had one or more employee who served as an MFAA officer during World War II. Still, their numbers were ridiculously few when compared to the overwhelming task they confronted. In as much as the MFAA program was an untested concept, the Monuments Men had minimal resources to accomplish their job and little direction other than to inspect, repair, and report on monuments needing protection, and to prevent improper billeting by Allied troops in historic or culturally important buildings. This last task was a constant challenge. There was no handbook to follow. Those with skill or knowledge were given authority to act.

This is my ongoing research on these individuals - if you have any additional information to share - please contact me , Nancy Cunningham cunningb@flash.net

Also see my research on members of  The Harvard Group and the Monument Men .

More can be found on these lists on the Rescuing  DaVinci web page.

 

1. Bannister, Turpin C
2. Barnouw, Barnouw
3. de Tolnay, Charles
4. Chapin, Helen B.
5. Dinsmore, Emil and Zilah
6. Frankl, Paul
7. Geidion, Sigfried
8. Hauser, Walter b
9. Heine-Geldern, Robert
10. Hogan, Charles Beecher
11. Ingholt , Harald
12. Jayne, Horace H. F
13. Lee, Rensselaer W
14. Levi della Vida, Giorgio
15. Levi, Dorob
16. McCune, George Shannon
17. Morey, Charles Rufus
18. Munzer, Zdenka
19. Paine , Robert T
20. Peabody-Donaldson, Anne
21. Priest, Alan
22. Rorimer, Katherine S
23. Rowland, Benjamin
24. Salmony, Alfred
25. Schoenberger, Guido Leopold
26. Schuster, Carl
27. Shirato, Ichiro and Masa
28. Swift, Emerson H
29 Thompson, Norma
29. Tomita, Kojiro
30. Tsunoda, Ryusaku
31. Venturi, Lionello
32. Weinberger, Martin
33. Wenley, Archibald
34. Williamson, narcissa
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