Inquiry Document No. 886

The Inquiry.—Report of Progress to December 15, 1917

At present the Inquiry is organized as follows: There is an Executive Committee of four, consisting of:

  • S. E. Mezes, Director.
  • E. M. [D. H.] Miller, Treasurer.
  • J. T. Shotwell, Research Consultant.
  • W. Lippmann, Secretary.

The Committee has laid out the general field of research and selected the men to conduct it, who are known as Division Chiefs, with the following general assignments:

1) Politics and government, including international cooperation, W. Lippmann
2) Economics and business (national and international), D. H. Miller and A. A. Young
3) Social science, including history, J. T. Shotwell
4) International law, J. F. Chamberlain
5) Geography, Isaiah Bowman
6) Strategy, (unassigned)

Each of these division chiefs has a certain number of assistants and collaborators assigned to him, some voluntary, some paid.

This organization assembles the material, which is then deposited with Dr. Mezes, who has under his direction a staff for the filing and digesting of the material. The plan adopted here provides for an editing of the material by Dr. Mezes and Mr. Lippmann, who then pass it on to the librarian and the cataloguer. The librarian is Mr. Andrew Keogh of Yale University, and the cataloguer is Miss Wilson of the Columbia Library. The material will be very carefully sifted and filed in such a manner as to be readily available, after the scientific scheme adopted by the Belgian Institute of Bibliography. Under this system it will be possible to collect the material [Page 35] on any topic in a very few minutes. The index will be as complete as it is possible to make it.

Mr. Keogh will also act as librarian of the Inquiry, assembling documents and materials on any points which are called for. He will be in a position to state where any material published is to be found, either in this country or abroad.

The administrative machinery of the Inquiry is now in running condition, and is planned so that the Central Committee is immediately in touch with the collaborators working in different parts of the country.

The personnel of these collaborators and assistants is representative of various sections of the country. We have drawn so far upon Harvard, Clark University, Smith College, Yale University, Columbia, City College, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, Leland Stanford, upon the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the American Geographical Society, and the National Board for Historical Service. The filing of the material and the bulk of the correspondence is conducted from the rooms loaned to us by the American Geographical Society. Correspondence with men who are definitely working for the Inquiry is conducted from 3755 Broadway, which is the address of the American Geographical Society. Other correspondence is conducted from the personal addresses of the members of the Executive Committee.

1. The theory upon which the work is planned. The actual assignment of research is laid out so that by the fifteenth of February there shall be available a certain amount of reliable but not absolutely firsthand material on what the Executive Committee has considered as the more urgent problems, based, of course, upon the President’s messages. The work is now under way, so that material will be assembled quickly on urgent problems, provision at the same time being made for more intensive work over a longer period.

The Committee has picked as the region of urgency the general area from the Baltic Sea to the Persian Gulf, the colonial area of Central Africa, the problem of the economic needs of the Central Powers, now and immediately after the conclusion of hostilities, and the general problem of the “freedom of the seas.” The regional studies are divided into five sections:

The Baltic provinces and Poland.
The Balkans, and especially the frontiers of Bulgaria.
Turkey in Asia.
Central Africa.

On these areas there will be, as stated above, available by February 15th at the latest a significant mass of material drawn from trustworthy [Page 36] secondary sources, which can then be examined more critically at a later date.

2. Research now under way. In accordance with the plan laid out above and supplementary to it, the following investigation is now under way:

a. A complete list so far as European newspaper sources are available of the significant official declarations and proposals made by governments bearing on the settlement of the war or on international policy. This material is arranged so that it is possible to see either all the declarations made by any one government, or all the declarations made about any particular problem by all the governments. This section is completed and is now in our files, being used as guide material for our other researches.

b. There is now under way, and will be completed by approximately the 5th of January, a careful examination of the press and periodical literature of the western powers, in order to assemble significant declarations of policy by opposition statesmen, minority parties, and important social groups.

c. There is now under way, and will be completed and brought up to date by approximately the middle of January, an examination of all the existing newspapers of the Central Powers for indications of economic and political policy now being discussed. These files will all be coordinated and kept up to date, so that any new utterance coming from a nation in which we are interested may be judged in the light of its other utterances since the beginning of the war.

d. There is now being prepared, and should be fairly well completed by February 1st at the latest, a Who’s Who for the Central Powers, Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Scandinavia.

e. Arrangements have already been undertaken and may be completed this week for a digest of outstanding treaty obligations, so far as those can be ascertained. This material will also be collated with the declarations and proposals outlined above.

f. There is now being prepared for us, and should be completed by the first of February, a brief for each of the subject nationalities lying in the area between the Baltic Sea and the Persian Gulf. These briefs will state the grievances, the demands, the aspirations, the nature of the organizations through which the demands are made, and a Who’s Who of the leaders among the subject nationalities.

g. There is now in our files a schematic chart prepared expressly for the Inquiry of the fourteen best known plans of international organization, drawn from American, British, Belgian, German, and other sources. This chart shows what provision if any is made in the different schemes for international legislative bodies, international administrative bodies, international judicial bodies, international conciliative bodies, international commercial courts, methods of reference and award, and sanctions proposed.

h. There has been prepared for the Inquiry a chart showing all important international events since 1870, by years and by countries.

i. There is now being prepared, and should be completed by the middle of January, a collection of the declarations and proposals, and the actual practice, in regard to the creation of a new Poland.

j. For each of the five areas of greatest urgency, that is, Poland and the Baltic provinces, Austria-Hungary, the Balkans, Turkey in [Page 37] Asia, and Central Africa, the following material is ordered, with a view to having it collected by January 15th:

1) A historical sketch of not more than 2500 words, giving the high lights of greatest pertinence to the Inquiry.

2) One or two readable and authoritative volumes, carefully indexed.

3) Brief accounts of:

The actual participation, and prevention from participation, of each race in the central and provincial government, as to office holding and education for the same.

The actual participation of each race in local government, office holding, and education for the latter.

The restrictions and restraints imposed on subject races in such matters as: the use of language; the exercise and control of religion, meetings, societies, and newspapers; change of residence; entering of occupations 5 maintenance of their own schools.

The political clubs of racial membership, and other raceconscious social organs.

A brief preliminary description of the structure of governments and of the inter-working of their parts, for the major belligerents, and a volume or two on government structure, carefully indexed.

k. The following material will be ready by February first, prepared by the Division of Geography. It will be based largely on secondary material, and will be capable of more critical and intensive elaboration later if desired. For Poland and Lithuania, Austria-Hungary, the Balkans, Turkey in Asia, and Central Africa, the following material:

Maps and explanatory articles showing the general relief character of the country; the barriers, gateways and corridors, strategic and economic; the proportion of flat and cultivable as against steep and uncultivable land; the drainage lines; the heads of navigation for vessels of different drafts; seasonal navigation; railway crossings and terminals on rivers; reconstruction of drainage lines; regional drift of internal commerce in relation to navigable streams;

The types of soil and their distribution special features of the soil, such as erosion and conservation; climate, showing lands favorable to white settlement, the length of the growing season, fogs, destructive storms and droughts; distribution maps and explanatory articles showing the relative importance and value of mineral deposits, degree of mineral independence, amount and source of soil fertilizers; the ultimate development and limits of present exploitation of mineral resources; the relation of the undeveloped mineral and agricultural fields to centers of labor supply; the inherent and acquired productivity of the land for agriculture; the relative regional productivity; the relation of farm lands to industrial regions and centers of food consumption;

The forest types and commercial woods; the extent and degree of the development of existing forests; ultimate forest land; [Page 38] forests in relation to transportation lines and ports, to centers of lumber consumption and to labor supply; forest policy;

Fisheries; fishing stations and shore rights; consuming centers; seasonal migration of commercial species of fish;

Miscellaneous natural resources, such as the therapeutic value of the climate; mineral springs and baths; hunting and breeding grounds for wild game; historic centers of religious pilgrimages;

As to the people, maps and explanatory articles showing the present general distribution by occupation, races, languages, and religions, together with comparisons of earlier and later distributions; materials showing the general level of civilization, significant customs, and general mode of life; the existing development of material resources; the domestic commerce and routes of trade; trade outlets on land and water; foreign commerce; analytic maps of economic frontiers and barriers, of physical frontiers and barriers, of political frontiers and barriers;

Military geography, showing strategic barriers and centers of distribution; maps of colonial relations and spheres of influence of the European states.

This material will all be presented in as simple and graphic form as possible. Specialized draughtsmen have been secured capable of depicting this material.

l. There is now being assembled, and should be completed by the 15th of February, authoritative material on the principles which have governed the drawing of strategic frontiers in Europe.

m. In the field of international law, there is now being prepared a general outline of the field to be covered, and more special assignments in the order of urgency will be made this week.

n. In the field of economics there is now being prepared, and should be completed at the end of January, a preliminary survey of the chief sources of economic strength and weakness of the nations participating in the settlement. A study of the existing machinery, administrative and legislative, preventing free economic intercourse between the nations which might be used either to maintain pressure upon the Central Powers or to relax restrictions as between the Allies. Figures and charts are being collected showing the financial position, the shipping situation, the industrial needs, and the industrial possibilities of the major powers. A study is being prepared of the chief processes by which goods travel from the producer to the consumer in the areas of greatest interest. A preliminary survey of this should be on hand by February 15th.

o. A special study is planned of Russo-German commercial relations, with a view to indicating methods by which the economic penetration of Russia, due to political weakness, may possibly be prevented.

p. The following subjects are being investigated by specialists, and preliminary reports should be had at varying dates from the beginning of January to the middle of February:

The history of the Slavic peoples and the diplomatic history of the Near East.
Contemporary American diplomatic history in its relation to European problems.
Italia Irridenta.
German colonial policy.
German militarism.
The relation of South Germany to the Empire.
The Ukraine and Russian history.
Bohemia and the South Slavs.
The Pacific islands.
The theory of Middle Europe.
Special research in regard to Macedonia.
Austria’s claims in the Balkans.
Western Asia.
The history of British commercial policy, and the European treatment of native races.
British colonial policy.
German industrial democratization.
The various meanings attached to “the freedom of the seas.”
A varied collection of data in regard to China, especially in its relations to the European settlement.

3. Editing. As this material comes in from the various sources, it will be edited by the Executive Committee and digested into the briefest possible form, so as to be both readable and graphic. In addition to the digesting, there will be briefs in regard to issues likely to be discussed at the peace conference, so that the work of different specialists may be brought to bear as compactly as possible upon the discussion. Particular care has been given to the problem of avoiding the collection of material which when collected would be unavailable because of its bulk or because of bad arrangement.

4. Costs. It will be possible on January first to present a budget of current expenses. It may be noted here, however, that the costs include only the bare expenses of workers whose services could not be secured voluntarily, besides the expense of clerical help and stationery supplies.