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National History Day Topics 2011-12
Commission for Relief in Belgium:  A Revolution in Food Relief

At the beginning of World War I, the German Empire occupied Belgium, a small country that stood between Germany and France.  The Belgians were dependent on food imports, but the German occupation prevented imports by land and a British naval blockade prevented food shipments by sea.  Food supplies in Belgium were nearly exhausted by October 1914 when Belgian and American diplomats pleaded for assistance.  Herbert Hoover proposed a revolutionary idea, that a neutral nongovernmental organization could feed an entire nation inside a war zone.  He founded the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which became the main source of food for 9 million civilians trapped behind the front lines. 

Hoover Library primary sources:
Gay, George I., Statistical Review of Relief Operations, Stanford University Press, 1924.
Herbert Hoover Pre-Commerce Papers. Subject files, boxes 31 - 32 – Commission for Relief in Belgium .
Prentiss Grey Papers, box 1 – Commission for Relief in Belgium.

Online primary source:
Gay, George I. and H. H. Fisher, Public Relations of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, Stanford University Press, 1929. http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/comment/CRB/CRB1-TC.htm

Secondary sources:
Hoover, Herbert, An American Epic, Vol. 1:  The Relief of Belgium and Northern France, 1914-1930.  Chicago:  Regnery, 1959
Nash, George H., The Life of Herbert Hoover:  The Humanitarian, 1914-1917, New York:  W. W. Norton, 1988.

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