Manuscript Collections - Kenneth W. Colegrove Papers

March 13, 2020

We're sorry. Due to the coronavirus public health emergency, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum will be closed to the public beginning March 14th until further notice. We will continue to respond to written requests for records at Please check our website or  for updates on our operating hours and status.

30 linear feet, 8 linear inches (61 manuscript boxes)
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

In a sixty year career as a historian and political scientist, Kenneth Wallace Colegrove was an acknowledged expert on the Far East, serving as General MacArthur's personal adviser during the occupation of Japan. Colegrove’s father, Chauncey Peter Colegrove, for several years President of Upper Iowa College, was a dedicated Christian scholar and teacher who impressed upon his sons the importance of Christian service in every walk of life.

The fusion of Christian principles and educational idealism is evident in both Kenneth's first textbook, American Citizens and Their Government (1922), and especially in correspondence with his father about the book. Other letters, written to a variety of associates from 1950 on, suggest that these influences were at the root of his determined opposition to Communism.

Colegrove studied history under Edward Channing and Frederick Jackson Turner at Harvard University and received his Ph.D in 1915. After teaching at Mt. Holyoke (1913‑16) and Syracuse University (1916‑19), Colegrove joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 1919 and advanced to the position of departmental chairman before his mandatory retirement in 1952.
During this period he also served for twelve years (1935‑47) as the secretary‑treasurer of the American Political Science Association. His papers contain correspondence with many prominent economists, historians, political scientists and officers of the APSA dating from 1910 into the 1970's.

Colegrove's early research centered on the development of American foreign policy in the Far East. Colegrove's attempts to explore the origins and impact of the Open Door Policy were frustrated when the Soviet government refused to grant him a visa in 1930. Soviet paranoia was approaching one of its periodic peaks and Colegrove's just published book on the International Control of Aviation included material on military aspects of aviation. This development, coupled with the growth of militarism and fascism in Japan and the invasion of Manchuria, led him to switch his attentions to Japan. Over the next fifteen years he became an acknowledged expert on Japanese government and foreign policy, producing eighteen articles and a book, Militarism in Japan (1936).

Colegrove's expertise in Japanese affairs and constitutional development resulted in his becoming one of General MacArthur's principal advisers during the occupation and Korean War periods. He advised retaining the Japanese Emperor as a stabilizing influence and lent other important insights into Japanese political institutions, the probable impact of proposed reforms, and the advisability of policies proposed by the Far Eastern Commission.

In the late 1930's Colegrove had been one of the leading members of the Institute for Pacific Relations, frequently addressed their meetings, and wrote numerous articles for its publications. This association later proved mutually embarrassing when the editors and principal contributors to the IPR magazine, Amerasia, were investigated by the Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee in the early 1950's. Colegrove was blacklisted and attacked by many in the academic fraternity when he testified before the Subcommittee in 1951 that he had left the editorial board of Amerasia to protest the pro‑communist activities of Owen Lattimore, Philip J. Jaffe, John S. Service and others.

Following his Amerasia experience, Colegrove became concerned that the country's educational system was in danger of being transformed into "a tool for social change." To counter this trend he made numerous public appearances, culminating in his testimony before the Reece Committee in 1954 during its investigation of tax‑exempt foundations. He was particularly concerned that these foundations were being subverted to produce politically slanted educational research promoting the cause of internationalism, socialism and communism.

These worries led him to defend Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and General MacArthur and to join forces with Alfred Kohlberg, Robert H.W. Welch, Jr., William T. Couch, Lucille Cardin Crain, Bonner Fellers and others. These shared concerns also launched him upon a second teaching career, commencing in 1953, that was significantly different in its focus and intent. No longer content to merely convey facts. Colegrove's teaching at Queens College and C.W. Post College was designed to provide students with a philosophical foundation which would enable them to recognize and expose the shortcomings of socialism and communism.

Aghast at his students' ignorance of communism, the elderly professor addressed numerous civic groups advocating the study of communism in high schools. Attracted by newspaper accounts of these speeches, the Institute of Fiscal and Political Education approached Colegrove in 1954 to write a textbook suitable for use in high schools.

Published in 1957, Democracy vs. Communism went through several revisions and was used throughout the 1960's. Despite relatively moderate sales, the text was widely imitated and had an influence on the social studies curriculum of the late 1950's and 1960's. The Defense Department adapted it for use as a series of troop training manuals in the early 1960's and hired Colegrove as a consultant to plan a series of seminars at the Naval War College.

Description of Series

Box      Contents
1‑41     NAME AND SUBJECT FILES 1896‑1974. 41 containers.
Correspondence, memoranda, telegrams, clippings, reports, and printed materials. These files Relate to Colegrove's professional activities and interests, personal life and family history. Arranged by subjects and names of individuals and organizations alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

42‑46   TEACHING MATERIALS 1953‑1969. 5 containers.
Correspondence, memoranda, course syllabi, bibliographies, lecture notes, clippings, handout and source materials. Most of these materials are undated but appear to date from the period when Colegrove taught at Queens College and C.W. Post College. Arranged by Course titles alphabetically and thereunder by type of material.

47‑61   WRITING AND SPEAKING PROJECTS 1917‑1971. 15 containers.
Correspondence, reviews of Colegrove's books, source materials and notes, and drafts and printed copies of Colegrove's writings, speeches and lectures. This series also contains book reviews, letters to the editor and textbook analyses prepared by Colegrove. Materials directly related to classroom teaching are arranged in the following series. Arranged by type of publication and thereunder chronologically or by subject as appropriate.