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National Student Federation archives


National Student Federation archives
National Student Federation
Collection number:
0.75 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

The National Student Federation of America was founded in 1925 during a conference at Princeton University by student representatives from 245 universities. In 1927 the Federation opened a travel office and in 1928 amalgamated with the World Student Union. The Federation sponsored international debates, a news service, student problem and opinion surveys, radio broadcasts, trips, publications, and congresses. These program activities are documented in the archives through correspondence, annual reports, newsletters, and radio transcripts.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

National Student Federation archives, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

The National Student Federation of America (NSFA) organized on December 13, 1925, in Princeton, New Jersey. The outgrowth of a meeting of the Intercollegiate World Court Conference, the NSFA became a formal organization through which 245 participating institutions agreed to collectively represent the interests of students and student governments across the United States. At that time, the student delegates drafted the original charter and elected the first officers, including the first president, Lewis Fox of Princeton, class of 1926. The NSFA specifically planned to "achieve a spirit of unity among students of the United States; to give consideration to questions affecting student interests; develop an intelligent student opinion on questions of national importance; and foster understanding among students of the world in furtherance of enduring world peace."

National Student Federation membership consisted of the student bodies of individual colleges and universities. The size of the NSFA ballooned in the early years and leveled during the 1930s with approximately 150 active member institutions. The formal ruling body of the NSFA was the executive committee, comprised of seven regional delegates, two delegates elected at large, the President, Vice President, and Treasurer. Beginning in 1930, a National Board of Advisors of thirteen elected college and university faculty assumed partial responsibility for directing policy and finances. Officers and advisors were elected at the Annual Congress, when delegates from member institutions gathered to determine program and policy for the upcoming year. Also, by 1930, the NSFA established a national office and hired young college graduates to serve on staff. Staff responsibilities included developing the program outlined by the Annual Congress and conducting surveys on student activities and educational problems.

The NSFA increased its national and international presence in the 1930s, representing student opinion on a multitude of issues, including the subsidization of college athletes; compulsory military training in land grant schools; censorship of college newspapers; mandatory student chapel attendance; and world peace. In addition to voicing student concerns, the NSFA fostered international study and understanding by hosting foreign debate teams and sponsoring the travel of American students abroad. As one of many thriving student activist organizations in the 1930s, the NSFA cooperated in affiliation with like-minded organizations in promoting its agenda, including the International Student Service. The NSFA also joined the American Youth Conference, an umbrella organization that encompassed student organizations of varying ideological and political views.

The NSFA informed member institutions and affiliates of its program and activities through the distribution of a weekly newsletter and a more substantial monthly magazine titled The National Student Mirror. In order to reach a broader audience, the NSFA initiated a series of national radio broadcasts and in 1935 established the NSFA Motion Picture Service to promote students' needs and concerns.

The National Student Federation of America remained an active and lively organization through the decade of the 1930s. The records of the NSFA evidence its survival through at least 1939; additional documentary evidence suggests that the organization survived another few years until 1942. However, without conclusive documentation, the fate of the NSFA cannot be determined with certainty.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Archives of the National Student Federation of America cover the years 1931 to 1939. Document types represented in the collection include correspondence, telegrams, reports, surveys, programs, papers, minutes, budgets, contest rules and announcement, press releases, newsletters, magazines, and pamphlets. The materials relate to the operation and activities of the National Student Federation of America. The bulk of the materials included are NSFA News Service newsletters released to college campus newspapers on a weekly basis and documenting issues and activities of interest to the NSFA. Also included are records relating to the development of the NSFA Motion Picture Service documenting early projects. Significant correspondents include past-president Edward R. Murrow, Arthur Norwood, and Kenneth Holland.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Harmon Foundation donated the Archives of the National Student Federation of America to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1967.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Revised by Janna Robinson, February 2006.

Processing note:

The collection was processed in January 1973, at which time materials were placed into acid-free folders and boxes. The collection is arranged into two series in which folders were arranged alphabetically, then chronologically.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Janna Robinson, May 2006.

Arrangement of Collection

This collection is organized into two series:

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Administrative, 1931-1939 (0.25 linear feet)

Series I consists of records of the National Student Federation of America, including official correspondence between officers and organizations; executive committee meeting minutes; resolutions; conference programs and information; program implementation; news releases; reports; pamphlets. These records chronicle two milestones in the Federation's history: the proposed amalgamation of the International Student Service and the NSFA in 1935, and the creation of the NSFA Motion Picture Service in 1935. The administrative records also detail the relationship between the NSFA and the Harmon Organization through extensive correspondence with Harmon Director Mary Beattie Brady.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Annual Report, 1931-1932 series 1box 1folder 1
Board of Advisors, 1931-1932 series 1box 1folder 2
Campus Activities Survey, 1934 series 1box 1folder 3
Conferences, 1933-1935 series 1box 1folder 4
Correspondence, 1931-1935 series 1box 1folder 5
Development Program, Undated [circa 1934] series 1box 1folder 6
Executive Committee, 1933-1935 series 1box 1folder 7
International Debating, 1931 series 1box 1folder 8
Motion Picture Service, 1935-1939 series 1box 1folder 9
Prize Film Contest, 1934-1935 series 1box 1folder 10
Reports and Pamphlets, 1933-1939 and undated series 1box 1folder 11

Series 2: Publications, 1931-1939 (0.5 linear feet)

Series II consists of publications of The National Student Federation of America, including a weekly newsletter and a monthly magazine. The weekly newsletter NSFA News Service and, later, The Weekly Reporter provided college newspapers and student governing boards with national and international news relevant to undergraduate affairs. The Federation's monthly magazine, The Student Mirror, claimed to "crystallize student opinion and give it adequate expression." Both publications offer insights into student activism and issues of concern for the larger activist movement of the 1930s.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
National Student Mirror, 1931-1936 series 2box 1folder 1
News Service, 1930-1931 series 2box 1folder 2
News Service, 1932 series 2box 1folder 3
New Service, 1933 series 2box 1folder 4
News Service, 1934 series 2box 1folder 5
News Service, 1935 series 2box 1folder 6
News Service, 1936 series 2box 1folder 7
The Weekly Reporter, 1938-1939 series 2box 1folder 8

Related Material

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