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National Student Federation of America records

 Collection 0114-MDHC

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.


  • 1931-1939

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


0.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The National Student Federation of America records 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.

Administrative History

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.


This collection is organized into two series:

Series 1
Series 2

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

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

Processing Information

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.

Guide to the National Student Federation of America records
Processed by unknown.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742