Princeton University Library

The League of Nations: 
A Primer for Documents Research

First Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, 1920. From the League of Nations Photo Archive, online at       
(Full size image)


In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security
  • by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war,
  • by the prescription of open, just and honourable relations between nations,
  • by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and
  • by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another

  • Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.
    Preamble to the Covenant of the League of Nations found before Article 1 of the Versailles Treaty, June 28, 1919.
    The League of Nations was conceived in 1919 as an instrument to maintain the measure of peace and security achieved in the First World War, and to promote international cooperation. Its Charter, called the Covenant, makes up the beginning twenty-six articles of the Treaty of Versailles , which ended that war. Never fully realized, for instance the United States never joined even though its president Woodrow Wilson was a primary architect of the League, the League faded into oblivion in the late 1930s as Europe was torn by the rise and expansion of Nazi Germany. Ethiopia was savaged, and much of the world saw brutal aggression that cumulated in the Holocaust and the Second World War.

    Even so, the League remains important to scholarship more than a half century later on several counts. First, there is a strong half-life of certain of the League's activities. The League provided for the first time in the modern era a uniform record of the statements made by Nations in response to matters of international import. The League also taught valuable lessons about what did not, and probably would not, work as mechanisms for international peace and security. In addition, the other side of the world's experience with the League provided positive patterns on which to base the United Nations and the more stable peace after the Second World War.

    But there is part of the League's work that still remains fully vital today, and that is the reasoned measure of various activities in the world first undertaken by the Statistical Office of the League. A new era was realized with more uniform statistical reporting and statistical standards being employed across many international boundaries. Then when France fell in June of 1940, the staff of the Statistical Office of the League was invited by Princeton University and the Institute of Advanced Studies to come to Princeton as their guest for the duration of the conflict. The purpose of this removal was so that the work of the Statistical Office could continue during the war, and serve as a basis for rebuilding after the war's end. [Interview with Dr. Mirslav Kriz in 1985. Dr. Kriz was a member of the staff of that office during this period.]


  • League of Nations.  Official Journal.  1920-1940.  Location:  (UN) PITN 600.68q  After 1924,contains Proceedings and Resolutions of the Council, which was charged with settling international disputes.
  • League of Nations.  Minutes of the Council. 1920-1924. Location:  (UN) PITN 625.738q
  • League of Nations.  Official Journal.  Special Supplements 1920-1946  (UN) PITN 600.68.2q Proceedings and Resolutions of the Assembly.
  • League of Nations.  Treaty Series.  1920-1946.  Location:  (Firestone) PITN 600.912
  • League of Nations.  [Sales Publications]  1920-1946.  Princeton holds many; inquire of UN Librarian.  Some available in electronic full text from Northwestern University.
  • League of Nations.  Statistical Yearbook.  1926-1944.  Location (UN) HA41 .L47 Also electronic full text.
  • League of Nations.  Photo Archive.  From Geneva, full text.
  • League of Nations.  Documents on Disarmament.  Princeton holds many; inquire of UN Librarian.  Many also available in electronic full text from Northwestern University.
  • League of Nations.  Statistical and Disarmament Publications.  Web resource from Northwestern University.
  • League of Nations Documents from Avalon Project: Milestone Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy  from Yale Law School
  • Versailles Treaty  from University of California at San Diego
  • League of Nations Documents and Publications 1919-1946 microfilm Primary Source Media. 555 microfilm reels ; 35 mm.  Princeton Location: (Film) MICROFILM 11653.

  • Comprehensive collection of most publications issued by the League. Its Guide,(UN)Z6473 .L433 1973, another copy (Film), is useful in navigating this set. It also serves in a more general way as a tool to describe in detail the bibliographic output of the League.  Contents are referenced below.

    About the League

    League of Nations Documents and Publications 1919-1946 microfilm
    From Primary Source Media
    Reel Number League Topic Continued by
    Reel 1 Bibliographic tools Many web and paper
    Reels 2-15 Subject category IA Administrative commissions 1919-1933 Later League Documents and UN Official Records and Documents
    Reels 16-40 Subject category IB Minorities 1919-1940 Human Rights Commission
    Reels 41-65 Subject category IIA, Financial questions 1920-1946 IMF and World Bank
    Reels 66-81 Subject category IIB, Economic questions 1920-1939 IMF and World Bank
    Reels 82-91 Subject Category III, Health, 1920-1946 WHO
    Reels 92-104 Subject Category IV, Social questions 1919-1946 Human Rights Commission, UNICEF, Human Development Report
    Reels 105-137 Subject category V, Legal questions 1919-1946 Category V in UN Sales Pubs
    Reels 138-155 Subject category VIA, Mandates 1920-1940 Trusteeship Council Publications
    Reels 156-173 Documents C.P.M. 1920-1945 Trusteeship Council
    Reels 174-179 Permanent Mandates Commission, minutes and reports, 1921-1940 Trusteeship Council
    Reels 180-182 Subject category VIB, Slavery, 1920-1938 Human Rights Commission
    Reels 183-216 Political questions, 1919-1943 Security Council
    Reel 217 Documents 19/F/-,19/6/-,20/6-,21/6/- 1919-1921 Later League Documents
    Reels 218-234 Subject category VIII, Communications and transit 1919-1946 International Telecommunications Union and regional commissions
    Reels 235-253 Subject category IX, Disarmament 1920-1939 Category X in UN Sales Publications
    Reels 254-272 Subject category X, Financial administration of the League of Nations 1920-1947 UN Official Records, General Assembly, Supplement 5 and others each year
    Reels 273-303 Subject category XI, Traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs 1920-1946 Category IX in UN Sales Pubs
    Reels 304-309 Subject category XIIA, Intellectual cooperation 1920-1939 WIPO
    Reels 310-311 Subject category XIIB, International Bureau 1919-1939 UNICEF, UNRISD, Human Rights Commission, FAO
    Reels 312-314 Subject category XIII, Refugees 1920-1946 High Commissioner for Refugees
    Reels 315-333 Subject category G, General questions 1919-1947 UN Official Records and Documents
    Reel 334 Supplementary reports, 1920-1936 UN Official Records and Documents
    Reels 335-336 Serial Publications: Annual epidemiological reports 1922-1938 WHO
    Reels 337-349 Armaments year book 1924-1940 WHO
    Reels 350-353 International health year book 1924-1930 WHO
    Reels 354-355 Memoranda on production and trade 1926-1945 UNITAR and UNCTAD
    Reels 356-361 Money and banking 1913-1944 IMF and World Bank
    Reels 362-424 Official journal of the League of Nations 1920-1946 In paper at (UN) PITN600.68q UN Official Records
    Reels 425-458 Reports of the mandatory powers to the League 1921-1939 UN Official Records
    Reels 459-468 Review of world trade, balance of payments and international trade UNCTAD
    Reels 469-472 Statistical yearbook of the League of Nations 1926-1944. Also held in paper at (UN) HA41 .L47 (1926-1942/44.) Online at, from Northwestern University. UN Statistical Yearbook and various UN specialized statistical yearbooks
    Reels 473-475 Statistical yearbook of the trade in arms, ammunition, & implements of war 1924-1938 Janes, SIPRI, World Arms and Armaments, etc.
    Reels 476-549 League of Nations Treaty series 1919-1947. Also held in paper at (F) PITN 600.912 (v.1-205) UN Treaty Series. Also held in paper at Firestone PITN 600.912.2, Online at ,
    Reels 550-551 World economic survey 1931-1944 World economic outlook (IMF) and World development report (WorldBank) both annual, and also UN Sales, title varies World economic report, World economic and social survey

    This page was last updated August 3, 2011.
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