On This Day: Welcoming Displaced Persons

Governor Val Peterson, center, reviewing relief plans during the blizzard of 1949.

Governor Val Peterson, center, reviewing relief plans during the blizzard of 1949.

On February 4, 1948, the Honorable Val Peterson, Governor of the State of Nebraska, formed a volunteer committee to study the needs and desires of the citizens of the state on the receiving of displaced persons. After various surveys were sent out and information was gathered from church groups, businesses and private individuals from around the state, the committee was disbanded. Federal legislation passed on June 25, 1948 allowed 205,000 displaced persons and orphans admittance to the U.S. President Harry Truman appointed a commission to oversee this legislation.

In June of 1949, Governor Val Peterson announced the appointment of a Nebraska Committee on Resettlement of Displaced Persons. The committee consisted of seven religious leaders from various faiths, headed up by Dr. A.W. Taylor, Director of the Nebraska Council of Churches. The goal of the Committee was to absorb the set number of displaced persons (in 1948 that number was 2,050) over a period of two years, hoping that these people would become self-supporting, loyal citizens, without displacing any present citizen from the standpoint of either employment or housing or both. Records preserved by the Nebraska State Historical Society include correspondence and application forms from displaced persons and their sponsors in Nebraska, correspondence with other agencies and organizations dealing with displaced persons, and miscellaneous pamphlets, brochures, and newspaper clippings relating to displaced persons, and meeting minutes of the Committee.

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