Raphael Lemkin papers

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Collection Data

Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), a Polish-born lawyer who coined the term "genocide", emigrated to the U.S. in 1941 and devoted his life to the crusade for the international adoption of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Collection consists of correspondence, drafts of an autobiography, draft of a history of genocide, and research notes and printed materials relating to genocide throughout the world. Correspondence with public officials, newspapers, academics, and religious groups relates to Lemkin's struggle for support for the ratification of the genocide convention. Autobiographical writings include outlines and summaries of his autobiography as well as typescript drafts of several chapters. Genocide writings contain descriptions of his projected three-volume work on genocide, plus drafts of various chapters, and abundant notes, memoranda, reports, and other documents written by Lemkin and others on the subject of genocide and the struggle for ratification of the convention. Printed materials include press releases and United Nations publications and reports.
Lemkin, Raphael, 1900-1959 (Creator)
United Nations (Contributor)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1947 - 1959
Library locations
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Shelf locator: MssCol 1730
Crimes against humanity
International crimes
International law
Jewish refugees
World War, 1939-1945 -- Atrocities
Biographical/historical: Raphael Lemkin was an attorney and professor of law who coined the term "genocide" and was responsible for the creation of the United Nations genocide convention. He was born in Eastern Poland on June 24, 1901. He studied philology, mastered nine languages, served as Warsaw's public prosecutor, and practiced and taught law until 1939, when the Nazi invasion forced him to flee to Sweden. In 1941, Lemkin emigrated to the United States on the invitation of the Duke University School of Law and was later associated with the Yale Law School. During the 1940s and 1950s he devoted most of his energy to the cursade for the international adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted by the U. N. General Assembly in 1948. He continued to lobby for unanimous ratification. Although the United States failed to ratify the convention, it became international law in January 1951. Lemkin never married and died of a heart attack in 1959.
Acquisition: August 31, 1982, Received from Alexander Gabriel
Physical Description
Extent: 2 linear feet (5 boxes)
Extent: 2 linear feet (5 boxes); 5 microfilm reels
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12361333
MSS Unit ID: 1730
Archives collections id: archives_collections_1730
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): c3ae6da0-4624-0134-5b5a-00505686d14e
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