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Date of Submission


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Open Access Senior Thesis

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Bachelor of Arts



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© 2015 Brian David Key


In response to the German occupation of Belgium in World War I, future U.S. president Herbert Hoover and a handful of his colleagues in the mining engineer industry founded the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). The CRB engineered one of the greatest relief movements in history partly on account of its successful public appeals; nevertheless, the success of these appeals has never been fully explained due to a remarkable dearth of scholarship on the topic. This paper seeks to fill in the gap by analyzing salient documents in the Mudd Family Papers, located in Honnold/Mudd Library’s Special Collections section. The artifacts ultimately evince that the CRB tailored its appeals to the American upper and middle classes, appropriating their respective motifs and lexicons to successfully mobilize both groups; that rumors of wartime atrocities against Belgian children augmented its appeals to the middle class; and that it issued targeted messages to its American supporters after the United States’ entry into World War I, maintaining vital public support. The findings of this paper promise to add invaluable knowledge to an exceedingly understudied historical subject.