Archives On The Air 224: Visas For Refugees — Jacob Baker Papers

Oct 29, 2020

Jacob Baker was an assistant administrator for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration.

As the Nazis rose to power in Germany, Baker began receiving letters from Jewish refugees. The United States made it difficult for people fleeing Europe to immigrate and required the refugees to provide affidavits from U.S. citizens.

Baker repeatedly received unsolicited requests from refugees asking for affidavits. He took time to respond personally to each letter.

He confessed that the affidavits would likely not be considered by the government because he did not know the refugees personally.

However, by writing them, the refugees would have some protection from German police because they could show that they were close to leaving.

Baker's collection at the UW American Heritage Center includes dozens of letters from European refugees as well as material about his work in the federal government.