The Inquiry

For other uses, see Inquiry (disambiguation).
1919 group photo of some Inquiry members

The Inquiry was a study group established in September 1917 by Woodrow Wilson to prepare materials for the peace negotiations following World War I. The group, composed of around 150 academics, was directed by presidential adviser Edward House and supervised directly by philosopher Sidney Mezes. The Heads of Research were Walter Lippmann, who was later replaced by Isaiah Bowman. The group first worked out of the New York Public Library, but later worked from the offices of the American Geographical Society of New York, once Bowman joined the group.[1]

Mezes's senior colleagues were geographer Isaiah Bowman, historian and librarian Archibald Cary Coolidge, historian James Shotwell, and lawyer David Hunter Miller.[1] Progressive confidants who were consulted on staffing but who did not contribute directly to the administration or reports of the group included James Truslow Adams, Louis Brandeis, Abbott Lawrence Lowell and Walter Weyl.

Twenty-one members of The Inquiry, later integrated into the larger American Commission to Negotiate Peace, traveled to the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919,[2] accompanying Wilson aboard the USS George Washington to France.

Also included in the group were such academics as Paul Monroe, professor of history at Columbia University, a key member of the Research Division who drew on his experience in the Philippines to assess the educational needs of developing areas such as Albania, Turkey and central Africa,[3] and Frank A. Golder, a history professor from Washington State University specializing in the diplomatic history of Russia, who wrote papers on Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.[4]


Some members would later establish the Council on Foreign Relations, which is independent of the government.[5]


  1. 1 2 Lindsay Rogers (July 1964). "The Inquiry: American Preparations for Peace, 1917-1919 by Lawrence E. Gelfand". Geographical Review. 54 (3): 260–462. doi:10.2307/212676.
  2. Peter Grose (1996). "The Inquiry". The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996. The Council on Foreign Relations.
  3. David M. Ment, "Education, nation‐building and modernization after World War I: American ideas for the Peace Conference," Paedagogica Historica, Feb 2005, Vol. 41 Issue 1/2, pp 159-177
  4. Terence Emmons and Bertrand M. Patenaude (eds.), "Introduction" to War, Revolution, and Peace in Russia: The Passages of Frank Golder, 1914-1927. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1992; pg. xvii.
  5. "History of CFR". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2016-02-11.

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