Opening of the League of Nations, 1920
The League of Nations (1920-1946) was an international organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, created after World War I to establish world peace and prevent another global war.
Creation of the League
The onset and escalation of World War I built support in many countries for the creation of a multinational body to ensure world peace. One vocal supporter was U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, who advocated such an organization in his “Fourteen Points” speech in January 1918. After the war, countries gathered at the Paris Peace Conference (1919–1920), and the League of Nations was instituted on January 10, 1920, as part of the Treaty of Versailles.
Aims & Structure
The main purpose of the League of Nations was to settle international disputes and prevent war. It also dealt with concerns such as border disagreements, labor conditions, disarmament, protection of minorities, and more.
The League had two primary bodies: an Executive Council and a General Assembly. The Council (with a limited number of seats) had permanent and rotating members, while the Assembly was composed of delegates from all member countries–which at the League’s peak numbered more than 50. The League also had an administrative Secretariat and Court of International Justice.
Obstacles & Complications
Though the League did successfully resolve some conflicts between nations, it lacked strong enforcement mechanisms. It primarily worked through economic sanctions, but these were somewhat weakened by the United States’ refusal to join the League (though the U.S. did work in tandem with it at times). The League’s authority was particularly weak when conflicts involved major world powers, and it also faced criticism that it neglected the concerns of non-European member nations.
The League declined in the 1930s, as Germany, Japan, Italy, and others withdrew from the organization. World War II effectively spelled its end, and the League officially dissolved on April 19, 1946. However, much of its work was taken up by its successor, the United Nations, which was created on October 24, 1945.
Learn more about the League of Nations through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.
Articles and Clippings about League of Nations
Excerpt from President Woodrow Wilson's "14 Points" speech to US Congress about world peace, 1918 Tue, Jan 8, 1918 – 1 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from British Parliament speech addressing aspects of a potential league of nations, 1918 Fri, Oct 11, 1918 – 6 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com"Canada at the Peace Conference & the League of Nations: A Study in 5 Parts," by V.A. Lackner, 1918 Sat, Dec 28, 1918 – 7 · Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.comResolution to create League of Nations adopted at Paris Peace Conference, 1919 Mon, Jan 27, 1919 – 5 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.comPresident Woodrow Wilson reads the Covenant of the League of Nations; other world leaders speak Sat, Feb 15, 1919 – 1 · The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) · Newspapers.comHenry Cabot Lodge speaks against the League of Nations in the US Senate, 1919 Fri, Feb 28, 1919 – 1 · Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) · Newspapers.comBrief arguments for and against the League of Nations from California newspaper, 1919 Sun, Mar 16, 1919 – 17 · The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Newspapers.comWriter discusses his perception of different attitudes toward League of Nations in Europe & America Sun, Jun 22, 1919 – Page 5 · The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) · Newspapers.comPhoto of leaders of US, France, Italy and UK during 1919 Paris Peace Conference Sun, Jun 22, 1919 – Page 42 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comAccount of a debate between British leaders about role and powers of the League of Nations, 1920 Sat, Jun 19, 1920 – 11 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com1920 American political cartoon about the League of Nations Sat, Sep 11, 1920 – 22 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.comMap of League of Nations members and applicants in September 1920 Tue, Sep 21, 1920 – 2 · The Sacramento Star (Sacramento, California) · Newspapers.comAustralian newspaper correspondent discusses whether League of Nations will survive, 1921 Fri, Nov 4, 1921 – Page 15 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) · Newspapers.com1923 opinion piece calling the League of Nations "an admitted failure" Mon, Jan 29, 1923 – Page 4 · The Evening Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) · Newspapers.comAssembly will consider Germany's application to join League of Nations, 1926 Thu, Feb 11, 1926 – Page 9 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.comNewspaper piece discussing involvement of non-member United States in the League of Nations, 1927 Sun, Nov 27, 1927 – 11 · Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.comEditorial supporting the League of Nations and its accomplishments, 1930 Sun, Jan 12, 1930 – 21 · The Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky) · Newspapers.comLeague of Nations Assembly to hear accusations against Japan after its invasion of Manchuria, 1932 Sat, Nov 12, 1932 – 19 · Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) · Newspapers.com"Hitler Hits at League; Declares Nations Have No Right to Judge Germany," 1935 Mon, Apr 22, 1935 – 14 · The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) · Newspapers.com1939 letter to the editor argues League is best "instrument for securing peace with justice" Wed, Jul 26, 1939 – 18 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comLetter from member of League Secretariat describes status of the League of Nations in 1942 Fri, Jan 2, 1942 – Page 4 · The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) · Newspapers.com1944 survey indicates growing support in United States for participation in a new League of Nations Sun, Jul 2, 1944 – 6 · The La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.comHistorian writes about "League of Nations' good and bad points" in 1944 Mon, Jul 17, 1944 – 3 · The Hobart Democrat-Chief (Hobart, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.comLeague of Nations to end; its "main duties" will be assumed by the United Nations, 1946 Mon, Apr 1, 1946 – Page 6 · The Daily Republican (Monongahela, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comLeague of Nations is dissolved, 19 April 1946 Fri, Apr 19, 1946 – Page 5 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com