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 John Doane Hartigan (1890-1958) 

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John Doane Hartigan was a noted international relations officer and educator. Born in Crete, Nebraska on January 29, 1890, he studied finance at the University of California. Entering World War I as a military artillery observer, he attended Military Observers School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and several artillery schools in France before serving as an Operations Officer for First Army Air Service. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre. Upon his return to the United States, Hartigan received appointments to several international committees, including the Saar Plebiscite Commission of the League of Nations, the American Relief Administration to Romania, and European Commissioner for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Hartigan also served as a personal representative of Herbert Hoover during the former President’s trip to Europe in 1938. In Berlin, Hartigan met with German Consul General Fritz Wiedemann to arrange the historic meeting between Hoover, Adolf Hitler, and Hermann Goering.


Hartigan’s experience in international relations inspired him to create a program to train American students for careers abroad. His opportunity came in early 1943, when he was appointed Commandant in charge of the 32ndCollege Training Detachment (Aircrew) of the U.S. Army Air Corps at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He proposed his idea for a Foreign Career School to the college’s President and Board of Trustees, but the constraints of war forced him to put his grand plans on hold.


During World War II, Hartigan served with the U.S. Army Air Force. Following the end of hostilities, he was recruited by the MFAA in Austria. As Chief of the Land Oberoesterrich Military Government of the MFAA Branch of the US Allied Commission Austria (USACA), Hartigan supervised the effort to revitalize cultural activities in postwar Austria. He worked at headquarters in Linz alongside his assistant, Monuments Man Lt. Rodger V. Holmen, planning a number of successful art exhibitions to benefit the Austrian people as well as thousands of Allied soldiers. In the short span of three months in late 1945, Hartigan oversaw plans for the exhibitions Art and Applied Art in Bad Ischl, Werbeschau in Bad Hall, and Art Exhibition in Wels. One of the most notable exhibitions mounted under Hartigan’s direction was Kunstausstellung im Marmorsaal, which premiered at the Landhaus in Linz to over 10,000 visitors. A second showing followed in Salzburg. Hartigan remained involved with the MFAA until 1946.


In 1948 Hartigan resumed his mission to create a school for international engagement at Dickinson College. Establishing contacts with such influential organizations as the U.S. State Department, Standard Oil, the Ford Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation, he conducted surveys of universities in Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Nicknamed “The Hartigan Project,” his detailed plan included research on proposed student demographics, living expenses, and curricula. Despite both Hartigan’s extensive efforts and the universal approval of the academic community, lack of funding prevented his idea from being realized.


Hartigan took up residence at the Army Navy Club in Washington, D.C., where he died of a heart attack on November 21, 1958. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Today, the uniform worn by Hartigan during World War I is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.


Photo courtesy of Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections.

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