Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in History



Major Advisor

David Walker, Ph.D.


Lisa Marie Brady, Ph.D.


John Bieter, Ph.D.


Melvin J. Maas was a Marine Corps officer, combat pilot, and member of Congress. Maas’s unique view of American defense in the Interwar Period led him to promote the modernization the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve, which resulted in the formation of a well trained pool of semi-professional personnel prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. This study first examines the evolution of the formation of the reserve system of the American Armed Forces during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in order to understand the state of the Marine Corps Reserve that Maas joined in 1925. As a marine reservist and a Representative from Minnesota, Maas was able to identify key areas for improvement within the Marine Reserve, Naval Reserve, and eventually the reserves of all the branches of the American military. With Maas as its focus, this analysis of the changing reserve system shows the importance he had on modernizing the Marine Corps Reserve, thereby greatly enhancing the ability of the Marine Corps to mobilize in both 1940 and 1950. Maas’s direct alterations to the Navy and Marine Corps reserve system were essential to the creation of the modern reserve policies of all of the American Armed Forces, and thus aided greatly in improving the US defense structure after the Second World War. The primary sources consulted for this study include letters, journals, and other pertinent material from the Melvin J. Maas Collection located at the Minnesota State Archives in St. Paul and Congressional Records located at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C..