Library of Congress > Collections with Manuscripts > Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training


Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training at the Library of Congress makes available interview transcripts from the oral history archives of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST).  These transcripts present a window into the lives of U.S. diplomats and the major diplomatic crisis and issues that the United States faced during the second half of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st. 

Most of the interviews involve post-World War II diplomacy, from the late 1940s to the present day, but the collection also includes accounts of Americans involved in Iraq and Afghanistan after 2003.  It also contains interviews from special projects on oral histories, including women ambassadors, minority officers, foreign assistance officers, labor specialists, and Foreign Service spouses. New interviews are continually being conducted and added to the collection.

The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

ADST is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1986. It advances knowledge of U.S. diplomacy and supports training of personnel at the State Department’s George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where it is located.

ADST’s activities include programs in diplomatic oral history, book publication, exhibits, research, and training of student interns. It also sponsors the U.S. Web site.  For more information about ADST, see External. Tables of Contents for the interviews can be found at External.

The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection

The first release of the online collection consisted of 1,301 searchable interview transcripts. It now numbers over 1,700. These transcripts are a unique and invaluable resource for anyone interested in an up-close view of how foreign policy is formulated in Washington and then implemented at our embassies abroad. Hundreds of interviews with senior American diplomats, both career Foreign Service Officers and political appointees, serve as a door to the foreign policy process not normally open to the public.

Since 1986, ADST has interviewed, and continues to interview, American diplomats as soon as possible after their departure from government service. With fresh memories and undiminished passion about their work, these diplomats offer candid personal and professional assessments of American and foreign leaders, successful and unsuccessful policies, and foreign conflicts. Their personal recollections and opinions are not official statements of the U.S. Government or ADST and interviewees have agreed not to divulge classified information. This restriction makes the transcripts no less edifying or entertaining. 

These interviews offer more than individual personal perspectives on the formulation and implementation of American foreign policy. They also represent a slice of American life and social history. Some reach back to a time when a small elite made foreign policy and the Foreign Service was "a pretty good club" overwhelmingly comprised of white men educated at East Coast universities. At that time, women and minorities were rare in the Service, and even rarer in positions of responsibility. The evolution of American society has changed our diplomatic service, making it more representative of the United States at large. Further, the growth of American power and rapid technological advances have infused the work of the Foreign Service with urgency and immediacy unimagined in earlier years.

Digitizing the Collection

The Frontline Diplomacy collection of oral history transcripts were delivered in machine-readable form on CD-ROM. The full text transcriptions were encoded with Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) according to the American Memory DTD. The 1,743 transcripts were converted from text to SGML files. The text was translated with an OmniMark program to HTML for indexing and viewing on the World Wide Web.

Updating the Collection

The Frontline Diplomacy collection will be updated on a yearly basis with transcripts provided by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training.

Rights and Access

The Library of Congress provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or holders of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may be content that is protected as "works for hire" (copyright held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.  Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. See Legal Notices and Privacy and Publicity Rights for additional information and restrictions.

The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and to hear from individuals or institutions having any additional information. Please contact us through our Ask A Librarian service.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information:
Frontline Diplomacy, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Items included in this collection with the permission of rights holders are listed below. For further use or reproduction of those items contact the rightsholders listed.

Interview of William W. Lehfeldt by William Burr, April 29, 1987, made available here with permission from The Foundation for Iranian Studies, 4343 Montgomery Avenue, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Interview of John S. Service by Rosemary Levinson, 1977, made available here with permission from The Regional Oral History Office, 486 The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720-6000.

Oral history interviews conducted by Mrs. Ann Miller Morin (below), made available here with permission from Mrs. Ann Miller Morin, 3330 North Leisure World Blvd., Apt. 808, Silver Spring, MD 20906.

  • Interview of Anne Cox Chambers, October 23, 1985
  • Interview of Jane Abell Coon, November 4, 1986
  • Interview of Betty Crites Dillon, December 9, 1987
  • Interview of Ruth Lewis Farkas, October 24, 1985
  • Interview of Rosemary Lucas Ginn, October 28, 1997
  • Interview of Constance Ray Harvey, 1988
  • Interview of Mari-Luci Jaramillo, February 21, 1987
  • Interview of Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick, May 28, 1987
  • Interview of Caroline Clendening Laise, May 8, 1985
  • Interview of Claire Boothe Luce, September 19, 1986               
  • Interview of Mary Seymour Olmsted, June 25, 1985
  • Interview of Nancy Ostrander, May 14, 1986
  • Interview of Rozanne L. Ridgway, March 18, 1987
  • Interview of Mabel Murphy Smythe, May 2, 1986
  • Interview of Margaret Joy Tibbetts, May 28, 1985
  • Interview of Melissa Foelsh Wells, March 27, 1984
  • Interview of Faith Ryan Whittlesey, December 7, 1988

These 17 interviews are part of the collection on deposit in the Sophia Smith Collection External.

More about Copyright and other Restrictions

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.