February 21, 2007 Online Collection Presents Oral Histories of U.S. Diplomats

Includes Interviews with Z. Brzezinski, J. Child, L. Eagleburger, J. Kirkpatrick, C.B. Luce, D. MacArthur II, A. Harriman, D. Rusk, C. Vance, M.P. Wolcott

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

On Feb. 21, a new online collection of interviews with some of the most prominent diplomats of the 20th century will be available from the Library of Congress at https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/diplomacy/.

“Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training” presents a window into the lives of American diplomats. Transcripts of interviews with U.S. diplomatic personnel capture their experiences, motivations, critiques, personal analyses and private thoughts. These elements are crucial to understanding the full story of the creation of a structure of stable relationships that maintained world peace and protected U.S. interests and values.

Most of the interviews in the collection come from foreign service officers, but there also are some with political appointees and other officials. While some 1920s-, 1930s-, and World War II-era diplomacy is covered, most of the interviews involve post-World War II diplomacy, from the late 1940s to the 1990s.

This collection captures the post-World War II period in vivid terms and intimate detail, documenting the way U.S. diplomacy defended the United States and its interests in a challenging world. The narratives span the major diplomatic crises and issues that faced the United States during the second half of the 20th century and, as new interviews are added, will include developments in the 21st century. The 1,301 transcripts of oral history interviews were donated by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, a private, nonprofit organization.

The collection contains stories about American involvement in the city of Berlin, beginning with the 1948 airlift and the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1962, including interviews from those who were present when John Kennedy said, “Ich bin ein Berliner” and when Ronald Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” There are also recollections from the American ambassador to East Germany (Richard Clark Barkley) at the time when the Berlin Wall was dismantled in 1989.

The collection holds other personal accounts, including those of Robert Dillon, whose embassy in Beirut was attacked by Islamic extremists in 1983, and Prudence Bushnell, whose embassy in Nairobi was blown up by Al Qaeda in 1998.

There are accounts of U.S. dealings with the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek during World War II, and the government’s relocation to Taiwan in 1949. When the communist Chinese forces seized control on the mainland, the United States attempted to keep some of its consulates open, but the consulates’ staffs were effectively held captive until all were pulled out.

Included are oral histories from individuals who accompanied Henry Kissinger on his historic trip to Beijing in 1971. The collection also holds the tale of the son of American missionaries in China who, as a teenager during World War II, joined Chinese guerrillas to fight the Japanese and many years later returned as U.S. ambassador to Beijing (Arthur W. Hummel Jr.)

Allan Wendt tells what it was like to be the unarmed duty officer in the embassy building when the Viet Cong attacked it in 1968 during the Tet Offensive.

The collection includes extensive personal recollections from luminaries of American 20th century diplomatic history, including Alfred “Roy” Atherton (ambassador to Egypt), Zbigniew Brzezinski (national security adviser under President Carter), Frank Carlucci (ambassador to Portugal under Presidents Nixon and Ford; also served as secretary of defense under President Reagan), Julia Child (spouse of foreign service officer Paul Cushing Child), Lawrence Eagleburger (secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush), Averell Harriman (ambassador to the Soviet Union and England under President Franklin Roosevelt), Jeane Kirkpatrick (ambassador to the United Nations), Winston Lord (played a critical role in opening relations with China under President Nixon), Clare Boothe Luce (ambassador to Italy under President Eisenhower), Douglas MacArthur II (nephew of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and ambassador to Japan, Belgium, Austria and Iran), Charles H. Percy (senator from Illinois), Rozanne Ridgway (ambassador to Finland and East Germany), Dean Rusk (secretary of state under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson), John S. Service (foreign service officer specializing in China before World War II), Cyrus Vance (secretary of state under President Carter) and Marion Post Wolcott (photographer, married to USAID official Lee Wolcott).

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 134 million items in its collections. “Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training” is one of more than 135 thematic presentations available from the American Memory Web site of more than 11 million items at www.loc.gov. These presentations range from the papers of U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards. The materials are drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress and other major repositories.

The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training 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 in Arlington, Va. ADST’s activities include programs in diplomatic oral history, book publication, exhibits, research and training of student interns. It also sponsors the U.S. Diplomacy.org Web site. For more information about ADST, see www.adst.org.


PR 07-029
ISSN 0731-3527