Biography and History

William A. Eddy was born in Sidon, Syria, on March 9th, 1896. He was graduated from Princeton in 1917, the year in which he married Mary Garvin. His A.M. and Ph.D were also from Princeton. In WWI he was badly wounded at Belleau Wood and received many citations. From 1922-1936 he taught English at Peekskill Military Academy and Dartmouth College, and was chairman of the department of English at the American University, Cairo. In 1936 he was called to be president of Hobart College. With the outbreak of the second World War he offered his services again to the Marines, was commissioned a Major and was made a full colonel in the staff of Mark Clark. In 1942 Eddy was Naval Attache in Tangier, and was instrumental in the planning of the Allied North African landings. In 1944 he resigned from the Marine Corps to become Minister Plenipotentiary to Saudi Arabia. Fluent in Arabic (and French), he acted as interpreter for President Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia during the historic meeting in the Suez Canal, and was key in developing the U.S. treaty with The Yemen in 1946. He served in the OSS and CIA for the remainder of his life, and was also a full-time consultant for the Arabian-American Oil Company. He died at his home in Beirut in 1962.

Source: From the finding aid for MC041


  • College presidents -- United States..
  • Diplomats -- United States..
  • William Alfred Eddy Papers. 1859-1978 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC041

    The papers of William A. Eddy (1896-1962), educator, diplomat, minister to Saudi Arabia, intelligence agent, and college president, focus on his presidency of Hobart College (1936-1941), his work in U.S. - Middle East policy, and his family life in the period from 1917-1962. The holdings of his personal and family correspondence is extensive. The collection contains all correspondence from his term as president of Hobart College, 1936-1941. Many military documents are included, especially in the years 1941-1946 (the planning of the North African landings, the FDR/Ibn Saud meeting, the Treaty of the Yemen). There are many geneological papers and letters from Eddy's relatives concerning American missionary work in the Middle East. There are numerous publications concerning 18th C. English literature, religious and civic duties, U.S. Foreign policy re Israel and the Arabs, and sociological accounts of the Middle East. The collection is composed of personal/professional correspondence, documents, diaries and notebooks, addresses, publications, manuscripts of Eddy's books and articles (including unpublished MSs), scrapbooks, photographs, negatives, and memorabilia.