Biography and History

William Putnam Bundy was born September 24, 1917 in Washington, D.C. to Harvey H. and Katherine (Putnam) Bundy. He was educated at Groton School (1935), Yale College (1939), Harvard Graduate School (1940) and Harvard Law School (1947). In 1943, he married Mary Acheson, daughter of Dean Acheson, secretary of state under President Harry Truman. Later, they had three children, two sons, Michael, and Christopher, and a daughter, Carol. He served in the United State's Army from 1941 to 1946. During World War II, he commanded an Army Signal Corps unit working with the British at Bletchley Park on the ULTRA operation breaking high-level German Engima ciphers. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and was made a member of the Order of the British Empire. After finishing law school in 1947, he worked for four years with the Washington, D.C. firm of Covington and Burling. In 1951, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, Office of National Estimates, working as the chief of staff and as a liaison to the National Security Council staff. In 1960, Bundy served as staff director of the President's Commission on National Goals.

Bundy served under President Kennedy and Johnson as a political appointee from 1961-1969. In 1961, he was appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA), then from 1963 to 1964 as Assistant Secretary of Defense, ISA. From 1964-1969, he served under the Department of State as the Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. During his time as Assistant Secretary, Bundy participated in deliberations on such matters as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Later, he became a central figure in shaping Vietnam policy. Bundy left government in May 1969 to teach at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1970 to 1972, he served as a part-time columnist for Newsweek, rotating with George Ball and Zbigniew Brzezinski in the international edition and briefly in the domestic edition.

He edited Foreign Affairs from 1972 to 1984, contributing several articles of his own. Later he served as a Visiting Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University from 1985 to 1987. He was a Trustee of the American Assembly from 1964 to 1984 and served on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1964 to 1972. After 1987, he devoted his time to writing a critical history of American foreign policy in the Nixon-Kissinger Era including the later years of Vietnam. In 1998, he published A Tangled Web: the Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency. Bundy died from heart trouble on October 6, 2000 at age 83.

Source: From the finding aid for MC189

  • Hamilton Fish Armstrong Papers. 1893-1973 (inclusive), 1916-1973 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC002

    The Hamilton Fish Armstrong Papers consist of correspondence, notebooks, memoranda, material from 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization, writings especially in relation to Peace and Counterpeace and Tito and Goliath, diaries, scrapbooks, and photographs. The papers document Armstrong's career as editor of Foreign Affairs, his participation in the activities of the Council on Foreign Relations, and his professional involvement and interest in foreign policy from World War I through the 1970s. Included is correspondence with many well known political and literary figures of the time period. Some materials of a personal nature are included but the bulk of the papers relates to Armstrong's professional life. The papers also document Armstrong's participation in many philanthropic activities associated with Yugoslavia.

  • George W. Ball Papers. 1880s-1994 (inclusive), 1933-1994 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC031

    The George W. Ball papers document Ball's career as a lawyer, diplomat, investment banker and author. His involvement in Democratic politics, including his time spent on the presidential campaigns of Adlai Stevenson and his service as undersecretary of state for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson is well documented, as is his often overlooked role with Jean Monnet in European integration.

  • William P. Bundy Papers. circa 1950-2000 (inclusive), 1969-1999 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC189

    The William P. Bundy Papers document Bundy's career in public service, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and editor of Foreign Affairs. Additionally, the collection consists of correspondence and subject files for Bundy's 1998 book, A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency.