- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.
- John Foster Dulles Papers
- Public Policy Papers
- Permanent URL:
- 1860-1988 (mostly 1945-1960)
- 657 boxes, 1 folder, and 178 reel
- Storage Note:
- This is stored in multiple locations. ReCAP (rcpph): Boxes 1-599; 622-647; 396b; 396a; 473a; 565a; 574a; 574b; 579a; 144b; 144a Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Boxes 600-621; 648
John Foster Dulles (1888-1959), the fifty-third Secretary of State of the United States for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had a long and distinguished public career with significant impact upon the formulation of United States foreign policies. He was especially involved with efforts to establish world peace after World War I, the role of the United States in world governance, and Cold War relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Dulles papers document his entire public career and his influence on the formation of United States foreign policy, especially for the period when he was Secretary of State, and include his correspondence files, as well as his writings, reports, and memorabilia.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The Dulles papers document his entire public career and his influence on the formation of United States foreign policy, especially for the period when he was Secretary of State, and include his correspondence files, as well as his writings, reports, and memorabilia. The papers include materials on his work regarding the formulation of treaties, United States-Soviet Union relations, atomic weapons and energy, the United Nations, and efforts for establishing and maintaining world peace. In addition to his term as Secretary of State (1953-1959), the papers document his participation in the Hague Conference of 1907, the American Commission to Negotiate Peace (1918-1919), the Reparations Commission (1919), the German Debt Conferences of 1933-1934, the San Francisco Conference on World Organization (1945), the United Nations General Assembly (1946-1950), the Council of Foreign Ministers, and the Japanese Peace Treaty (1951) negotiations, as well as his term as Interim U.S. Senator, his campaign for election to the Senate (1949), his work with the Commission to Study the Basis of a Just and Durable Peace of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, and his career at Sullivan and Cromwell. Also included are papers of his wife, Janet Avery Dulles, mostly regarding her travels with him on political trips.
The Papers have been arranged into twenty-two series:
- Collection Creator Biography:
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.
John Foster Dulles (1888-1959), the fifty-third Secretary of State of the United States for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had a long and distinguished public career with significant impact upon the formulation of United States foreign policies. He was especially involved with efforts to establish world peace after World War I, the role of the United States in world governance, and Cold War relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Dulles was born on February 25, 1888 in Washington, D.C. to Allen Macy Dulles and Edith Foster. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 1908. During this time, he had his first experience with foreign affairs, serving as secretary to his grandfather, John Watson Foster, during the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. After graduation, he studied philosophy and international law for a year at the Sorbonne in Paris, and then attended the George Washington University Law School, earning his LL.B. in 1911. Dulles married Janet Avery on June 26, 1912 and they had two sons, John Walsh and Avery, and one daughter, Lilias Pomeroy (Mrs. Robert Hinshaw).
After his graduation from law school, Dulles joined the prestigious New York law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which specialized in international law. He worked there from 1911 to 1949, rising to become a senior partner. During World War I, Dulles served as assistant to the chairman of the War Trade Board, and then as counsel to the reparations section of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, and as a member of the American delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, serving as Bernard Baruch's chief legal advisor on the Reparations Commission and also serving on the Supreme Economic Council. After returning to Sullivan and Cromwell, he continued to be active in organizations concerned with world affairs, and to express his views on the United States' role in the world through speeches, articles, and the book War, Peace and Change published in 1939. In 1941 he accepted the chairmanship of the Commission to Study the Bases of a Just and Durable Peace, established by the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America. Dulles presented their "Six Pillars of Peace" plan to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, as a plan for establishing international cooperation for peace. Throughout his career, Dulles continued to be a prominent lay spokesman for the Protestant church.
Dulles became increasingly involved in politics at the onset of the Cold War. He represented the United States at the San Francisco organizational conference for the United Nations in 1945, and in many subsequent sessions of the United Nations General Assembly. He served as New York's junior senator from 1949 to 1950, replacing Senator Robert F. Wagner, who resigned due to ill health. Dulles then served as special representative of President Truman, with the rank of ambassador, negotiating the Japanese Peace Treaty of 1951 and the Australian, New Zealand, Philippine and Japanese Security Treaties of 1950-1951. During his negotiations, he observed the growing antagonism between the United States and Soviet Union which subsequently hardened his anti-Communist stance.
In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Dulles Secretary of State. His tenure was marked by a close working relationship with the President, staunch anti-Communism, and a philosophy of "collective security" which led to numerous mutual defense treaties. Recognizing that NATO would only provide for the defense of Western Europe, Dulles initiated the Manila Conference in 1954 that resulted in the formation of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), an agreement between eight nations for the defense of Southeast Asia, and was influential in establishing the 1955 Baghdad Pact for the defense of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan. He was also known for enunciating a policy of "massive retaliation," whereby any attack on U.S. interests anywhere in the world by the Soviet Union or China would be met with an attack on those countries, including the possible use of nuclear weapons.
Several notable international events marked Dulles's tenure. In 1955, in an effort to induce President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt to support the West, Dulles offered to provide financing for the construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River to produce electrical power and for irrigation. However, Dulles withdrew the offer in July 1956 after receiving protests from United States cotton interests and Jewish-Americans, and after Nasser purchased weapons from Czechoslovakia, suggesting he was aligning with the Soviets. Nasser responded by nationalizing the British-owned Suez Canal. Without notifying the United States, Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt in October 1956 but failed to capture the canal. Dulles condemned the action at the United Nations, and under economic pressure from the United States, the allies withdrew by early 1957.
Concurrent with the Suez crisis, an uprising in Hungary resulted in the establishment of a new government committed to withdrawing the country from the Warsaw Pact. The Soviets responded with military force, leading the Hungarians to appeal to the United Nations for aid, pleas that were ignored, allowing the Soviets to subsequently crush the revolt and maintain their grip on Eastern Europe.
In 1958, tensions between Communist China and Taiwan threatened to break out into war when Communist China renewed their shelling of the islands of Jinmen and Mazu and the United States avowed not to appease Mao Zedong. Dulles convinced Taiwan's Chiang Kai-shek to renounce the use of force against mainland China and to withdraw some troops from Jinmen and Mazu, and the Chinese ceased their shelling. Also in 1958, the Soviets threatened to sign a peace treaty with East Germany, terminating the joint occupation of Germany established after World War II, unless a satisfactory agreement was reached within six months. In what would be his last international trip as Secretary of State, Dulles traveled to Europe to reassure Chancellor Konrad Adenauer that the United States would maintain its commitment to West Germany. Eventually, the Soviets agreed to negotiate without a deadline.
Stricken with cancer, Dulles resigned as Secretary of State in April of 1959. He died on May 24, 1959 in Washington, D.C.
This collection was donated by John Foster Dulles in July 1958 and by his estate in January 1961 , with additions from Warren Henderson in August 1966 , Avery Dulles in September 1966 , Sullivan and Cromwell in April 1970 , John Bly in October 1979 , Mrs. William Lanning in July 1982 , Ben Scott Custer in December 1987 , and [ML.2011.016] Arlene Kellenberger in May 2011 . In 2019, some items from the Awards and Plaques series and the Memorabilia series were determined to be out of scope and deaccessioned from the collection.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No appraisal information is available.
- Processing Information:
Processing information is not available.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
This collection is open for research use.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.
- Special Requirements for Access:
Series 12: Recordings (Box 538-540) contains cassette tapes, phonograph records, and reel to reel tapes, and Series 13: Moving Pictures (Box 541-543) contains film reels. Access to audiovisual material follows the Mudd Manuscript Library policy for preservation and access to audiovisual materials .
- Credit this material:
John Foster Dulles Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Alternative Form Available:
FOR DIGITIZED CONTENT: Most portions of Series 1 through Series 5 have been digitized and may be viewed or downloaded through this finding aid. To view materials, navigate to a specific folder, rather than an entire series or subseries.
Portions of this collection have been microfilmed. Copies of the microfilm are located in Series 22: Additional Papers in this collection.
- Publication Note:
The following sources were consulted during the preparation of the biographical note: "Dulles, John Foster." Current Biography , The H. W. Wilson Company, 1953. "Dulles, John Foster." Encyclopedia Britannica , 2008. Encyclopedia Britanica Online, accessed January 23, 2008. http://www.search.eb.com/eb/article-1936. "John Foster Dulles." Who's Who On The Web , accessed December 7, 2007. http://search.marquiswhoswho.com "Dulles, John Foster" by Richard H. Immerman. American National Biography Online Feb. 2000, accessed November 19, 2007. Copyright 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press. http://www.anb.org/articles/07/07-00085.html
- Subject Terms:
- Cabinet officers -- United States.
Diplomatic and consular service, American.
Nuclear weapons -- United States.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Congresses.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Reparations.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Congresses.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Treaties.
World politics -- 1945-1989.
- Genre Terms:
- United Nations. General Assembly
United States. Department of State
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.
- United States -- Foreign relations -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Japan.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union.
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century.