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Collection Overview

Princeton University.‏ ‎Library.‏ Public Policy Papers
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
John Foster Dulles Oral History Collection
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
17 boxes
Storage Note:
Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-17


An American lawyer, born in Washington, D.C., Dulles served as counsel to the American commission to negotiate peace (1918-1919), member of the reparations commission and supreme economic council (1919), American representative at the Berlin debt conference (1933), and as United States secretary of state (1953-1959). Consists of 282 transcripts of tape-recorded interviews concerning John Foster Dulles (Princeton Class of 1908) and his times by men and women who knew and worked with him

Collection Description & Creator Information


This collection consists of 282 transcripts of tape-recorded interviews concerning John Foster Dulles (Princeton Class of 1908) and his times by men and women who knew and worked with him, such as Roswell P. Barnes, Robert R. Bowie, Walter Judd, and Carl McCardle. Some of the main topics covered in the various interviews are the Versailles Treaty, the League of Nations, the Federal Council of Churches, the San Francisco Conference on World Organization of 1945, the United Nations Charter, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Japanese Peace Treaty of 1951, McCarthyism, the Bricker Amendment, and relations of Secretary of State Dulles with the president, Congress, the Dept. of State, his staff, family, friends, and American and foreign statesmen.

A note about the sources in this collection: most of the witnesses whose testimony is here recorded were "friendly." Many made an obvious effort to be objective; some were critical; but very few could be called "hostile." Opinions of all sorts were solicited, but in most instances witnesses who presumably might have been unfriendly to Dulles simply refused to testify.

Every transcript in the collection has been reviewed and approved either by the author or a legal representative. With few exceptions, the only textual changes made in the transcripts have been to improve clarity of meaning. These transcripts represent the nearly verbatim record of informal and unrehearsed conversations.


Arranged alphabetically by interviewee.


The idea of establishing an oral history collection as an adjunct to the Dulles Papers was first explored in 1963 in conversations between William S. Dix, Princeton University Librarian, and John W. Hanes, Jr., and Roderic L. O'Connor, former assistants to Secretary Dulles, who had been active in the negotiations that led to the presentation of the Papers to Princeton. The idea became a reality a little less than a year later when the Rockefeller Foundation awarded the Princeton University Library a grant (later supplemented by private donations) to launch the Dulles Oral History Project.

In January 1964, a professional Advisory Committee of Historians and former colleagues of Mr. Dulles was named by Princeton's President Robert F. Goheen. Chaired by Ambassador Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., the Committee offered suggestions concerning the topics that should be covered in the Project's program and helped in drawing up a list of the individuals to be invited to participate in interviews.

All in all, at the conclusion of the project, the interviewers had traveled to seventeen foreign countries and sixteen states across the nation, including the District of Columbia, and taped 315 hours of testimony from 285 men and women.

A complete account of those involved in the project can be found in the printed catalog for this collection under "Guides to the Collection."

Collection History


The John Foster Dulles Oral History Collection was the result of a project of Princeton University Library from 1964 to 1967. Interviews were conducted by Richard D. Challener, Philip A. Crowl, and others, and were transcribed by library staff.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No information about appraisal is available for this collection.


A complete list of sponsors for the John Foster Dulles Oral History Project is available as part of the descriptive catalogue under "Guides to the Collection."

Processing Information:

The John Foster Dulles Oral History Collection was first published in 1967 and subsequently revised by Nancy Bressler in 1974. Descriptions of the collection have existed as a printed catalog (and are still available in that form), and were converted to structured web data in 2011.

Microfilm and original audio inventories were added in July, 2019.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library holds a wide range of audiovisual media within its collections, many of which are obsolete or on fragile media or both. To ensure that the information contained within these materials remains accessible, no original media are played for research purposes. Mudd's policy requires that originals be dubbed to a digital medium and checked for copyright. At that point a reference copy may be provided to researchers. All costs of transferring are borne by the researcher.

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:

Mudd Library does not have the facilities to view or listen to original audio material, and obsolete formats will need to be converted to a current format at the patron's expense before a reproduction can be made. Patrons should allow approximately four to six weeks for reproductions.

Other Finding Aids:

A full description of the history of this project in the form of the John Foster Dulles Oral History Collection Descriptive Catalogue is available through this finding aid under "Guides to the Collection."

Credit this material:

John Foster Dulles Oral History Collection; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345

Find More

Alternative Form Available:

FOR DIGITIZED CONTENT: Transcripts of each interview have been digitized and may be viewed or downloaded through this finding aid. To view materials, navigate to a specific person's name under "Interview Transcripts."

Microfilm of the transcripts is also available and is requestable through this finding aid.

Another set of microfilm of the transcripts is stored at ReCAP and accessible through the library catalog (call # Microfilm 11).

Related Material:

John Foster Dulles Papers, 1860-1988

John Foster Dulles State Department records, 1953-1959

John Foster Dulles Collection, 1943-1974

Dwight D. Eisenhower Library files relating to John Foster Dulles, 1951-1959

Ann Whitman Papers on John Foster Dulles, 1952-1959

Subject Terms:
Cabinet officers -- United States -- Interviews -- 20th century.
Statesmen -- United States -- Interviews -- 20th century.
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
Oral histories.
Federal council of the churches of Christ in America
United Nations
United States
League of Nations.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.
Japan -- Foreign relations -- United States -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Treaties -- 20th century.