Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969
Allen W. Dulles Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1845-1971 (mostly 1918-1969)
157 boxes
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • ReCAP (scarcpph): Boxes 1-60; 93-97
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 61-92; 98-157


The Allen W. Dulles Papers contains correspondence, speeches, writings, and photographs documenting the life of this lawyer, diplomat, businessman, and spy. One of the longest-serving directors of the Central Intelligence Agency (1953-1961), he also served in a key intelligence post in Bern, Switzerland during World War II, as well as on the Warren Commission.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Allen W. Dulles Papers contains correspondence, speeches, writings, and photographs documenting the life of this lawyer, diplomat, businessman, and spy. One of the longest-serving directors of the Central Intelligence Agency (1953-1961), he also served in a key intelligence post in Bern, Switzerland during World War II where he established his reputation as an intelligence operative with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The collection is useful for understanding the role of both a private citizen and public servant's role in the shaping of United States foreign policy. Dulles's early career as a diplomat, his long association with the Council on Foreign Relations, his work at the international law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, and his career in American intelligence are documented within this collection. However, those seeking information contemporaneous to his tenure at the helm of the CIA will be disappointed as CIA officials screened the collection before its transfer to Princeton.

Collection Creator Biography:

Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969

Allen W. Dulles (1893-1969), though a diplomat and lawyer, was renowned for his role in shaping United States intelligence operations, including the longest service as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Born in Watertown, New York, and a Princeton University graduate (BA, Class of 1914; MA 1916), Dulles was the nephew of Robert Lansing, Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State, and attended the peace negotiations to end the First World War as a member of the American Commission. During his stint in the diplomatic corps, he served in Vienna (1916), Berne (1917), Berlin (1919) and Constantinople (1920) before becoming Division Chief for Near Eastern Affairs (1922). While serving in Washington, D.C., Dulles studied law at night at George Washington University. In 1925, he served as an American delegate to the International Conference on Arms Traffic in Geneva. After earning his LL.D in 1926, Dulles joined the Wall Street law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, where his brother John Foster was a managing partner. But Dulles did not practice law so much as utilize his knowledge of government processes and officials to assist the firm's corporate clients conduct business. (In fact, Dulles would not pass the bar until 1928.) However, diplomacy would always be Dulles's primary interest and in 1927, he spent six months in Geneva as legal adviser to the Naval Armament Conference.

In New York, Dulles joined the Council on Foreign Relations, eventually was named a director and enjoyed the friendship of fellow Princetonian Hamilton Fish Armstrong '16, the editor of the Council's journal, Foreign Affairs. Together they authored two books ( Can We Be Neutral? (1936) and Can America Stay Neutral? (1939)). He also continued to serve the United States government in diplomatic capacities, including representing the United States at a League of Nations arms conference in 1932-1933.

During the Second World War, Dulles took a step that changed his life and ultimately American history. He joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the intelligence service, serving as chief of the Bern, Switzerland office. From there he established himself as a highly successful intelligence gatherer and operator, penetrating the German Foreign Ministry Office as well as the "July 1944" anti-Hitler conspirators. He also played a role in the events that led to the surrender of the German Army in northern Italy.

In 1948, Dulles's reputation led to his being named chairman of an intelligence review committee that faulted the organization of the then fledgling Central Intelligence Agency. In 1950, he was named Deputy Director of Plans of the CIA, the covert operations arm of the agency; in 1951 he became the number two person in the organization. After Eisenhower's election in Nov 1952, Dulles was appointed to the CIA's directorship. His brother, John Foster Dulles, served as Eisenhower's Secretary of State, and the two men would work closely during their joint service.

The CIA under Dulles's leadership established the dual policy of collecting intelligence through a wide variety of means, as well as taking direct action against perceived threats. In the former category fell such notable achievements as the U-2 spy plane program, the cooptation of Soviet Lieutenant General Pyotr Popov, and the tapping of a sensitive East Berlin phone junction by tunneling under the Berlin Wall.

The CIA's efforts in the area of direct action during Dulles tenure were notable for both their successes and failures. CIA operatives orchestrated the overthrow of the government of Iran in 1953 and Jacob Arbenz's regime in Guatemala in 1954. However, efforts to oust Castro from Cuba following his rise to power consisted of a serious of failures culminating in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. Though John F. Kennedy had asked Dulles to remain at CIA, after the invasion and the political fallout, Dulles, already past retirement age, resigned.

In retirement, Allen Dulles wrote books (including two autobiographical works) about his career in intelligence and appeared on numerous television programs to discuss foreign policy. He was called to public service once again, in 1963, when he was named to the Warren Commission. His connection to the CIA and its activities in Cuba would fuel later speculation about possible government complicity in Kennedy's assassination.

Dulles married Martha Clover Todd (known as Clover) of Baltimore, Maryland in 1920. She died in 1974. They had three children, Clover Todd (known as Toddy), Joan, and Allen Macy. Dulles's son sustained a near-fatal head wound while serving with the Marines in Korea, relegating him to supervised care for life.

Collection History


The papers of Allen W. Dulles were donated by Mrs. Clover Todd Dulles in 1973 with additional papers provided by Mrs. Joan Buresch in 1974 and 2008 , and by Mrs. Clover Jebsen in 1974 .


No appraisal information is available.


Processed with the generous support of Alexandra Buresch, Joan Dulles Buresch-Talley, Matthew Buresch, Allen Macy Dulles, Clover Jebsen Afokpa, Allen Dulles Jebsen, Joana Jebsen, Per H. and Margaret E. Jebsen and the assistance of the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Susan J. Illis, Daniel Linke, Kristine Marconi, and Thomas Rosko assisted by Carl Esche, Christine Kitto, Terun Weed, Christina Aragon, Jake Bartalone, Grace Chen, Victoria Coleman, Natasha Ermolaev, Sue Jean Kim, Cei Maslen, James McGillivray, Wendy Phillips, Stan Ruda, Patrick Shorb, Isabel Tremblay, and Elizabeth Williamson. Finding aid written by Susan J. Illis, Daniel Linke, Kristine Marconi, and Thomas Rosko.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Allen W. Dulles Papers; 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
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • ReCAP (scarcpph): Boxes 1-60; 93-97
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 61-92; 98-157

Find More

Existence and Location of Copies

FOR DIGITIZED CONTENT: Series 1: Correspondence and Series 4: Warren Commission Files have been digitized and may be viewed or downloaded through this finding aid. To view materials, navigate to the specific folder title, rather than the series.

Other Finding Aids

The Allen W. Dulles Digital Files are described in a separate finding aid: Allen W. Dulles Papers: Digital Files Series

Subject Terms:
Anti-Nazi movement -- Germany.
Communist strategy.
Diplomats -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Espionage -- United States -- 20th century.
Intelligence Officers -- United States -- 20th century.
Intelligence Service -- United States -- 20th century.
Lawyers -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Neutrality -- United States -- 20th century.
Nuclear weapons and disarmament.
Spies -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Spies -- United States -- 20th century -- Manuscripts.
Spy stories, American -- 20th century.
World War, 1914 - 1918 -- Underground movements -- Germany.
World War, 1939 - 1945 -- Secret service -- United States.
Genre Terms:
Council on foreign relations
Woodrow Wilson Foundation
United States. American Commission to Negotiate Peace
United States. Central Intelligence Agency
United States. Foreign Service
United States. Office of Strategic Services
United States. Warren Commission
Sullivan & Cromwell (Firm)
Princeton University. Class of 1914.
Armstrong, Hamilton Fish, 1893-1973
Dewey, Thomas E. (Thomas Edmund), 1902-1971
Donovan, William J. (William Joseph), 1883-1959
Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969
Dulles, John Foster (1888-1959)
Dulles, John Foster (1888-1959)
Gaevernitz, Gero von
Gibson, Hugh, 1883-1954
Grew, Joseph C. (Joseph Clark), 1880-1965
Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945.
Hughes, John C.
Kennedy, John F. John Fitzgerald 1917-1963
Lansing, Robert, 1864-1928
Wilson, Hugh
Wolff, Karl, 1900-1984
Cuba -- History -- Invasion, 1961.
Czechoslovakia -- History -- 1918 - 1938.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- 20th century.