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Collection Overview

Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969
Allen W. Dulles Papers: Digital Files Series
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
50 items and 1878 digital files


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 (CIA). The Allen W. Dulles Digital Files contain scanned images of professional correspondence, reports, lectures, and administrative papers, declassified and released by the CIA in 2007. The collection spans Dulles's time as Chief of the Office of Strategic Services office in Bern, Switzerland during World War II, his work at the Central Intelligence Agency, and his retirement.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Allen W. Dulles Digital Files contain scanned images of professional correspondence, reports, lectures, and administrative papers. The Agency culled these documents from Dulles's home office immediately after his death in 1969 and they continue to maintain the originals. The Agency redacted the documents and provided PDF scans to Princeton University in Spring 2007. The collection spans Dulles's time as Chief of the Office of Strategic Services office in Bern, Switzerland during World War II, his work at the Central Intelligence Agency, and his retirement.

While the collection is comprised of more than 7,800 digital files, most areas are not covered in depth as the files are scattered over more than 30 years. The collection does provide a fair amount of correspondence and narrative statements documenting Dulles's activities during World War II, especially relating to the work of individuals involved in the war effort in Europe. The files also include more than 1,000 war telegrams from the OSS office to Washington. Documents from the 1950s and 1960s deal almost exclusively with the Cold War. While there are documents occasionally dealing with Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Communist threat in the United States, most materials focus outwards on intelligence and the Soviet Union.

Items relating to Dulles' time with the CIA have been heavily redacted, obscuring the names of correspondents as well as individuals and events mentioned in reports and letters, greatly reducing the research potential of these materials.

Please see series descriptions in contents list for additional information about individual series.


The filing notations on many of the scanned documents as well as the organizational structure of the paper records of the Dulles collection suggest that in their original form, the materials were organized by subject or correspondent. The electronic records retain no original order and instead are reduced solely to the item level, with each file named by date and a sequential number.

The PDF files have been arranged into series based on material type, such as correspondence, calendars, and reports. The series are very loosely defined because the context which often identifies records is missing from the electronic files.

Organized into the following series:

Files are arranged chronologically within series.

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 electronic images of the Allen W. Dulles papers were transferred to the Mudd Manuscript Library on three compact discs from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2007 .

Custodial History

The papers of Allen W. Dulles were donated by Mrs. Clover Todd Dulles in 1973. The Central Intelligence Agency removed documents determined to be federal records pursuant to Title 44 of the U.S. Code and/or requiring protection from public disclosure pursuant to Executive Order or statute. In 2007, papers declassified under the Freedom of Information Act were provided in electronic form. The originals remain with the CIA. Those wishing to seek further declassification of any documents should contact the CIA.


No material has been separated from the files during processing in 2007.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Diann Benti in August 2007. Finding aid written by Diann Benti in August 2007. Biography of Dulles written by Susan J. Illis, Daniel Linke, Kristine Marconi, and Thomas Rosko.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

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.

The Allen W. Dulles Digital Files are available to researchers in PDF format. Users must have access to a portable document format reader, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader (available for free download at: to view these files.

Credit this material:

Allen W. Dulles Papers: Digital Files Series; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
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