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Collection Overview

Dulles, John Foster (1888-1959)
John Foster Dulles State Department Records
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
20 boxes and 184 items
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-20


Consists of 192 reels of microfilm, totalling 131,000 frames, of selected U.S. State Department records from the years Dulles served as secretary of state, 1953-1959, under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 192 reels of microfilm, totaling about 131,000 individual microfilm frames, as well as a series of declassified documents. The collection can be characterized in general as the State Papers of Secretary John Foster Dulles, 1953-1959. The originals of all papers, with the exception of Mr. Dulles's personal appointment book, are located in the Department of State. At the time these documents were filmed for this collection (1956-61)they were located in various State Department repositories, including the Central Files, maintained by the Divison of Records Management (RM), the Conference Files, maintained by the Reports and Operations Staff of the Secretariat (S/S-RO), miscellaneous files kept in the S/S/-RO Message Center, and various individual State Department Bureau and Office files. It can be presumed that eventually all of these records will be retired to the Central Files where the master copies will be maintained.

The collection can be broken down into nine general categories as described below:

(1)Conferences held between Secretary Dulles and representatives of foreign nations. This category includes (a) special, high-level international conferences, e.g., the Geneva Summit Meetings, July, 1955; (b) regular international meetings attended by Secretary Dulles, e.g., the annual Spring meetings of the NATO Ministerial Council; and (c) bilateral meetings between Secretary Dulles and representatives of foreign poewrs either in Washington or in other capitals. The documents in this category as well as in categories (2) and (3) below are chiefly telegrams exchanged between the Department of State and various US Missions, memos of conversation, conference minutes, and background and position papers prepared for the Secretary's use prior to meetings which he was to attend.

(2) Negotiations with foreign powers carried out chiefly by representatives of Secretary Dulles. The most important of these are (a) the Korean Truce negotiations; (b) the Trieste Treaty negotiations; (c) the Austrian State Treaty negotiations; (d) the Baghdad Pact (Henderson mission) negotiations; (e) the Formosa-Offshore Island negotiations; and (f) negotiations with Communist CHina for the release of US prisoners.

(3) General foreign relations with individual nations or groups of nations (1953-1956). In this category falls background material not fully covered in conference files (Category 1) or elsewhere. It includes documents dealing with relations in the period 1953-1956 between the United States and (a) Indo China; (b) Pakistan and India; and (c) Israel and the Arab League of Nations.

(4) Secretary Dulles's Memos of Conversation. This is an almost complete file of all official memoranda of conversations in which the Secretary participated from January 1953 through 15 April 1959. The other participants were chiefly representatives of foreign nations. Some of these memos are duplicated in the conference files (Category 1).

(5) Secretary Dulles's Appointment Book. This is a daily record kept in pencil by Mr. Dulles personal secretary of all appointments kept by him either in Washington or abroad. It covers the entire period of Mr. Dulles's term of office as Secretary of State. Because there was no room to do so, the pages of these books were not stamped with frame numbers. These books represent the only part of this collection that cannot technically be labeled official documents; consequently they bear no security classification.

(6) Top Secret Daily Staff Summaries and Top Secret Afternoon Summaries. The Top Secret Staff Summary (including, after 13 September 1956 the Top Secret Afternoon Summary) is edited and produced daily (except Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) by the Reports and Operations Staff of the Secretariat (S/S-RO). It is the joint work of S/S-RO and the policy information officers in various bureaus of the Department of State including the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. It reports on a daily basis major policy decisions or related developments as contained in Top Secret telegrams, dispatches, etc., exchanged between the Department of State and various US Missions. The master copies of the Summaries, which have been filmed for this collection, identify by number the specific telegrams or dispatches on which the summaries are based. For a time, the Top Secret Staff Summary contained a section on "Congressional Relations" and a daily "Signature Record" of correspondence signed by the Secretary, the Under Secretary, and the Acting Secretary. The Congressional Relations section was dropped after 8 May 1953, and the "Signature Record" was dropped after 19 March 1956. Beginning 4 August 1953, a section was added summarizing "major decisions" made daily by the Secretary, Under Secretary, and Acting Secretary. The title of this section was later changed to "The Staff Record" and (in the Afternoon Summary)"Record of Actions." The Top Secret Staff Summary has a very restricted circulation in the Department of State and is considered an "Eyes Only" document, that is for the "personal information and use of the designated recipient only." It was one of the most important documents regularly studied by Secretary Dulles. For the study of major developments in US foreign policy on a daily basis these documents provide a highly useful starting point.

(7) The Daily Summary. The Daily Summary is edited and produced daily (except Saturday, Sundays, and holidays) in the Reports and Operations Staff of the Secretariat (S/S-RO). It is the joint work of the S/S-RO and the policy information officers in various Bureaus of the Department of State. It reports, on a daily basis, major policy decisions or related development as contained in telegrams, dispatches, etc., classified up through Secret. It is produced primarily for the use of officers at the level of Assistant Secretary, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office Director, and Deputy Office Director.

(8) Secretary's Staff Meetings (Tuesday and Thursday). These are minutes of the semi-weekly large staff meetings held by the Secretary of State and attended chiefly by Assistant Secretaries and staff assistants.

(9) Secretary's Staff Meetings (Mondays, Wednesday and Friday). These are informal and uncleared minutes of the Secretary's small staff meetings attended chiefly by the Under Secretary, the Deputy Under Secretaries, and the Assistant Secretaries or their equivalents. There are some gaps in the record for the years 1953-1955, and for the same period the record consists mostly of pencilled notes. After March 1956 the record is complete and is in typescript.


There are two categories of reels: 148 containing documents other than telegrams, and 44 containing telegrams only, which were filmed separately for reasons of cryptographic security.

1. Microfilms Each reel of microfilms has a number, the numbers running from 1 through 144 and from 201 through 248. For security reasons, the microfilm reels have been separated into two categorise. Those reels numbered from 1 through 100 and from 201 through 248 contain copies of documents other than telegrams, e.g., memos of conversation, conference minutes, etc. Those numbered from 101 through 144 contain copies of telegrams which, for reasons of cryptographic security, have been filmed separately.

Each page of each document has been stamped, before being microfilmed, with a separate number, usually in the lower left-hand corner. This is the 'frame number," i.e., the number assigned to each microfilm frame within each microfilm reel. All documents or individual pages of documents can thus be easily identified by reel number and frame number. At the beginning of each reel is a "target sheet." This sheet in bold type identifies by subject matter the ensuing groop of filmed documents; indicates, where possible, the State Department file number of the original documents and their location, at the time of filming, within the various file systems of the Department of State; and gives the inclusive, frame numbers within that particular reel.

Where the original films were unclear because of faulty photography, retakes have been made in most cases. These retakes are identified as such and have been spliced in at the beginning of the appropriate microfilm reels. In some cases the original documents were so faintly or badly typed that the microfilm copies are scarcely legible, and no amount of rephotographing could improve the situation. In these instances, recourse will have to be made to the original documents in the files of the Department of State.

2. Telegrams The telegrams contained in reels 101 through 144 are mostly those exchanged between the Department of State and the regular US diplomatic posts abroad or the UN mission in New York. Some, however, fall into special categories and are identifiable by the cable addresses used, as listed below:

(a) DULTE-TEDUL DULTE is the cable address used in highly classified telegrams of limited distribution sent to the Department of State by Secretary Dulles when absent from the Deparmtent on a mission. TEDUL is the cable address use on telegrams addressed by the Department of State to Secretary Dulles under like circumstances.

(b) SECTO-TOSEC SECTO is the cable address used in telegrams of less limited distribution sent to the Department of State by the Secretary of State when absent from the Department on a mission. TOSEC is the cable address used on telegrams addressed by the Department of State to the Secretary of State under like circumstances. (Note: the DULTE-TEDUL series and the SECTO-TOSEC series often contain telegrams concerning subjects not pertinent to the specific purposes of the Secretary's trip abroad. Therefore important telegrams concerning many different subjects are to be found in these exchanges of telegrams which are normally located and catalogued in this collection under the general subject describing the occasion of the Secretary's trip abroad. For example the Suez crisis of July 1956 broke when Secretary Dulles was in Panama and South America. Therefore, important telegrams concerning this crisis will be found in the DULTE-TEDUL series grouped under the subject, "Panama Conference."

(c) POLTO-TOPOL POLTO is the cable address used in telegrams sent by the US Mission to NATO and European Regional Organizations in Paris to the Department of State. TOPOL is the cable address used in telegrams sent by the Department of State to the US Mission to NATO and European Regional Organizations in Paris.

3. Log of Documents. The log, copies of which are deposited in both the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton and the Historical Office, Department of State, contains a separate page for each microfilm reel. Each page of the log includes the following information: (a) reel number; (b) inclusive frame numbers; (c) repository of original documents within the Department of State at the time of filming; (d) State Department file numbers of documents (when possible); (e) frame numbers of retakes (when necessary); and (f) subject or subjects of the documents included in the ree, as described on the target sheet for each reel.

4. Card catalogue Copies of the card catalogue are deposited in both the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton and the Historical Office, Department of State. The card catalogue provides a general, but not detailed, index of the collection. Each card contains the following information: (a) single words subject in the upper left-hand corner;* (b) cryptographic classification of document in upper right-hand corner;** (c) general subject of document or group documents as described on target sheets of the microfilm reels; (b) reel number; and (e) frame numbers. The cards are filed alphabetically according to the subject heading in the upper left-hand corner.

Philip A. Crowl, Washington, D.C., 1962

Updated upon declassification: Princeton, New Jersey, 1999

*Any given document or group of documents contained in a single reel is normally listed under several subjects. For example, for the subject, "Second Suez Canal Conference, London, September, 1956," three separate cards are to be found int he catalogue: one bears, in the upper left-hand corner, the title, "Egypt"; another, the title, "Suez Canal"; and the third, the title, "London Conference."

**All telegrams are included in the "encrypted" category; all other documents in the "non-encrypted" category.

Collection Creator Biography:


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.

Collection History


Declassified documents have been periodically sent to the Mudd Manuscript Library for the last several decades. Several caches came in 2011-2014, with acquisiton numbers ML.2011.016, ML.2012.005, ML.2012.043, ML.2013.005, ML.2013.023, ML.2014.018, ML.2014.019, ML.2014.032, ML.2014.035, and ML.2014.043.

Custodial History

The records were selected by Philip A. Crowl, a representative of Princeton and later a U.S. State Department employee. Crowl relied initially on Secretary Dulles's selection of subjects to be filmed, but later he based his choice on his own knowledge of events at State. Filming was conducted between 1956 and 1961.


No materials have been separated from this collection.

Processing Information

Information about processing the collection was not available at the time of accessioning

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Records in Series 2 and Series 3 are available for research use.

The status of each microfilm reel is indicated in Series 1. Please navigate to the specific reel you wish to access to determine whether it is open for research. Any microfilm reels in Series 1 that are not listed as open for research have been downgraded to the "secret level." Persons wishing to use the collection should write to the Library for an SF-86 (Questionnaire for Sensitive Positions) and fingerprint cards in order to obtain a security clearance. Once cleared (approx. 4-6 months), individuals may examine the film and make copies which will be sent to State for declassification decisions (another two to six months). One may also take notes, but these must be classified and sent to State, which cautions that such notes may be difficult to declassify. Once declassified, the records will be sent to the researcher.

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:

John Foster Dulles State Department Records; 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:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-20