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Collection Overview

MacMurray, J. W. (Junius Wilson), -1898 and MacMurray, John Van Antwerp, 1881-1960
John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1715-1988 (mostly 1913-1942)
176 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 1-161; 176; 185; 191-202


The John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers describe the public and personal lives of John Van Antwerp MacMurray (1881-1960), diplomat and specialist in Far Eastern Affairs, and his father, Junius Wilson MacMurray (1843-1898).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of public and personal papers of MacMurray (Princeton Class of 1902) and his father, Junius Wilson MacMurray (1843-1898), but the collection primarily relates to MacMurray's diplomatic career as assistant secretary of state (1924-1925), minister to China (1925-1929) and Turkey (1936-1942), chairman (1937-1938) of the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs, and chairman (1933-1938) of the International Wheat Advisory Committee. Included are MacMurray's correspondence and related papers concerning State Dept. activities and foreign affairs in general: accounts and ledgers (1931-1960), diaries (1889-1958), articles, speeches, lectures, manuscripts for his report TREATIES AND AGREEMENTS WITH AND CONCERNING CHINA, 1894-1919 (1921), printed materials, photographs of family, friends, and officials, scenic photographs and motion picture films of countries visited, and supplementary papers (1905-1922) relating to China, Japan, and East Asian affairs. Family records contain a few items from the 1715 to 1860 period, Junius MacMurray's military reports and correspondence during and after the Civil War, diaries (1863-1884), and articles (1883-1898); there are also genealogies, photographs, and other family memorabilia of Missouri and New York.


The John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers are chronologically arranged and consist of the papers of both John Van Antwerp MacMurray and his father. The collection has been divided into the following series:

Collection Creator Biography:

MacMurray, J. W. (Junius Wilson), -1898

John Van Antwerp MacMurray was born in Schenectady, New York on October 6, 1881 and entered boarding school in 1892 before attending Princeton University (1898-1902). After a year of travel in Europe he entered Columbia Law School in 1903. In 1906 MacMurray was admitted to the New York Bar, though he also sought to secure a position within the Foreign Service. While waiting for an appointment, he studied Elizabethan drama at Princeton, and in 1907 received a master of arts degree. That same year he was appointed Secretary of Legation and Consul General at Bangkok, Siam, followed by a position as Second Secretary of the embassy in St. Petersburg (1908-1911). After a brief interlude as Assistant Chief of the Division of Information, he became Assistant Chief and then Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department (1911-1913).

MacMurray started specializing in Far Eastern affairs with his consecutive appointments as Secretary of Legation in Peking (1913-1917), Counselor of the Embassy in Tokyo (1917-1919), and, back at the State Department, Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs (1919-1924). In 1921 he published Treaties and Agreements with and Concerning China. In the same year he served as expert assistant on Pacific and Far Eastern affairs to American Commissioners at the International Conference on the Limitation of Armament in Washington. He also was an observer for the U.S. government at the Chinese-Japanese negotiations for the settlement of the Shantung question (1921-1922). In 1924 MacMurray became Assistant Secretary of State, but one year later he was appointed Minister to China (1925-1929), a position he desired. The unstable situation in China, however, soon led to conficts between MacMurray and his superiors at the State Department. This ultimately led MacMurray to resign in 1929, when he accepted an offer to become Director of the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University.

Faced with the fact that he could not secure enough funding for the Walter Hines Page School MacMurray relinquished his salary and reentered the Foreign Service in 1933, though he officially retained his position until 1935. President Roosevelt appointed him as Minister to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (1933-1936), which was followed by an ambassadorship to Turkey (1936-1942). In these years, he also served as the Assistant Chairman of the International Wheat Advisory Committee (1933-1938) and chaired the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs (1937-1938). His last two years before retirement were spent back at the State Department as Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (1942-1944).

MacMurray married Lois R. Goodnow in 1916 and they had three children: Joan Goodnow, Frank Goodnow, and Lois ("Bisi") Van Antwerp MacMurray. He died at his home in Norfolk, Connecticut on September 25, 1960.

MacMurray, John Van Antwerp, 1881-1960

Junius Wilson MacMurray was born in Missouri, the son of Irish immigrant and blacksmith John Dennison MacMurray and Eliza Wilson. At the outbreak of the Civil War he recruited a company for the Union army, which was sworn in with the 1st Missouri Volunteers and reorganized into the 1st Missoury Light Artillery. After participating with his battery in the Battle of Vicksburg he was promoted Captain in 1863. At the end of the Civil War MacMurray participated in the Powder River Indian Expedition into Wyoming and Montana (June-November 1865). He joined the regular army in 1866 and graduated from the Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia in 1870.

MacMurray served as professor of military science and tactics on detail at the University of Missouri (1872-1873) and at Cornell University (1873-1875). He taught on detached service at Union College at Schenectady, New York, where he was in charge of sanitary and landscape engineering (1879-1883). While in Schenectady he was editor of A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times; being Contributions toward a History of the Lower Mohawk Valley, by Jonathan Pearson et al. (1883). In the summer of 1884, while stationed at Vancouver Barracks, WA, he served as Special Inspector of Indian Affairs and spent considerable time with the Native Americans of the region and their leader and prophet Smohalla. He shared his observations about these "Dreamers" of the Columbia River Valley in a lecture at the Albany Institute, which was published in 1886.

Additional places where MacMurray was stationed include Wadsworth, NY, and Fort Barrancas, Florida, where he contracted yellow fever during an outbreak in 1897. He died in May 1898, two months after he was promoted Major. In 1873, he married Henrietta Van Antwerp, daughter of John H. Van Antwerp of Albany, and they had three children: Edna, Ethel and John Van Antwerp MacMurray.

Collection History


The majority of the collection was donated in 1965 by John Van Antwerp MacMurray's children, Frank G. MacMurray '40, Joan Goodnow McMurray (Mrs. Evan M. James), and Lois Van Antwerp McMurray (Mrs. George W.B. Starkey) (AM 18671). Added to this collection, which was originally catalogued at Yale University, are papers that were previously deposited with Princeton University in 1948 , 1956 , and 1961 (AM 15656, AM 15660-15661, AM 17274), as well as additions to the collection in 2004 , 2007 , 2008 and 2010 (ML.2004.021, ML.2007.006, ML.2008.009, ML.2008.010, ML.2008.016, and ML.2010.009).


No appraisal information is available.


The John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers were reprocessed with the generous support of Adelaide MacMurray Cooper, Shirley S. French, Joan Ipsen, Frank G. MacMurray '40, Worth D. MacMurray '77, Alison Starkey, Lois MacMurray Starkey, Mills Ten Eyck Jr., Christine Wainwright, and William Waldron. Digitization of the films in Box 161-167, 172, and 176-184 was made possible by the generous support of the East Asian Studies Program, Princeton University.

Processing Information

This collection was reprocessed by Victoria Coleman '99 in 1998 and by Helene van Rossum in 2002 and 2008-2009 with the assistance of Jessica Solano, Ganga Bey '09, Pauline Nalikka '11, Marli Wang '11, and Jamie LaMontagne '11, and additional help from Liz Parsons '11 and Jeremy Russell '12. Finding aid written by Helene van Rossum in 2002 and 2009-2010. With thanks to Nancy N. Tomasko, East Asia Library Journal, Princeton University, for help with transcriptions, and to Shuwen Cao, East Asian Library, Princeton University, for assistance in identifying the contents of the films.

As part of a collections survey in 2020 this finding aid was updated to reflect the consolidation of the following ranges of boxes containing av materials: 161-175, 176-184, 185-190, 202-214. Each box now retains the first box number in the range, with item-level notes detailing the previous number. All labeled items retain their original titles;only the box numbers have changed.

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.

Credit this material:

John Van Antwerp MacMurray 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:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 1-161; 176; 185; 191-202

Find More

Subject Terms:
Diplomatic and consular service, American -- China -- 20th century.
Diplomatic and consular service, American -- Turkey -- 20th century.
Diplomats -- United States -- 20th century.
Peace treaties -- 20th century.
Wheat trade -- United States -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
Photographs, Original.
League of Nations.
International Board of Plant Genetic Resources. Wheat Programme
China -- 20th century -- Motion Picture Films.
China -- Foreign relations -- Japan -- 20th century.
China -- Foreign relations -- Treaties -- 20th century.
China -- Foreign relations -- United States -- 20th century.
China -- Photographs.
China -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
East Asia -- Foreign relations -- United States -- 20th century.
Japan -- Foreign relations -- China -- 20th century.
Japan -- Foreign relations -- United States -- 20th century.
Philippines -- Economic conditions -- 1918-
Philippines -- Politics and government -- 1935-1946.
Turkey -- 20th century -- Photographs.
Turkey -- Foreign relations -- United States -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- China -- Treaties -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- East Asia -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Japan -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Treaties -- 20th century.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Turkey -- 20th century.
United States -- History -- 1865-1898.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
Vicksburg (Miss.) -- Siege, 1863 -- Personal narratives.