Contents and Arrangement

Alphabetical correspondence, 1892-1959

48 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The alphabetial correspondence contains John Van Antwerp's personal and professional correspondence, which was rearranged from chronologial into alphabetical order in 2009 and 2010. The majority of the correspondence spans MacMurray's years in the diplomatic service and at the Department of State (1908-1929, 1933-1944), as well as at the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University (1929-1933).

The correspondence is of particular interest for the time MacMurray served in China as Secretary to the Peking Legation (1913-1917) and as Minister to China (1925-1929). Descriptions of his experiences in 1913-1917 may be found in his letters to his mother and sisters (Family Correspondence, boxes 7-9, 19-20). MacMurray's correspondence for 1925-1929 documents the problems that he faced while the Nationalist Party was gaining control of the country, which led to increasing differences of opinion with his superiors at the State Department, ultimately leading to his resignation in 1929. His correspondence with Secretaries of State Frank Kellogg and Henry Stimson, as well as with Joseph Grew, Stanley Hornbeck, Nelson T. Johnson, and his assistants Willys Peck and Ferdinand Mayer are particularly informative for this period. Of note, too, is the correspondence from George Sokolsky about developments in the Nationalist Party. Related memoranda and notes may be found in the Additional Correspondence and Papers (box 76). Correspondence with Chinese politicians and acquaintances are filed according to the spelling used at the time.

An overview of MacMurray's directorship of the Walter Pines Page School of International Relations, established to support research into foreign relations and policy, may be found in the correspondence with, among others, Joseph S. Ames, President of Johns Hopkins University. This documents how MacMurray became the School's first director in 1930, but decided to relinquish his salary and reenter the Foreign Service in 1933, after economic circumstances prevented him from securing enough funding for the school. Additional correspondence may be found among the subject files in in the Additional Correspondence and Papers (box 80-81).

Information about John Van Antwerp MacMurray's reentry in the Foreign Service and subsequent positions as Minister to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (1933-1936) and ambassador to Turkey (1936-1942) may be found in the correspondence with president Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull, and in the files for the Department of State. MacMurray's memoranda are most informative for this period (box 77). Much of the correspondence for these years concerns the International Wheat Advisory Committee, of which MacMurray was assistant chairman from 1933 to 1938, and the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs, which MacMurray chaired from 1937 to 1938. Additional papers concerning both committees may be found in Series 6 and in the subject files (box 77-78).

The correspondence to the respective Secretaries of State, to whom official correspondence was often addressed, may be supplemented by the correspondence filed under 'US Department of State,' as well as MacMurray's memoranda (boxes 76-77). Researchers looking for particular correspondents are advised check the additional correspondence and papers in box 73-82, in addition to alphabetical correspondence. Letters of introduction are filed under the name of he person introduced. Some correspondence is organized in rough chronological order only.


No arrangement action taken or arrangement information not recorded at the time of processing.

Collection History


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:

Alphabetical correspondence; John Van Antwerp MacMurray Papers, MC094, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 27-73