Contents and Arrangement

Subseries 1, Director-General's Papers, 1934-1991

14 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Series 1: International Labour Organisation Files, Subseries 1: Director-General's Papers (1934-1991) consists of a variety of material, including letters, memoranda, articles, booklets, and reports, relating to the ILO. Though this material both predates and postdates Morse's tenure as Director-General, illustrating his long association with the ILO, it is primarily concerned with his years in office. The material in this subseries represents only a fraction of the documentation which passed through Morse's hands in the course of his long sojourn in Geneva, but its selectiveness imbues it with a distinctly personal quality. Much of this material consists of items which were highly important to Morse, though in many cases, matters of policy were not involved. There are numerous messages of congratulation on the occasions of his multiple elections to the post of Director-General. Also Pope Paul VI's visit to the headquarters of the ILO and the conferral on the ILO of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969 are well-documented, for both were of great symbolic significance to Morse.

Also preserved, though not for celebratory purposes, are a number of revealing memoranda of meetings between Morse and prominent figures of his day. These include a discussion with Vincent Auriol in 1948 in which the President of France took exception to the American media's calls for "a strong man" in the Elysee Palace, a heated discussion with George Meany in 1963 in which the head of the AFL-CIO accused Morse of being soft on communism, and a discussion with Adlai Stevenson within a week of his death in 1965 in which the two-time Democratic presidential candidate voiced his dissatisfaction with the Johnson administration's policies in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. Of particular interest, too, are a pair of memoranda recording Morse's discussions with representatives of the Soviet Union and the United States in 1970 on the contentious matter of the appointment of a Soviet Assistant Director-General. Morse's diplomatic skills are evident and, in particular, his ability to prolong a process whose resolution could (and ultimately did) have negative consequences for the ILO. Other insights offered by these documents relate to the international "jockeying and politicking" (to use Morse's words), which can precede the election of the head of an organization such as the ILO; the implications of domestic politics and, specifically, McCarthyism, for international civil servants of American nationality; and Morse's relationship with his staff as manifested in his correspondence with two pivotal subordinates: Jef Rens, his second in command in Geneva, and Thacher Winslow, head of the ILO's office in Washington, D.C.


Arranged alphabetically by correspondent or topic.

Collection History


Duplicates were separated from the April 2008 accession. No information about appraisal is available for the other accessions associated with this collection.


These papers were processed with the generous support of Mildred H. Morse, wife of the late David A. Morse, and the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Processing Information

This collection was arranged and described by John S. Weeren with the able assistance of Fifi Chan and Tina Wang in 1995. Mildred Morse provided invaluable help in identifying photographs and contextualizing portions of this material. Additions received since 1995 were integrated into the collection by Adriane Hanson in 2008. Finding aid written by John S. Weeren in 1995. A subsequent accession in March 2011 was added to the collection as its own series, and the finding aid was updated at this time.

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:

Subseries 1, Director-General's Papers; David A. Morse Papers, MC097, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
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Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
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Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-14