Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Rankin, Karl L. (Karl Lott), 1898-1991.
Karl L. Rankin Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
20 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-20


The Karl L. Rankin Papers consist of correspondence, writings, memoranda, diaries, scrapbooks, and photo albums kept by Mr. Rankin which span his lifetime and career as an ambassador.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This collection contains mostly correspondence and memoranda between Rankin and other Government officials. There exist some writings, mostly official reports. A list of correspondents and subjects identified by year follows the container listing.

Collection Creator Biography:

Rankin, Karl L. (Karl Lott), 1898-1991.

Karl Lott Rankin was born on September 4, 1898 in Manitowc, Wisconsin to Emmet Woollen and Alberta Rankin. He grew up and lived in Topeka, Kansas before attending the California Institute of Technology from 1917-1919. In the 1920-1921 academic year, Rankin studied at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich. He received his degree in civil engineering from Princeton University in 1922.

His studies were interrupted by active duty in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Following his Princeton graduation, Rankin became a field engineer in Turkey and supervised construction for Near East Relief in the U.S.S.R. (Caucasus region) between 1922 and 1925. After this, he returned to the United States to run a New Jersey real estate company. This career was short-lived, however, and, in 1927, he enlisted in the Foreign Commerce Service. He served in Prague (1929), Athens (1932), Tirana (1932), Albania, and Brussels (1939). By 1940, he achieved the rank of consul while serving in Belgrade. In 1941, he was interned by the Japanese in Manila while en route to an assignment in Egypt. He held subsequent assignments in Athens (1944-1945, 1947-1949) and Belgrade (1945-1946), Vienna (1946-1947), Canton (1949), Hong Kong (1949), and Taipei (1950-1953). He was an ambassador to China from 1953-1957 and to Yugoslavia from 1958-1961. He officially retired in 1961, and in 1964, he wrote a book, China Assignment which discusses his years in Taiwan.

Rankin's first wife, Pauline Jordan (they were married in 1925) died in 1976. In 1978, Rankin married Ruth Thompson Garcelon. Rankin died on January 15, 1991 at the age of 92.

Collection History


Ambassador Rankin deposited his papers in the Princeton Library in 1973 and then formally donated them in 1977 .

The guest books in Series 8 were donated by Ned Allen on behalf of the Bridgton Historical Society in September 2015. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2015.035.

Custodial History

Two boxes of declassified papers were housed at the State Department prior to being sent to Princeton in 1974. A small number of additional documents were initially retained for review by the State Department; most of these were then declassified and forwarded to Princeton but a small number were not sent on to Princeton.


No information about appraisal is available for this collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Edward J. Jaramillo (Princeton Class of 1996) in 1993. Finding aid written by Edward J. Jaramillo (Princeton Class of 1996) in 1993.

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:

Karl L. Rankin 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): Box 1-20