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


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 photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

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