Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Bundy, William P., 1917-2000
William P. Bundy Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
circa 1950-2000 (mostly 1969-1999)
24 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Boxes 1-23; 20A


The William P. Bundy Papers document Bundy's career in public service, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and editor of Foreign Affairs. Additionally, the collection consists of correspondence and subject files for Bundy's 1998 book, A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The William P. Bundy Papers are arranged by form and consists of correspondence, speeches, articles, memoranda, appointment books, and trip and book notes. A small portion of the collection documents Bundy's career in public service including Deputy Assistant Directory, Office of National Estimates, Central Intelligence Agency; Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs; and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. His appointment books, diary highlights and memoranda reveal Bundy's involvement in policy decisions made by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, especially concerning Vietnam.

A large portion of the collection relates to Bundy's 1998 book, A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency. Included within are his reference material, chapter drafts, interviews, reviews and correspondence with family, including brother McGeorge, and friends, such as Winston Lord and Marshall Green, who offered constructive criticisms.

Collection Creator Biography:

Bundy, William P., 1917-2000

William Putnam Bundy was born September 24, 1917 in Washington, D.C. to Harvey H. and Katherine (Putnam) Bundy. He was educated at Groton School (1935), Yale College (1939), Harvard Graduate School (1940) and Harvard Law School (1947). In 1943, he married Mary Acheson, daughter of Dean Acheson, secretary of state under President Harry Truman. Later, they had three children, two sons, Michael, and Christopher, and a daughter, Carol. He served in the United State's Army from 1941 to 1946. During World War II, he commanded an Army Signal Corps unit working with the British at Bletchley Park on the ULTRA operation breaking high-level German Engima ciphers. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and was made a member of the Order of the British Empire. After finishing law school in 1947, he worked for four years with the Washington, D.C. firm of Covington and Burling. In 1951, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, Office of National Estimates, working as the chief of staff and as a liaison to the National Security Council staff. In 1960, Bundy served as staff director of the President's Commission on National Goals.

Bundy served under President Kennedy and Johnson as a political appointee from 1961-1969. In 1961, he was appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA), then from 1963 to 1964 as Assistant Secretary of Defense, ISA. From 1964-1969, he served under the Department of State as the Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. During his time as Assistant Secretary, Bundy participated in deliberations on such matters as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Later, he became a central figure in shaping Vietnam policy. Bundy left government in May 1969 to teach at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1970 to 1972, he served as a part-time columnist for Newsweek, rotating with George Ball and Zbigniew Brzezinski in the international edition and briefly in the domestic edition.

He edited Foreign Affairs from 1972 to 1984, contributing several articles of his own. Later he served as a Visiting Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University from 1985 to 1987. He was a Trustee of the American Assembly from 1964 to 1984 and served on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1964 to 1972. After 1987, he devoted his time to writing a critical history of American foreign policy in the Nixon-Kissinger Era including the later years of Vietnam. In 1998, he published A Tangled Web: the Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency. Bundy died from heart trouble on October 6, 2000 at age 83.

Collection History


William P. Bundy donated the Foreign Affairs correspondence series to the Mudd Library in 1994 (ML1994-20).


No information about appraisal is available for this collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jennifer Walele in Summer 2003. The Foreign Affairs correspondence was initially processed by Theresa Marchitto, February 1995. A preliminary inventory of two subsequent accessions in February 2002 and January 2003 were combined with the initial collection of correspondence. A finding aid for the entire collection was written by Jennifer Walele in Summer 2003.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Box 5 Folder 13 is closed until Henry Kissinger's death. All other materials are 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.

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:

William P. Bundy 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 1-23; 20A