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Collection Overview

Gaddis, John Lewis
John Lewis Gaddis Papers on George F. Kennan
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
6 boxes and 44 items
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-6


John Lewis Gaddis (1941- ) is a diplomatic historian noted for his analysis of the Cold War. The John Lewis Gaddis Papers on George F. Kennan contain interviews conducted by Gaddis for his authorized biography of noted diplomat and historian George F. Kennan and include transcripts and recordings of the interviews.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The John Lewis Gaddis Papers on George F. Kennan contain interviews conducted by Gaddis for his authorized biography of noted diplomat and historian George F. Kennan and include transcripts and recordings of the interviews. Gaddis interviewed Kennan, his family, and his colleagues in the United States government and in academia about the entire span of Kennan's life and career.

Collection Creator Biography:

Gaddis, John Lewis

John Lewis Gaddis (1941- ) is a diplomatic historian noted for his analysis of the Cold War. He has spent his career at Ohio University and Yale University, and is the authorized biographer of noted diplomat and historian George F. Kennan.

Gaddis was educated at the University of Texas, earning his B.A. in 1963, M.A. in 1965, and Ph.D. in 1968. He taught briefly as an assistant professor at Indiana University Southeast before obtaining a position at Ohio University, Athens. At Ohio University, Gaddis was assistant professor of history (1969-1971), associate professor (1971-1976), professor (1976-1983), and distinguished professor of history (1983-1997). He also served as the director of their Contemporary History Institute from 1987 to 1993. Since 1997, Gaddis has been the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History at Yale University where he teaches courses in Cold War history, international studies, and biography. He has also taught as a visiting professor at the Naval War College, University Helsinki, Princeton University, and Oxford University.

Gaddis's scholarship focuses on the Cold War. Drawn to the relationship between history and current events, he began his study during the Cold War and has continued to reassess his positions as new documents are released. His publications include The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947 (1972), Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security (1982), The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War (1987), We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (1997), The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (2002), Surprise, Security, and the American Experience (2004), and The Cold War: A New History (2006). His most recent project is an authorized biography of George F. Kennan.

Collection History


On deposit by John Lewis Gaddis. Materials were received periodically from 1982-2012 . A large cache of interview transcripts and recordings were deposited at the Mudd Library in January 2012 [ML.2012.002].


No materials were separated from this collection during processing in 2009 or 2012.


These papers were processed with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Processing Information

This collection was first processed by Adriane Hanson in March 2009. Finding aid written by Adriane Hanson in March 2009 and updated by Maureen Callahan on April 16, 2013 to incorporate a January 2012 accession. Interview transcripts were interfiled alphabetically with Series 1, mp3 recordings were incorporated alphabetically in Series 2, and CDs were copied to web-based storage at this time.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Access to interviews for living individuals requires the permission of the interviewee. All other interviews are open for research use. Restricted interviews are noted in the contents listing below.

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.

Series 2: Interview Recordings (Box 2) contains 40 audio cassette tapes and 65 CDs.

Credit this material:

John Lewis Gaddis Papers on George F. Kennan; 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 1-6

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Related Materials

A collection at the Mudd Manuscript Library of particular relevance to the John Gaddis Papers on George Kennan is the George F. Kennan Papers. The Mudd Manuscript Library also has numerous other collections related to the Cold War and to United States diplomacy which can be located by selecting the subject "Cold War" or "Diplomacy" on the Princeton University Finding Aids Website.


The following sources were consulted during the preparation of the biographical note: "Documenting the Cold War: John Lewis Gaddis," by Meredith Hindley. Humanities, vol 27, no 1, January/February 2006. "John Lewis Gaddis," Marquis Who's Who Online. Accessed March 17, 2009. "John Lewis Gaddis," Yale University History Department webpage. Accessed March 17, 2009.

Subject Terms:
Cold War.
Communism -- Soviet Union.
Diplomatic and consular service, American -- Soviet Union.
International relations.
Genre Terms:
United States. Foreign Service
Institute for advanced study Princeton, N.J.
Gaddis, John Lewis
Kennan, George F. (George Frost) (1904-2005)
Soviet Union -- Politics and government.
United States -- Foreign relations.
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century.