Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Volcker, Paul A. (1927-)
Paul A. Volcker Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1957-2018 (mostly 1957-1987)
74 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-74


Paul A. Volcker (1927-) is an economist who has served in several prominent positions in the federal government, most notably as undersecretary of the Treasury (1969-1974), chairman of the Federal Reserve (1979-1987), and chairman of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (2009-2011). The collection contains Volcker's subject files, mainly created during his term as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and incoming and outgoing correspondence from his tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The collection also includes documentation of some of Volcker's specific duties in these two roles, such as records from the meetings of the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Paul A. Volcker Papers primarily consist of Volcker's subject files, mostly created during his terms as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or as chairman of the Federal Reserve, and his correspondence with a variety of individuals. Much of Volcker's Federal Reserve correspondence is in reply to private citizens, though letters to and from White House staff and members of Congress also constitute a large portion of the collection. The collection also documents the meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee under Volcker's chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, the activities of the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (also known as the Volcker Commission), and Volcker's relationship to the Rockefeller Foundation as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York president. The collection also includes Volcker's phone logs from his term as undersecretary of the Treasury.

Please see the series descriptions in the contents list for additional information about individual series.


The collection is arranged in its original physical and intellectual order as received from the donor. Arranged into eight series:

Collection Creator Biography:


Paul A. Volcker (1927-) is an economist who has served in several prominent positions in the federal government. Born in Cape May, NJ, Volcker attended Princeton University for his undergraduate education, graduating summa cum laude in 1949. He went on to earn a master's degree in political economy and government from Harvard University in 1951, then studied at the London School of Economics in 1951-1952 under the Rotary Foundation's Ambassadorial Scholarships program.

Volcker began his career in government service in 1952 as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Five years later, in 1957, he left the position to join the private sector, taking a job at Chase Manhattan Bank. Volcker first worked for the Treasury Department in 1962 as the director of the Office of Financial Analysis, and the following year became the deputy undersecretary for monetary affairs. He resumed work in the private sector once more in 1965, returning to Chase Manhattan Bank as vice president and director of planning.

Volcker served as undersecretary of the Treasury for international monetary affairs from 1969-1974. In this capacity, Volcker was influential in the Nixon administration's economic policy changes of August 1971. These policy changes, particularly the suspension of the U.S. dollar's convertibility to gold and a short-term freeze on wages and prices, temporarily halted inflation and increased the rates of employment and productivity in the United States. After leaving the Treasury Department, Volcker returned to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 1975-1979 to serve as its president.

In August 1979, Jimmy Carter appointed Volcker as chairman of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve under Volcker's leadership is credited with ending the inflation of the 1970s through aggressive control of the money supply, leading to historically high interest rates. By the end his term, the inflation process had ended, giving rise to years of stable growth. As chairman, Volcker also put more focus on the economic conditions in developing countries and prohibiting certain activities of commercial banks.

After leaving the Board of Governors in 1987, Volcker served as chair of the National Commission on Public Service. The following year, he became chairman of Wolfensohn and Co., a boutique international investment banking firm. Volcker was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Accounting Standards from 2000-2005.

In 1996, Volcker was asked by representatives of the Swiss and Jewish communities to head an effort to trace accounts of victims of Nazi persecution opened in Swiss banks before World War II, leading to substantial compensation for survivors and their progeny. In 2004, the Secretary General of the United Nations called upon Volcker to undertake an investigation of allegations of substantial corruption by participants in the U.N.'s Oil for Food program and within the U.N. itself. That successful investigation led to a further request by the president of the World Bank to lead a review of the Bank's anti-corruption program, prompting substantial reforms in Bank procedures.

Volcker headed President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board from 2009 to 2011. In this role, he crafted the "Volcker Rule," a provision to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The provision restricts banking institutions in the United States from conducting certain kinds of speculative investment activities.

Volcker was a senior fellow in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University for the 1974-1975 academic year. He is the coauthor of several books. For many years he chaired the Trilateral Commission and the "Group of 30," consisting of leading central bankers, other financial officials, and financial scholars.

Collection History


This collection was donated by Paul A. Volcker in September 2015. The accession numbers associated with this donation are ML.2015.028 and ML.2015.029.

The boxes in Series 8 were donated by Paul A. Volcker in February 2016. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2016.004. Additional materials were donated by Anke Volcker in 2022. The accession number associated with this donation is ML-2022-018.


No materials have been separated from this collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Rachel Van Unen in 2015 at the time of accessioning. A folder list was created and all materials were described in a finding aid. Some materials were reboxed, but no physical processing or rearrangement was done at this time.

Materials in Series 8 were added to the collection by Rachel Van Unen in 2016.

An inventory of Boxes 35-74 was added by Helene van Rossum in 2020. The finding aid was restructured for usability and an addition incorporated by Will Clements in 2023.

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:

Paul A. Volcker 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 1-74

Find More

Existence and Location of Copies

Portions of the Paul Volcker Papers have been digitized and are available on FRASER, a digital library system managed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Subject Terms:
Economists--United States.
Independent Committee of Eminent Persons
International finance
Monetary policy
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System U.S.
United States. Federal Open Market Committee
The Rockefeller Foundation
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Hayes, Alfred, 1910-1989
Nixon, Richard M. Richard Milhous 1913-1994