Allen Dulles and the Warren Commission

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death on Friday, November 22, has brought renewed attention to the Warren Commission and its conclusions on the assassination.  Then-retired CIA Director Allen Dulles served on the commission and the Mudd Manuscript

Warren Commission; F.B.I Investigation Report: Visual Aids, circa 1964:

Warren Commission; F.B.I Investigation Report: Visual Aids, circa 1964:

Library recently digitized five boxes of Dulles’ personal files documenting his work on the commission as part of our NHPRC funded large-scale digitization project.  Images and downloadable PDFs of every folder related to Dulles’ Warren Commission work are available by clicking on any of the folder titles from the Warren Commission section of our finding aid for the Allen Dulles Papers.


The Warren Commission material includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, preliminary drafts of the final Commission report, clippings, articles and interviews relating to Dulles’ service on the Warren Commission. The correspondence includes incoming and outgoing notes and letters, articles and clippings. Correspondents range from members of the Commission to citizens offering their own analysis of the assassination.

The administrative material documents the official activities of the Commission. Included are minutes, agendas, financial information and memoranda, which demonstrate how the Commission was organized and its guidelines for procedures. Also included are intra-Commission memoranda as well as memoranda with other governmental organizations, including the F.B.I. and Secret Service. The findings of these two agencies, plus the Dallas police, were submitted to the Commission, and much of this material documents the life of Lee Harvey Oswald.

First page of Psychiatric Report on L.H. Oswald, 1964:

First page of Psychiatric Report on L.H. Oswald, 1964:

Over 64 boxes, and 96,900 pages of documents, from the Dulles Papers were digitized as part the NHPRC project.  In addition to the Warren Commission files, Dulles’ correspondence is now available online.  The correspondence includes letters to and from Kennedy and his brothers Robert and Edward as well as material related to Kennedy created after the assassination.

Kennan on Kennedy: “Dismal Foreboding for the Future of this Country”

George Kennan, like so many others, remembered exactly where he was and what he did upon hearing the news of John F. Kennedy’s death:

“I had been at a luncheon when I heard he had been shot, but on returning to the office shortly afterward I received confirmation of his death.  My reaction, in addition to the obvious shock, was one of the most dismal foreboding for the future of this country.  The first person I went to, to talk about it, was Robert Oppenheimer, and we both had the impression that this event marked in many ways a deterioration of the entire situation in this country.”


George Kennan on Kennedy Assassination, November 1968


Kennan, most noted for his influence on U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and advocacy of a policy of containment, served as Kennedy’s ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1961 to July 1963.  Kennan’s correspondence with Kennedy dates from 1959 and includes an 8 page letter of foreign policy advice written to during the 1960 presidential campaign.

On October 22, 1963, exactly one month before Kennedy’s death, Kennan sent a handwritten note of encouragement to Kennedy, writing “I don’t think we have seen a better standard of statesmanship in White House in the present century.” Kennan also wrote that he hoped Kennedy would be discouraged “neither by the appalling pressures of your office nor by the obtuseness and obstruction you encounter in another branch of government,” and expressed gratitude to Kennedy “for the courage and patience and perception for which you carry on.”


Typescript of George Kennan's handwritten note to John F. Kennedy, October 22, 1963

Typescript of George Kennan’s handwritten note to John F. Kennedy, October 22, 1963

Kennedy responded a few days later, on October 28th saying he would keep the letter nearby “for reference and reinforcement on hard days.”  Kennedy died in Dallas only 26 days later.

John F. Kennedy letter to George Kennan, October 28, 1963

John F. Kennedy letter to George Kennan, October 28, 1963

The Kennedy-Kennan correspondence consists of 79 pages, a small percentage of the  72,545 pages of Kennan’s papers digitized as part of our NHPRC-funded digitization grant.  All of the digitized documents, including Kennan’s permanent correspondence files and unpublished writings can be accessed by clicking on the folder titles listed in the finding aid.

Digitzed: Robert Lansing Papers & John Foster Dulles State Department Records

In our ongoing efforts to provide digital access to our records, we are happy to announce two additional collections have been digitized with the help of our students.

Robert Lansing (ca. 1905)

Robert Lansing (date unkknown)

The Robert Lansing Papers and the John Foster Dulles State Department Records are viewable via their finding aids.

The Robert Lansing Papers document the later years of Robert Lansing (1864-1928), lawyer, writer, and the longest serving (1915–1920) of Woodrow Wilson’s three Secretaries of State.

For the John Foster Dulles State Department Records, we scanned Series 2: Declassified Records

The two collections took a little over six months to complete.

For this project, we asked students who worked at the library’s front desk to scan documents by using a top feed and flat bed scanner when not assisting patrons. Once scanned, students would combine files together using Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Student receptionist using the top feed scanner to digitize documents.

While we continually work in house to make more of our collections available online, recently we also have been awarded a grant to have six other collections digitized. Read more about those collections and the project here:

Mudd Library Awarded Grant to Provide Global Access to Records of the Cold War

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library Adds Its First Videos to YouTube

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, in conjunction with Princeton University’s Office of Communications, has just added its first videos to the University’s YouTube Channel. In the coming months, the Mudd Library plans to post a variety of audiovisual materials to the University’s two YouTube Channels, with items chosen from both the University Archives and Public Policy Papers.

Our first video chronicles the May 20, 1963 move of Corwin Hall to its current location across from Wallace Hall and Robertson Hall. After nearly two months of planning, Corwin Hall (then known as Wilson Hall), was pushed along steel tracks for 12 hours from its location on Washington Road in order to make room for the new Robertson Hall. Shot on 8 mm film, this video shows a time lapse of the move. For more details about this move, please see this entry in the Princeton Companion.

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1748 Charter and Early Trustees Minutes Available Online.

The earliest document held by the Princeton University Archives, the 1748 Charter of the College of New Jersey, along with the first two volumes of the University’s Board of Trustees Minutes, have been digitized and are now available online through the Princeton University Library’s Digital Collections website:

Images of the documents are also linked from the online finding aid for the Board of Trustees Records:


The original charter, which has been lost, was issued in 1746 by John Hamilton, president of the Council of the Province of New Jersey, who was acting as governor at the time. Because Hamilton’s authority was questioned, the legal status of the College came under attack, and a second charter was therefore issued in 1748 by Jonathan Belcher, newly appointed governor of the province. It corresponded, for the most part, to the charter of 1746, but it increased the maximum number of trustees from twelve to twenty-three, made the governor of New Jersey a trustee ex-officio, and stipulated that twelve trustees were to be inhabitants of the State of New Jersey. The charter granted the trustees and their successors full power and authority to acquire real and personal property, to erect buildings, to elect a president, tutors, professors, and other officers, to grant degrees, and to establish ordinances and laws.

Volumes 1 and 2 of the Trustees minutes, which date from 1746 to 1823, contain a wealth of information about the personalities and activities of the young College of New Jersey. As these minutes date from the very beginning of the College, they address the multitude of issues and problems the trustees initially addressed.


The minutes contain the names of officials, trustees, teachers, and students. They also provide a record of the major decisions of the College (such as the election of new presidents) as well as smaller ones (such as which foods the steward could sell to students and where the account books would be kept). Researchers will find information related to the standards for admission and graduation; legacies received; names of members of the graduating classes; names of recipients of honorary degrees; the list of books donated by Governor Jonathan Belcher; the hiring and firing of tutors; the selection and election of presidents; the purchase and sale of land; the establishment of accounting methods; the maintenance of the College facilities; fundraising efforts; the running of the Grammar School; the rate of board for students; and the continual hiring and firing of stewards. Perhaps the most frequent topic of discussion in the early records is the state of the College’s finances.


We hope to continue to digitize Trustee minutes as well other important records of the University in the coming years.

Council on Foreign Relations historical sound recordings now available online

Off-the-record remarks by heads of state and prominent diplomats can be heard in sound recordings of meetings held by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that are now available to researchers online through the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. The digital audio from the meetings can be accessed via an electronic finding aid on the library’s website.

The records of the influential American foreign policy organization include more than 300 reel-to-reel tapes featuring speakers at their meeting programs. These recordings capture speeches given by international figures such as former U.S. President Harry Truman; former U.S. secretaries of state John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger; former heads of state Konrad Adenauer of West Germany, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel; and former U.S. national security adviser Brent Scowcroft.

The meetings span 1953 to 1989 and open records are available immediately. (Records of CFR are closed for 25 years from the date of creation and audio files that currently are restricted will be opened on a yearly basis).

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