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.”

Kennan1

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  All of the digitized documents, including Kennan’s permanent correspondence files and unpublished writings can be accessed by clicking on the folder titles listed in the finding aid.

Mudd in Print

Have you ever wondered what our researchers are up to in the reading room? Many of them are working fervently towards producing highly esteemed, ground-breaking, and sometimes award-winning books.

This entry features a sample of recent publications, each developed through extensive research at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Drawing from material found in the Princeton University Archives, as well as the Public Policy Papers, these works demonstrate the varied research potential of the collections housed in our library. (All descriptions from Amazon.com.)

Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities by Craig Steven Wilder

Ebony and Ivy

In Ebony and Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy.

The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer

TheBrothers
A joint biography of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who led the United States into an unseen war that decisively shaped today’s world.

Wilson by A. Scott Berg

Wilson

From Pulitzer Prize–winning, #1 New York Times–bestselling author A. Scott Berg comes the definitive—and revelatory—biography of one of the great American figures of modern times.

George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis

kennan

Three decades in the making, the definitive, authorized biography of one of Cold War America’s most prominent and most troubled grand strategists.

Princeton: America’s Campus by W. Barksdale Maynard

americascampus

Neither a straightforward architectural history nor a simple guidebook, it weaves social history and the built fabric into a biography of a great American place.

These books are also on display in the lobby case at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.

by: Amanda Pike

 

 

Archives for Everyone

In each of the last two springs, several staff of the Mudd Manuscript Library and other members of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections have judged at the regional qualifier of the National History Day competition held on Princeton’s campus. This is a contest for middle and high school students who, based on rigorous guidelines, synthesize and analyze information about a historic event. They then create a paper, website, documentary, exhibit or performance explaining what they have learned.

Judging National History Day is a powerful touchstone about the value of archives in the production of history. Each year, I see students adroitly avoid some of the more common traps of historical production — their projects are clear, level-headed, open-minded, and support their claims with evidence. Students who submit the best projects don’t just have a clear argument and lengthy bibliography — they let the primary sources surprise them and challenge their previous conceptions of the past. Yes, they may start with textbooks and biographies, but stronger projects evaluate primary sources. And the very best projects tend to not just look at key documents that have been artificially assembled on a website (although this is valuable too) — they look at records in context and try to make arguments about subtext and authenticity.

The best place to find records in context is usually an archives. But of course, access to archives isn’t easy for students. Working parents may not be able to take their children to the New Jersey Historical Society or National Archives or Mudd Library, as much as they might like to provide that experience. Most archives are only open during the hours when parents are working and visiting these institutions can be intimidating. From a young student’s perspective, it’s often hard to tell what the holdings are and whether the trip will be worth it.

Our NHPRC-funded project hopes to be a model toward ameliorating this barrier to access. We believe that by scanning our records and making them available within the same context that one would see them in the reading room, anyone with an internet connection can have a meaningful scholarly experience without the cost and inconvenience of traveling to Princeton, New Jersey.

We hope that children will benefit as much as anyone from this project. As Cathy Gorn, the Executive Director of National History Day, noted in her letter of support for the grant:

Having primary source materials on the Cold War available via the Internet would allow many NHD students around the country to conduct research for their projects that they ordinarily would not be able to, and the Mudd collections to be digitized are broad enough to support a variety of NHD Projects.

Of course, students don’t just wish to access historical records for National History Day — they want access for the same reasons that any other researcher does. A teenager may want to know more about when and how his family came to America. He might want to know more about the history of his town, and how certain sites came to be created. Or he may be interested in the history of ideas, policies and customs that affect his life. The collections that we plan to digitize — the John Foster Dulles papers, the Allen Dulles papers, the James Forrestal papers, the Council on Foreign Relations records, the George Kennan papers and the Adlai Stevenson papers — document how cold war activities were conducted and understood. They also present an opportunity for students to understand through diaries and correspondence the false starts, misunderstandings, and possible alternatives that constitute all historical events.

The historian John Lewis Gaddis makes the argument for access more persuasively than I could. In his letter of support for our grant, he explained the cost, inconvenience and wear on records for professional researchers trying to do research on-site.

But the most fundamental shortcoming of this old system was the disservice it did to students of history who never got to see an archive in the first place. Maybe they lived abroad. Maybe they attended American universities or colleges that could not provide research support. Maybe they were high school or even elementary students who might have gotten hooked on history for life had they had the chance to work with original materials – but they didn’t have that chance.

Now, however, almost all of them have access to a new means of access, which is of course the internet- even if they’re stuck in a place like Cotulla, Texas, where I grew up. I mention this little town because it’s where the young Lyndon B. Johnson spent a year teaching, in 1928-29, in the then segregated Mexican-American school. What he tried to do for those kids is still remembered: it gets its own chapter in the first volume of Robert Caro’s massive biography. But just think what LBJ could have done as a teacher had he had the resources that are available now. That’s why this project is important.

It has the potential, quite literally, to globalize the possibility of doing archival research. That’s no guarantee that this will produce a greater number of great books than in the past. What it will ensure, however, is a quantum leap in the opportunities students and their teachers will have to bring the excitement of working with original documents into all classrooms. That’s easily as important, I think, as writing the kind of books that might get you tenure at a place like Yale.

Digitization and the Council on Foreign Relations

In March our vendor began scanning the first batch of material to be digitized as part of our grant.  We’ve sent 15 boxes (and over 15,000 pages) of the Council on Foreign Relations Records to be scanned.  The material will be returning to Mudd in April and all 15,000+ images should be available to anyone with an internet connection later in the Spring.

The Harold Pratt House, Council of Foreign Relations headquarters, New York City.

The Harold Pratt House, Council of Foreign Relations headquarters, New York City.

As students and scholars of the Cold War know, the Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting improved understanding of international affairs and to contributing ideas to United States foreign policy.  The Council records document the work of people prominent in diplomacy, government, and business who come together to study pressing issues in foreign policy.  At the time we wrote the grant the Council on Foreign Relations Records as a whole were the fourth most requested collection within Mudd’s Public Policy Papers; researchers requested and viewed more than 1500 boxes of material from 2008-2011, with many more asking questions or requesting copies from around the world.

The fifteen boxes that we are digitizing document the Council’s Studies Department.  Sometimes referred to as the Council’s “think tank” the Studies Department spearheads the Council’s efforts to promote discussion on issues shaping the international agenda.  The department includes a large number of scholars and research associates who engage each other, Council members, and non-affiliated individuals in research on topics and regions related to United States foreign policy, which historically have included topics such as international trade, arms control, and economic development, and regions such as the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Latin America, to name a few.

These records reveal the Council’s work on international problems during the interwar years and how, once World War II began, it almost immediately began studying how to establish a lasting peace upon its conclusion. Though a non-government organization, CFR’s members were part of the foreign policy establishment and the work of its study groups played an influential role in post-war planning, as evidenced by the fact that many of its members, including John Foster Dulles, attended the San Francisco Conference to establish the United Nations.  In his history of the Council, Michael Wala writes that “during World War II the Council grew into the role of respected advisor and listening post for the attitude of elites throughout the nation…In its study and discussion groups the Council could assemble elites” drawn from public agencies and private organizations who were “bound together through formal and informal ties.”

These ties are documented in the study group records.  In fact, many of the individuals whose papers will be digitized as part of the grant were involved with or spoke at the Council.  While we work towards posting the study group materials during the coming weeks, you can already listen to meetings and presentations involving Allen Dulles, John Foster Dulles, George Kennan, and Adlai Stevenson from our finding aids site.

Throughout its history the Council has been subject to criticism about its reach and influence. In his book Wala notes that the “development of conspiratorial theories about its reach and function” is partly the result of a lack of access to documentary material.  The availability of the Council records at Mudd over the last decade has helped to address that lack of access and we hope that the availability of the study group material online will open these records to new audiences.

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

by: Maureen Callahan

The historian John Lewis Gaddis, author of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of George Kennan, has stated that the Mudd Library holds “the most significant set of papers for the study of modern American history outside of federal hands.”

This may be true, but is often only relevant to researchers who have the resources to access them. We have worked diligently to make sure people could find information about our collections, but until now, there were only a very few ways to actually study these records – come to Princeton, New Jersey and access them in the reading room, or order photocopies of what you think you might be interested in, based on descriptions in our finding aids (we also have a few collections digitized and online, and some microfilmed collections of our records may be in your local library).

We want to change this to make it easier for everyone to access our materials. Thanks to the generosity of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a taxpayer-funded organization that supports efforts to promote documentary sources, over 400,000 pages of records from six of our most-used collections will be digitized and put online for anyone with an internet connection to access. We hope that our records will become newly accessible and indispensible to international researchers, high school and college students, and anyone else with an interest in the history of the Cold War.  As Gaddis wrote in a letter of support for our grant, this kind of access “has the potential, quite literally, to globalize the possibility of doing archival research. That’s no guarantee that this will produce a greater number of great books than in the past. What it will ensure, however, is a quantum leap in the opportunities students and their teachers will have to bring the excitement of working with original documents into all classrooms.”

Collections include:

John Foster Dulles Papers

John Foster Dulles (1888-1959), the fifty-third Secretary of State of the United States for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had a long and distinguished public career with significant impact upon the formulation of United States foreign policies. He was especially involved with efforts to establish world peace after World War I, the role of the United States in world governance, and Cold War relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Dulles papers document his entire public career and his influence on the formation of United States foreign policy, especially for the period when he was Secretary of State.

We plan to digitize the following:

Series 1. Selected Correspondence 1891-1960

Series 3. Diaries and Journals 1907-1938

Series 5. Speeches, Statements, Press Conferences, Etc 1913-1958

 

George Kennan Papers

George F. Kennan (1904-2005) was a diplomat and a historian, noted especially for his influence on United States policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and for his scholarly expertise in the areas of Russian history and foreign policy. Kennan’s papers document his career as a scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study and his time in the Foreign Service.

We plan to digitize the following:

Subseries 1A, Permanent Correspondence 1947-2004

Subseries 4D, Major Unused Drafts 1933-1978

Subseries 4G, Unpublished Works 1938-2000

 

Council on Foreign Relations Records

The Council on Foreign Relations is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and national membership organization dedicated to improving understanding of international affairs by promoting a range of ideas and opinions on United States foreign policy. The Council has had a significant impact in the development of twentieth century United States foreign policy. The Records of the Council on Foreign Relations document the history of the organization from its founding in 1921 through the present.

We plan to digitize the following:

Studies Department 1918-1945

 

Allen W. Dulles Papers

The Allen W. Dulles Papers contains correspondence, speeches, writings, and photographs documenting the life of this lawyer, diplomat, businessman, and spy. One of the longest-serving directors of the Central Intelligence Agency (1953-1961), he also served in a key intelligence post in Bern, Switzerland during World War II, as well as on the Warren Commission.

We plan to digitize the following:

Series 1, Correspondence 1891-1969

Series 4, Warren Commission Files 1959-1967

 

Adlai E. Stevenson Papers

The Adlai E. Stevenson Papers document the public life of Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), governor of Illinois, Democratic presidential candidate, and United Nations ambassador. The collection contains correspondence, speeches, writings, campaign materials, subject files, United Nations materials, personal files, photographs, and audiovisual materials, illuminating Stevenson’s career in law, politics, and diplomacy, primarily from his first presidential campaign until his death in 1965.

We plan to digitize the following:

Subseries 5D, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations 1946-1947

 

James Forrestal Papers

James V. Forrestal (1892-1949) was a Wall Street businessman who played an important role in U.S. military operations during and immediately after World War II. From 1940 to 1949 Forrestal served as, in order, assistant to President Roosevelt, Under Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of the Navy, and the first Secretary of Defense.

We plan to digitize the following:

Subseries 1A, Alphabetical Correspondence

Subseries 5A, Diaries

 

Digitization will occur over the course of two years, and materials will be added to the web as they are digitized. Please be in touch with us if you have any questions about any of our materials.

 

Costigliola selected to edit Kennan Diaries

Noted diplomatic historian Frank Costigliola of the University of Connecticut has been selected to edit the diaries of George F. Kennan, the renowned 20th century diplomat, historian, and public intellectual. Professor Costigliola holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University and is the author of the forthcoming Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton University Press, January 2012), in addition to two other books and more than two dozen articles, including an essay on Kennan that appeared in The Journal of American History. He is also a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Costigliola’s was one of nine submissions received for the project which was announced last December with ads in the New York Review of Books and The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as on numerous listservs, and the Mudd Manuscript Library blog. He plans a single volume of approximately 600-700 pages and projects a completion date of December 2014. (See Costigliola’s proposal .) Notified of the selection, Costigliola commented, “I am honored by the opportunity to make available to Kennan buffs, scholars of U.S. and international history, and general readers the magnificent, 80-year-long chronicle of this most gifted diplomat, public intellectual, and writer.”

The Kennan Papers are one of the most used collections at the Mudd Manuscript Library and the diaries themselves were only opened in 2009. Kennan was a diplomat and a historian, noted especially for his influence on United States policy towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and for his scholarly expertise in the areas of Russian history and foreign policy. While with the Foreign Service, Kennan advocated a policy of "containment" that influenced United States relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, and he served in various positions in European embassies, as well as ambassador to the Soviet Union. His career as a historian was spent at the Institute for Advanced Study, where he continued to analyze the history of Russia, the Soviet Union and United States foreign policies, and foreign affairs.

UPDATE, FEBRUARY 2014: This book has been published by Norton, a full ten months ahead of Costigliola’s original projection. We are very pleased to see Mr. Kennan’s diary printed in a handsome and well-edited volume.

Kennan Diaries Project

kennan

The Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University holds the papers of renowned diplomat George F. Kennan (1904-2005); upon the passing of Kennan and his wife, copyright in the unpublished materials in those papers passed to Princeton. Within the more than 300 boxes that make up the collection, twelve boxes contain the diaries that Kennan kept nearly continuously throughout his adult life (they date from 1924-2004).
As Kennan remains prominent in scholarly discourse, there is great interest in these diaries. Several individuals have expressed an interest in publishing them in some form. In order to ensure that they receive the benefit of the best possible treatment, the University is soliciting proposals from all interested scholars and will award one the right of first publication.
The Kennan Papers and Diaries
The Papers are described with a high-level of detail within the Mudd Library finding aid found here: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/n009w2294 In addition, within the finding aid, the diaries are described: http://diglib.princeton.edu/ead/getEad?eadid=MC076&kw=Kennan#series4subseriesC
Kennan kept the diaries throughout much of his adult life and they detail his private thoughts on the issues facing him both professionally and personally. Kennan’s authorized biographer, John Lewis Gaddis, has read them all and described their self-critical character as resembling those of Henry Adams. In the diaries, Kennan recorded with whom he was meeting, including brief descriptions of the subject of the conversations, and his professional and personal appointments. The earlier diaries, from the period when he was in the diplomatic service, contain his impressions of the countries and the issues they faced. The diaries from his scholarly career include discussions of his research projects and publications, his travels and speaking engagements, and his opinions on public policy matters. Personal details are also found throughout each volume, with a separate “dream journal” covering the period from 1964 to 1977.
Request for proposals
The Library seeks proposals for the publication of the Kennan diaries that answers the following questions:
  1. How will your proposed publication be formatted? (number of volumes, amount of annotation, level of indexing, etc.)
  2. What qualifications do you bring to this project?
  3. What is your plan of work, including a timetable and strategy?
  4. What publishers might you work with? Have you worked with them in the past or have they evinced an interest in working with this project?
  5. Why do you want to undertake this project?
  6. If you plan to seek outside support, what experience do you have with fundraising?
Please include a c.v. for all project participants.
Proposals should include contact information for possible follow-up questions. Word or PDF documents sent as email attachments can be mailed to dlinke@princeton.edu. Any supplementary materials that need to be sent via USPS can be mailed to:

Dan Linke
Mudd Manuscript Library
Princeton University
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540

All proposals will be confidentially evaluated by a panel of scholars with an understanding of Kennan’s role in 20th century diplomatic history.
Kennan Diaries Project Advisory Committee
  • John Lewis Gaddis, Yale University, Robert A. Lovett Professor of History and Kennan’s authorized biographer.
  • Richard Immerman, Temple University. Edward J. Buthusiem Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Department Chair; Director of the Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy.
  • Daniel J. Linke, Princeton University Archivist and Curator of Public Policy Papers.
  • Paul Miles *99, Princeton University, Lecturer in History.
  • Bradley Simpson, Princeton University, Assistant Professor of History and International Affairs.
Deadline for submission is: May 2, 2011 with an anticipated announcement by August 1, 2011.

Kennan and Forrestal papers processing project completed

Princeton University’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library has completed a one-year project to process the papers of George Kennan and James Forrestal, two Princeton alumni who were important figures in shaping U.S. policy at the inception of the Cold War.

George F. Kennan, U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, is greeted by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, looks on. Circa 1962-1963. Source: George F. Kennan Papers, Box 184, Folder 14.

Kennan, a diplomat and historian, is best known for writing the “Long Telegram” and the subsequent “X” article in Foreign Affairs in which he advocated for a new course in U.S.-Soviet relations that became known as “containment.” Kennan, a 1925 Princeton graduate, was involved in diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout most of his distinguished career in the U.S. Foreign Service. As a historian at the Institute for Advanced Study, he studied modern Russian and European history and became an important critic of American foreign policy. His papers document his entire career.

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Kennan and Forrestal papers processing funded

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) has awarded the library funding to process the George F. Kennan Papers and the James V. Forrestal Papers according to the best modern standards, making these important materials more accessible to researchers. This year the NHPRC awarded only four grants for detailed processing projects such as this one. Work on this project will commence in July, with completion set for June 30, 2009. Adriane Hanson, who last October completed processing of Mudd’s economics collections, will manage the project.

kennanBoth Kennan and Forrestal were important figures in shaping United States policy at the inception of the Cold War. Kennan, a diplomat and historian (pictured at left), is best known for his authoring of the “Long Telegram” and the subsequent “X” article in Foreign Affairs in which he advocated for a new course in U.S.-Soviet relations that became known as “containment.” Kennan was involved in diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout most of his distinguished career in the U.S. Foreign Service and as a historian analyzed the Soviet Union’s history and politics. Forrestal was the first Secretary of Defense for the United States, overseeing the merger of the War Department with the Navy Department in 1947. Forrestal worked to re-structure America’s defenses to confront the threat he perceived from the Soviet Union and through these efforts promoted the career of George Kennan.

Researchers should note that only a small part of the George F. Kennan Papers are currently open. However, all of his papers will open on March 17, 2009. The James V. Forrestal Papers are open for research use now, though the collection’s disorder hinders efficient access. During the course of the project, researchers should inquire about either collection’s availability before traveling to the Mudd Library.