Records of Adlai Stevenson, Ambassador to the United Nations, Now Available to View Online

In October 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Adlai Stevenson spoke the most famous line of his career. The former Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate was the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations.

After a series of provocative political moves and a failed US attempt to overthrow the Cuban regime,  Nikita Khrushchev proposed the idea of placing Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt in May 1962. By October 14, American spy planes captured images showing sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles under construction in Cuba.

Tensions mounted quickly. Concurrent with other negotiations, the United States requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on October 25. There, Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin, challenging him to admit the existence of the missiles. Ambassador Zorin refused to answer.

“Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Don’t wait for the translation! Yes or no?”

“I am not in an American courtroom, sir,” Zorin responded, “and therefore I do not wish to answer a question put to me in the manner in which a prosecutor does–”

“You are in the courtroom of world opinion right now,” Stevenson interrupted, “and you can answer yes or no. You have denied that they exist, and I want to know whether I have understood you correctly.”

“You will have your answer in due course,” Zorin replied. “I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that’s your decision,” countered Stevenson. “And I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.”

The Mudd Manuscript Library holds the papers of Adlai Stevenson, and as part of our NHPRC-funded project, we have digitized records relating to his tenure as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Here, especially in his section on Cuba, we get more of the story behind the story — notes, memoranda and letters of congratulations after this memorable speech, and records from 1963-1965, after the crisis and when the cold war was icier than ever.

Patrons can view thumbnails of a file to get a sense of what’s available

Browsing Adlai Stevenson correspondence

Scroll through to see all 164 images.

Simply click on any of the thumbnail images to see a larger view.

The entire file is also available for download in PDF form.

Clicking on this button will download a pdf of the entire file.

Clicking on this button will download a pdf of the entire file.

We hope that researchers everywhere will be able to make use of these newly-available materials. As always, please contact the Mudd Library with questions about any of our collections.

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.

 

MYTHBUSTER — “I Love Lucy” and a lost Presidential election?!

Is there any truth to the story that a commercial for Adlai Stevenson’s campaign interrupted an episode of “I Love Lucy” and cost him the 1952 election?

StevensonforPres copy

This story has appeared in various books and articles, but none has a verifiable citation.
For example, in the book “Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia” author Michael Karol asks the question “Is it possible the Democrats lost an election because of the (viewers) dedication? He writes that a Canadian website states that the Stevenson campaign was bombarded with hate mail when it bought a half hour campaign ad that preempted the popular show (p. 277). Another variation of the story has Stevenson receiving a telegram from a disgruntled Lucy fan that read: “I love Lucy, but I hate you.”

However, no Stevenson biography mentions this incident, nor is there any reportage of it in newspapers at the time. A search within the Adai Stevenson Papers held at Mudd Manuscript Library contains records documenting his 1952 radio and TV commercial purchases. They reveal that Stevenson’s campaign ran four types of ads: 20-second spots, 30 minute spots, five minute condensations, and 15 minute condensations. Presumably the condensations were reduced versions of the 30 minute spots. The evidence of this is found in multiple documents but the most succinct summary is in an undated telegram from Jay Sheridan to G. Rudiak found in Box 244, Folder 8. But the real stake in the heart for this myth is a listing of the campaigns media purchases for Fall 1952. While it shows a number of CBS-TV purchases on Monday nights, none were near the 8 p.m. time slot when “I Love Lucy” aired.

Given the lack of contemporary evidence (all the stories about the telegram date from well past the end of the campaign), and that the nature of the story fits with a common pattern in urban myths (smart guy gets his comeuppance for being ignorant about something commonly understood), we declare:

MYTH-BUSTED!!