Princeton Alumni in the Service of the Refugee Cause: Henry R. Labouisse’s UNRWA Legacy

By Diana Dayoub ’21

UNRWA’s unpopularity with the people it works for, and the governments it works with, is in direct contrast to the popularity of the man from Wilton, Connecticut who heads it. 

Princeton Alumni Weekly, February 10, 1956

With the number of displaced persons reaching a record high since the 1940s and with the consequent expansion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) activities, it seems timely to get some historical perspective on the UN refugee aid and relief legacy. Henry R. Labouisse (Class of 1926), a distinguished international public servant, stands out for his UN service and the significance of his agency’s relief and rehabilitation services as seen in the context of Near Eastern politics at the time. The Henry R. Labouisse Papers (MC199) document Labouisse’s work as director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)–or commonly referred to as “the Agency” in the region–from 1954-1958. 

Article in Princeton Alumni Weekly, February 10, 1956.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 24-30

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a member of the Class of 1922 tries to avert nuclear war, a brawl breaks out in chapel, and more.

October 24, 1914—Princeton University plays its first game in the newly constructed Palmer Stadium, defeating Dartmouth 16-12.

14_nov_1914_palmer_stadium_ac111_box_mp73_image_2907

Palmer Stadium during a game played on November 14, 1914. Historical Photograph Collection, Grounds and Buildings Series (AC111), Box MP73, Image No. 2907.

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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.

New Public Policy Accessions: July 2010 – March 2011

One of Mudd’s newest accessions, the Kristen Timothy Papers, finds itself in good company with other Mudd collections documenting individuals who have had profound influence in the United Nations, including the papers of Margaret Snyder, Regional Advisor of the

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Henry R. Labouisse, Director of UNRWA and Executive Director of UNICEF; David A. Morse, Director-General of the ILO; and many other luminaries.

Timothy organized the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The conference addressed enduring inequalities for women and girls across the world. Timothy was instrumental in outlining the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which were adopted by consensus on 15 September 1995.

Timothy’s records include audio-visual materials (much of which is available online), records regarding the creation of the platform for action, materials created in preparation for and during the conference, and a series of Timothy’s research records on the history of the global women’s movement.

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