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Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened August 1977
Oral History Interview with
July 26, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: Mr. Wright, perhaps you could start by telling how you got into Government work and your personal background before you went into the Government.
WRIGHT: My background is a rather unusual one because my father went out to the Middle East in 1878 and I was born in Iran. As such I have dual citizenship. I've never used my Iranian citizenship, it's conferred upon me by birth. I grew up in Iran and learned to speak Armenian and Turkish. I was born in Tabriz, which is in
the northwestern part and a Turkish speaking area.
When I came back to America I went to Wooster College and graduated in 1918. Then I took three years of theological work. My father was a missionary and I thought I would need some theological background for work in the field. I went to McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and then back to Iran. I spent 16 years in educational work there, being the principal of several high schools in Tabriz, in Rasht, and in Hamadans (1921-1937).
I came back here after the Iranian Government had nationalized all the schools and there was no purpose in staying in Iran. I decided to take a course in ancient history at Columbia University. I thought I would get my doctorate in ancient history and for the next four years, 1937 through 1941, I was working on
This has a great deal to do with my working in the Government, because I had lived in the Middle East. I was interested in it, especially the religious background. I have studied Islam a great deal, I have studied Arabic, and I wanted to get the whole Jewish point of vi