Dean G. Acheson Papers

Dates: 1928-1972

Assistant Secretary of State, 1941-1945; Under Secretary of State, 1945-1947; Secretary of State, 1949-1953.

The papers of Dean Acheson consist of correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed materials and speeches primarily relating to Dean Acheson’s career in the Department of State, particularly as Secretary of State from 1949 to 1953, and his subsequent activities as an author and foreign policy advisor.

Search the Dean Acheson Memoranda of Conversations database

See also Dean Acheson oral history.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 71 linear feet, 9 linear inches (about 143,000 pages).
Access: Open, with the exception of a few documents that are closed in whole or in part for reasons of national security.
Copyright: Dean Acheson has donated to the U.S. government his copyright interest in all unpublished writings in this collection. Documents created by U.S. government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents presumably belongs to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Dennis E. Bilger and Erwin J. Mueller (1973, 1976); David Clark, Tammy Kelly, and Randy Sowell (2006).

The creation of this online resource was made possible in part by funding from the William T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee.


[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1893 (April 11)

 

Born, Middletown, Connecticut

1915

 

A.B. from Yale

1918

 

LL. B. from Harvard University

1919-1921

 

Private Secretary to Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

1921-1933

 

Worked at law firm of Covington, Burling, and Rublee

1933 (May 19)

 

Appointed Undersecretary of the Treasury

1933 (November 15)

 

Resigned as Undersecretary of the Treasury

1934-1941

 

Member of law firm of Covington, Burling, Rublee, Acheson, and Shorb

1941-1945

 

Assistant Secretary of State

1945-1947

 

Undersecretary of State

1947-1949

 

Private legal practice at Covington and Burling

1949-1953

 

Secretary of State

1953-1970

 

Worked at law firm of Covington and Burling

1969

 

Published

Present at the Creation

1971 (October 12)

 

Died at his Maryland estate, Harewood

     
[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Dean Acheson consist mostly of correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed materials and speeches relating to Dean Acheson’s career in the Department of State, particularly as Secretary of State from 1949 to 1953. The collection also documents Acheson’s activities as an author and expert in the field of foreign policy after 1953.

The collection is arranged in eleven series. The first series, the Political and Governmental File, contains documents relating to Acheson’s work with several committees and organizations including the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, Atlantic Council, Attorney General’s Committee, Committee on Administrative Procedures, Citizen’s Committee to Safeguard America, Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defense Policy, Committee for the Marshall Plan, and the Harry S. Truman Library, Inc. The series includes documents pertaining to the Marshall Plan, national defense, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile system, as well as correspondence from Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, and Hubert Humphrey.

The Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government File consists of correspondence, handwritten notes, meeting minutes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed materials, press releases, and reports pertaining to Acheson’s work on the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, commonly known as the Hoover Commission. The documents relate to the Committee on Independent Regulatory Commissions, Federal Medical Services, the Federal Supply Project, foreign affairs, government lending, the Housing and Home Finance Agency, Indian affairs, the National Security Organization, natural resources, the Office of the President, the Personnel Policy Committee, the Post Office, transportation, and veterans affairs.

The Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary of State File contains correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, and reports relating to Acheson’s work as the Assistant Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State. The documents relate to the Carnegie Corporation, the Lend-Lease and Neutrality Act, the Berlin Crisis, the United Nations, and Palestine.

The Secretary of State File is comprised of twelve subseries. The Alphabetical File subseries contains correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, photographs, and press releases pertaining to Acheson’s duties as Secretary of State. The documents are mostly from people sending their opinions and newspaper clippings to Acheson. The letters also express support for Acheson and his policies as well as encouraging him not to resign under pressure. Some notable correspondents include John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Cordell Hull, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Jackson, Helen Keller, George Kennan, Trygve Lie, John McCloy, George Marshall, Henry Morgenthau, Edward R. Murrow, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Drew Pearson, Claude Pepper, Sam Rayburn, Nelson Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller III, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith, Francis Cardinal Spellman, Adlai Stevenson, Henry Stimson, and Chaim Weizmann. Topics discussed in the documents include Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners, Jewish organizations, IBM, labor unions, the NAACP, the National War College, and Roosevelt Day dinners.

The Appointment Books File subseries contains appointment schedules kept by Acheson’s secretary, Barbara Evans. The schedules appear to have been kept after the fact with information about who he saw rather than who Acheson was scheduled to see. Also included is correspondence between Acheson and Harold Stein regarding a book by Martin Lichterman titled To the Yalu and Back.

The General Correspondence File subseries consists of correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, newspaper clippings, memoranda, photographs, press releases, and speeches relating to requests for autographs, photographs, appointments and speaking engagements; gifts received by Acheson; and commendations on his appointment as Secretary of State and resignation as Secretary of State. Also included is a letter signed by President Truman that accompanied Acheson’s Medal for Merit.

The Public Opinion File subseries contains letters, telegrams, postcards, correspondence, newspaper clippings, memoranda and press releases relating mostly to Acheson’s statement in support of Alger Hiss. The correspondence is evenly split between pro and con; most of the correspondents did not receive a reply. The Personal Correspondence File subseries consists of correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, photographs, and press releases pertaining to Alger Hiss, John Moullette, commendations, complaints and gifts. The Subject File subseries contains correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, memoranda, minutes of meetings, newspaper clippings, press releases, printed materials and reports relating to Korea, England, Winston Churchill, the Lewis Douglas resignation, Douglas MacArthur, Myron Taylor and the Vatican.

The Memoranda of Conversations File subseries documents the discussions at many of the official meetings attended by Acheson during his service as Secretary of State. Such memorandums were customarily prepared for administrative purposes and for the historical record in connection with meetings and conferences attended by Department of State officials, including meetings between Department of State officials and officials of other Government agencies and between Department of State officials and officials of foreign governments, as well as meetings with private groups. Generally prepared by a Department of State official who had attended the meetings, they are summaries rather than transcripts of the proceedings. Many of these memorandums are reproduced in the Department of State's published Foreign Relations of the United States series. Notable participants include Konrad Adenauer, Lucius D. Battle, Ernest Bevin, Henri Bonnet, Omar Bradley, David K.E. Bruce, Winston Churchill, John Foster Dulles, Anthony Eden, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sir Oliver Franks, W. Averell Harriman, Philip C. Jessup, Louis Johnson, George F. Kennan, Robert A. Lovett, Douglas MacArthur, George C. Marshall, Paudet Jawaharlal Nehru, Dean Rusk, and Robert Schuman.

Topics within the memoranda include Arab states, atomic energy, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, communism, Tom Connally, Council of Foreign Ministers, Department of Defense, Economic Cooperation Administration, Egypt, European Defense Community, Export-Import Bank, Far Eastern Policy, Formosa, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Korea, Korean War, Mexico, Middle East, National Security Council, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Pakistan, the Philippines, Point IV program, Spain, Department of State, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), United Nations, and Yugoslavia. This subseries has been completely digitized and can now be searched and browsed.

The Press Conferences File subseries consists of memoranda, press releases, handwritten notes, and transcripts related to press conferences by Acheson or Under Secretaries Robert Lovett or James Webb. Topics include NATO, Korea, Russia, China, Israel, Point IV, the Austrian Treaty, the Hoover Commission, the UN, the Council of Foreign Ministers, Germany, Yugoslavia and other Eastern Bloc countries, the ECA and Greece. The Classified Speeches File subseries contains speeches by Acheson related to foreign policy and international relations.

The Speeches-Reading Copies File subseries contains handwritten notes, memoranda, and press releases pertaining to Acheson’s speeches about foreign policy, the Marshall Plan, NATO, and the UN. Also, the subseries includes Acheson’s testimony before Congress requesting funds. The Speeches and Statements-Drafts File subseries consists of handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, and press releases related to Acheson’s speeches on NATO, the United Nations, education, Europe, the Japanese peace treaty, the Korean War, and Spain.

The Topic Index Cards Re State Department Documents File subseries contains index cards related to specific topics that contain abstracts or summaries of long, complex documents. The cards were used to remind participating officials of the policy considerations involved in their decisions and to furnish a guide to the relevant documentation. The topics include China, East-West trade, Egypt, Iran, Korea, the Middle East Defense Organization, Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, the USSR and Containment.

The Princeton Seminars File mostly consists of transcripts of a series of seminars held at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey from July 1953 to May 1954, under the direction of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Participants in the seminars included Acheson, Averell Harriman, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, and other ex-officials from the Truman administration, along with prominent scholars such as Oppenheimer and McGeorge Bundy. The series also contains correspondence from people wanting to use the seminar transcripts for research projects and dissertations. The topics discussed include the Economic Cooperation Administration, the Hoover Commission, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Japanese Peace Treaty, oil, NATO, the United Nations, Point IV, the 1949 Conference of Foreign Ministers, the National Security Council, the Military Assistance Program, the Schuman Plan, the European Defense Community, Austria, Formosa, Germany, China, Portugal, France, Iran, England, French Indochina, Egypt, Korea, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George C. Marshall, James F. Byrnes, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, and Douglas MacArthur.

The Post-Administration File consists of three subseries. The State Department and White House Advisor File subseries contains correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, and reports related to Acheson’s role as an advisor to the White House and State Department. The topics include NATO, Berlin, Portugal, the Cuban Missile Crisis, France, Greece, Cyprus, Europe, foreign aid, Vietnam, and the United Nations. Correspondents include McGeorge Bundy, George Ball, Dean Rusk, and Walt Rostow.

The Miscellaneous Materials re Charges Made Against Dean Acheson and Others in the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman Administrations File subseries contains correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed materials and transcripts pertaining to Alger Hiss, the hydrogen bomb, the Panama Canal zone, charges of graft against Acheson, Korean POWs, Joseph McCarthy, alleged Communist infiltration of the Army, and Douglas MacArthur. The Comments Requested on Foreign Policy Matters File subseries consists of correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, and newspaper clippings regarding requests for Acheson to comment on foreign policy topics including NATO, the recognition of China, the ECA, rearming Germany, and Russia. Correspondents include Lyndon Johnson, Walter Millis and Henry Jackson.

The Democratic Party File consists of foreign policy pamphlets commissioned by the Democratic Party, press releases from the Democratic Advisory Council related to the pamphlets, galley proofs, and newspaper clippings regarding Acheson’s involvement in the Council. Also included are notes and newspaper clippings pertaining to topics for pamphlets that were never published, requests for pamphlets, press releases from the Council complaining about the Eisenhower Administration, and invitations to Acheson requesting him to serve on committees. The series also contains correspondence with Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson regarding foreign policy issues, presidential campaign platforms, Korea, Israel and civil rights.

The Publications File consists of three subseries and makes up more than a third of the collection. The Books File subseries contains handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, speeches, printed materials, drafts, and galley proofs relating to books by Acheson including A Democrat Looks at His Party, A Citizen Looks at Congress, Morning and Noon, Sketches From Life, Present at the Creation, Fragments of My Fleece, Grapes From Thorns, Korea, and Struggle for a Free Europe.

The Speeches and Articles File subseries consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings, and press releases pertaining to published speeches and articles by Acheson. The topics include post-war foreign conditions, the Marshall Plan, foreign policy, NATO, Cuba, Greece, Rhodesia, Germany and the Soviet Union. The Drafts of Speeches and Articles File subseries contains correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, and newspaper clippings pertaining to drafts of speeches and articles by Acheson. This subseries includes drafts of speeches written for Harry S. Truman, Stuart Symington, Adlai Stevenson and others, mostly relating to general foreign policy topics. A majority of Acheson’s speeches and articles were pertaining to foreign policy, Democratic Party politics, U.S. military strategy, Presidential illness and discharge of duties, communism, conferences, nuclear weapons, NATO, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Rhodesia, Berlin, China and tributes to Winston Churchill, George Marshall and Harry S. Truman.

The Newspaper Clipping File consists of newspaper clippings relating to Acheson’s work in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, including his service as Secretary of State. The Acheson-Truman Correspondence File contains correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings and press releases relating to the association between Acheson and Truman. The topics include the assassination attempt on Truman’s life, Russia, the death of Stalin, Iran, the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, the Truman Library, Democratic Party politics, elections, foreign policy, civil rights, Berlin, and Korea. The General File consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, transcripts and telegrams from Acheson’s friends and associates relating to events in Acheson’s life. The events include Acheson’s nomination as Undersecretary of State, Assistant Secretary of State and Secretary of State. Also included are verbatim minutes of the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference and a condolence book from the Department of State upon the death of Dean Acheson.

Correspondence with or concerning Dean Acheson can be found in other manuscript collections at the Truman Library, most notably in the papers of Harry S. Truman, Lucius D. Battle, and James E. Webb. Another large collection of Acheson papers is located at the Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

Series Descriptions

Container Nos. Series Description
001-009 POLITICAL AND GOVERNMENTAL FILE, 1933-1971

Correspondence, charts, graphs, cables, drafts of legislation, handwritten notes, itineraries, schedules, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, printed materials, reports and speeches relating to Acheson’s political and government activities. Arranged alphabetically.

010-026 COMMISSION ON ORGANIZATION OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT FILE, 1947-1953

Correspondence, handwritten notes, meeting minutes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed materials, press releases, and reports pertaining to Acheson’s work on the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government. Arranged alphabetically.

027-028 ASSISTANT SECRETARY AND UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FILE, 1941-1949

Correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, and reports relating to Acheson’s work as the Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary of State. Arranged alphabetically.

029-077 SECRETARY OF STATE FILE, 1945-1972

Twelve subseries:

         029-045 Alphabetical File, 1949-1953

Correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, photographs, and press releases pertaining to Acheson’s work as the Secretary of State. Arranged alphabetically.

         046-047 Appointment Books File, 1949-1957

Appointment calendars, correspondence and handwritten notes relating to Acheson’s appointments while Secretary of State. Arranged chronologically.

         048-059 General Correspondence File, 1945-1953

Correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, newspaper clippings, memoranda, photographs, press releases, and speeches relating to requests, commendations, appointments and speeches. Arranged alphabetically.

         059-062 Public Opinion File, 1945-1953

Letters, telegrams, postcards, correspondence, newspaper clippings, memoranda and press releases relating mostly to Acheson’s statement in support of Alger Hiss. Arranged alphabetically.

         063 Personal Correspondence File, 1949-1952

Correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, photographs, and press releases pertaining to Alger Hiss, John Moullette, commendations, complaints and gifts. Arranged alphabetically.

         064 Subject File, 1947-1972

Correspondence, cables, handwritten notes, memoranda, minutes of meetings, newspaper clippings, press releases, printed materials and reports relating to Korea, Douglas MacArthur, Myron Taylor and the Vatican. Arranged alphabetically.

         065-071 Memoranda of Conversations File, 1949-1953

Correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, and press releases that document the discussions of many of the official meetings attended by Acheson during his service as Secretary of State. This subseries has been completely digitized and can now be searched and browsed. Arranged chronologically.

         072-073 Press Conferences File, 1949-1953

Memoranda, press releases, handwritten notes, and press conference transcripts related to press conferences held by Acheson and others. Arranged chronologically.

         073-074 Classified Speeches File, 1947-1952

Speeches by Acheson related to foreign policy and international relations. Arranged chronologically.

         074-076 Speeches - Reading Copies File, 1949-1952

Handwritten notes, memoranda, press releases and speeches pertaining to Acheson’s work as Secretary of State. Arranged chronologically.

         076-077 Speeches and Statements - Drafts File, 1949-1952

Handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, and press releases related to Acheson’s speeches. Arranged chronologically.

         077 Topic Index Cards Re State Department Documents File, 1949-1953

Index cards related to specific topics that contains abstracts or summaries of long, complex documents. Arranged alphabetically.

078-081 PRINCETON SEMINARS FILE, 1953-1970

Correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda and transcripts related to seminars of foreign policy decision makers from the Truman Administration. Arranged chronologically.

082-088 POST-ADMINISTRATION FILE, 1945-1971

Three Subseries:

         082-085 State Department and White House Advisor File, 1960-1968

Correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, and reports related to Acheson’s role as an advisor to the White House and State Department. Arranged chronologically.

         086 Miscellaneous Materials re Charges Made Against Dean Acheson and Others in the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman Administrations File, 1945-1955

Correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed materials and transcripts pertaining to Alger Hiss, Korean POWs, Joseph McCarthy, Communists, and Douglas MacArthur. Arranged alphabetically.

         087-088 Comments Requested on Foreign Policy Matters File, 1953-1971

Correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, and newspaper clippings regarding request for Acheson to comment on foreign policy. Arranged chronologically.

089-093 DEMOCRATIC PARTY FILE, 1928-1968

Agenda, correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, press releases, printed materials and reports pertaining to the Democratic Party. Arranged alphabetically.

094-152 PUBLICATIONS FILE, 1936-1971

Three Subseries:

         094-133