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James E. Baker papers


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

James Estes Baker graduated from Haverford College in 1956, and in 1960 began a 35 tenure as a Foreign Service officer, which included his appointment as the first Black diplomat to serve in South Africa during apartheid. He was born in the small town of Suffolk, Virginia in 1935. Upon completing his Haverford education in 1956, he went on to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and graduated the following year. He joined the U.S. diplomatic corps in 1960, and served in a variety of roles, including positions with the UN, until his retirement in 1995. After retiring from the Foreign Service he taught diplomacy, crisis intervention and emergency relief as an adjunct professor at Southampton College.

During his early career as a U.S. diplomat, James Barker held positions in Japan and several African countries, including South Africa. As the first Black diplomat appointed to Pretoria during apartheid, he received significant media attention in the both the United States and South Africa. After serving as an economics specialist at the Pretoria embassy from 1973 to 1975, he left South Africa to begin work for the United States Mission to the United Nations. In 1980, he began work in the U.N. office of the inspector general and subsequently worked in economic development. During his final years at the U.N., he directed emergency relief programs, primarily in Angola, Somalia, and other African nations. In 1995, he retired from the Foreign Service and became an adjunct professor at Southampton College, teaching diplomacy, crisis intervention, and emergency relief. He died of lung disease in New York on April 15, 2001, at the age of 66; he was survived by his partner, John Hawkins '56.

This collection contains documents about James E. Baker, the first Black diplomat to South Africa during apartheid. Inlcuded in this collection are biographical materials about Baker, periodicals with articles about his diplomatic assignments, reports and correspondence, photographs, and a scrapbook of articles about him. The bulk of the materials are dated from 1972 to 1973, when he started in South Africa.

This collection is arranged in four folders and one volume: biographical materials, periodicals, reports/articles/correspondence, photographs, and a scrapbook.

Processed by Madison Arnold-Scerbo; completed July, 2018.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Phillip Norman
Finding Aid Date
October, 2018
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Collection Inventory

Biographical materials, 2001-2011.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Contains obituaries for James Baker, and a letter and print outs about the art that he donated to Haverford College.

Correspondence, 1973.
Box 1
Periodicals, 1973-1979.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Contains issue of "Worldview" magazine from October 1979, brochure for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1979, issue of Africa Report magazine from 1976, newspaper articles about James Baker, and an invitation to an art exhibition in South Africa in 1974.

Reports, 1976-1979.
Box 1
Photographs, undated.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Four photographs. Two copies of a group posed in an office setting, one candid of a group standing around in an office setting, and one of two men sitting outside at a table.

Scrapbook, 1972-1973.
Volume 1

Print, Suggest