Allen W. Dulles Papers
Held at: Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers. 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
Allen W. Dulles (1893-1969), though a diplomat and lawyer, was renowned for his role in shaping United States intelligence operations, including the longest service as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Born in Watertown, New York, and a Princeton University graduate (BA, Class of 1914; MA 1916), Dulles was the nephew of Robert Lansing, Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State, and attended the peace negotiations to end the First World War as a member of the American Commission. During his stint in the diplomatic corps, he served in Vienna (1916), Berne (1917), Berlin (1919) and Constantinople (1920) before becoming Division Chief for Near Eastern Affairs (1922). While serving in Washington, D.C., Dulles studied law at night at George Washington University. In 1925, he served as an American delegate to the International Conference on Arms Traffic in Geneva. After earning his LL.D in 1926, Dulles joined the Wall Street law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, where his brother John Foster was a managing partner. But Dulles did not practice law so much as utilize his knowledge of government processes and officials to assist the firm's corporate clients conduct business. (In fact, Dulles would not pass the bar until 1928.) However, diplomacy would always be Dulles's primary interest and in 1927, he spent six months in Geneva as legal adviser to the Naval Armament Conference.
In New York, Dulles joined the Council on Foreign Relations, eventually was named a director and enjoyed the friendship of fellow Princetonian Hamilton Fish Armstrong '16, the editor of the Council's journal, Foreign Affairs. Together they authored two books ( Can We Be Neutral? (1936) and Can America Stay Neutral? (1939)). He also continued to serve the United States government in diplomatic capacities, including representing the United States at a League of Nations arms conference in 1932-1933.
During the Second World War, Dulles took a step that changed his life and ultimately American history. He joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the intelligence service, serving as chief of the Bern, Switzerland office. From there he established himself as a highly successful intelligence gatherer and operator, penetrating the German Foreign Ministry Office as well as the "July 1944" anti-Hitler conspirators. He also played a role in the events that led to the surrender of the German Army in northern Italy.
In 1948, Dulles's reputation led to his being named chairman of an intelligence review committee that faulted the organization of the then fledgling Central Intelligence Agency. In 1950, he was named Deputy Director of Plans of the CIA, the covert operations arm of the agency; in 1951 he became the number two person in the organization. After Eisenhower's election in Nov 1952, Dulles was appointed to the CIA's directorship. His brother, John Foster Dulles, served as Eisenhower's Secretary of State, and the two men would work closely during their joint service.
The CIA under Dulles's leadership established the dual policy of collecting intelligence through a wide variety of means, as well as taking direct action against perceived threats. In the former category fell such notable achievements as the U-2 spy plane program, the cooptation of Soviet Lieutenant General Pyotr Popov, and the tapping of a sensitive East Berlin phone junction by tunneling under the Berlin Wall.
The CIA's efforts in the area of direct action during Dulles tenure were notable for both their successes and failures. CIA operatives orchestrated the overthrow of the government of Iran in 1953 and Jacob Arbenz's regime in Guatemala in 1954. However, efforts to oust Castro from Cuba following his rise to power consisted of a serious of failures culminating in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. Though John F. Kennedy had asked Dulles to remain at CIA, after the invasion and the political fallout, Dulles, already past retirement age, resigned.
In retirement, Allen Dulles wrote books (including two autobiographical works) about his career in intelligence and appeared on numerous television programs to discuss foreign policy. He was called to public service once again, in 1963, when he was named to the Warren Commission. His connection to the CIA and its activities in Cuba would fuel later speculation about possible government complicity in Kennedy's assassination.
Dulles married Martha Clover Todd (known as Clover) of Baltimore, Maryland in 1920. She died in 1974. They had three children, Clover Todd (known as Toddy), Joan, and Allen Macy. Dulles's son sustained a near-fatal head wound while serving with the Marines in Korea, relegating him to supervised care for life.
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 where he established his reputation as an intelligence operative with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The collection is useful for understanding the role of both a private citizen and public servant's role in the shaping of United States foreign policy. Dulles's early career as a diplomat, his long association with the Council on Foreign Relations, his work at the international law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, and his career in American intelligence are documented within this collection. However, those seeking information contemporaneous to his tenure at the helm of the CIA will be disappointed as CIA officials screened the collection before its transfer to Princeton.
FOR DIGITIZED CONTENT: Series 1: Correspondence and Series 4: Warren Commission Files have been digitized and may be viewed or downloaded through this finding aid. To view materials, navigate to the specific folder title, rather than the series.
The papers of Allen W. Dulles were donated by Mrs. Clover Todd Dulles in 1973 with additional papers provided by Mrs. Joan Buresch in 1974 and 2008, and by Mrs. Clover Jebsen in 1974.
The Allen W. Dulles Digital Files are described in a separate finding aid: Allen W. Dulles Papers: Digital Files Series
Access to audiovisual material follows the Mudd Manuscript Library policy for preservation and access to audiovisual materials.
This collection was processed by Susan J. Illis, Daniel Linke, Kristine Marconi, and Thomas Rosko assisted by Carl Esche, Christine Kitto, Terun Weed, Christina Aragon, Jake Bartalone, Grace Chen, Victoria Coleman, Natasha Ermolaev, Sue Jean Kim, Cei Maslen, James McGillivray, Wendy Phillips, Stan Ruda, Patrick Shorb, Isabel Tremblay, and Elizabeth Williamson. Finding aid written by Susan J. Illis, Daniel Linke, Kristine Marconi, and Thomas Rosko.
No appraisal information is available.
- Armstrong, Hamilton Fish, 1893-1973
- Dewey, Thomas E. (Thomas Edmund), 1902-1971
- Donovan, William J. (William Joseph), 1883-1959
- Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969
- Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.
- Gaevernitz, Gero von
- Gibson, Hugh, 1883-1954
- Grew, Joseph C. (Joseph Clark), 1880-1965
- Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945.
- Hughes, John C.
- Kennedy, John F. John Fitzgerald 1917-1963
- Lansing, Robert, 1864-1928
- Wilson, Hugh
- Wolff, Karl, 1900-1984
- Council on foreign relations
- Woodrow Wilson Foundation
- United States. American Commission to Negotiate Peace
- United States. Central Intelligence Agency
- United States. Foreign Service
- United States. Office of Strategic Services
- United States. Warren Commission
- Sullivan & Cromwell (Firm)
- Princeton University. Class of 1914.
- Anti-Nazi movement -- Germany
- Communist strategy
- Diplomats -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Espionage -- United States -- 20th century
- Intelligence Service -- United States -- 20th century
- Lawyers -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Nuclear weapons and disarmament
- Spies -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence
- Spies -- United States -- 20th century -- Manuscripts
- Spy stories, American -- 20th century
- World War, 1914 - 1918 -- Underground movements -- Germany
- World War, 1939 - 1945 -- Secret service -- United States
- Neutrality -- United States -- 20th century
- Cuba -- History -- Invasion, 1961.
- Czechoslovakia -- History -- 1918 - 1938.
- United States -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union -- 20th century.
- United States -- Foreign relations -- 20th century.
- Public Policy Papers
- Finding Aid Author
- Susan J. Illis; Daniel Linke; Kristine Marconi; Thomas Rosko
- Finding Aid Date
- Processed with the generous support of Alexandra Buresch, Joan Dulles Buresch-Talley, Matthew Buresch, Allen Macy Dulles, Clover Jebsen Afokpa, Allen Dulles Jebsen, Joana Jebsen, Per H. and Margaret E. Jebsen and the assistance of the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1891-1969, is arranged alphabetically by last name of the correspondent and then chronologically within each folder. The correspondence documents Dulles's professional and personal activities from his early years with the State Department until his death in 1969. Correspondence between Dulles and other young foreign service officers in the late 1910s and early 1920s is a particularly rich resource for documenting this period. These letters, generally handwritten, are quite candid summaries of events in the countries where Dulles and his acquaintances were stationed. Dulles's involvement in the post-World War I apportionment of territory in Eastern Europe, particularly the territories of Czechoslovakia, is also well-documented. Dulles kept in close contact with others who participated in the peace- making process in France.
Although his activities with the OSS during World War II are not particularly well-documented by contemporary correspondence, his discussion of past activities with the contacts he established at the time provide some insight. Correspondence with Gero von Gaevernitz, William Donovan, Mary Bancroft, and others illuminates not only their wartime activities but the sense of responsibility and kinship that Dulles maintained with these colleagues.
Dulles's participation in activities and clubs, particularly the Council on Foreign Relations, is also well-documented. Despite his absence from New York from 1951 onward, he maintained his association with the Council and his close personal relationship with Hamilton Fish Armstrong. His devotion to Princeton University, his alma mater, is evidenced through his service on the Board of Trustees, Board of Trustees for the Woodrow Wilson School, and fund- raising activities for the John Foster Dulles oral history program. Dulles also assisted University librarians in soliciting the donation of the Bernard Baruch Papers.
While Dulles's official correspondence from his tenure with the CIA is not in this collection, his personal correspondence with CIA colleagues and acquaintances seeking employment with the CIA is included here. Also included is Dulles's correspondence with his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and sister, Eleanor Lansing Dulles, who also worked in the State Department. There is a considerable amount of correspondence from friends, acquaintances, and the general public concerning John Foster Dulles's battle with cancer and his death in May 1959. In addition to assisting those interested in careers in intelligence and foreign affairs, Dulles also maintained close relations with his daughters, nieces, and nephew, particularly David Dulles, son of Eleanor Lansing Dulles. Particularly poignant is correspondence concerning his son Allen Macy Dulles, who was wounded in Korea in 1952. Dulles maintained a brave, optimistic facade and clearly hoped for his son's full recovery.
Much of the correspondence is social in nature, documenting the Dulles' engagements in Washington, D. C., as well as their travels in the U. S. and Europe, visiting friends. However, significant correspondents include Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Mary Bancroft, David Bruce, William Donovan, Gero von Gaevernitz, Richard Nixon, and CIA officials John McCloy, John McCone, and Richard Bissell. Dulles exchanged correspondence with family members especially Edith Foster Dulles, Eleanor Lansing Dulles, John Foster Dulles, Joan Dulles Buresch, Clover Todd Dulles, and Clover Todd Jebsen.
(arranged alphabetically by correspondent's name)Physical Description