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Robert B. Oakley Papers

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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

Oakley, Robert B., 1931-2014

Robert B. Oakley (1931-2014) was a Foreign Service Officer who also held several other prominent positions in the federal government over the span of his nearly forty-year career. Born in Dallas, Texas, Oakley attended Princeton University, graduating in 1952. Oakley began his diplomatic career in 1957. Some of his early assignments included U.S. embassies in Khartoum, Sudan; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Saigon, Vietnam; Paris, France; and Beirut, Lebanon.

Oakley served as Assistant to the President for the Middle East and South Asia on the staff of the National Security Council, first under the Nixon and Ford administrations (1974-1977) and later under President Reagan (1986-1988). He became U.S. Ambassador to Zaire in November 1979 and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia in August 1982. From 1984-1986, he was the director of the State Department's counter-terrorism office. Oakley was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan in August 1988 following the death of the former ambassador, Arnold Lewis Raphel, in a plane crash.

After his retirement from the Foreign Service in September 1991, Oakley was named Special Representative to Somalia for President George H. W. Bush in 1992, where he served with Operation Restore Hope until March 1993. He was again named Special Representative to Somalia by President Bill Clinton in 1993, serving in the position until March 1994. Oakley joined the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in 1995.

Oakley served on the board of the International Rescue Committee and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He and his wife, fellow diplomat Phyllis E. Oakley, had two children.

The collection is mainly composed of various sections of an oral history conducted with Robert Oakley by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST). The topical headings of these sections include, but are not limited to, "Early Life and Career," "Sudan," "Ivory Coast," "Viet Nam," "Paris," "Lebanon," "Coordinator for Counterterrorism," "National Security Council Staff," "National Security Council II," "Zaire," "Pakistan," "Somalia," and "Somalia II." The collection also contains two other oral histories, one conducted by the ADST with Robert Oakley's wife, Phyllis, and the other a joint oral history with Robert and Phyllis Oakley conducted by the journalist Don Oberdorfer.

Also of note are Oakley's speeches, articles, and papers (including drafts) on the topics of U.S. diplomacy and foreign relations, especially as these issues pertain to political instability in Pakistan and the Middle East, U.S. policies on terrorism, humanitarian disasters, and U.S. intervention in Somalia. Phyllis Oakley is the coauthor of two articles present in the collection. A transcript of the Senate hearing for Robert Oakley's nomination as ambassador to Pakistan is also included, as are two DVDs of a PBS Frontline special on the Battle of Mogadishu (also known as Black Hawk Down) that features Robert Oakley, and VHS cassettes of Oakley's television appearances.

Materials remain in their original order as received from the donor.

The collection was donated by Phyllis E. Oakley in September 2015. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2015.032.

An additional donation of VHS cassettes was incorporated to the collection in 2022. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2020.04.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Rachel Van Unen in 2015 at the time of accessioning. All materials were described in a collection-level finding aid, but no physical processing or rearrangement was done at this time.

Additional description was added by Will Clements in 2022.

No materials were separated from this collection.

Publisher
Public Policy Papers
Finding Aid Date
2015
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to The Trustees of Princeton University and researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of donor-created materials within the collection. For materials in the collection not created by the donor, or where the material is not an original, the copyright is likely not held by the University. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Collection Inventory

Physical Description

7 folders

Oakley - Oral History, dates not examined. 3 folders.
Physical Description

3 folders

Ambassador Phyllis Oakley - Foreign Affairs Oral History Interview, 2000. 1 item.
Physical Description

1 item

Foreign Service as a Vocation: Oral History Interview with Robert and Phyllis Oakley, 2000. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Somali Papers, circa 1993-2000. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

RBO Articles, circa 1986-2014. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

2 folders

Robert Oakley Nomination Hearing - Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1988 September 16. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Speeches and Presentations, circa 1994-2008. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Frontline: Mainly on Rangers in Black Hawk Down Commentary by RBO, circa 1994. 1 digital files.
Physical Description

1 digital files

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Frontline: Somalia, Good Intentions, Deadly Results, circa 1994. 1 digital files.
Physical Description

1 digital files

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
VHS tapes of speeches and television appearances, circa 1989-1998. 15 items.
Physical Description

15 items

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