Dean Gooderham Acheson Papers

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The Dean Gooderham Acheson Papers are a rich source of information on the policies, thoughts, and accomplishments of the secretary of state who guided American foreign policy from 1948-1953. The papers, which span the period 1898-1978, are especially full for the period after Acheson left public office in 1953 until his death in 1971.

Acheson considered these papers to be his private papers, as opposed to the papers he created professionally as a lawyer and publicly as a civil servant. In his private life, Acheson was able to offer a candid view of events during the Cold War without having to temper his words due to political considerations.

Series I, General Correspondence, contains the bulk of Acheson’s correspondence with family and associates, as well as letters from the general public. Most of the correspondence dates after 1933.

Series II, Correspondence Concerning Speeches and Writings is composed of correspondence files concerning arrangements for speaking engagements or publications, letters of public comment, and later requests for republication rights.

Series III, Speeches and Writings, contains speeches, lectures, transcribed interviews, articles, letters to the editor, printed obituary tributes, and the like which are arranged chronologically. The greatest quantity of material in the section is for Present at the Creation, Acheson’s Pulitzer Prize winning memoir of his years in the State Department.

Series IV, Miscellaneous Files, contains memoranda, Acheson’s doodles and rhymes, and other personal memorabilia. The memoranda are particularly interesting. The memoranda contain Acheson’s thoughts on such subjects as Korean prisoners of war, atomic energy, Indochina following the French withdrawal, Joseph McCarthy, Berlin, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Vietnam, and South Africa.

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