Skip to main content

William Hepburn Buckler papers

Call Number: MS 654

Scope and Contents

The Buckler collection, given to the Yale University Library by Mrs. V. H. Seymer in 1957 and 1958, comprises the personal papers of her father William Hepburn Buckler (1867-1952) - diplomat and archaeologist, son of Dr. Thomas Hepburn Buckler, and half-brother of Henry White (United States Ambassador to Italy and France, 1907-1909, and a member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace in Paris in 1918-1919). The collection spans the period 1909-1937, with the bulk of the material falling within the years 1910-1930.

Buckler was born in Paris and spent most of his early years in England and France. As a youth he was educated by private tutors at home; subsequently he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1892 Buckler married Georgina Grenfell Walrond (later a distinguished Byzantine scholar), and for the next thirteen years the couple lived primarily in Baltimore, where Buckler practiced law and took a serious interest in the civic affairs of the city. In 1906, almost as a lark, Buckler passed the newly-established entrance examinations for the Foreign Service in the Department of State; and although today Buckler is chiefly remembered as an archaeologist of some note¹his earlier, diplomatic career appears to have been just as interesting.² Indeed it seems likely that, had it not been for Buckler's disillusionment with the postwar peace settlement, the Foreign Service would have remained his principal professional occupation.

Buckler first served as Secretary at the American Legation in Madrid (1907-1909). Then, after participating in the American-sponsored archaeological expeditions to Sardis (1910-1914) and doing volunteer work with the ambulance corps in France during the first months of the World War, he was appointed Special Agent at the United States Embassy in London (December 1914), where he remained posted for the duration of the conflict.

While living in London Buckler acted ostensibly as "director" of the embassy's "Austro-Hungarian division" and - later - as its resident "expert" on Balkan and Turkish affairs; but his principal role was that of a confidential reporter having direct lines of communication with Colonel E. M. House and the White House. As Buckler himself noted shortly before his death, his wartime reports from England, "transmitted to Colonel House, and by him to President Wilson, aimed at giving the views of the Liberal and Labour M. P.'s and Press which the Ambassador [W. H. Page] and the overworked Counsellor and Secretaries could not supply. Ramsay MacDonald and many others who were never seen at the Embassy were thus enabled to keep in touch with Washington. [Buckler's] ability to avoid censorship by means of the Embassy pouch gave [him] facile contact with [Colonel] House, and with [his] half-brother Henry White."

After the Armistice, and for the better part of 1919, Buckler served in various capacities as a special staff member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace. He was thus involved in many of the debates and discussions amongst American and Allied "experts" over questions pertaining to Russia, the Balkans, and the Near East. Buckler retired from the Foreign Service in 1920 and established his permanent residence at Oxford; from that time on he devoted his energies almost exclusively to archaeological matters.

For the student of political and diplomatic history the most interesting sections of the Buckler collection are to be found in the files of the Buckler-House correspondence (Series I), covering the period August 1916-August 1918. But one should not overlook Buckler's letters written from the Paris Peace Conference, some of which were addressed to his family, others to Colonel House with whom he had continued to correspond throughout this period. With regard to the peace conference special mention must also be made of Buckler's notes on his meetings with Maxim Litvinoff at Stockholm (mid-January 1919) which laid the groundwork for the ill-fated Prinkipo conference on the Russian question.

Apart from Buckler's correspondence with House, the bulk of the collection contains letters from Buckler addressed to his wife and daughter. These have been divided into five sub-categories: (a) letters written from Madrid (1909); (b) letters written between September and November 1914, when Buckler was working as an orderly in a military hospital in France; (c) letters describing Buckler's continental tour with Samuel Gompers (1918), and mission to Stockholm (1919); (d) general correspondence of the Peace Conference period; and (e) correspondence describing in detail the excavations which took place at Sardis (1910-1914) and Anatolia (1922-1930).

¹ See the memorial notice on Buckler by W. M. Calder in The Proceedings of the British Academy, XL(1954).

² It is reviewed, all too briefly, by W. C. Dunning in his (unpublished) M. A. thesis submitted to George Washington University in 1957.


  • 1907-1937


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. V. H. Seymer in 1957-1958.


Arranged in four series: I. General Correspondence. II. Miscellaneous Political Reports. III. The Peace Conference: Miscellaneous Papers. IV. Miscellaneous Printed Materials.


2 Linear Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, political reports, papers relating to the Paris Peace Conference, and printed materials of William H. Buckler, diplomat and archaeologist. The bulk of the papers relate to Buckler's work as a member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace in Paris, 1918-1919, although there is material relating to his other diplomatic duties as well as his work as an archaeologist, especially the excavations at Sardis (1910-1914) and Anatolia (1922-1930)

Biographical / Historical

William H. Buckler practiced law in Baltimore, Maryland from 1892-1905. He was Secretary to the American Legation in Madrid from 1907-1909. From 1910-1914 Buckler participated in the excavations at Sardis. He was a Special Agent at the U.S. Embassy in London from 1914-1918, and in 1919 served as a staff member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace. Buckler was active in the field of archaeology from 1920-1930.

Guide to the William Hepburn Buckler Papers
Under Revision
compiled by N. X. Rizopoulos, with the assistance of Anne Willard
March 1973
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours