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Dean Gooderham Acheson papers

Call Number: MS 1087
Scope and Contents

The Dean 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 to 1953. The papers, which span the period from 1898 to 1989, are especially full for the period after Acheson left public office in 1953 until his death in 1971. Included in the correspondence, speech and lecture files, manuscripts of books and articles, and memoranda, which compose the papers, are examinations of such major topics of U.S. foreign policy as Korea; NATO; post-war relations with the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Germany; tensions in the Middle East; the war in Vietnam; and the U.S. posture towards Rhodesia and South Africa. Evaluations of the Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations figure prominently in the papers, and Acheson's role as a member of the Yale Corporation is thoroughly documented. Major correspondents include personal friends and professional colleagues.

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. Acheson's legal files remain with the firm of Covington & Burling. Many of Acheson's official papers are now in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. Acheson's son, David C. Acheson, donated these private papers to Yale University between 1981 and 1983.

This finding aid was edited slightly in 2003 when being converted to an on-line format.

Conditions Governing Access

Some materials in Box 9, 34, and 68 are restricted pending review by the federal government. Box 70 is restricted to research until January 1, 2038 as established by Yale Corporation regulations.

The entire collection is available on microfilm, with the exception of Box 56 and Box 70 from the main accession and Accessions 1983-M-005, 1986-M-009, 1989-M-044, 1991-M-065, 2003-M-050, 2003-M-075, 2007-M-056, and 2011-M-070. Patrons must use HM 258 instead of the originals.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by Dean Gooderham Acheson has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact

Copyright status for other 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 David C. Acheson, 1981-1988. Gift of Mrs. Joseph Podoloff, 1984. Gift of the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 1991. Gift of Michael Janeway, 2003, 2004. Gift of Covington & Burling, 2003. Gift of Darcy Troy Pollack and Jeffrey Pollack, 2007. Gift of Brian Hughes and Andrew Drabkin, 2011. Gift of Michelle Jacques, 2019.


Arranged in four series and nine additions: I. General Correspondence, 1910-1971. II. Correspondence Concerning Speeches and Writings, 1936-1972. III. Speeches and Writings, 1909-1978. IV. Miscellaneous Files, ca. 1898-1972.

Associated Materials

Dean Acheson's public papers are housed in the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.

42.83 Linear Feet (128 boxes)
Related Names
Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971
Language of Materials