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Henry A. Kissinger papers, part II

Call Number: MS 1981

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of correspondence, memoranda, writings, speeches, photographs and other material that document the career of the diplomat, author and foreign policy expert and scholar Henry A. Kissinger, who served as United States secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 and as assistant to the president for national security affairs (national security advisor) from 1969 to 1975. These papers constitute Part II of a three part collection of Kissinger's personal papers. The Part II papers primarily document his career before and after he worked in government, as a professor at Harvard University and later as an influential author and commentator on international affairs and consultant. The Part II papers also contain material relevant to his years in office.

There are three major collections (Parts I-III) of Kissinger’s personal papers at the Yale University Library and the Library of Congress. Part I, maintained at the Library of Congress, consists of materials primarily documenting his government career and includes copies of records from his government service. Part II, which this finding aid describes, is maintained at both the Library of Congress and Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. Part III, maintained at Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, is comprised of materials mainly documenting Kissinger’s post-government career after 2000.

The papers in Part II document Kissinger’s professional life from his years in college and the United States Army in the 1940s to his post-government career into the 2000s. The Yale University Library and the Library of Congress each holds both paper and digital copies of Part II with identical content (although Yale maintains only digital copies of Series IV-VII). The three Parts of the Henry A. Kissinger papers complement and overlap each other in numerous ways which the finding aids for each Part describe in greater detail. The Provenance section of this finding aid provides more information about the division of the papers into the three Parts.

For documenting Kissinger’s government service, Part II materials are an important supplement to Part I and Part III materials and to the official records of Kissinger’s government service at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Part II contains his personal correspondence as well as subject, trip and speech files from his time in office in Series II. While some of the documents in these files may duplicate those found in Part I and at NARA, others provide additional information about Kissinger’s service in government, especially his transition into government and his contacts with friends, private associates, the media and a broader public. Documents in Series II also provide a wider window into Kissinger’s ordinary day-to-day routine and work process in office through schedules, drafts, logs and materials created by his staff aides. A smaller number of documents, including the memoranda of conversation in Series II, touch upon policymaking, especially the public presentation of policies, but the documents in Part II by themselves tend to provide only a fragmentary picture of the policies they concern. Throughout Part II, memoranda of conversation are often especially informative documents because they are detailed summaries or nearly verbatim accounts written to document a specific conversation.

Beyond his government service, the Part II materials richly document Kissinger’s post-secondary education in the 1940s and 1950s and early career before he entered government in 1969. Most of these materials can be found in Series I. Student files detail his education at the City College of New York, Lafayette College while serving in the Army and Harvard University, primarily through class notes and papers. Army files offer a view of his military training and service in World War II, his role in the military government of Germany during the post-war occupation and his study of military government during the Korean War that he conducted as an Army reservist in 1951.

Kissinger’s academic career as a member of the Harvard University faculty and prolific author on international relations is well-documented through correspondence, trips and speeches files, writings and professional files, including his Harvard University files concerning the Center for International Affairs, the journal Confluence, the Defense Studies Program, the Harvard International Seminar and his teaching. There are also files from his work with the Council on Foreign Relations during the 1950s and 1960s and the writing of his widely-read Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, published in 1957.

Kissinger’s work with Nelson A. Rockefeller is covered extensively in files concerning the Special Studies Project, a sweeping study of United States national policy funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and in files concerning Rockefeller’s service as governor of New York and his campaigns for president in 1964 and 1968. Materials addressing Kissinger’s consulting work with the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson presidential administrations, including his fact-finding trips to Vietnam in 1965 and 1966, can be found among his professional files with additional material in the correspondence files of Series I.

The materials from Kissinger’s early career provide valuable documentation of the development of the new scholarly field of nuclear strategy and security studies that was emerging in the 1950s and 1960s. They also shed light on the transnational Atlantic community of political and academic leaders whose personal and intellectual ties helped to maintain good relations between the United States and Western Europe and sustain the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance during the Cold War. The files concerning his education and early career are also an invaluable source for tracing the development of Kissinger’s early thinking on diplomacy and his rise to influence.

The Part II papers provide extensive documentation of Kissinger’s career after he left office in 1977 into the 2000s, primarily found in Series III. The papers do not include files from his international consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, which he founded in 1982. The papers, however, do provide insight into his dealings with the international business community and foreign governments, primarily through correspondence and a small number of memoranda of conversation. His continued work advising on American foreign policy is documented through correspondence as well as files on his chairmanship of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America from 1983 to 1984.

The papers offer substantial coverage of his work as an author and public commentator on international affairs. There is only a limited record of the publication of his acclaimed and best-selling memoirs and other books published after he left office that includes neither drafts nor drafting notes. However, there is a wide variety of speeches and articles, including drafts for his regular column in Newsweek magazine. In addition, his post-government correspondence provides material on the writing and editorial process for many of his publications including his memoirs and books. A substantial portion of the subject files and some of the correspondence in Series III concern Kissinger’s efforts to explain and clarify the policies he pursued while in office. Additional material on his post-government career can be found in Part III, especially for the period after 2000.

Beyond his career and professional life, Part II is a useful resource on Kissinger’s family and social life. While materials concerning his family are scarce, there is scattered correspondence with family members including his brother, Walter Kissinger, and his father, Louis Kissinger, as well as a large number of family photographs. Kissinger’s friends and social life, including his friendships with many celebrities and his own growing celebrity in the early 1970s, is documented through correspondence and press clippings. There is very little material on Kissinger’s life before he studied at the City College of New York in the early 1940s.


  • 1838 - 2007
  • Majority of material found within 1954 - 2007


Language of Materials

The material is primarily in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to the collection for materials designated as “open with permission,” requires written permission from Henry A. Kissinger or his designated representative until five years after Kissinger’s death. Researchers must use the online access system for the digital version of this collection to submit their requests for permission from Kissinger. The portal to the digital collection provides researchers further instructions for requesting access and permissions, see

The following collection materials are open to research: Writings in Series I; White House, State Department, and Public correspondence and Speeches and public statements in Series II; 1982 heart surgery correspondence and Speeches and writings in Series III; and Series IV-VII.

The entire collection has been digitized. As per repository policy, researchers must use the digital copies instead of the originals.

Conditions Governing Access

Original computer files may not be accessed due to their fragility. Researchers must consult access copies.

Existence and Location of Copies

The entire collection is available in digital form through Yale University Library.

Paper copies of Yale-owned materials are in the Library of Congress collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by Henry A. Kissinger for works he has authored and provided during his lifetime to the Yale University Library. After the lifetime of Dr. Kissinger, all intellectual property rights, including without limitation all copyrights, in and to the works authored by Dr. Kissinger pass to Yale University, with the exception of all intellectual property rights, including without limitation all copyrights, motion picture and/or audio rights in and to his books, interviews and any films that will be retained by Dr. Kissinger’s heirs and assigns. Copyright status for collection materials other than those authored by Dr. Kissinger is unknown.

Except for the limited purposes allowed by the Yale University Library Guide to Using Special Collections, exploitation, including without limitation the reproduction, distribution, adaption, or display of Dr. Kissinger’s works protected by the U.S. Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. §101 et seq.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain shall not be commercially exploited without permission of Dr. Kissinger, the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Henry A. Kissinger, 2011.


The papers are arranged in seven series: I. Early Career and Harvard University, 1922-2006. II. Government Service, 1943-2007. III. Post-Government Career, 1838-2007. IV. Cartoons, 1969-1978. V. Photographs, 1906-2002. VI. Press Clippings, 1955-2001. VII. Moving Images and Sound Recordings, 1961-1998.

Existence and Location of Originals

The originals of the Library of Congress-owned materials are in the Library of Congress collection.

Related Materials

Associated material: Henry A. Kissinger Papers, Part I are located at the Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress. Additional moving images and sound recordings are located at the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress.

Related Material: Henry A. Kissinger Papers, Part III (MS 2004).


437.31 Linear Feet (1012 boxes)

323.8 Megabytes

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, memoranda, writings, speeches, photographs and other material that document the career of the diplomat, author and foreign policy expert and scholar Henry A. Kissinger, who served as United States secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 and as assistant to the president for national security affairs (national security advisor) from 1969 to 1975.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Alfred Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923, in Fürth, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1938. After studying at Harvard University, he joined the faculty there as a member of the Department of Government and made a reputation for his scholarly work on international affairs, which included his best-selling book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, published in 1957. He served as assistant to the president for national security affairs (national security advisor) from 1969 to 1975 and as Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. In office, he was known especially for his work on normalizing relations with China, detente with the Soviet Union, peace negotiations for the Vietnam War and his Middle East shuttle diplomacy. After leaving office, Kissinger remained an influential author and commentator on foreign affairs and founded the international consulting firm Kissinger Associates.


Born in Fürth, Germany, to Louis and Paula (Stern) Kissinger
Immigrated to the United States
Enrolled in City College of New York
Served in U.S. Army
Civilian instructor, European Command Intelligence School, Germany
Married Ann Fleischer (divorced 1964)
Completed Bachelors of Arts, Harvard University
Founder and editor of Confluence
Director, International Seminar, Harvard University
Completed PhD, Harvard University
Faculty member, Department of Government, Harvard University
Director, Study Group on Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
Director, Special Studies Project, Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Published Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy
Faculty member, Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
Director, Defense Studies Program, Harvard University
Resigned U.S. Army reserve commission
Daughter Elizabeth born
Son David born
Published The Troubled Partnership: A Reappraisal of the Atlantic Alliance
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Secretary of State
Married Nancy Maginnes
Joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies as a Counselor
Published White House Years
Founded Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Published Years of Upheaval
Chairman, National Bipartisan Commission on Central America
Published Years of Renewal

Custodial History

Part I: Materials in Part I of the Kissinger Papers document his life from 1957 to 1982 and include copies of records from his government service. Part I was given to the Library of Congress by Henry A. Kisinger in 1976 and 1977, shortly after leaving office. Consult the Library of Congress ( for further information.

Part II is comprised of materials that are owned either by the Library of Congress or Yale University (Yale) and document Dr. Kissinger’s pre-government, government and post-government careers. When they were in Dr. Kissinger’s possession, the papers formed an integrated collection. To maintain that integrity, as well as increase access to these materials, the two institutions agreed to a joint project undertaken by Yale to arrange, describe and digitize them. Each institution now holds both paper and digital copies of Part II. The work was funded by Charles Johnson, Yale class of 1954, and Nicholas Brady, Yale Class of 1952.

Part III: Materials in Part III were originally maintained by Dr. Kissinger’s staff. They primarily document his post-government years. They were gifted to Yale in 2011.

Processing Information

Because Series I-III of Part II are comprised of materials owned either by the Library of Congress or Yale University (see Provenance for more information), every page in Series I-III has been marked with an [LC] or [Y] in the upper right-hand corner to indicate ownership of the original document. Every item in Series IV-VII is owned by the Library of Congress and does not have any corner markings. Each institution has the originals of the documents it owns and copies of the documents owned by the other, arranged identically at both institutions. Effectively, Part II at the Library of Congress and Yale University is the same. If researchers have reason to view the physical original of a particular document, as opposed to a digital or paper reproduction, they should contact the institution that owns the original document.

Materials that contained classified national security information have been removed from the collection for declassification review. Classified item withdrawal forms mark the specific locations from where these documents have been removed and provide brief descriptions of the documents.

Although most of Part II is arranged into roughly chronological series (Series I-III), a few files that may have been originally created during Kissinger’s early career or government service will be found in a later series because his staff refiled these materials with the later files, often adding notes, annotations and documents of more recent origin. When files are arranged chronologically, archivists have provided undated material that appears at the end of a section with rough date approximations in order to facilitate digital searching and discovery. These date approximations take the form of, for example: “Undated, circa 1955-circa 1968.”

Henry A. Kissinger Papers, Part II: Guide to the Library of Congress and Yale University Library Joint Collection
compiled by Sahr Conway-Lanz, Rebecca Hirsch, and staff of Manuscripts and Archives in consultation with Allan Teichroew and Margaret McAleer of the Library of Congress
January 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Processing of this collection was funded with the generous support of Charles Johnson and Nicholas Brady.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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