Artifact Collection Highlights

The Diplomacy Center’s artifact collection is unique to the nation. Nowhere else does a museum collection exist that is solely dedicated to our nation’s diplomatic history. Artifacts are powerful storytelling tools which will shed light on the work and history of our nation’s diplomats that may otherwise go unnoticed by the general public. At over 7,500 items, the collection reflects a wide range of people, places, and issues that make up our nation’s rich diplomatic history. Collecting efforts are ongoing as we build a world-class collection.

in a case, items from the NATO treaty and accession instruments
Commemorating 70 years of the North Atlantic Treaty
Commemorating 70 years of the North Atlantic Treaty 1024 574

In 1949, the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations created the North Atlantic Treaty, to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.  April 3, 2019 marked 70 years of a strategic military alliance among the signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty. Secretary Mike Pompeo, with the 30 Foreign Ministers of the signatory countries, held an event with the original Treaty Charter, in the same space it was signed, in what used to be the Departmental Auditorium and is now the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.  This event marked the first time that Northern Macedonia participated, with its accession documents formally submitted to the United States Senate. During the reception, Secretary Pompeo noted the accomplishments of NATO and spoke about President Harry Truman’s aspirations for the alliance. Though there was doubt at the time that NATO would be a force of peace, Pompeo stated that “the 12 founding nations knew better and over the years, their historic hopes have been vindicated.  The ‘fuller and happier life for our citizens’ that Truman sought has been realized.”

Throughout the day on April 4, the United States Diplomacy Center displayed the accession instruments of the countries celebrating significant milestones since joining NATO. As the depository of NATO, Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty provides that “Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America.”  This is the first time that these instruments have ever been displayed for viewing, and several Foreign Ministers were delighted to have the opportunity to see these historic documents.. The U.S. Diplomacy Center, as the State Department’s pending museum on diplomacy and with curatorial expertise, properly laid out and displayed the accession instruments in an archival manner.  U.S. Diplomacy Center staff also proudly served as informational docents for the original Treaty at the April 3 event, answering questions about the history of the Charter and NATO.

Photograph of Wolfgang J. Lehmann (far left) in Austria in the early 1950s, sitting with former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (far right) and fellow embassy staff member B.J. McGuigan (center) for a press conference.
Evacuation under pressure
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Wolfgang J. Lehmann served as a Foreign Service Officer from 1951 to 1983, experiencing significant events in diplomatic history during the cold war era. The Diplomacy Center recently collected several artifacts representing his distinguished career that spanned eight presidential administrations.

Lehmann’s Foreign Service assignments included: Political Officer U.S. Embassy Vienna; supervisor of the U.S. Refugee Relief Program; Public Affairs Advisor for European Affairs at the Department of State; Political Advisor to the U.S. European Command in Germany; Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Saigon; Consul General, Frankfurt, Germany; and Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence.

Examples from his collection include this engaging photograph of Lehmann (far left) in Austria in the early 1950s, sitting with former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (far right) and fellow embassy staff member B.J. McGuigan (center) for a press conference. In Saigon, he managed the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy under fire during the last days of the conflict in Vietnam. His day planner from 1975 records the 2 days of the evacuation, April 29th and 30th. A few days later, he received a copy of this telegram from President Gerald Ford, thanking the ambassador and his staff for the safe evacuation under tremendous pressure.

Telegram from President Gerald Ford, thanking the ambassador and his staff for the safe evacuation under tremendous pressure.

Telegram from President Gerald Ford, thanking the ambassador and his staff for the safe evacuation under tremendous pressure.

day planner with notes included, Tuesday and Wednesday

Wolfgang J. Lehmann’s day planner from 1975 records the two days of the evacuation from Vietnam, April 29th and 30th.

Old photograph of Washington DC bridge and crowd
The Embassy Presence in Washington D.C.
The Embassy Presence in Washington D.C. 976 710
by Priscilla R. Linn

Finding embassies on a map of Washington, D.C. is a relatively straightforward task. They lie in northwest quadrant of one of the smallest capitals in the world, often lining up along (or close to) the avenues that city planner Pierre L’Enfant drew up over 200 years ago. Other locations in Washington, D.C. could, in principle, welcome many foreign missions. Reasons for the concentration of embassies in Washington hinge on the need to be close to the White House, U.S. Department of State, Congress, and international organizations. Embassies also desire a location in a prestigious neighborhood that can enhance both national identity and standing among nations in the international community.

Essential diplomatic terms

Since diplomacy often requires a specific vocabulary, this essay will clarify the meaning of several words used here. The Diplomat’s Dictionary defines the word “embassy” as: “The residence of an ambassador.” The Dictionary states that in loose, contemporary usage, the word “embassy” also refers to the office building of the ambassador and his senior staff. For clarity, this essay follows the “loose contemporary usage” for “embassy,” and does not include ambassadors’ residences in the discussion. An embassy also encompasses the diplomatic corps that conducts foreign affairs from the embassy building. People refer to the embassy office building as a “chancery,” where an ambassador and his principal staff conduct diplomatic business.

In the first 117 years as a nation, foreign governments did not work from embassies on U.S. soil, but rather occupied buildings called legations, which the Diplomat’s Dictionary dismisses as “second-class” embassies. Legations conduct the diplomatic functions of an embassy, but with a lower status in the diplomatic world.1

Three other terms occur in this essay, “mission,” “post” (which means the same as mission in this essay), and “consulate.”

The Diplomat’s Dictionary offers the definition of “mission” as “The permanent embassy . . . of a state resident in another state.” A “consulate” is an office that one country sets up in a major city of another country. Consulates assist and protect their countries’ citizens who travel, work, or study in that country, promote trade, issue passports to their own citizens and visas to citizens of the host country wishing to travel to the consulate’s country.

An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat sent to represent his or her country abroad. An ambassador is accredited through letters of authorization or credence to a foreign sovereign or organization and resides in the country to conduct diplomatic business through an embassy.

A minister, a position the United States favored in the early years of its diplomatic relations, is a rank just below that of ambassador. While an ambassador is the chief of an embassy, a minister can only be chief of a legation, which, as stated above, is a diplomatic post of lesser importance than that of an embassy.2

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Patti Morton stands smiling next to Diplomacy Center Mary Kane
Director’s Note: A Conversation with “Pistol Packin’ Patti”
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Patti Morton (right) is presented with a Meritorious Step Increase award by Chief of Mission Hank Cohen in Kinshasa, 1968. Morton received this award for the excellent quality of her work as post security officer, which she took on in addition to her regular duties as secretary to the Administrative Counselor.

Patti Morton (right) is presented with a Meritorious Step Increase award by Chief of Mission Hank Cohen in Kinshasa, 1968. Morton received this award for the excellent quality of her work as post security officer, which she took on in addition to her regular duties as secretary to the Administrative Counselor.

“When I think of being the first woman security officer, what I think of most is I hope I have done the best job I can, and that it will be easier for those who follow.”

– Patricia Anne (Patti) Morton, first female Department of State Special Agent

Being the first female special agent, Patti Morton was very aware of the legacy she would leave for women.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Patricia Anne (Patti) Morton,  the first female Diplomatic Security special agent at the State Department.  Recruited as a special agent in 1972, Morton had previously served as a Foreign Service Staff Officer at several diplomatic posts and had received a commendation for her security work in Kinshasa. Patti generously has donated several artifacts to the United States Diplomacy Center museum that illustrate her remarkable career.

At the time she was recruited, Diplomatic Security did not issue gun holsters that could be worn practically by a woman. She found her own solution for carrying her DS-issued .357 Magnum revolver by using this dark blue clutch, which she has donated to the Diplomacy Center museum. Morton pointed out how tricky it was to quickly draw her pistol from a clutch when the need arose. While serving as a special agent, she earned the title “Pistol Packin’ Patti.”

Patti served at U.S. Embassy Saigon as the first female Regional Security Officer. Her duties included supervising the Marine security guards who guarded the embassy. The Marines gave her a camouflage uniform (including a matching elastic hair band) to wear the first time they took her to the shooting range, wanting her to fit in. Though she admitted not knowing where she learned to shoot a gun, she became known for being an excellent shot.

While in Vietnam, she wrote the post’s evacuation plan, which was significant as it was put to use during the fall of Saigon in April 1975 and the ultimate evacuation and closure of the embassy. To her surprise, she was told to evacuate Saigon a few weeks before the city fell. She had to leave without any of her household effects, which were never returned to her.  

In her work as a Regional Security Officer, Patti often led security training sessions and briefings for embassy staff and family members. Patti used these cars to train people at post on defensive driving techniques. If someone was being hijacked or robbed, she showed them how to hit the right points of the cars using these cars as examples. It helped not only the drivers, but also the riders who could give instructions to the drivers on what to do. She said that she would often train the wives of ambassadors, and when the Ambassador’s found out, they started coming to her sessions too. In 2016, she donated this set of toy cars to the Diplomacy Center museum.

In her work as a special agent, Patti also used objects to “show and tell” about security measures. She donated to the Diplomacy Center museum a section of bullet-proof glass with an embedded bullet that was stopped by the protective glass. It was given to her at a post to use as an example in her future travels to other U.S. posts abroad and in training sessions about security measures.  

Back in Washington, she served on protective details for visiting dignitaries. She shared her experience escorting Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly on a visit to the U.S. For formal events, an agent on security detail needed to dress the part. Male special agents were able to rent tuxedos and then charge the cost of their rentals to the office. Since dresses could not be rented, Patti had to purchase formal dresses with her own money so that she could fulfill her duty. She donated two of these dresses to the Diplomacy Center museum. She developed a strong relationship of trust with Grace Kelly during her visit. Upon her departure, Kelly gave her an autographed photo and a clutch – which she admitted was too small to hold a pistol – as a token of appreciation for the protection given by Pistol Packin’ Patti. This clutch was among the items donated to the Diplomacy Center museum.  

Morton shared a number of the challenges that she faced being the first female agent, including the lack of support she would get from some people of her colleagues, specifically the secretarial staff.  She shared the story of having to type all of her documents, memos, and instructions herself, even those that were hundreds of pages, because the secretaries would not do it for her.  

Being the first female special agent, she was very aware of the legacy she would leave for women.  She told us that she would always adapt and make the best with what was available. She had her champions as well as her detractors – she knew that her work was always being watched and evaluated.

Reflecting upon being the first female Department of State Special Agent, Patti said, “When I think of being the first woman security officer, what I think of most is I hope I have done the best job I can, and that it will be easier for those who follow.”

Document of Martin Van Buren's Secretary of State Commission
Signed by President Jackson, and Hamilton’s son
Signed by President Jackson, and Hamilton’s son 1024 765

Martin Van Buren served as the 10th U.S. Secretary of State and the 8th President of the United States. He entered politics in 1813 and served as a New York state senator, a U.S. Senator, and later as New York governor. He resigned to join President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet as U.S. Secretary of State, serving from 1829 until 1831. Following his tenure as Secretary, Van Buren was elected Vice President under Jackson (1833-1837) and then was elected President, serving until 1841.

His accomplishments as Secretary of State include a settlement with Great Britain to allow trade with the British West Indies, a settlement with France gaining reparations for property seized during the Napoleonic Wars, as well as a commercial treaty with the Ottoman Empire that granted U.S. traders access to the Black Sea.

Van Buren’s Secretary of State commission is one of the oldest items in the Diplomacy Center collections. James Alexander Hamilton, the third son of founding father Alexander Hamilton, was acting Secretary of State at the time and signed this commission. Even today, the acting Secretary of State signs the incoming Secretary’s commission.

Historically, several people have sought the presidency either before or after serving as Secretary of State. Martin Van Buren was one of six Secretaries of State to later successfully win the presidency. This includes: Thomas Jefferson; James Madison; James Monroe; John Quincy Adams; Martin Van Buren; and James Buchanan.

United States flag and pole
A Symbol and an Inspiration
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This flag graced the office of Colonel Ron Roughead, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Kenya, at U.S. Embassy Nairobi. On August 7, 1998, in coordinated attacks by al Qaeda terrorists, U.S. Embassies Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were devastated by car bombs. Embassy Nairobi and the surrounding neighborhood suffered extensive damage and loss of life.

After the attack, the Embassy Nairobi Marine Security Guards made an initial sweep of the embassy building searching for survivors and recovering victims. The Marines found this flag in Colonel Roughead’s office along with a roll of masking tape. Knowing that the flag on the pole outside the entrance to the Embassy had been blown off by the blast, they taped this flag to the exterior window frame. During the initial days after the attack, it was a symbol that the U.S. embassy and the personnel were still standing proudly even though they had been hit very hard.

Colonel Roughead kept the flag exactly as it was when it was taken down, including the masking tape. He displayed the flag outside his home on every anniversary of the bombing, as well as every Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and 4th of July. In donating this flag to the Diplomacy Center, he expressed his hope that it gives inspiration to our nation’s diplomats and military serving on the front lines.

Ambassador Dubs in Afghanistan holding flag
“I would rather sacrifice my life…”
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Letter from Ambassador Adolph Dubs to his daughter Lindsay March 3, 1973. This letter was donated to the Diplomacy Center from Letter from Lindsay in 2018.

Letter from Ambassador Adolph Dubs to his daughter Lindsay March 3, 1973. This letter was donated to the Diplomacy Center collection from Lindsay in 2018.

Adolph “Spike” Dubs was a career Foreign Service Officer and noted Soviet expert. In 1973-74 he served as charge d’affaires at Embassy Moscow, and in 1978, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

On February 14, 1979, Ambassador Dubs and his driver were stopped in their car by armed militants posing as police. They overpowered both of them and forced the driver to take them to the downtown Kabul Hotel. There they held Ambassador Dubs at gunpoint and demanded the release of a political prisoner. Despite pleas from U.S. officials to keep the situation as calm as possible while they tried to negotiate the ambassador’s release, Afghan and accompanying Soviet officials hastily mounted a heavily armed rescue attempt. Ambassador Dubs was assassinated during the attempted rescue. The exact identity and motive of these kidnappers still remains a mystery.

Ambassador Dubs was a prolific letter writer during his diplomatic career. He kept in close contact with his daughter Lindsay who was in her 20s during this time. He opened his correspondence with “My Dearest Lindsay,” and relayed details of his official duties, conversations, and trips to local sites. He also dispensed fatherly advice, concern, and encouragement – all communicating how much he loved and missed her.

Six years prior to Dubs’ assassination, U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel was kidnapped and assassinated by a terrorist group. Ambassador Dubs wrote to Lindsay on March 3, 1973, and included his thoughts about this tragedy. His words sadly predicted the same situation in which he would find himself in Kabul. He wrote:

…we cannot afford to give in to the ransom demands made by thugs who direct such organizations as the Black September Group. I personally don’t like to think of being any kind of a martyr; but if I were ever taken in a situation such as that which occurred in Khartoum, I would want Washington to understand that I would rather sacrifice my life than to have someone capitulate to the demands of terrorists.

The next time a U.S. ambassador was killed at post was in 2012, with the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya. Read the full letter in high resolution or learn about contributing to the collection.

Diplomacy Center exhibit cases of Nuclear Arms including flags, artifacts, and information
Spotlight On: Nuclear Risk Reduction
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In October 2018, the United States Diplomacy Center hosted a spotlight on the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center. These included several of our artifacts, including:

  • Cruise missile wing tip mounted to plaque Gift from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Delegation (INF Delegation)

This wing tip was once part of a ground launched cruise missile which was eliminated at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in 1989. The elimination was carried out under the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987. This commemorative piece was owned and displayed by Ambassador Maynard W. Glitman, chief negotiator of the INF treaty.

  • Pershing II missile instrumentation backplate mounted to plaque Gift from the INF Delegation

This instrumentation backplate was once part of a Pershing II – a mobile, intermediate-range ballistic missile – which was eliminated at the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant, Texas, in 1989. All Pershing IIs and their support equipment were eliminated per the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987. This commemorative piece was owned and displayed by Ambassador Maynard W. Glitman, chief negotiator of the INF treaty.

  • SCUD Missile nose cone Gift of Ambassador Kurt D. Volker

The Soviet Union deployed SCUD missiles and launchers to Soviet-bloc countries as part of the military build-up in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The warheads were kept in the Soviet Union and could be paired quickly with the missiles and launchers in the event of conflict. This nose cone was mounted to the very top of a SCUD missile and did not contain a weapon. Its purpose was to increase the aerodynamics of the missile aimed at its target.

In 1991, the Soviet Union withdrew their troops from Hungary, but left the SCUD missiles behind. The United States assisted with the destruction of this equipment. Kurt Volker, Political-Military Officer at U.S. Embassy Budapest 1994-1997, was the liaison for this program. He was given this nose cone as a memento.

Sports Diplomacy
Sports Diplomacy 150 150

What do sports have to do with diplomacy?

People are at the heart of diplomacy. The U.S. Department of State engages youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders around the world and the United States through many types of exchange programs, striving to reflect the diversity of the U.S. and the global society. Sports exchanges have long proven to be a popular venue to bring people of all backgrounds together, oftentimes paving the way for further discussion and collaboration.

Ping pong diplomacy:

Zhuang Zedong, the Chinese ping pong player whose chance interaction with an American player helped lead to the “ping pong diplomacy” of the 1970s, presented this inscribed paddle to former Secretary Kissinger in 2007.

Baseball base:

This base was in play during innings 4 through 6 of the March 22, 2016, exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team at Estadio Latinoame, Havana, Cuba. U.S. President Barack Obama and his family and Cuban President Raoul Castro attended the game. The game occurred during Obama’s historic visit to Cuba after the two countries re-established official diplomatic relations in 2015.

Gift Exchange
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What type of gifts do Secretaries of State receive?

Secretaries of State receive wide variety gifts from many foreign officials and private citizens around the world. Gift giving is an age-old diplomatic tradition and is a common ceremonial aspect of diplomatic visits. Oftentimes, the gift reflects the tastes and personality of the giver. The gift may also reflect the culture and natural resources of the giver’s country of origin. There are laws setting limits on the gifts that government officials are allowed to personally keep. The Diplomacy Center has a selection of gifts to Secretaries of State in its collection. A few examples include:


Personalized tea set:

In the late 1990s, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright played a key role in managing the U.S. response, through NATO, to the hostilities that broke out in the Kosovo/Serbia region.  One of the tools she utilized was what she called “conference call diplomacy” where she participated in a daily conference call with her foreign minister counterparts to share information and plan strategy during this war.  The core participants were Foreign Ministers Robin Cook (UK), Hubert Vedrine (France), Joschka Fischer (Germany), and Lamberto Dini (Italy).  Additionally, regular communications included Foreign Ministers Igor Ivanov (Russia) and Lloyd Axworthy (Canada).  Their constant communication not only resulted in a strong NATO response to the tragedy unfolding in the region, but also a strong friendship based on trust and a common understanding of the partnership.


These foreign ministers gathered at a dinner in Paris in January 2001 to honor Secretary Albright as she finished her tenure as Secretary of State.  Igor Ivanov presented Secretary Albright with a spectacular blue and white Russian porcelain tea set.  The 7 cups in the set feature the images of the faces of Secretary Albright and these six foreign minister counterparts [Igor Ivanov (Russia), Robin Cook (UK), Hubert Vedrine (France), Joschka Fischer (Germany), Lloyd Axworthy (Canada), and Lamberto Dini (Italy)].  The set’s round tray is inscribed “Madeleine and Her Dream Team” in gold lettering.


Vodka bottle:

This bottle of vodka in the shape of an AK-47 assault rifle was a lighthearted gift from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Secretary Colin Powell on the occasion of his 65th birthday in 2002. Also known as a Kalashnikov rifle, it was originally designed in the 1940’s for the Soviet military. Colin Powell has recounted on a few occasions, with some humor, that he was dismayed when Protocol officials deemed this gift to be “over value” and he was not allowed to consume its contents.


Qadhafi gifts:

This locket and diamond ring were gifts to Secretary Condoleezza Rice from Muammar Qadhafi in 2008. She was the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Libya in over 50 years and was the most senior U.S. official to ever meet with Colonel Qadhafi. The locket has Qadhafi’s image engraved on the inside. It was well known that he had a “crush” on Secretary Rice. He lavished her with praise during her visit. About the historic visit, Secretary Rice said: “This demonstrates that the United States does not have permanent enemies. It demonstrates that if countries are prepared to make strategic changes in direction, the United States is prepared to respond.”

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