Our Collection

NMAD's artifact collection is unique to the nation. At over 9,000 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.

Collection

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Commission Appointment of Edward R. Dudley as Ambassador to Liberia 1949
In 1948, President Truman appointed Edward R. Dudley to serve as U.S. Minister to Liberia. Dudley was a civil rights lawyer from New York who worked at the NAACP with Thurgood Marshall and later as legal counsel to the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands. At the time of Dudley’s appointment, the U.S. Government represented its interests through a legation in Monrovia. In 1949, Truman decided to elevate the legation to an embassy and appointed Mr. Dudley as the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, thus becoming the first African American to be named a U.S. Ambassador. Ambassador Dudley influenced significant changes in the Foreign Service for African American officers. At the time, black FSOs were relegated to overseas assignments in what was pejoratively called the "Negro circuit." These were posts in "black, hardship, disagreeable" places -- as Dudley referred to them -- including Monrovia, Liberia, Ponta del Gada, Portugal, and Madagascar. Upon arrival in Monrovia, Mr. Dudley realized that this situation was not only unfair but also against the policies of the Foreign Service. He wrote a detailed report to the State Department, citing specific examples and statistics to make the case that black FSOs were being treated unfairly and that the State Department was in violation of its policies. This memo, as well as Ambassador Dudley's direct communication with officials in Washington, led to the breaking up of the "Negro circuit" and more opportunities for black FSOs to serve in a wider variety of posts, employing their skills and knowledge around the world. Dudley later recounted that he felt this was "... probably one of the more important things that I did the whole time I was there." After his service in Liberia, Dudley continued his legal career and was later appointed to the New York Supreme Court.
Diplomatic Passport, issued to Tom Gallagher 2007
During most of the 20th century, personnel policies of the Department of State were hostile to individuals who did not identify as heterosexual. Employees who were not considered “straight” were deemed a security risk and were systematically investigated and forced to resign. This was true throughout the federal government. Starting in the mid-1970s, rules for the federal Civil Service prohibited such practices, however these did not apply to the military or to the Foreign Service. Tom Gallagher joined the Foreign Service in 1965, his first assignment was Vice Consul in Saudi Arabia. Ten years later while posted domestically, he came out as an openly gay Foreign Service Officer while speaking at a conference on gays in the federal government in Washington DC. It is believed that he is the first FSO to do so. Tom assumed that he would get his security clearance revoked and subsequently lose his job due to his coming out. He served one more assignment in Ecuador after coming out publicly. However, he resigned after this post knowing that his security clearance would be in jeopardy once he was required to go through the regular process of renewal. Tom moved to California and started a new career as a social worker. Nearly 20 years later in 1994, President Bill Clinton prohibited personnel and security policies that were hostile toward homosexuals in the Foreign Service. Tom decided to return to his beloved career as a Foreign Service Officer. His first assignment was Chief of the Visa Section at U.S. Embassy Madrid, Spain. While serving there, Tom helped raise $3 million for the Spanish AIDS Foundation. He also served as Country Officer for Eritrea and Sudan at the State Department, and as Chief of the Visa Section at U.S. Embassy Brussels, Belgium. His final tours at the State Department were with the Office of International Health, where he served as a Senior Advisor and worked on international AIDS programs, and as Country Officer, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Uganda. After retiring in 2005, Gallagher continued to serve short temporary tours for the State Department including assignments at 17 embassies and consulates on five continents. This Diplomatic Passport is from this era of his service. “...remember that all of the employees who sacrificed their right to be who they were, were really defending your rights and the rights and freedoms of others at home and abroad.” -- Remarks by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, GLIFAA* 20th anniversary, November 2012, after honoring Tom Gallagher. *Employee affinity group Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies
Beret and Cross, gifts to Kathryn Koob 1981
The Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981 ranks as one of the most traumatic diplomatic challenges in U.S. history. The U.S. Embassy in Tehran became a visible target during the political revolution by Islamic fundamentalists against the pro-American Iranian leader Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Animosity towards westerners, and Americans in particular who had [because they had]? backed the Shah, had been building for over a year. On November 4, 1979, Iranian student militants scaled the U.S. embassy compound’s walls, seized control of the embassy, and forcibly detained the American staff. Kathryn Koob was a Foreign Service Officer serving as the director of the Iran-American Society, a nonprofit organization established by the U.S. government to foster educational and community ties between the two countries. She arrived in Tehran just four months before the American embassy was seized by Iranian militants on Nov. 4, 1979. From her office two miles away, she relayed information to Washington for a day before she, too, was captured. She became one of two women who were held hostage during the entire ordeal. Kathryn is a person of deep faith, which sustained her while held captive. "The idea of a contemplative lifestyle intrigued me. What would it be like? Here was my opportunity to find out," she recounted in her 1982 book Guest of the Revolution. To accomplish this, she maintained a daily schedule of prayer and contemplation. Kate also became close friends with Ann Swift, her fellow female hostage who was the embassy’s deputy political counselor. Through negotiations brokered by Algeria, a deal securing the hostages’ release was achieved on January 19, 1981. The next day, they were flown immediately to Algeria and then to Germany for medical treatment at the U.S. Air Force base in Weisbaden. After a few days, they returned to the United States and were welcomed home with great fanfare. Kate and the other freed Americans received many gifts upon their return to the United States. Kate received this beret and silver cross which represents her strong resilient spirit in spite of the prolonged captivity.
Fan, Postcard, and Photographs from the George W. Guthrie Collection 1913-1917
Fan A dinner party gift to Florence Guthrie during Coronation week celebrations. Postcard A commemorative postcard celebrating the coronation of the Emperor Taisho in November 1915. Photographs Portraits of Ambassador George Guthrie and his wife Florence on the occasion of the coronation of the Emperor Taisho. George W. Guthrie served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1913-1917) and as Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1906-1909). As ambassador, he kept the U.S-Japan bilateral relationship on an even keel as war spread into Asia and the Pacific in 1914 and as President Woodrow Wilson attempted to maintain neutrality. Additional tensions with the bilateral relationship also mounted during this time. The Japanese government was extremely unhappy about the unfair treatment of Japanese immigrants in California. And the U.S. was making efforts to contain Japan's encroachment and potential economic control of territories in China. Guthrie and his wife Florence successfully managed this complex relationship, gaining high respect from the Japanese. They were invited to represent the United States at both the funeral of the Empress Dowager, widow of the Emperor Meiji, in April 1914, and the coronation of Emperor Taisho in November 1915. Guthrie unexpectedly died in March 1917 of apoplexy. The Japanese provided a warship to transport the beloved U.S. ambassador's body back to the United States. George and Florence Guthrie's great-great nephew Richard Tucker and his wife Lynne Tucker generously donated to the National Museum of American Diplomacy several remarkable artifacts representing the Guthrie's service in Japan. Gift of Lynn and Richard Tucker
Letter from Ambassador Adolph Dubs to his daughter Lindsay March 3, 1973
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. Gift of Adolph Dubs' Daughter, Lindsay
Letter from Ambassador Adolph Dubs to his daughter Lindsay March 3, 1973
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. Gift of Adolph Dubs' Daughter, Lindsay
Martin Van Buren's Secretary of State Commission
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. Gift of the Kiplinger Family
Whitehouse passport
Sheldon Whitehouse, a career Foreign Service Officer, served as U.S. Minister to Guatemala (1929-1933) and to Colombia (1933-1934). Prior to these posts, he used this Special Passport to travel to his post at the U.S. Legation for Greece and Montenegro. The passport is signed by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan. It was issued on June 30, 1914, just as war was about to break out in Europe. Special passports were issued to prominent officials traveling on government business. They were used during most of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. The Department of State adopted a “passeport diplomatique” in 1918 for officials traveling in the diplomatic service. Starting in 1926, currently serving diplomats as well as former ambassadors were issued Diplomatic Passports. Photographs were not required on U.S. passports until December 1914, and in the case of this passport, would have been added later if the passport was first issued before this date. A description of the bearer’s physical features is also attached on the upper left front side that includes details such as the shape of his forehead and chin, and the color of his eyes and hair. Whitehouse used this passport from 1914 to 1918. It is stamped throughout, on both sides, and additional pages were attached to the right and lower sides to accommodate his many trips. Ambassador Whitehouse entered the Foreign Service in 1908, and served until 1935. His postings included American Embassies in London, Caracas, Paris (twice), Madrid, Athens and Montenegro, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Washington DC (Chief of the Near Eastern Division), Guatemala, and Colombia. He was witness to major post-WWI efforts to secure peace in Europe. As Counselor of the U.S. Legation in Sweden in 1919, Whitehouse was a participant in the American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris. In 1927, as Counselor of the embassy and Charge d’Affaires in Paris, he facilitated early discussions that would result in the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928. The Whitehouse family has a long legacy of public service. Sheldon Whitehouse’s son Charles, a career FSO, served as U.S. Ambassador to Laos (1973-1975) and Thailand (1975-1978). His son-in-law Robert Orris Blake, a career FSO, served as U.S. Ambassador to Mali (1970-1973). His grandson Robert Blake Jr., a career FSO, served as U.S. Ambassador to Maldives and Sri Lanka (2006-2009), Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs (2009-2013), and U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia (2013-2016). His grandson Sheldon Whitehouse currently serves as a U.S. Senator for Rhode Island.