Highlights from the Artifact Collection

Document of Martin Van Buren's Secretary of State Commission

Martin Van Buren served as the 10th U.S. Secretary of State. His Secretary of State commission is one of the oldest commissions in the National Museum of American Diplomacy’s collection. A commission is a document that affirms the appointee’s position with the Department of State. The President and the Secretary of State sign the commission which bears the Great Seal of the United States. Read More.


During the 1850s, Japan began opening some of its ports to western trade and agreed to establish diplomatic relations with the United States. In February 1860, three samurai ambassadors and their entourage traveled to Washington, D.C. to exchange the treaty’s instruments of ratification with the U.S. Department of State. This Japanese delegation was presented with medals struck to commemorate their first visit to the United States. Read More.

U.S. Special Passport Issued to Sheldon Whitehouse (Sr) 1914

Issued on June 30, 1914, just as war was about to break out in Europe, Sheldon Whitehouse used this Special Passport to travel to his assignment at the U.S. Legations for Greece and Montenegro. He used it until 1918. It is stamped throughout, on both sides, and additional pages were attached to accommodate his many trips.  Read More.

a bronze medal on a gray background

During World War II, Foreign Service Officer James H. Keeley bravely served as Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Antwerp. His job was to advance U.S. interests, facilitate trade and commercial activities, and promote friendship between the two countries – all things that were in jeopardy during the bombing campaign. For his successful efforts during wartime, President Truman awarded him the Medal of Freedom. Read More.

This clutch was used by Patricia Morton, recruited to be the first female Diplomatic Security Agent, to carry her .357 Magnum pistol while assigned to the Washington field office in the early 1970s. She weathered the difficult transition from an all-male service to one that included women. At the time, Diplomatic Security did not issue gear for women to hold their weapons. Ms. Morton found her own solution by using this clutch.

Patricia (Patti) Morton, the first female Diplomatic Security (DS) Agent, used this clutch to carry her .357 Magnum pistol while assigned to the DS Washington Field Office in the early 1970s. During this time, the Department of State was under a mandate to create more opportunities for women. DS recruited Patti as a Special Agent in April 1972. At the time she joined the force, DS did not issue gear sized for women to hold their weapons. Read More.

inscribed ping pong paddle

Chinese ping-pong player Zhuang Zedong’s surprise interaction with an American player at a championship game in April 1971 commenced what became known as “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” and a thaw in diplomatic relations between the United States and China.Immediately following this well-publicized interaction, China (PRC) invited the U.S. ping-pong team to play inside Communist China. A year later, the PRC ping-pong team visited the United States on a goodwill tour. Read More.