Stories from the Collection

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 8,000 items, the collection reflects a wide range of people, places, and issues that make up our nation’s rich diplomatic history. Here is a spotlight on a few of the stories the items in our collection tell.

Patti Morton stands smiling next to Diplomacy Center Mary Kane
Director’s Note: A Conversation with “Pistol Packin’ Patti”
Director’s Note: A Conversation with “Pistol Packin’ Patti” 1024 658

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…

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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…

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United States flag and pole
A Symbol and an Inspiration
A Symbol and an Inspiration 640 386

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…

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Ambassador Dubs in Afghanistan holding flag
“I would rather sacrifice my life…”
“I would rather sacrifice my life…” 1024 750

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.…

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A young H.W. Bush with Nixon at his side swears over the Bible
In Memoriam: George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-2018): Veteran, Statesman, Diplomat
In Memoriam: George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-2018): Veteran, Statesman, Diplomat 1024 708

On November 30, 2018 former President George Herbert Walker Bush died at age 94. A distinguished Navy pilot in World War II, former President Bush lived an accomplished life, serving his nation in various capacities, including: President, Vice President, Director of the Central Investigative Agency, Member of both the House and Senate, and as a…

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Diplomacy Center exhibit cases of Nuclear Arms including flags, artifacts, and information
Spotlight On: Nuclear Risk Reduction
Spotlight On: Nuclear Risk Reduction 1024 768

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…

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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…

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Gift Exchange
Gift Exchange 150 150

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…

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Global Issues
Global Issues 150 150

What do a fire helmet, a missile launcher, and a Carnival costume have to do with diplomacy? Each of these items represents a global issue that shapes the practice of diplomacy today. U.S. diplomats serve our nation by securing peace, increasing prosperity, promoting democracy, and sustaining development efforts worldwide, benefiting Americans at home. In practice,…

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#AskACurator
#AskACurator 150 150

Ever wonder what kind objects we use to tell the story of American diplomacy at the U.S. Diplomacy Center? Don’t wonder, ask our curator! For the first time in our museum’s history, we’ll be answering your questions about our collection. Between 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM EDT on September 12, 2018, tweet us questions about…

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Remembrance, Reflection, Resilience
Remembrance, Reflection, Resilience 150 150

Remembrance, Reflection, Resilience Twenty years ago on a summer morning, two U.S. embassies in Africa fell victim to coordinated and nearly simultaneous truck bombs – later linked to the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. Fifty-six U.S. government employees, contractors, and family members were killed. From the ashes, countless survivors pulled together and rebuilt strengthened and resilient communities.…

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A Passport Without A Photo
A Passport Without A Photo 150 150

Before affixed photographs were required in 1914, applicants swore “solemnly and sincerely” to be U.S. citizens and identified themselves by facial features, hair, eye, and complexion color. This is one of the oldest passports in our collection from 1859-belonging to Samuel Waller (1824-1864). A New York City dry goods importer, Waller traveled frequently to Europe…

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Embassies as Safe Houses
Embassies as Safe Houses 150 150

Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty was the highest Catholic official in Hungary in the mid-20th century, and a vociferous opponent of communism.  After WWII, as the Soviet Union’s political influence extended through Eastern Europe, Mindszenty was tried, convicted of treason in 1949, and sentenced to life in prison.  He was released in 1956 during a political reform movement,…

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African American History Month
African American History Month 150 150

These African American pioneers shaped American history. Read on to discover more about trailblazing ambassadors, influential activists, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. U.S. diplomat, Olympic athlete, United States Army Air Forces WWII veteran, and University of Colorado Boulder grad David Bolen had an incredible career. As ambassador to East Germany in 1977, Bolen was the first…

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Camp David Peace Accords
Camp David Peace Accords 150 150

On September 17, 1978, the Camp David Peace Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. President Jimmy Carter facilitated the long negotiations at the presidential retreat in Maryland in 1978. The talks represented the importance of diplomacy and paved the way for the March 26, 1979 signing of a…

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Dayton Peace Accords
Dayton Peace Accords 150 150

December 14 marks the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in Paris, France. For 21 days in November, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State for Canadian and European Affairs Richard Holbrooke led negotiations with the Presidents from Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Wright-Patterson Airforce Base in Dayton,…

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Passports for Protection
Passports for Protection 150 150

American passport = protection. This 1798 passport is the oldest in our collection.  It was issued to wealthy Bostonian David Hinckley. The story behind this early passport is quite interesting. Americans did not need a passport to travel abroad, yet many nations required proof of U.S. citizenship to exit their country. Many Americans “passed” through a “port” like David Hinckley did as part…

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