Stories of Diplomacy

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.

Crowd of soldiers walk by citizens in a black and white photo with Austrian Alps in background
Medal of Freedom
Medal of Freedom 1024 811

The Consulate General had its windows and doors blown in or out several times, and all of us had narrow escapes, but no one was actually hit, a miracle in view of the thousands of flying and rocket bombs directed our way. We owe our lives to Divine intervention and to the efficiency of the…

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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,…

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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
Evacuation under pressure 1024 688

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…

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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,…

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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 (1935 – 2019), pictured 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.…

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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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U.S. Special Passport Issued to Sheldon Whitehouse (Sr) 1914
A very “special” passport
A very “special” passport 836 1024

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…

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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 NMAD 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…

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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 National Museum of American Diplomacy 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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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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Collection
Collection 150 150

2019 Collections Highlights 4 photos Diplomacy never sleeps nor takes a day off. To maintain 24/7 worldwide communications, the Department of State has an Operations Center staffed by highly skilled diplomats and crisis management experts to meet any worldwide challenge. This included monitoring the launches and returns of NASA Space Shuttles. During this era, as…

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