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Office of the Historian

World War I and the Department

To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Office of the Historian and U.S. Embassy France have carried out a study into the role of the U.S. diplomatic corps stationed in France during 1914–1918. In contrast to the well known record of U.S. actions after it entered the war in April 1917, the stories of U.S. diplomats, consuls, and their family members—particularly during the early months of the crisis (August-December 1914)—were long forgotten, overshadowed by subsequent events of the tumultuous twentieth century. By researching U.S. Government and Government of France records, memoirs, personal papers, and newspaper archives, this study presents a fascinating account of how actions spearheaded by U.S. diplomats—and American citizens—significantly strengthened Franco-American relations in unique, unparalleled ways.

The Office of the Historian has released this electronic preview edition of “Views From the Embassy: The Role of the U.S. Diplomatic Community in France, 1914” (PDF, 818 KB). Over the upcoming months, this preview edition will be superseded by a more complete version. The material complements U.S. Embassy France’s WWI Centennial page. Readers may view full copies of several documents referenced in “Views From the Embassy” through links on the Embassy’s WWI Interactive Timeline.

The material in “Views From the Embassy” differs substantially from documentation printed in the Foreign Relations of the United States volumes covering World War I, which focus upon high policy decisions and matters of international law rather than on-the-ground operations. Readers may access Foreign Relations of the United States volumes, such as the 1914 War Supplement volume, through the Office of the Historian website.

The Office of the Historian is grateful to the following institutions that provided assistance on this project: The American Hospital in Paris; The American Chamber of Commerce in Paris; Columbia Center for Oral History Collection, Columbia University (Reminiscences of DeWitt Clinton Poole Jr.); Harvard University Archives, Harvard University (Robert & Mildred Bliss Papers); Moorland-Springarn Research Center, Howard University (William H. Hunt Papers); The Sheridan Libraries Special Collections, The Johns Hopkins University (John Work Garrett Papers); Western Reserve Historical Society (Myron T. Herrick Papers); Bibliothèque nationale de France; National Archives of France (Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Service historique de la défense; U.S. Library of Congress; and the U.S. National Archives (Archives of the Department of State).