Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, Public Diplomacy, 1917–1972

In 2007, historians at the Office of the Historian proposed a set of retrospective Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) volumes designed to augment the series’ coverage of U.S. public diplomacy. While the series began to document the subject in a sustained and concerted way starting with the second administration of President Richard M. Nixon, previous FRUS coverage of U.S. public diplomacy efforts have been far less consistent. These retrospective volumes will fill that gap, which stretches from the First World War to the early 1970s. Resource constraints and the statutory requirement to publish Foreign Relations volumes 30 years after the events that they cover mean that compilations in these volumes have been researched and compiled piecemeal over a longer period of time than the typical FRUS volume. Fortunately, progress is being made. During the fall of 2014, the Office released the volume covering the U.S. Government’s public diplomacy efforts from 1917 to 1919. Subsequent compilations, which will document up to the end of the first Nixon administration, will be published as they are completed.

This volume, covering the years 1961 to 1963 focuses on the John F. Kennedy administration’s efforts to manage public diplomacy during the middle portion of the Cold war. It describes how the United States Information Agency (USIA) worked to present U.S. foreign policy objectives to the world during a time of social change within the United States. The compilation also illustrates how USIA and the Department of State pursued public diplomacy against the backdrop of crises, including the Bay of Pigs invasion, the construction of the Berlin Wall, Laos, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Additional documentation chronicles the Kennedy administration’s attempts to develop a national cultural policy, the importance of overseas polling, and the Department of State’s educational exchange activities. The volume should be read in conjunction with Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume XXV, Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy: United Nations; and Scientific Matters, which contains a chapter on information policy.

Adam M. Howard, Ph.D.
General Editor