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 retrospective Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) volume 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, stretching 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 this volume 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 first volume covering the U.S. Government’s public diplomacy efforts from 1917 to 1919. With the publication of this volume, the retrospective includes coverage of public diplomacy efforts from 1961 until 1972. Subsequent volumes documenting 1920 to 1960 will be published as they are completed.

This volume, covering the years 1964 to 1968 focuses on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration’s efforts to shape and execute public diplomacy and information policy during the middle period of the Cold War. It details the various ways the United States Information Agency (USIA) presented U.S. foreign policy objectives to global audiences during a time of great social change within the United States, particularly during the Civil Rights Movement. The compilation also describes how the Johnson administration, through both USIA and the Department of State, utilized the various tools of public diplomacy in the face of numerous crises, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and transition to the Johnson administration, the Dominican Republic intervention, the ongoing nuclear test-ban treaty negotiations, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and, most significant, the Vietnam War, which was a dominant focus through Johnson’s Presidency. Additional documentation chronicles the Johnson administration’s attempts to reassure the world of U.S. stability following Kennedy’s death, to promote a domestic policy during a period of great cultural change, which would greatly impact foreign policy, and to advance the Department of State’s educational exchange activities, particularly with the Soviet Union, and the developing world. The volume should be read in conjunction with Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume XXV, [Page VIII] Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; and Scientific Matters.

Adam M. Howard, Ph.D.

General Editor


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of John Laster and Peter Halligas of the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; Elizabeth Gray, David Langbart, Tab Lewis, Don McIlwain, Richard Peuser, and Daniel Rooney of the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland; and Claudia Anderson, Jennifer Cuddeback, Jenna DeGraffenried, Regina Greenwell, Lara Hall, and John Wilson of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas. Charles V. Hawley and Kristin Ahlberg researched this volume. Charles Hawley selected and edited the documentation for the volume, under the supervision of Adam M. Howard, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Adam Howard and Kristin Ahlberg reviewed the compilation. Stephanie Eckroth performed the copy and technical editing, under the supervision of Mandy Chalou, chief of the Editing and Publishing Division, and Carl Ashley, chief of the Declassification Division, coordinated the declassification review. Joseph Wicentowski provided technical assistance in creating the multimedia component of this volume.

Charles V. Hawley, Ph.D. Historian