5. Letter From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for East-West Exchanges (Lacy) to Secretary of State Dulles0

Dear Mr. Secretary: The Agreement between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Cultural, Technical and Educational Exchanges has now been in force for six months. I think it timely, therefore, for me to report to you on the extent and nature of the execution of that Agreement.

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Reciprocity is at the heart of the exchange Agreement with the Soviet Union. To the extent that the principle of reciprocity is well served, the objectives of the Agreement approach attainment; conversely, to the extent reciprocity is not achieved, the objectives I had in mind in negotiating and signing the Agreement are not reached.

I am happy to be able to report that there has been more than ample reciprocity attained as a result of the exchange Agreement; in fact, the exchanges to date in numbers of our delegations and groups dispatched to the Soviet Union are twice the number of Soviet delegations arriving in the United States. I am, of course, aware that one of our objectives is to expose Soviet citizens to the American way of life and this is best obtained by having numbers of Soviets arrive in this country for periods of stay. According to the schedules now agreed upon with the Soviet Embassy, however, twenty-two Soviet delegations and groups will arrive in the last six months of the year. In other words, although many more Americans are traveling to the Soviet Union than are Soviet citizens in the United States, nevertheless, true reciprocity in the exchanges will, in my opinion, be accomplished over the two-year period.

In order to give you a more detailed idea of the exchanges in the six months following the signing on January 27, 1958, of the US-USSR Agreement, I propose to identify exchanges under four separate headings: Science and Technology, Education, Cultural Manifestations and Athletics, and Information. Various sections of the Agreement, as you know, deal with each of these four major categories of exchange.

Science and Technology

Interchanges between specialists in science and industrial technology have been numerous. A 19-man delegation of American steel experts has surveyed the Soviet steel industry, and ten industrialists of the plastics industry have spent thirty days in the Soviet Union. Four agricultural delegations, organized by the Department of Agriculture, are presently in the USSR. Reciprocally, the Soviet delegations in steel and plastics are expected in the early fall, and at least three Soviet agricultural delegations will tour the United States in the late summer. A group of American women doctors visited the Soviet Union in May and June, and preparations are being made for exchanges of three medical delegations, to visit the US and USSR in the last quarter of 1958. Reciprocal exchanges in housing techniques, pharmaceutical manufacture, prestressed concrete, and automation have already taken place.

Since conclusion of the Agreement, Soviet nationals have attended 11 scientific meetings in this country, while American scientists have participated in four conferences in the Soviet Union. However, large American delegations of architects, astronomers and IGY scientists are attending international meetings in the USSR this summer. Dr. Detlev W. Bronk, [Page 12] President of the National Academy of Sciences, will discuss further reciprocal exchanges of research scholars and scientists with the President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in the near future. This is expected to lead to longer term research studies in both countries by Soviet and American scholars. Contacts between scientists, doctors, and technicians are a key element in the exchange program, whether that contact takes place in this country or in the Soviet Union.


Four delegations of American scholars and educators have already visited the Soviet Union in the last six months. Eight American university presidents were included in a group investigating higher education. The Commissioner of Education and other HEW officials studied Soviet secondary education and have produced a widely publicized and important report.1 A group of six American professors spent three weeks studying the teaching of the liberal arts and an equivalent delegation has discussed methods of instruction in the natural sciences with their Soviet colleagues. The reciprocal visits will take place in the fall when three Soviet delegations in education will be in this country, visiting our universities, colleges and schools.

Forty American undergraduates are touring the USSR this summer under the Agreement, and twenty Soviet youths are seeing many facets of life in this country. Six youth newspaper editors on both sides have already been exchanged. Plans are well advanced for the matriculation of twenty Americans in Soviet universities this fall. An equal number of Russians will study here in six or seven of our universities. Reciprocal exchange of students and educators is desired by both sides and can have lasting effects.

Cultural Manifestations and Athletics

Cultural and athletic exchanges have been more publicized than those taking place under other sections of the Agreement. The Moiseyev Dance Company had a successful American tour accompanied by excellent press notices. On the other hand, the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra’s concerts in the Soviet Union this spring were received, like the Boston Symphony the year before, “with great delight and enthusiasm”. Three American artists, singers Blanche Thebom and Leonard Warren and conductor Leopold Stokowski have had successful appearances in the USSR, while two outstanding Soviet performers, pianist Emil Gilels and violinist Leonid Kogan, have toured this country. American participation in the Tchaikovsky Competition resulted in Van Cliburn’s [Page 13] triumph which, more than any single cultural event, demonstrated the quality of American musicians to millions of Russians.2 American men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Washington University crew, a hockey team, and a 70-member track and field team, chosen by competition, have been in the USSR, while Soviet wrestlers and weightlifters have competed here. All these events have been accompanied by expressions on both sides of appreciation and good will. In the cultural field it has been possible for communication to take place between many thousands of citizens of both countries.


Conclusion of final agreement for exchanges of films is expected in September; agreement has already been reached on many points and lists of films have already been exchanged.

Exchanges of exhibits, including an exhibit on the peaceful uses of atomic energy, are under discussion. The Soviets have proposed a reciprocal exchange of an exhibit in “science, technology, and culture”.

Arrangements have been concluded by HEW to exchange text-books and university and school curricula.

The distribution of the magazines Amerika Illustrated and USSR has been improved and the “returns” have been cut drastically.

In radio and television, the American companies have submitted to the Soviet Embassy comprehensive lists of programs for sale or exchange. The Department has delivered documentaries on TV film for selection by the Soviets. Negotiations are in progress for individual TV program exchanges, including those of a political nature.

It is estimated that over 3000 tourists will visit the Soviet Union this summer. These include such prominent Americans as Adlai Stevenson3 and Charles S. Ryne, and Americans of every walk of life. No Soviet tourists have as yet come to the United States, but American Express has opened an office in Moscow to facilitate tourist traffic.

Negotiations for ad hoc, unscheduled, direct commercial air flights between the United States and the USSR will commence soon.

I propose, with your concurrence, to submit periodic reports on the execution of the Agreement.4

Faithfully yours,

William S. B. Lacy
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 511.61/7–2558. Confidential.
  2. The 135-page report was entitled “Soviet Commitment to Education: Report of the First Official U.S. Education Mission to the U.S.S.R., With an Analysis of Recent Educational Reforms.”
  3. Documentation on Van Cliburn’s victory in the Tchaikowsky International Piano Competition in April 1958 and his subsequent tour of the Soviet Union is in Department of State, Central File 511.613.
  4. Stevenson described his visit to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1958 in Friends and Enemies: What I Learned in Russia (New York, 1959).
  5. No subsequent reports by Lacy to Secretary Dulles have been found. In a short note to Lacy dated August 1, a copy of which is attached to the source text, Dulles said that he had read the report of July 25 with interest and found it “indeed an encouraging one.”