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Jack K. McFall Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS150

Scope and Contents note

The Jack K. McFall Papers consist primarily of correspondence received from State Department colleagues on the occasions of McFall's various career appointments, notably his appointment as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations in 1949, and as U.S. minister and later ambassador to Finland, in 1952 and 1953, respectively. Correspondents include Dean Acheson, Spruille Braden, Dwight D. Eisenhower, J. Edgar Hoover, Hubert Humphrey, Thomas B. Inglis, Henry Cabot Lodge, Livingston Merchant, Richard Nixon, Franklin D. Roosevelt (to William B. Oliver), Dean Rusk, Leopold Stokowski, and Earl Warren.

McFall's service as U.S. Naval Observer in Sierra Leone, Africa (1942 1943) is particularly well represented in the Subject Files Series. In addition, the collection includes a substantial number of manuscript outlines and typescripts for speeches delivered by McFall over the years. The photograph series includes formal and informal pictures of Mr. and Mrs. McFall, many taken during his posting in Canada as First Assistant Naval Attache and Naval Atttache for Air at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. Many inscribed and signed photographs comprise this series presented to McFall from notables such as Dean Acheson, J. Edgar Hoover, Cordell Hull, and Dean Rusk, among others. Various awards and citations garnered by Amb. McFall for years of distinguished service complete the collection.

For a complete outline of the arrangement of the collection, refer to the Synopsis following this introduction.

Abbreviations used in the ensuing descriptions include: ALS autograph letter signed; AMss autograph manuscripts; AN autograph note(s); b/w black and white (photograph); EEMP - envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary; Mss manuscript(s); TL typed letter (unsigned); TLS; typed letter signed; TMss typed manuscripts; TN typed note.

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Series 1. Individuals (Folders 1 - 16)

Arranged alphabetically from Dean Acheson through Earl Warren, this series contains correspondence and information by and about notable individuals with whom McFall worked.

Series 2. Correspondence Received/Sent (Folders 17 - 43)

This series contains correspondence received and sent by McFall. Arrangement is chronological by years and alphabetical by correspondent for each year. Note: most correspondence received includes TL carbon replies from McFall attached. Date span is 1944 to 1954.

Series 3. Subject Files (Folders 44 - 58)

The material in this series pertains to McFall's various appointments and association activities. Arrangement is roughly alphabetical by position title/place/association. This series is particularly interesting for the reports filed by McFall during his appointment as U.S. Naval Observer in Sierra Leone, Africa (1942-43).

Series 4. Personal Files (Folders 59 - 71)

This series consists of biographical information, including notes submitted by Mrs. McFall to newspapers for her husband's obituary in June 1990. Other material includes the numerous awards and citations presented to McFall over the years, as well as mementos collected by him such as menus, programs, invitations for various occasions.

Series 5. Speeches (Folders 72 - 92)

This series consists of typescripts and autograph outlines of many of the speeches delivered by McFall. Arrangement is chronological.

Series 6. Articles/Manuscripts (Folders 93 - 101)

This series consists of printed articles by McFall published in the journals and newsletters of the U.S. Foreign Service. Also included are autograph notes, many written during conferences attended by McFall.

Series 7. Newsclippings (Folders 102 - 108)

Newsclippings about McFall are arranged chronologically, covering the Navy years and posting to Finland (1941-56).

Series 8. Photographs (Folders 109 - 125)

This series includes photographs of the Ambassador and Mrs. McFall, as well as a series of signed photographs inscribed to McFall from such notable colleagues as J. Edgar Hoover, Cordell Hull, Sam Rayburn, among others. See also Series 9 Oversized material for more photographs.

Series 9. Oversized Material (Box 2, Folders 1 - 13)

Folders 1 - 3 include certificates and McFall's diploma from Northeast High School, Kansas City, Mo. Folders 4 - 13 include photographs of individuals and occasions. Among the inscribed portraits are those of Dean Acheson and J. Edgar Hoover.


  • 1925 - 1990
  • Majority of material found within 1928 - 1956

Collection-level Access Restrictions note

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Jack Kirkham McFall was born in Tacoma, Washington on September 23, 1905, an only child of Col. Gideon and Sarah K. McFall. The former was from Oskaloosa, Iowa, and the latter from Sullivan, Indiana. McFall's early youth was spent in Denver, Colorado, where he attended East Denver High School. The McFall family subsequently moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where young Jack McFall was eventually graduated from Northeast High School. In 1923, the family settled in Gary, Indiana, where McFall worked for two years as a teller in the Commercial Trust Bank.

In 1925, McFall entered the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., following a boyhood ambition to become a diplomat. In order to defray expenses during his college years, he worked as an assistant secretary to Sen. Arthur Robinson of Indiana.

After graduation in 1929, McFall was appointed executive secretary of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee by Congressman Will R. Wood of Indiana. During this appointment, McFall enrolled in evening courses at the George Washington School of Law (formerly the National University), Washington, D.C., graduating in 1933 with an L.L.B.

In 1936, McFall joined the Naval Reserve, and was subsequently called to service in 1942 as a senior grade lieutenant. He served as a U.S. Naval Observer in Sierra Leone, Africa, and then as First Assistant Naval Attache and Naval Attache for Air at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. His outstanding work during the war years won him citations from Thomas B. Inglis, chief of Naval Intelligence (1944), and from James Forrestal, secretary of the Navy (1946). McFall was discharged from the Navy as a commander in 1946, when he returned for a year to the House Appropriations Committee.

In 1947, at the age of 42, McFall was accepted into the U.S. Foreign Service, and took up his first assignment as U.S. consul in Montreal, Canada. In 1949 he was posted to Athens, Greece, as first secretary. Later the same year, he was called back to Washington to take up post as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations under Dean Acheson.

In 1952, McFall was posted to Finland by President Truman to serve as U.S. minister. In 1953, the Finnish legation was raised to embassy status and McFall was consequently appointed by President Eisenhower as the first U.S. ambassador to Finland, in which capacity he served with distinction until he was recalled to Washington in 1954 on temporary assignment as senior advisor to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations. On the first day of his assignment to the U.N., McFall suffered a heart attack. However, less than four months later, he returned to Helsinki against doctors' orders. The following eight months his health continued to deteriorate, and in September 1955 he was compelled to return to the U.S. on leave of absence. In July 1956, he retired from the State Department, although he would continue to obtain assignments when medical clearance permitted.

In the years following his retirement, Amb. McFall was active in numerous diplomatic associations including the Board of Governors of DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Affairs Retired); the American Scandinavian Foundation for which he was a trustee; the Washington Insitute of Foreign Affairs; the Army Navy Country Club; as well as the Cosmos Club. He was also a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the American Arbitration Association.

Honors presented to Amb. McFall include the John Carroll Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater Georgetown University.

For many years, the Ambassador and Mrs. McFall made their home in Washington, D.C., spending winters abroad in the Virgin Islands and the British West Indies. McFall died on June 16, 1990, after a stroke, at his winter home in Vero Beach, Florida. He was survived by his wife Martha.


2.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of William Boswell, April 1993.

Jack K. McFall Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057