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J. Graham Parsons Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS210

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The J. Graham Parsons Papers consist of personal and professional correspondence files, memoranda, and photographs accumulated by Ambassador Parsons during his many years as a U.S. diplomat. Of note are files from his tenure as ambassador to Laos (1956-58); to Sweden (1961-67); and as deputy U.S. representative at the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks held in Vienna and Helsinki (1970-72).

The collection is enriched by many original signed letters from notable names in U.S. diplomacy including Dean Acheson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Joseph C. Grew, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson, Douglas MacArthur II, Myron C. Taylor, Harry S. Truman; as well as other famous individuals with whom Ambassador Parsons was acquainted, such as Bing Crosby, John Glenn, and Rose Kennedy.

Articles and speeches by Ambassador Parsons on Southeast Asia reveal that he was a strong advocate of the Eisenhower administration's foreign policies, strongly supporting the Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek against communism. Ambassador Parsons' writings also reflect his experiences as a participant in negotiations for diplomatic agreement between political factions in Laos during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The collection is arranged into 16 series -

Series 1 Foreign Service Regions: postings from 1947-1969 (see chronology below for more details). Series 2 The Joseph C. Grew Years 1932-36 Series 3 Foreign Service 1936-47 Series 4 Foreign Service 1947-72 Series 5 Foreign Service (Miscellaneous): primarily relating to the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA). Series 6 Subject Files: miscellaneous topics, including material on the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty (1984-90). Series 7 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) Series 8 Personal Correspondence: Individuals (1973-91) Series 9 Personal Correspondence: Alphabetical (pre-1935/post 1973 retirement years) Series 10 Parsons Family Correspondence Series 11 Speeches and Speech Files Series 12 Diaries/interviews/manuscripts/notebooks Series 13 Photographs Series 14 Awards/certificates Series 15 Printed matter including newspaper/journal article clippings Series 16 Oversized (photographs, awards, souvenirs, map of Laos)


  • 1930 - 1991

Collection-level Access Restrictions

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

Chronology for Career of J. Graham Parsons

- Born October 28, 1907 - 1925-29 Received B.A., Yale University. - 1931-32 Attended and graduated from New York Business School. - 1931-32 Securities analyst, E.H. Rollins and Sons, New York. - 1932-36 Private secretary to U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Grew, U.S. embassy, Tokyo, Japan. - 1936 Entered U.S. Foreign Service. - 1936-38 Vice consul, American Consulate General, Havana, Cuba. - 1938, Acting officer, U.K. desk, Division of European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. - 1938-40 Vice consul, American Consulate General, Mukden, Manchuria. - 1940-43 Third secretary & vice consul, American Legation, Ottawa, Canada. - 1943-45 Officer for Canada desk, British Commonwealth Division, Office of European Affairs, U.S. Department of State. - 1945-47 Assistant chief, British Commonswelth Division, Office of European Affairs, U.S. Department of State. - 1946-47 Member/secretary, U.S. section, U.S.-Canada Joint Board on Defense, Washington, D.C. - 1947-48 Assistant to U.S. President's Personal Representative to Pope Pius XII, Vatican City, Rome. - 1948-50 First secretary (chief of political section), U.S. embassy, New Delhi, India, (included responsibility for Kathmandu, Nepal). - 1951 National War College, 10-month certificate course. - 1951-52 Deputy director, Office of European Regional Affairs (EUR), U.S. Department of State. - 1952-53 Acting director, EUR. - 1953-54 Counselor, U.S. embassy, Tokyo, Japan. - 1954-56 Minister, Tokyo, Japan. - 1956-58 Ambassador, U.S. embassy, Vientiane, Laos. - 1958-59 Deputy assistant secretary, Far Eastern Bureau (FE), U.S. Department of State. - 1959-61 Assistant secretary, FE. - 1961-67 Ambassador,U.S. embassy, Stockholm, Sweden. - 1967-69 Senior inspector, Foreign Service Inspection Corps. - 1969-70 State Department advisor, Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), Washington, D.C. - 1970 Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, State Department. - 1970 Chairman, U.S. section, U.S.-Canada Permanent Joint Board on Defense. - 1970 Retired from U.S. Department of State. - 1970 (c.April-August), deputy U.S. representative, SALT II (Vienna). - 1970 (c.November-December) SALT III (Helsinki). - 1971 (c.March-May) SALT IV (Vienna). - 1971 (c.July-September) SALT V (Helsinki). - 1971 (November)-1972 (January) SALT VI (Vienna). - 1972 (c.February/March-May/June) SALT VII (Helsinki).

Ambassador Parsons was married to the former Margaret Josephine Boulton in 1936 (died 1987). After retirement, Ambassador Parsons resided in Stockbridge, Massachussetts, until his death on October 20, 1991. He is survived by two daughters, Margaret Hallett and Jane Lyons, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Ambassador Parsons was a member of the American Foreign Service Association, DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired), and the Metropolitan and Chevy Chase clubs.

Sources for scope notes: Obituary by Richard Pearson (Washington Post, October 22, 1991); biographical data from the J. Graham Parsons Papers (Folder 14:30).


22 Linear Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials


J. Graham Parsons Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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