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John O'Leary Papers 1

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS313

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers kept by John O'Leary during his Ambassadorship in Chile and in preparation for his assignment there. The collection includes daily schedules, correspondence (primarily email), subject files, press clippings, video tapes and awards. In 1998, John O'Leary was nominated by President Clinton to be the Ambassador to Chile, a post he accepted and held for three years. The daily schedules collected here serve as a "day in the life" record of the meetings, events, correspondence and activities of the Ambassador, his family, and the U.S. Embassy in Santiago. O'Leary requested of the 250 staffers at the Embassy that the primary means for communication be email. The email he received was then printed out and saved as attachments to the daily schedules. The bulk of the attachments to the schedules are preparation materials for the day's meetings, including news articles, biographies of the people O'Leary would be meeting with, and briefings on issues. Speeches, invitations and guest lists are also attached. Interfiled with the schedules are O'Leary's travel files, a record of his diplomatic visits both within and outside the Chilean borders.

Chile, in the 1990s, was experiencing a period of economic growth and political stability after recovering from the economic crisis and harsh military dictatorship of the decade before. In October of 1998, Augusto Pinochet was detained in London on charges of crimes against humanity during his administration (1973-1989). Declassification of documents relating to political violence in Chile was ordered by President Clinton in December of 1998. As Ambassador, O'Leary created a team that met regularly to track and discuss developments in the Pinochet case. Materials from the Pinochet Team Meetings are filed with his daily schedules.

Another important event in the history of Chile documented and referenced throughout the O'Leary collection is the development of a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. With O'Leary facilitating negotiations, the White House gave the go-ahead for the Agreement, the first such agreement made with a Southern cone country. A significant tie was also made between the two countries with the Chilean government purchasing American-made Lockheed Martin F16 Fighter Aircraft.

A great number of influential politicians and dignitaries made visits to Chile between the years of 1998 and 2001 including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Attorney General Janet Reno, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Senator Tom Daschle, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Secretary of Commerce William Daley, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, and the Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge. Materials pertaining to their visits are filed with the daily schedules.

Much of the material in the collection is filed chronologically with the daily schedules, therefore events can be looked up by date or by using the index. There are also subject files which contain news articles from both American and Chilean sources. These are valuable for giving a Chilean perspective on local and global topics. The "Chile Notebooks" were compiled in preparation for O'Leary's post and give an overview of the country and background information on important issues. There is a small series of notebooks from classes O'Leary attended at Yale.

[Sources: Vanden, Harry E. and Gary Prevost, Politics of Latin America, Oxford University Press, 2002. and La Tercera. 12 June, 2001 ]

SERIES SYNOPSIS: The John O'Leary Papers are arranged into six series.

SERIES: 1. Daily Schedules with Attachments DESCRIPTION: This series contains the printed daily schedules of John O'Leary from July 1998 until June of 2001. It also contains attachments to his schedules including background information for meetings in the form of news articles, briefings, summaries of issues, biographies, email, and other correspondence. Materials for business and social events are also included here in the form of printed speeches, invitations and guest lists. Travel files have been interfiled with the daily schedules and contain information about his visits to places within and outside of Chile during his Ambassadorship. At the end of each year, correspondence files, vouchers, and speeches are collected. The latest news articles and information regarding the case of Augusto Pinochet were collected for the Pinochet Team Meetings and kept as attachments to the daily schedules.

SERIES: 2. Subject Files DESCRIPTION: This series contains the Alphabetical Subject Files kept by O'Leary for his own reference on topics that were important during the time that he was in Chile (1998-2001). They consist mostly of news articles giving background information and summaries of the issues. There is also some correspondence, including email, and a few printed speeches and programs contained in the subject files.

SERIES: 3. Media DESCRIPTION: Press Clippings from newspapers and magazines, Photographs and Video Tapes, most featuring John O'Leary.

SERIES: 4. Ambassadorial Preparation Materials DESCRIPTION: This series contains materials used by O'Leary while he was preparing for his post in Chile. The Chile Notebooks were filled with articles related to Chile, organized by subject. The series also contains correspondence congratulating O'Leary on his nomination and commenting on his upcoming assignment. The series ends with materials from O'Leary's White House Swearing-in and Reception.

SERIES: 5. Pre-Ambassadorial Materials DESCRIPTION: This series contains notebooks kept by John O'Leary for his classes at Yale University from 1965-1974. It also contains materials from O'Leary's Congressional campaign in 1982.

SERIES: 6. Awards DESCRIPTION: This series contains three dimensional awards presented to John O'Leary and other objects.


ABBREVIATIONS: TL - Typed Letter TLS - Typed Letter Signed AL - Autograph Letter ALS - Autograph Letter Signed AC - Autograph Card ACS - Autograph Card Signed O'Leary - John O'Leary Ambassador - John O'Leary Pinochet - Augusto Pinochet FTA - Free Trade Agreement NAFTA - North American Free Trade Agreement JCTI - Joint Commission and Bilateral Consultative Mechanism


  • 1965 - 2001
  • Majority of material found within 1998 - 2001

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

John O'Leary (b. 1947) was the U.S. Ambassador to Chile from 1998 to 2001. He was nominated by Bill Clinton on April 28, 1998 and confirmed by the Senate on June 26, 1998. O'Leary focused on Chilean politics during his undergraduate years at Yale. He graduated in 1969 and went on to earn his M.A. as a Mellon Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge University. O'Leary received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1974.

O'Leary met Bill Clinton as a fellow classmate at Yale. O'Leary was an associate at Pierce Atwood, Maine's largest law firm, from 1974 until 1979 and a partner from 1980 until 1998. In 1996 he was appointed by the American Bar Association as the chair of the Environmental Law Committee. A long-time resident of Portland, Maine O'Leary served the Portland Public Library Board, the City Council from 1975-1982 and as mayor, 1980-1981.

O'Leary is married to Patricia Cepeda. The couple has two daughters, Alejandra Cepeda O'Leary and Gabriela Joyce O'Leary. Patricia Cepeda is a native of Columbia. She is a 1977 graduate of Yale College and a professional interpreter. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a friend of her family and the godfather of her eldest daughter, Alejandra.

U.S. Embassy Officials: James Carragher - Deputy Chief of Mission Stephen Wesche - Econ/Political Counselor Kathleen Brion - Counselor for Public Affairs Richard Blabey - Agricultural Counselor John Harris - Commercial Counselor

Chilean Officials: Augusto Pinochet - Coup Leader, President of Chile (1974-1990) Patricio Alywin - President of Chile (1990-1994) Eduardo Frei - President of Chile (1994-1999) Ricardo Lagos - President of Chile (2000 - ) Soledad Alvear - Minister of Foreign Relations (2000 - )

[Sources: Day, Adam. Mainebiz. "Santiago Calling," 23 July, 2001.]


63.5 Linear Feet (44 boxes)

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John O'Leary Papers 1
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