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Cynthia Helms Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS426

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Cynthia Helms Papers consist of letters, manuscripts, photographs, scrapbooks, and printed materials documenting the life of Cynthia Helms, author, Middle East expert, and wife of Richard M. Helms, who served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1966 to 1973 and U.S. Ambassador to Iran from 1973 to 1976. Mrs. Helms' personal papers include a number of book reviews written by her concerning books on the Middle East in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition, a limited amount of correspondence is retained, mostly regarding Mrs. Helms' book "An Ambassador's Wife in Iran," published in 1981. Notable correspondents include Barbara Bush, Porter J. Goss, William Hood, Lady Bird Johnson, Farah Pahlavi, Thomas Powers, Ronald Reagan, S. Dillon Ripley, and Archibald Roosevelt, Jr. Many photographs of both Mrs. Helms and her husband are present. Several of Mrs. Helms' books are preserved in this collection: "An Ambassador's Wife in Iran" (1981) and "Favourite Stories from Persia" (1982).


  • 1935 - 2006
  • Majority of material found within 1980 - 1999


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.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical note

Cynthia Helms was born and educated in England. During World War II, she served in the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) from 1941 to 1943. In honor of her service, her portrait is preserved in the Imperial War Museum. Cynthia Helms married Allan Mckelvie in 1943. After a divorce, she married Richard M. Helms in 1968. From 1969 to 1973, Cynthia Helms worked for Radio Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. She soon became a member of American Women in Radio and Television. Moreover, she was the co-founder of Concern Inc., an organization involved with environmental issues. From 1973 to 1976, Cynthia Helms was stationed in Iran with her husband Richard M. Helms while he was U.S. Ambassador there. During that time, she attended Tehran University and the Imperial College of Islamic Philosophy and served on the board of directors for Damavand College. Returning to Washington, D.C., Cynthia Helms worked as a project assistant at the Smithsonian Institution from 1977 to 1978, chairperson of the board for Concern Inc. from 1977 to 1979, member of the advisory council at the Federation of Women's Clubs History and Research Center from 1982 to 1985, board member of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, board member of Wold Resources Institute from 1989 through 2005, chairperson of the board of World Wide from 1990 to 1991, board member of the Friends of the National Arboretum, and honorary trustee of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, among her widespread service to society. Cynthia Helms received the Central Intelligence Agency's Director's Award in 2006. Cynthia Helms published "An Ambassador's Wife in Iran" in 1981 and a children's book "Favourite Stories from Persia" in 1982.

[Source: Biographical Sketch of Cynthia Helms in Box 1 Folder 7 of the Cynthia Helms Papers.]


8 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations



Series 1 - Correspondence. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Series 2 - Book Reviews by Cynthia Helms. Arranged alphabetically by title of book being reviewed.

Series 3 - Manuscripts. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series 4 - Photographs. Arranged alphabetically by person.

Series 5 - Awards. Arranged alphabetically.

Series 6 - Printed Materials. Arranged chronologically.

Series 7 - Oversized Materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Cynthia Helms, 2008.

Cynthia Helms Papers
Scott S. Taylor
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-10: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

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