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George Tanham Papers

Identifier: GTM-130531

Scope and contents note

The George Tanham Papers comprise the research files generated by George Tanham, a U.S. diplomat who was an expert in the politics of South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Tanham's files are mostly printed materials and manuscripts about various countries, such as Afghanistan, China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Materials regarding counterinsurgency, foreign relations, international politics, nuclear policy, and other topics are included. Most of the documents are secondary sources.

A portion of the personal papers of Georgetown University professor Jules Davids is also contained in the Tanham Papers. Davids' files include oral history interview transcripts and rough drafts in conjunction with his proposed book project about W. Averell Harriman: "Harriman: The Truman Years, History and Memory" (1986).


  • 1952 - 2003
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 2000

Conditions Governing Access 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

George K. Tanham (1922-2003), an expert on South Asia, Southeast Asia, and national security policies, was born in Tenafly, New Jersey. He received an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a doctorate in history and political science from Stanford University. During World War II, Tanham served as an artillery officer in Europe. He won two Silver Stars, a Purple Heart, and an Air Medal.

Tanham taught military history at the California Institute of Technology. In 1954, he was hired as a consultant for the RAND Corporation. A year later, Tanham was a fulltime RAND employee. In 1957, he moved to Washington, DC, where he rose the ranks of the RAND Corporation. He retired in 1987.

Aside from working for RAND, Tanham worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development as associate director for counterinsurgency in Vietnam from 1964 to 1965. He also served as a special assistant for counterinsurgency to the Ambassador to Thailand from 1968 to 1970.

Tanham published several books, including "Communist Revolutionary Warfare: The Vietminh in Indochina" (1961), "War Without Guns: American Civilians in Rural Vietnam" (1966), "Trial in Thailand" (1974), "Countering Covert Aggression" (1986), "Who Will Win? A Key to the Puzzle of Revolutionary War" (1989), "Indian Strategic Thought: An Interpretive Essay" (1992), "Indian Air Force: Trends and Prospects" (1995), and "Islam and Conflict Resolution: Theories and Practices" (1998).

George K. Tanham died on March 29, 2003.

[Source: Obituary in "Washington Post," 4/6/2003].


46.5 Linear Feet (93 boxes)

Language of Materials



Provenance: Gift from Kathleen Tanham?

George Tanham Papers
In Progress
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Special Collections Research, Washington, D.C.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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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