The William E. and Barbara Colby Papers comprise the personal papers of William E. Colby, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1973 to 1976. A series of letters to Colby dating to the 1980s and 1990s touches on his opinion about various books concerning the history of intelligence in America. Also included are reproduced reports deriving from his service as head of the C.I.A. A fair amount of printed materials are also present. The bulk of the collection is composed of newspaper clippings documenting Colby's career collected in scrapbooks and loose newspaper articles. The documents span from the 1940s to 1994, and the bulk of the documents date between 1973 and 1991.
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William E. Colby (1920-1996) was a U.S. intelligence officer and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1973 to 1976. Colby was born on January 4, 1920 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated from Princeton University in 1940. Enlisting in the U.S. Army, Colby saw action in World War II as a paratrooper for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency. After the war, Colby received a law degree from Columbia University in New York in 1947.
In 1950, Colby joined the CIA. He held posts in Stockholm (1951-1953), Rome (1953-1958) and Saigon, South Vietnam (1959-1962). He eventually directed CIA operations in all of Asia (1962-1967). He was involved with CIA operations during the Vietnam War. In 1971 Colby returned stateside. He became head of the CIA in 1973. During his tenure, CIA operations came under scrutiny of the U.S. Congress and American citizens. Colby often testified before Congress to defend the CIA's policies. President Gerald Ford forced Colby to retire from the CIA in 1976.
Colby authored two books: "Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA." (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), and "Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of America's Sixteen-Year Involvement in Vietnam." (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989).
Colby died on April 27, 1996 at Rock Point, Maryland.
[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica Online].
Barbara Heinzen Colby (1920-2016) was the wife of William E. Colby, who served as Director of Central Intelligance from 1973-1976. She served with her husband and their family during his long CIA career in Sweden, Italy, Vietnam, and Washington, DC. She served on the Agency's Family Advisory Board, and played an important role in the passage of legislation guaranteeing a share of lifetime benefits to former spouses of Agency employees. She received the CIA Director's Award in 2002 for her "untiring efforts on the part of former Agency spouses" and her "constant concern for the welfare of Agency families." Mrs. Colby was born Barbara Ann Heinzen in Springfield, Ohio on December 25, 1920. Her father, Karl, was a journalist, businessman, and president of the Bayer Aspirin Company in the mid-1930s. Her mother Annette was a fashion coordinator for the Montgomery Ward Company. Barbara received a B.A. in History from Barnard College in 1942 and was an advertising copywriter before marrying William Egan Colby in 1945. Their marriage ended in divorce. In 1992 she received an M.A. in the Humanities from Georgetown University. She was a Dame of the Order of Malta.
[Source: Washington Post obituary]
20.25 Cubic Feet (24 boxes)
Gift of Barbara Colby, 1996. Additional materials donated by the Colby family in 2018.
Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository