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William E. Mulligan Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS160

Scope and Contents

The William E. Mulligan Papers primarily consist of personal and official correspondence, reports, manuscripts and printed materials relating to Mulligan's career in the Government Affairs Department of Aramco (the Arabian American Oil Company) from 1946 to 1978. The material is arranged in just over 500 folders in 18 boxes.

The William E. Mulligan Papers contain an extraordinary amount of highly unique primary and secondary source materials on the early years of Aramco and many of the most prominent Western figures in Arabia at the time. Included are manuscripts and correspondence of George S. Rentz, H. St. John B. Philby, Thomas C. Barger, Dame Violet Dickson, David S. Dodge, and Parker T. Hart. Also included is an immense amount of biographical materials on Saudi government officials and business people including members of the Royal Family, Shaikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani, Suliman S. Olayan, 'Adnan M. Kashoggi, and many others. The history of Aramco, it has been said, is also the history of modern Saudi Arabia, as Aramco officials worked closely with the newly formed Saudi government in some of its most important activities, including the creation of transportation and communications infrastructures, boundaries and other foreign relations issues, and national education, health care and administration. In fact, Aramco began dealing with Ibn Sa'ud well before the American government had made overtures to the King for the opening of diplomatic relations. Aramco set about its task of learning about Saudi language, culture, politics, geography, and history with the utmost studiousness and precision, producing numerous reports on every aspect of Saudi life stretching back to the late 1930's.


  • 1930 - 1992
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1985


Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the 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 they may wish to use, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for your intended use.

Biographical note

William E. Mulligan was born in 1918. He received a B.A. from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and later took courses in Classical Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Hartford Seminary Foundation in Connecticut, where he studied with Dr. Edwin Calverley. After completing his studies, Mulligan held a variety of jobs including editor at a radio station and reporter for the United Press in Oregon. Bill Mulligan joined Aramco's Government Relations Department in 1946. He was involved with boundary work for the Saudi Arab government in the 1940's and early 1950's and was assigned to Tapline for short periods during the early construction phase of the pipeline. Mulligan held the position of coordinator of the Arabian Affairs Division, manager of the Government Affairs Services Department, secretary of the Donations Committee and assistant to the vice president, Government Affairs. In his early years he worked extensively with George S. Rentz, the world renowned Arabist who increased Aramco's and the world's knowledge of the life, language and culture of Saudi Arabia. In the words of James Knight, 'Bill Mulligan became to George Rentz what Harry Hopkins was to FDR. George was the principal researcher and editor. Bill was, in effect, the production manager. Some of the notable studies on which they collaborated were 'The Eastern Reaches of al-Hasa Province' and 'Oman and the Southern Shore of the Persian Gulf.'

As a journalist, Mulligan edited the 'Sun and Flare' in 1946 for three weeks. During his tenure with Aramco, he contributed dozens of articles to 'The Arabian Sun,' 'Aramco World' magazine and a number of U.S. publications. He also wrote numerous scholarly articles for the Encyclopedia of Islam, a highly regarded reference work published by Brill in the Netherlands. When Bill Mulligan retired from Aramco in 1978, he was one of the last of the 'real old timers'. After his retirement, he settled in New Boston, New Hampshire where he immediately became active in numerous civic affairs. He also continued writing and speaking about Saudi Arabia and Aramco and became involved in civil rights organizations for Arab-Americans. William E. Mulligan died in Manchester, New Hampshire on December 14, 1992.


19.5 Linear Feet (18 boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations


The collection is organized into ten series:

Individuals Series

Chronological Files Series

Reports Series

Office Files Series

Basement Files Series

Printed Materials Series

Maps and Geological Surveys Series

Photographs Series

H. St. John B. Philby Series

Oversize Materials Series

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Shirley Mulligan, 1993.

William E. Mulligan Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo
  • 2024-03: Agent Links updated 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