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Please contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for assistance with accessing these materials.

Gwen Petitjean Papers

Identifier: GTM-150827

Scope and Contents

The collection contains typed letters signed from Petitjean to her parents recounting experiences during assignments abroad as a diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service. Countries to which Petitjean was posted include (chronologically 1951-retirement 1985): Peru, Panama, Germany, Canada, Morocco, Greece, Brazil, and Thailand, with a final posting in Washington, D.C.

It also includes photographic slides and prints, clippings, and certificates documenting her posts with the U.S. Foreign Service throughout the world.


  • 1949 - 1981


Conditions Governing Access

Box 6 of the collection is currently unprocessed and access to it may therefore be limited. Researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections for more information on access to this collection.

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

Gwen Petitjean was born on May 3, 1926, in Waterbury, Connecticut. She earned a B.S. from the University of Connecticut in 1948. A year later, in August 1949, she joined the U.S. Foreign Service, and three weeks later boarded a ship for her first post in Lima, Peru, where she served as secretary to the U.S. ambassador through 1951. Subsequent postings in the same capacity included Colon, Panama (1952-1955); Bonn, Germany (1956-1960); Ottawa, Canada (1960-65); Rabat, Morocco (1965-1970); Athens, Greece (1970-1975); Brasilia, Brazil (1975-1978); and Bangkok, Thailand (1978-1981). Ms. Petitjean’s final posting was back in Washington, D.C. from 1981 to 1984. She retired from the Foreign Service in 1985.

In retirement, Ms. Petitjean enjoyed bird watching and travel to birding sites across the U.S., as well as abroad, including the Caribbean and Greenland. She also volunteered at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. She passed away in January 2021 in Falls Church, Virginia.


1.75 Cubic Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gwen Petitjean, 2015 and 2018.

Gwen Petitjean Papers
October 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023: 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