John M. Allison Papers
The papers of John M. Allison consist of correspondence, printed materials, and other items mostly relating to his career as a diplomat and U.S. State Department official. Also included is information about Allison's ancestors, his personal life, his travels, and his interest in international affairs, as well as drafts of his 1973 memoir, Ambassador from the Prairie.
Size: 6 linear feet, 7 linear inches (about 12,000 pages).
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The papers of John M. Allison consist of correspondence, printed materials, speeches, press releases, memorabilia, and other items mostly relating to his career as a diplomat and U.S. State Department official. Also included is information about Allison's ancestors, his personal life, his travels, and his interest in international affairs, as well as drafts of his 1973 memoir, Ambassador from the Prairie. The collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title in a single series, the Subject File.
The correspondence in the collection includes many letters written by Allison to his parents when he was a young American in the Far East, from 1927 to 1936. In these letters, Allison recounts his activities and experiences as an English teacher in Japan, as an advertising manager for General Motors in China, as a clerk at the American Consulate General in Shanghai, and as a Foreign Service Officer in Japan and China. He also comments on the diplomatic conflicts and increasing tensions between the United States and Japan during the 1930s. The collection contains many letters of congratulation received by Allison upon his appointments as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs in 1952 and as U.S. Ambassador to Japan in 1953, as well as letters and memorandums relating to his service as Ambassador to Japan, Indonesia, and Czechoslovakia prior to his retirement from the Foreign Service in 1960. Most of the subsequent correspondence in the collection pertains to Allison's continuing interest in U.S. foreign policy during the 1960s and 1970s. The collection contains letters to Allison from such important persons as Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, Dean Rusk, Averell Harriman, and Adlai Stevenson.
The printed materials in the collection consist mostly of press clippings from American or foreign newspapers and magazines. Some of the clippings concern the "Allison incident" of 1938, in which Allison was slapped by a Japanese soldier while serving as a U.S. diplomat in war-torn China. (Japan officially apologized for the incident after the U.S. filed a formal protest.) Three scrapbooks of articles from English-language Japanese newspapers in 1941-42 reflect the Japanese Government's perspective on its worsening relations with the U.S. and official optimism during the first months of the war. Other periodical articles concern Allison's work with John Foster Dulles on negotiations for a peace treaty with Japan; his service as Ambassador to Japan, Indonesia, and Czechoslovakia; and his activities after he retired from the government and settled in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Official correspondence, telegrams, itineraries, and schedules in the collection document Allison's extensive tour of the Far East from September to November of 1952, soon after his appointment as Assistant Secretary of State. Allison's tour focused on efforts to strengthen Asian countries against Communism and form a Pacific pact.
The page proofs and galley master proofs of text from Allison's book, Ambassador from the Prairie, comprise a large part of the collection. Ambassador from the Prairie is Allison's memoir of his diplomatic career, including his work on the Japanese Peace Treaty, his activities as Assistant Secretary of State, and his service as an Ambassador. The page proofs are comprised of drafts and revisions of the original text, including handwritten notes and unpublished text. Along with the page proofs are the galley master proofs of text from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin. There are approximately three copies of the galley master proofs in the collection, including a final draft. Also included in the collection are many published and unpublished articles written by Allison and others.
The collection also contains information about Allison's youth and education; his internment in Japan with other U.S. diplomats following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; his repatriation to the U.S. in 1942; his assignment to the U.S. Embassy in London during World War II; his involvement and interest in U.S. policy toward Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam; and his death in 1978.
In addition, the collection contains information about Allison's nineteenth-century ancestors, especially his great-grandfather James A. Brown, a Presbyterian minister and immigrant from Scotland. Brown's correspondence with his first wife, Nancy Anderson Brown; with his second wife, Rebecca White Brown; with his daughter, Isabella McCandless (Allison's grandmother); and with other relatives is included, along with letters and other documents concerning Allison's parents, Oscar J. and Annie Belle Allison. Also included in the collection are documents concerning the U.S. Civil War, including a diary, printed materials, and records relating to the military service of Allison's ancestors.
A small collection of the papers of John M. Allison, consisting mostly of correspondence from the early 1950s and proofs of Ambassador from the Prairie, was opened for research at the Truman Library in 1978. A much large accretion was added in 2017.
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