Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


John M. Allison Papers

Dates: 1823-1979.

Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 1952-1953; U.S. Ambassador to Japan, 1953-1957.

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.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 6 linear feet, 7 linear inches (about 12,000 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: The donors gave to the United States all copyrights which they had in unpublished materials in this or any other collection of papers received by and deposited in a U.S. Government archives. Documents created by U.S. Government officials in the course of their duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents presumably belongs to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Erwin J. Mueller (1978); Lucia Flaim (2008); Randy Sowell (2017).


[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1905 (April 7)Born, Holton, Kansas
1927A.B., University of Nebraska
1932-1941Foreign Service Officer, Japan and China
1941-1942Interned by Japanese government, upon outbreak of war repatriated to U.S.
1942-1945Secretary and Consul U.S. Embassy, London, England
1946-1947Assistant Chief, Division of Japanese Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
1947-1948Chief, Division of Northeast Asian Affairs
1948Appointed Deputy Director of Far Eastern Affairs
1951Deputy to John Foster Dulles during negotiation of Japanese Peace Treaty
1952-1953Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs
1953-1960 U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1953-1957), Indonesia (1957-1958), and Czechoslovakia (1958-1960)
1973Published Memoir, Ambassador from the Prairie
1978 (October 28)Died, Honolulu, Hawaii

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

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.

Related collections at the Truman Library include the papers of Dean Acheson, Dale Hellegers and Harry S. Truman (Official Files 20 and 197-C).

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1-15 SUBJECT FILE, 1823-1979
Correspondence, printed materials, and other items relating to the life and public career of John M. Allison. Arranged alphabetically by folder title, and thereunder chronologically.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • Birth and Childhood
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1827-1835
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1836
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1837
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1838
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1839
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1840-1849
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1850
Box 2
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1854-1873
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1880-1892
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, 1894-1913
  • Brown and Allison Families: Correspondence, Undated
  • Brown and Allison Families: Documents, 1823-1903
  • Brown and Allison Families: Documents, Undated
  • Cards
  • Cartoons
  • Certificates
  • Civil War
Box 3
  • Correspondence, 1922
  • Correspondence, 1923
  • Correspondence, 1924-1926
  • Correspondence, 1927
  • Correspondence, 1928
  • Correspondence, 1929
  • Correspondence, 1930
  • Correspondence, 1931
  • Correspondence, 1932
Box 4
  • Correspondence, 1933
  • Correspondence, 1934-1935
  • Correspondence, 1936
  • Correspondence, 1938-1941
  • Correspondence, 1943-1951
  • Correspondence, 1952
  • Correspondence, 1953
  • Correspondence, 1954
  • Correspondence, 1955
  • Correspondence, 1956
  • Correspondence, 1957
  • Correspondence, 1958-1962
  • Correspondence, 1964-1969
  • Correspondence, 1970
Box 5
  • Correspondence, 1971
  • Correspondence, 1972-1973
  • Correspondence, 1974
  • Correspondence, 1976
  • Correspondence, 1977-1978
  • Correspondence, Undated
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Death: Condolences and Memorial Service
Box 6
  • Détente
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
  • Embassy Guest Book, 1952-1965
  • Far East Tour, 1952
  • Far Eastern Commission Minutes, March 15, 1951
  • Financial Records
  • Genealogy
  • Indonesia
  • Invitations
Box 7
  • Japan
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Japan: Repatriation of U.S. Diplomatic Personnel, 1942
  • Japanese Books
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • London Assignment
  • Memorabilia
  • Montagne, C. E.
  • Morley, Christopher
  • Nebraska, University of
  • Newsletters
Box 8
  • Notes
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Notes for Speeches
  • Oral History
  • Passports
  • Personal
  • Personnel Records
  • Philippines
  • Photographs [transferred to the Photograph Collection]
  • Press Clippings, 1930-1938
  • Press Clippings, 1941-1942: Scrapbook No. 1
  • Press Clippings, 1941-1942: Scrapbook No. 2
Box 9
  • Press Clippings, 1941-1942: Scrapbook No. 3
  • Press Clippings, 1942
  • Press Clippings, 1943-1944
  • Press Clippings, 1947-1950
  • Press Clippings, 1951
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Press Clippings, 1952
      [1 of 3]
Box 10
      [2 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
  • Press Clippings, 1953
  • Press Clippings, 1954
  • Press Clippings, 1955
  • Press Clippings, 1956
  • Press Clippings, 1957-1958
  • Press Clippings, 1960-1964
  • Press Clippings, 1966-1969
  • Press Clippings, 1970-1973
  • Press Clippings, 1974-1975
  • Press Clippings, 1978
Box 11
  • Press Clippings, Undated
  • Press Releases and Statements
  • Printed Materials
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
  • Programs
  • Publication: Ambassador from the Prairie, Drafts
Box 12
  • Publication: Ambassador from the Prairie, Galley Master Proofs
      [1 of 10]
      [2 of 10]
      [3 of 10]
      [4 of 10]
      [5 of 10]
Box 13
      [6 of 10]
      [7 of 10]
      [8 of 10]
      [9 of 10]
      [10 of 10]
Box 14
  • Publication: Ambassador from the Prairie, Page Proofs of Text
      [1 of 5]
      [2 of 5]
      [3 of 5]
      [4 of 5]
      [5 of 5]
Box 15
  • Publications: Articles by John M. Allison
  • Speeches
  • State Department Advisory Panel: East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 1966
  • Summaries of Japanese Press
  • United States-Japan Trade Council Reports
  • Unpublished Papers and Articles
  • Unpublished Papers and Articles by John M. Allison
  • Vietnam
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]