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Eleanor Lansing Dulles papers

Identifier: MS2217

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Eleanor Lansing Dulles consist of materials that document Dulles's personal life, and document her career in both the public and private sector. The collection dates from 1867 to 1993, with the bulk of the material dating between 1935 and 1990. It includes correspondence, memoranda, reports, writings and publications, research material, notes and notebooks, clippings, photographs, photographic negatives, slides, postcards, a photograph album, a guestbook, an autograph book, a scrapbook, appointment books, address books, business cards, directories, awards and certificates, diplomas, invitations, itineraries, programs, brochures, pamphlets, oral history transcriptions, speeches, and memorabilia.

Dulles's papers document the evolution of her career as an economist, writer, teacher, and member of the U.S. Foreign Service. The collection contains information pertaining to her work for the United States Social Security Board and for the United States Department of State during critical moments of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Of particular interest are materials concerning her work for the economic recovery of Austria and Germany following World War II, and her work for Berlin throughout the Cold War. The collection also provides insight into her personal life, including family, travel, and involvement in cultural and social organizations. Sone correspondents include John Foster Dulles, Allen Welsh Dulles, Willy Brandt, Konrad Adenauer, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Richard von Weizsäcker, Richard Nixon, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.


  • 1867-1993
  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1990


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Eleanor Lansing Dulles, (b. June 1, 1895, d. Oct. 30, 1996), was a member of a diplomatic family. Her grandfather, John Watson Foster, served as Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison. Her uncle, Robert Lansing, was Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. Her eldest brother, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and another brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. In her memoir, Eleanor Lansing Dulles: Chances of a Lifetime (Prentice-Hall, 1980), Eleanor describes her family as a pride of lions – a closely-knit clan that produced strong, driven, and fiercely independent personalities.

Eleanor was no exception. Her background in economics and her familiarity with European affairs enabled her to fill many positions in an era when women were generally not chosen to serve at high levels of Government. She worked for relief agencies in France during World War I. She entered Government service in 1936 as director of financial research for the Social Security Board, and helped to organize President Franklin D. Roosevelt's new Social Security System. In 1942 she moved on to the State Department, and played a major role in postwar-planning for Germany, Austria, France, and Belgium. Eleanor was often on the front lines of economic recovery in Germany and Austria, and was a member of the American delegation to the Bretton Woods international monetary conference in New Hampshire in 1944. Serving as the head of the State Department's Berlin desk during the days of the Berlin Airlift and the Cold War, she became known as the “Mother of Berlin,” helping to revitalize the war-worn city and establishing the basis for modern U.S.-German relations. She travelled extensively throughout Europe, Africa, Latin American, and Asia for her work for the U.S. Department of State, the Center for Strategic Studies at Georgetown University, Youth for Understanding, and for her own independent research. In addition to her work for the United States Government, Eleanor was a teacher, a scholar, and an author, penning more than a dozen published works.

Chronology of Major Events in Eleanor Lansing Dulles' Life

(Adapted from Chronology in Eleanor Lansing Dulles' memoir: "Chances of a Lifetime" (Prentice-Hall 1980).

1895, June 1 Eleanor Lansing Dulles born in Watertown, New York to Allen Macy Dulles and Edith Foster Dulles.

1904 Dulles Family moves to Auburn, N.Y. (67 South Street).

1908 Attends Mount Vernon Seminary in Washington, D.C. (Family in Europe).

1909 Watches inaugural parade of President Taft. Goes to Paris with father on the S.S. Rotterdam. Joins family in Europe.

1911 Attends Auburn Academic High School.

1912 Attends Wykeham Rise School in Washington, Connecticut.

1913 Receives scholarship for Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

1914 World War I begins.

1915 Uncle, Robert Lansing, is appointed Secretary of State.

1917 Earns A.B. in Social Sciences from Bryn Mawr College.

1917 Travels to France to work for Shurtleff Relief Committee in Paris.

1918 Armistice signed in France. Works with American Friends Service at Mareuille-Port, Marne, France. Watches President Wilson enter Place de la Concorde in Paris.

1919 Returns from France to Henderson Harbor, New York. Awarded Fellowship in Social Economy and Psychology at Bryn Mawr College.

1920 Employed by American Tube and Stamping Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as Assistant Employment Manager. Later employed by S. Glemby and Company in Long Island, New York as Payroll Clerk and Employment Manager.

1921 Walking trip in Black Forest, Germany. Student at London School of Economics. Writes report on home workers for Toynbee Hall, factory survey. Flies the Channel, from Croydon to Brussels.

1923 Student in Economics at Harvard University and Radcliffe College.

1924 Earns M.A. from Radcliffe College and Harvard University. Teaches economics at Simmons College in Boston.

1925 Research on French franc in Paris. Meets David S. Blondheim. Sails from Marseilles to Constantinople.

1926 Returns to Paris from Turkey. Returns to Boston with thesis on French franc. Earns Ph.D. from Harvard University/Radcliffe College.

1927 Trip to Paris. Teaches at Simmons College, Boston.

1928 Teaches Economics and Social Economy at Bryn Mawr College. First book, “The French Franc, 1914-1928” is published.

1929, Oct. Stock market collapses in New York.

1930 Voyage by faltboot (collapsible boat) on the Danube River, Ulm to Passau. Visits Vienna, Bonn, and Berlin. Research for Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.

1931 Writes report on British Unemployment for President Hoover (associated with George Woods), in London.

1932 Teaches at Bryn Mawr College. On staff of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Teaches at Pennsylvania Women’s College. “Bank for International Settlements at Work” and “The Evolution of Reparation Ideas” published. Marries David S. Blondheim.

1933 Teaches at Bryn Mawr College and University of Pennsylvania. “The Dollar, the Franc, and Inflation” published.

1934 Husband, David S. Blondheim dies. Son, David Dulles born.

1935 Teaches at Bryn Mawr College and Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Consultant for Carl D. Montgomery and Louise Watson, Investment Management firm. Elected Honorary Member of Phi Beta Kappa.

1936 “Depression and Reconstruction” published. Economist for Social Security Board, Bureau of Research and Statistics, head of Division Financing Old Age Insurance.

1937 Gives speech in Defense of Financing Social Security before Vandenberg Commission. Adopts daughter, Ann Welsh Dulles.

1938 Conference on Financing Social Insurance, Geneva, Switzerland. Defends Social Security Act before Ways and Means Committee. Writes report, “Financing the Social Security Act.”

1939 World War II begins.

1940 Research with Social Security Board.

1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Speech to American Economic Association at New York meeting, “War and Investment Opportunities” (in Civil War).

1942 Works for U.S. Board of Economic Warfare Transfers to Leo Pasvolsky’s Division on Postwar Planning, in U.S. Department of State as Economic Officer. Finance Committee work on White Plan and Keynes Plan.

1943 Works on agreement on for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Planning for postwar Germany, Austria, France, Belgium.

1944 White and Keynes financial plans published. Appointed to International Secretariat Conference of 44 nations at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

1945 Sails for England on S.S. Marine Fox. Assigned as U.S. Financial Attaché in Austria. VE Day Travels to London, Italy (Caserta, Rome, Florence, Verona), and Austria (Salzburg). Includes short trip to Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest on mountain top. Works in Frankfurt, Germany to exchange 200 Hungarian horses for food for Austria –arranged with U.S. military. Travels to Vienna. Works on monetary conversion in Europe.

1946 Attends conference of U.S. Economic Officers in Paris, France. Austrian monetary conversion program completed with distribution of small notes. Arranges grant of cotton from military stockpile. Secures Export Import Bank Loan. Soviets seize large portion of Austrian industrial plant. Eleanor briefs Walter Lippmann on his visit to Vienna. Negotiates purchase of Konsular Academic building for Embassy using surplus U.S. credit.

1947 Travels to Berlin to confer with John Foster Dulles on his way to Moscow negotiations on treaties for Germany and Austria with Mark Clark and Secretary Marshall. U.S. Treaty Commission comes to Vienna to negotiate. Soviets hold Eleanor for interrogation in Baden, Austria. Travels to Trieste for visit – head of mission, Robert and Jane Joyce.

1948 Travels to Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, visits Consul Claiborne Pell. Communist takeover of Prague government. Marshall Plan. Returns to Washington. Reports to Department of State.

1949 Assigned to German Austrian Division of Department of State. Buys Six Town Point Island in Lake Ontario from John Foster Dulles.

1950 Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws from Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

1951 Moves to McLean, Virginia. Detailed to National Production Authority in Department of Commerce.

1952 Transferred to National Production Authority in Department of Commerce. Works for U.S. Department of State, Office of German Affairs. Survey trip to Germany – Bonn, Berlin

1953 Brother, John Foster Dulles sworn in as Secretary of State. Secures $15 million for aid programs for refugees in Berlin Stalin dies. Uprising in East Berlin and East Germany crushed by Soviet military. Eleanor at the Brandenburg Gate. U.S. Department of State initiates food package program for East Germans.

1954 Continues work in U.S. Department of State Department, German Office.

1955 John Foster Dulles signs Austrian State Treaty in Vienna. Eleanor visits Berlin. Granted Distinguished Achievement Award by Radcliffe Alumnae. Visits Berlin.

1956 Travels to Berlin and Haiti.

1957 Travels to Berlin. Receives Honorary Degree from Berlin Free University, Political Science faculty. Receives Honorary Doctor of Literature from Western College, Ohio. Attends dedication of Congress Hall, Berlin. Awarded Carl Schurz Plaque in Berlin. Attends John Foster Dulles’ dinner for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Pan American Union.

1958 Arranges Berlin visit for John Foster Dulles. Travels to Berlin.

1959 Mayor of Berlin (later Chancellor of West Germany and leader of the Social Democratic Party), Willy Brandt visits Washington, D.C. John Foster Dulles dies. Transferred from German Office to Office of Intelligence and Research in U.S. Department of State. Travels to Berlin for laying of cornerstone of Klinikum hospital. Awarded Ernst Reuter Plaque by Mayor Willy Brandt. Accorded rank of Minister by President Eisenhower.

1960 Travels to Asia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaya, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, London, and Paris. Citation for distinction from Bryn Mawr College. Trip with Radio Free Europe to Portugal, Munich, Germany, and Berlin. Travels to Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Ethioopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Souther Rhodesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Angola, Congo (Leopoldville), Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal.

1961 Research on developing countries for Office of Intelligence and Research. Berlin Wall erected.

1962 Resigns from U.S. Department of State. Travels to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Panama, and Mexico. Visits Germany. Awarded Honorary Doctor of Law from Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts. Teaches at Duke University, North Carolina. Attends Dulles Airport dedication in Virginia.

1963 Teaches at Duke University and Georgetown University. Lectures for Colston Leigh Speaker’s Bureau. Travels to Bonn as guest of Konrad Adenauer for retirement reception. “John Foster Dulles – The Last Year” published. John F. Kennedy assassinated. Lyndon B. Johnson sworn in as President.

1964 Research for Center for Strategic Services at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

1965 Teaches at Georgetown University. Visits Vienna, Austria as guest of the Austrian government. Awarded Honorary Doctor of Literature from Duke University. “Détente” published.

1966 Work at Center for Strategic Studies, Georgetown University. “Dominican Action 1965 – Intervention or Cooperation” published.

1967 Attends Konrad Adenauer’s funeral with Lyndon B. Johnson. Travels to East Germany (GDR): Leipzig, Weimar, Dresden, Eisleben, Halle, Karl Marxstadt. Work at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, California. “Berlin: The Wall is not Forever” published by the University of North Carolina Press. “Berlin und die Amerikaner,” translated.

1968 Research and writing at Hoover Institution, Stanford University, California. Travels to Helsinki, Leningrad, Moscow, Bucharest, and Prague. Travels to Berlin for dedication of Klinikum hospital as part of U.S. delegation. “American Foreign Policy in the Making” published by Harper and Row.

1969 Brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, dies. Attends funeral for President Eisenhower at Washington Cathedral. Sister-in-law, Janet Avery Dulles, dies. 25th anniversary celebration of Bretton Woods agreements. Travels to Europe as consultant for Youth for Understanding. Travels to Bonn and Berlin.

1970 Consultant at U.S. Department of State, Bureau of European Affairs. Teaches at Georgetown University. Travels to San Francisco for Youth for Understanding. “One Germany or Two” published by Stanford University Press. Sister, Margaret Edwards, dies. Lectures at Saginaw Valley College, Michigan for Youth for Understanding.

1971 Consultant for U.S. Department of State. Teaches at Georgetown University. Lectures for Youth for Understanding. Travels to Philippines and Tokyo, Japan. Consultant to Bureau of European Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Travels to Yugoslavia, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Skopje for Youth for Understanding.

1972 Consultant for U.S. Department of State. Travels to Belgrade, Dubrovnik, and Yugoslavia. “The Wall: A Tragedy in Three Acts” published by University of South Carolina. Work for Youth for Understanding in California and Michigan. Travels to Berlin and Bonn.

1973 Consultant for U.S. Department of State. Attends dedication of memorial rooms for John Foster Dulles and Janet Dulles at the University of Texas, Austin.

1974 Consultant for U.S. Department of State. Consultant for Dulles Library of Diplomatic History at Princeton University. Travels to Berlin as guest of German government for celebration of end of blockade. Research at Dulles Library, Princeton University. Travels to California for Youth for Understanding. Works on manuscript for book about Dean Acheson and John Foster Dulles.

1975 Travels to Vienna, Austria for 20th anniversary of Austrian State Treaty. Awarded honorary Doctor of Literature by Mount Vernon College, Washington, D.C.

1976 Travels to Bonn and Berlin. Travels to Frankfurt for Bicentennial celebration as guest of Atlantik Bruecke and Carl Schurz Foundation.

1977 Travels to Berlin.

1978 Ends consulting work with U.S. Department of State. Travels to Hawaii and Fiji.

1979 Travels to China. Awarded honorary Doctor of Literature by Clarkson College, Potsdam, New York.

1980 Publication of autobiography, “Chances of a Lifetime,” by Prentice-Hall. Travels to Austria for 25th anniversary of signing of Austrian State Treaty.

1983 Travels to Berlin.

1985 Travels to Germany for German-American Friendship Week and receipt of Honorary Professorship and General Lucius D. Clay Medal from Federation of German-American Clubs.

1987 Travels to Berlin for rededication of Congress Hall.

1988 Travels to Berlin for 40th anniversary celebration of Free University of Berlin.

1990 Travels to Berlin for celebration of 95th birthday.

1996, Oct. 30 Eleanor Lansing Dulles dies in Washington, D.C. at the age of 101.


18.5 Linear Feet (24 document boxes, 1 slim document box, 5 flat boxes, 1 map folder.)

Language of Materials



Eleanor Lansing Dulles (1895-1996) was an economist, teacher, author, and employee of the United States Government. She was a member of a diplomatic family in the United States, and spent the majority of her career in government service. She worked for the United States Social Security Board during the Great Depression and the United States Department of State during World War II and the Cold War. Often referred to as the “Mother of Berlin,” Dulles worked tirelessly for the economic recovery of the German city following World War II. In addition to more than 30 years of work for the U.S. government, Dulles taught at Simmons College, Bryn Mawr College, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, and Georgetown University. She was also the author of more than a dozen published works on economics and foreign relations. Dulles’ papers contain correspondence, memoranda, reports, writings and publications, research material, notes and notebooks, clippings, photographs, photographic negatives, slides, postcards, a photograph album, a guestbook, an autograph book, a scrapbook, appointment books, address books, business cards, directories, awards and certificates, diplomas, invitations, itineraries, programs, brochures, pamphlets, oral history transcriptions, speeches, and memorabilia. They document her personal life, as well as her career in both the public and private sector. The collection dates from 1867 to 1993, with the bulk of the material dating between 1935 and 1990.


Organized into six series: Personal; Certificates, Awards, and Honorary Degrees; Writing and Research; Employment; Travel; Family History and Legacy.

The materials in flat box 5 were delivered to Special Collections at Gelman Library from an exhibit case at the Mount Vernon campus. These materials were separated from the collection for an exhibit and have now been reconnected with the rest of the collection.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site, and may require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Eleanor Lansing Dulles donated her papers, along with her professional library, to Eckles Library at Mount Vernon College, circa 1993. The George Washington University acquired the college’s property and legacy in 1998.

Related Materials

Eleanor Lansing Dulles donated her professional library to the Eckles Library, Mount Vernon College. These books have been cataloged, and may be found via Gelman Library’s online catalog by conducting a keyword search for “Eleanor Lansing Dulles,” and refining the search to Gelman Library. Books containing marginalia by Dulles are located in the Special Collections Research Center.

Additional papers of Eleanor Lansing Dulles may be found at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, the New York State Archives, the Jefferson County Historical Society in Watertown, New York, Princeton University, and Cornell University. Oral history interviews with Dulles are located at Columbia University.

Reparative Description Projects

This finding aid was revised in March 2023 to address harmful descriptive language. During that revision, staff edited the Collection Level Abstract, Scope and Contents Note, and the Biographical/Historical Note, as well as the Scope Notes for Series 1, Series 4, and Series 5. To see the description prior to revisions, please view the previous version of the Eleanor Lansing Dulles papers .

Guide to the Eleanor Lansing Dulles papers, 1867-1993
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America