New Digital Collection: The Harold Saunders papers

If you’ve been watching SCRC’s digital collections platform, LUNA (and I know you follow it like the release of the new iPhone), you’ll notice that we’ve recently added a new collection to our available online material!

A photograph of Harold Saunders with President Lyndon B. Johnson, signed by Johnson.

The collection is the papers of the late, great U.S. diplomat Harold “Hal” Saunders.  Starting out as a U.S. Air Force lieutenant in the 1950s, Saunders went on to become a major figure in America’s international affairs.  His distinguished career in the U.S. government spanned over 20 years and six U.S. presidents.  His government career was followed by decades working for the high-profile Kettering Foundation, researching issues of public policy and political dealings around the globe.  Saunders was devoted to fostering strong dialogue between nations and spent his life working toward that cause.  Here are some highlights from his long career:

  • 1961 – Joined the National Security Council (NSC) staff
  • 1967– Served as the NSC’s Middle East expert during the Six-Day War (an Arab-Israeli conflict)
  • 1973 – Accompanied Henry Kissinger as part of a small team of American diplomats negotiating an end to the Yom Kippur War (an Arab-Israeli conflict) and other similar military engagements
  • 1974 – Appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • 1975 – Appointed Director of Intelligence and Research for the U.S. Department of State
  • 1978 – Appointed by President Jimmy Carter to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, during which time he played a key role in negotiating the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israeli Peace Treaty (1979)
  • 1979-1981 – Negotiated the release of the 52 American hostages held during the Iran Hostage Crisis
  • 1981 – Named Co-Chair of the Task Force on Regional Conflicts for the Dartmouth Conference (the longest continuous dialogue between American and U.S.S.R. citizens)

A certificate of appointment for Harold Saunders.

In case you were wondering about his other accomplishments, he also:

  • Taught international relationships and conflict resolution at GMU and Johns Hopkins University
  • Had four honorary doctorate degrees
  • Developed a diplomatic process called “Sustained Dialogue” for transforming racial and ethnic conflicts
  • Wrote four books, co-authored one, co-edited another one
  • Founded the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (now the Sustained Dialogue Institute)
  • Moderated dialogues from outside the government during conflicts in Tajikistan, the Middle East, Europe, South Africa, and the Americas

A photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson meeting with Indian Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Saunders sits on the far right.

The Saunders collection contains photographs of him with various international leaders, many awards for public service, notes on intense negotiations, summaries and reports on high-level discussions, and travel documents from diplomatic missions.  Honestly, that isn’t all, but we’d be here all day!  Find out for yourself what this incredible collection holds by scoping it out here!


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