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   George W. Perkins, Jr. Papers, 1895-1990 [Bulk Dates: 1909-1960].

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); George W. Perkins papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection contains the papers of George W. Perkins, Jr., a diplomat who served as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and as United States Permanent Representative to NATO. The bulk of the papers relates to his work for NATO and for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, which he chaired. There are also documents pertaining to his service in the U.S. Army during World War I and World War II. Most of the material consists of correspondence and photographs.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1491
Bib ID:4079209 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Perkins, George Walbridge, 1895-1960.
Title:George W. Perkins, Jr. Papers, 1895-1990 [Bulk Dates: 1909-1960].
Physical description:25 linear ft. (55 boxes: 51 document boxes, 2 record cartons, 1 flat box, 1 slide box)
Language(s): Material is in English.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. Box 55, which contains glass plate negatives, is located onsite. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in seven series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The collection contains documents and photographs of George W. Perkins, Jr. Subject files include mostly official correspondence regarding organizations such as NATO, the Palisades Interstate Park Commissions, and Merck and Company. The bulk of these subject files were created by George W. Perkins, Jr. After his death, several folders with condolences and obituaries were added by his family. Also included are his documents from World War I and World War II: manuals, maps, correspondence, and photographs. His personal documents constitute a separate series, which includes correspondence with family and his two wives, papers from his school years and travel diaries. The papers also contain invitations, menus, and itineraries that illustrate his social life as a diplomat. Financial files include stocks and bonds as well as correspondence, clippings, and official documents regarding the bankruptcy of Knauth, Nachod and Kuhne. There is also a large amount of photographs and photo albums that include family portraits and photographs from travels.

Series I: Subject Files Arranged by George W. Perkins, Jr., 1909-1985

Most of the papers in this series were arranged by George W. Perkins, Jr.; several folders contain letters received by his family after his death. The labels chosen by Perkins were retained, excepting those in brackets within the finding aid. The series consists mostly of correspondence from the 1940s and 1950s, when Perkins was a US diplomat. Also included are his documents pertaining to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission: correspondence, data for developing projects, and speeches. Of particular interests are folders with papers from World War I, when Perkins served as Lieutenant, and World War II, when he worked for the Chemical Warfare Service as a Colonel. Contained here are handbooks and maps from training sessions held during World War I, as well as maps, folders with memos on chemical warfare, and reports on travels to several countries, especially India, during World War II.

Series II: Personal Documents, 1910-1960

The bulk of this series is correspondence with friends and family, particularly with his mother, Evelina Perkins, his sister Dorothy (Polly) Perkins, his first wife, Katherine Trowbridge, and his second wife, Linn Merck Perkins. There are also notes and handbooks from his school days, papers documenting his participation in the 1908 and 1912 Republican Conventions, and drafts of a biography of his father, George W. Perkins, which was later used by Trumbull White for a book that was never published. This series also includes travel diaries from 1910 to 1931, some of which describe trips that were also photographed. The photographs are included in Series VI.

Series III: Social Affairs, 1936-1957

This series consists of ephemera related to the Perkins’s social life while he was working as an Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs in Washington, DC from 1949 to 1953 and, later, as a US Permanent Representative to NATO in Paris, from 1955 to 1957. Included are invitations to official ceremonies and dinners, menus, itineraries, clippings as well as papers regarding official visits to countries such as Austria, Germany, and the UK.

Series IV: Financial Files, 1922-1937

Contained here are a variety of bonds and stocks from the 1920s and 1930s as well as correspondence about financial matters. The bulk of this series consist of documents pertaining to the bankruptcy of Knauth, Nachod and Kuhne, which include the Supreme Court decision on Charles S. Martin against William C. Peyton, George W. Perkins, Jr., Anne du Pont Peyton, Evelina B. Perkins, Dorothy Perkins Freeman and Edward W. Freeman.

Series V: Printed Material, 1909-1990_

The pamphlets and brochures in this series are connected to Perkins’s main interests: foreign policy and service as well as parks and parkways. Also included are pamphlets from Robert College, Istanbul, for which Perkins served as a trustee from 1922 to 1960.

Series VI: Photographs, 1895-1970

The bulk of this series consists of photograph albums from the 1910s through the 1930s, with pictures of travels to Alaska, Allagash, Central and South America, and Europe. There are also family portraits dating back to 1895 and official NATO photographs. This series includes negatives of photographs taken at Hill School from 1910 to 1913 and glass negatives of the family’s trip to Alaska in 1909. Of particular interests are photographs taken during a trip to India for the Chemical Warfare Service during World War II and an album with photographs from World War I.

Series VII: Other Media, 1940-1961

This series includes records of speeches given at the General Ridgway Testimonial Dinner and at ceremonies held by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. There is also a recording of a Christmas message to Austria delivered by Perkins while he was working for NATO.

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. Box 55, which contains glass plate negatives, is located onsite.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); George W. Perkins papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Cataloged 08/--/1989 Christina Hilton Fenn

Papers processed 2009 Casiana Ionita, GSAS, 2013

Finding aid written 11/2009 Casiana Ionita, GSAS, 2013

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion April 7, 2010 Finding aid written in English.
    2010-04-07 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Photograph albums.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Chemical warfare--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Executives.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Insurance companies--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Life insurance--History.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
North Atlantic Treaty Organization--Officials and employees.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
North Atlantic Treaty Organization--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
North Atlantic Treaty Organization.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Palisades Interstate Park Commission.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Palisades Interstate Park.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Perkins, George W. (George Walbridge), 1862-1920.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Politics and government--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

George W. Perkins, Jr. (1895-1960) was a diplomat who served as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs under Dean Acheson, from 1949 to 1953, and as the US Permanent Representative to NATO, with rank of Ambassador, from 1955 to 1957.

Perkins was born in 1895 to Evelina Ball Perkins and George W. Perkins. His father was a financier, member of J.P. Morgan & Co. and one of the founders of Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party. He was also president of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission from its creation in 1900 to 1920. George W. Perkins, Jr. pursued his undergraduate studies from 1913 to 1917 at Princeton University, and in 1921 received an MA from Columbia. During World War I, from 1917 to 1919, he served as a Lieutenant in the 1st Division of the US Army. While he was fighting in France in 1918, his wife, Katherine Trowbridge, whom he had married in 1917, died. In 1921 he married Linn Merck, daughter of George Merck, President of Merck and Co. The couple had three children.

From 1921 to 1922, Perkins was Executive Secretary to Postmaster General Will Hays, and then, from 1927 to 1948, he acted as Executive Vice President of Merck and Co. He took a leave of absence during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, while he was a Colonel working for the Chemical Warfare Service of the US Army. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service.

In 1949, President Harry Truman appointed Perkins, a Republican, to the post of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. In the four years he held this position, he advocated for a more open attitude toward Spain and helped to win financial aid for Yugoslavia from Congress, arguing that it would be a way of deterring the Soviet Union. President Dwight Eisenhower appointed him United States Permanent Representative on the Council of NATO in 1955, five years after Perkins had served as the US representative in the formation of NATO. In 1957 he was succeeded by W. Randolph Burgess.

In his last years, Perkins was very devoted to the Palisades Park Interstate Commission, of which he had been a member since 1922. He became President in 1945 and served for 15 years. He died in 1960.

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