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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 930: Vt-308

Records of THIS for Diplomats, 1961-2015 (inclusive), 1970-2015 (bulk)


Minutes, reports, correspondence, budgets, videotapes, and photographs related to THIS for Diplomats.


  • 1961-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1970-2015

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by THIS for Diplomats is held by THIS for Diplomats while the organization exists. Copyright in other records in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


11.8 linear feet ((26 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 3 photograph folders, 3 videotapes, electronic records)

The records of THIS for Diplomats document the organization's founding, structure, and its history of supporting diplomats and their families. Records include correspondence; memoranda; reports; financial records; articles; attendance, donor, and volunteer lists; recipes; committee minutes; by-laws, photographs, one baseball hat, and three videotapes. This material was generated by the various officers, staff members, and volunteers of THIS.

The records in this collection highlight the events that THIS for Diplomats planned for foreign diplomats in the United States, which were intended to enrich the lives of diplomats and their families through educational, informational, and culture exchanges. The events sponsored by THIS gave the diplomats opportunities to experience American culture, particularly in the Washington, DC, area, such as sporting events, regional cooking demonstrations, tours of historic houses and buildings, and musical performances. Many programs were repeated year after year, due to their popularity. These documents contain the final reports submitted after each event, and many include diplomatic feedback and a summary written by the volunteer who planned it.

Although THIS for Diplomats was initially founded in order to support diplomats from Africa, the records found here represent the more social aspects of THIS for Diplomats and do not document how the organization assisted diplomats with navigating life in a segregated city.

Original folder headings were maintained; titles in brackets were created by the archivist. The majority of records were received in folders; loose material was arranged by the archivist. Some past issues of THIS for Diplomats' volunteer newsletter are available at the Schlesinger Library; consult HOLLIS, the online catalog. For more information see the THIS for Diplomats web site, THIS for Diplomats' web site is being captured periodically as part of Schlesinger Library's web archiving program.

Series I, ADMINISTRATIVE, 1961-2015 (#1.1-6.13, E.1), includes by-laws, volunteer handbooks, budgets, volunteer and diplomatic applications, school requests, correspondence, articles, donor lists, time sheets and committee meeting minutes. The material in this series documents the organizational structure of THIS for Diplomats, including the executive committee, administrative committee, programs committee, and service committees. This series also contains documents related to volunteer applications, handbooks, dues increases, and correspondence. Activities were planned and executed by volunteers, while counsel, coordination, and clerical work were provided by the paid staff.

Material found in this series documents the relationship between THIS for Diplomats and Meridian House International, including the financial support that Meridian House International provided between 1965 and 2014. This series also contains documents related to fundraising efforts by THIS for Diplomats, as well as volunteer recruitment.

The records in this series include a survey conducted by THIS for Diplomats in 1999, which emphasized the changing demographics of diplomats by geographic region, gender, marital status, age, and age of children. Due to the results of this survey, THIS for Diplomats decided that there was a need to attract younger volunteers, including men, as well as volunteers with full-time employment.

These records contain gaps in material; there are no records from 1961 to 1964, with the exception of the 1961-1962 annual report. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, EVENTS, 1965-2015, n.d., (#6.14-26.31), includes final reports, memoranda, attendance lists, programs, fliers, articles, financial records, registration forms, recipes, and correspondence. This series contains documents related to the planning and execution of THIS for Diplomats events, under the umbrella of the program committee, and subsequently highlights the types of events offered by THIS for the diplomats and their families. This series also documents the "Introduction to THIS" event held every year for new diplomats.

Also found here are the final reports, which were completed after almost every event, and include the number of diplomats and volunteers present, how many countries were represented, how many no-shows, how successful the program was, or why the program was ultimately canceled. The committees used this information to determine whether an event should be offered again in the future.

The records in this series give an overview of the program committee and the many smaller committees it supported, which changed over the years, and have included American history and community affairs; architecture, garden, and home design; cooking; government affairs; performing arts; programs for professionals, and special events. Many of the cooking-related events produced a collection of recipes. Events that include recipes are noted as such throughout this series.

These records contain gaps in material; there are no records from 1961 to 1964, 1966 to 1969, and 1996-1999. This series is arranged chronologically.

Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, AUDIOVISUAL, AND MEMORABILIA, 1981-1992, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.3, Vt-308.1-Vt-308.3, 27FB.1m), includes photographs, three videotapes, and one baseball hat. The photographs found in this series are from the White House children's Christmas party, and include images of Nancy Reagan and Aileen Quinn. This series also contains three videotapes related to THIS for Diplomats. Two of the videotapes were produced for the organization, and one contains a television news broadcast about THIS for Diplomats. Also in this series is a THIS for Diplomats baseball hat. This series is arranged by format.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


THIS for Diplomats was organized by Eleanor Israel in 1961. Israel worked for Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke, the Chief of Protocol of the United States, who was seeking for a way to provide hospitality and information for the 1,300 diplomats living in the Washington, DC, area. Washington, DC, which was still a segregated city at the time, was experiencing a large influx of diplomats from recently independent African countries; many of these newly arrived diplomats were refused service in area restaurants. Eleanor Israel, along with Lillian Owen, from the International Legislation and Information Service; Irena Roberts, co-founder of the Coordinating Committee of Organizations Serving International Visitors (CCOSIV); and other members of CCOSIV formed an ad hoc committee called Committee on Services to Diplomatic Visitors.

In December 1961, the group was renamed The Hospitality and Information Service (THIS) for Diplomatic Residents and Their Families, with Lillian Owen serving as chair and, eventually, president; Frances "Petey" McClintock as vice chair; Irena Roberts as secretary; Eleanor Israel as treasurer and liaison to the Office of the Chief of Protocol; and a paid staff secretary. THIS also received sponsorship and support from Jacqueline Kennedy and the wives of President Kennedy's cabinet members, including Virginia Foisie Rusk, Jane Shields Freeman, Martha Blakeney Hodges, Dorothy Kurgans Goldberg, and Phyllis Ellsworth Dillon.

During the 1960s, THIS for Diplomats provided personal assistance and counseling; information on recreational opportunities and schools; and sponsored informal lunches, teas, and swimming parties. Over time, THIS for Diplomats developed a committee structure to plan the many events hosted by its volunteers.

While both diplomats and volunteers were charged a small fee for many of these events, THIS for Diplomats also provided free services to diplomats and their families, which included book discussions, bridge lessons, language lessons and cultural exchanges, an international play group, and hospitality visits to both the diplomats' and volunteers' homes. Volunteers also invited diplomats and their families for weekend brunches, backyard barbeques, and afternoon picnics though the home hospitality service.

THIS for Diplomats operated out of Lillian Owen's basement until 1963, when it moved to 700 Jackson Place Northwest, across from the White House. In 1965, THIS for Diplomats received an offer of financial support and office space from Meridian House International, which was located at 1630 Crescent Place Northwest in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Meridian House International also housed the International Visitors Information Service and the Washington International Center.

Between its founding in 1961 until 2000, all of the officers and volunteers working for THIS for Diplomats were women, although by the late 1990s, some of the administrative staff were male. In 1999, THIS for Diplomats conducted a survey of the diplomats in the Washington, DC, area. The results of the survey indicated that not only were there a greater number of female diplomats, but also that there was an increase in younger diplomats of both sexes. THIS for Diplomats began recruiting younger women, in addition to male volunteers. In 2014, the organization elected Laurence Jarvik as the first male president.

As of 2018, THIS for Diplomats continues to provide programs and services to the roughly 4,000 diplomatic families living in the Washington, DC, area.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Administrative, 1961-2015 (#1.1-6.13, E.1)
  2. Series II. Events, 1965-2015, n.d. (#6.14-26.31)
  3. Series III. Photographs, audiovisual, and memorabilia, 1981-1992, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.3, Vt-308.1-Vt-308.3, 27FB.1m)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2015-M164, 2017-M213

The records of THIS for Diplomats were given to the Schlesinger Library by THIS for Diplomat's former president Laurence Jarvik in September 2015 and December 2017.


Donors: Laurence Jarvik

Accession number: 2015-M164

Processed by: Cat Lea Holbrook

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. Cooking by Committee, by THIS for Diplomats, ca.1966
  2. THIS for Diplomats Newsletter, 1968-2015

Processing Information

Processed: February 2018

By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Margaret Dalton.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

General processing procedures in place at the Library include the following:  books (when not heavily annotated) by and about the collection's creator and on subjects which fall within the Library's collecting area are removed and cataloged separately with information about their provenance; other books and serials are not retained.  Other material not normally retained include:  clippings that are not by or about the collection's creator; research files; financial documents such as cancelled checks, etc. (when there is financial documentation at a higher level); invoices, receipts, orders, etc.; and envelopes (when they do not contain additional information).

When samples of weeded documents are retained, it is indicated in the finding aid.

THIS for Diplomats (Organization). Records of THIS for Diplomats,1961-2015 (inclusive), 1970-2015 (bulk)
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Zetlin Sisters Fund and the Jane Rainie Opel '50 Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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