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Contact: Mary Caffrey 609/258-5748
Date: August 8, 1997

Mudd Library Completes Catalog,
Preservation of Adlai E. Stevenson Papers

PRINCETON, N.J. -- A recently completed preservation and cataloging project will give researchers improved access to the documentary legacy of Adlai E. Stevenson, a member of the Princeton Class of 1922 who served as governor of Illinois and U.N. ambassador and twice ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States.

Stevenson gave portions of his papers to Princeton in 1963 and 1964, and most of his remaining papers were given to the University in 1969 by his three sons, Adlai E. Stevenson III, Borden Stevenson and John Fell Stevenson. As part of the recent project, the Stevenson family has added many personal letters to the collection. Although the papers have been available to researchers since the early 1970s, the collection was not fully catalogued until this year. To ensure their long-term preservation, the papers have been rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes during a 15-month project directed by Susan J. Illis, the Stevenson project archivist.

Generous support for this project was provided by family members Adlai E. Stevenson III, John Fell Stevenson and Timothy R. Ives, by the estate of Elizabeth Ives, and by Stevenson's friends and associates, Mary Bingham, Nona Cox, Jane Warner Dick, Phyllis Gustafson, and Maurice Tempelsman. Additional funding for the project came from the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Born in Los Angeles on February 5, 1900, Adlai Ewing Stevenson grew up in Bloomington, Ill., in a family steeped in politics -- his grandfather and namesake had served as Grover Cleveland's vice president. His determination to attend Princeton University was attributed to the family's admiration for Woodrow Wilson. At Princeton, Stevenson served as managing editor of the Daily Princetonian and was a member of the Quadrangle Club. (An exhibition commemorating the centennial of Stevenson's birth is planned for the year 2000 in the Main Gallery at Princeton's Firestone Library.)

After serving as assistant to Secretary of the Navy during World War II, Stevenson was instrumental in the founding of the United Nations. Back in Chicago, where Stevenson had practiced law, local political leaders urged him to run for office. Stevenson acknowledged that he suffered from a "bad case of hereditary politics," and entered the race for governor of Illinois in 1948. He was elected with largest majority ever recorded at that time. That performance helped fellow Democrat Harry S Truman carry the state of Illinois in his upset victory in the presidential race. Four years later, Truman rewarded Stevenson by hand-picking him as the Democratic nominee for President. Though Stevenson was defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower in both 1952 and 1956, he remained influential in Democratic politics through the 1950s.

President John F. Kennedy appointed Stevenson to the U.N. post in 1961, and he remained ambassador until his death in 1965. Stevenson's papers cover his actions in several international crises that occurred during his tenure, including the Bay of Pigs incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the escalation of the war in Vietnam. The papers also shed light on Stevenson's opinions on the Red Scare, his views on the former Soviet Union, and his relationships with Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

"The Stevenson Papers are an important facet of Mudd's collection," said Ben Primer, curator of the Public Policy Papers at Mudd Library. "Giving researchers the opportunity to look at both the John Foster Dulles Papers and the Stevenson Papers provides a well-rounded interpretation of the Cold War period. They also strengthen other holdings, such as the George Ball Papers."

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library of the Princeton University Library collects papers in the areas of 20th-century foreign and domestic public policy, American involvement in international development, and American jurisprudence. The Adlai E. Stevenson Papers complement other public policy collections at the library documenting the same time period, including the papers of Bernard Baruch, Allen W. Dulles, John Foster Dulles, James V. Forrestal, John Marshall Harlan, George F. Kennan, David Lilienthal, George McGovern, and others.

For additional information, please contact Susan J. Illis at (609) 258-6345.

NOTE: Illis' 117-page description of the papers is now available and can be accessed via the Mudd Library's homepage at: