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Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1940-1948 (Bulk: 1946-1948)
1 box (.25 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0046

Archibald MacLeish, 1892-1982, poet and Statesman. Papers consist of correspondence and reports relating primarily to MacLeish's involvement in the formation and activities of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and to a lesser degree, the publishing of poetry.

Terms of Access and Use:


Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Archibald MacLeish was born in Glencoe, Illinois on May 7, 1892 to Martha Hillard and Andrew MacLeish, a dry goods merchant. After graduating from Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut he entered Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1911. He married Ada Hitchcock in 1916 and served in the United States Army from 1917-1919. He received his L.L.B. from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts and practiced law with Choate, Hall and Steward, Boston, Massachusetts, from 1920 -1923. After living in Paris, France from 1923-1928, he purchased Uphill Farm in Conway, Massachusetts. From 1929-1938, he was the editor of FORTUNE Magazine. MacLeish then held a number of federal appointments, including: Librarian of Congress, 1939-1944; Director, Office of Facts and Figures, War Department, 1941-1942; Assistant Director, Office of War Information, War Department, 1942-1943; Assistant Secretary of State for Cultural Affairs, 1944-1945. He served as Chairman of the American Delegation at the London conference of UNESCO in November of 1945. the primary purpose of which was to draft the constitution for UNESCO. From 1946-1948 he served as a member of the Executive Committee of the United States National Commission for UNESCO. In 1946, he was appointed Chairman of the American Delegation to the First General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, France and was elected the first American member of the Executive Board of UNESCO. Leaving government service, MacLeish became the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1949-1962; the President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1953-1956; and Simpson Lecturer at Amherst College, 1963-1967. He died in Boston, Massachusetts on April 20, 1982.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Archibald MacLeish Papers (1892-1982) span the years 1940-1948 and are organized into three series: UNESCO Correspondence, UNESCO Reports, and Poetry Correspondence. The UNESCO Correspondence, 1946-1948, is comprised of letters, memoranda, and telegrams, many with attachments, regarding the founding of UNESCO, including the meetings, planning, budgeting, organization activities and goals. Topics of the correspondence primarily relates to meetings, planning, budgeting and organization goals and activities. The UNESCO Reports, 1945-1947, n.d., include two transcripts of proceedings, two formal meeting reports, a draft mission and organization statement, and an undated radio broadcast script. The two formal meeting reports and the draft mission and organization statement have MacLeish's handwritten annotations as member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Commission for UNESCO. The Poetry Correspondence, 1940-1948, is comprised of three letters written to MacLeish, one calling card and one note. The topic of the letters is publishing poetry and correspondents are A.T. Rosen, Percy MacKaye, and Dr. Kurt H. Hansen. The calling card is from German Arciniagas.

The collection is organized into three series:

  • UNESCO Correspondence
  • UNESCO Reports
  • Poetry Correspondence

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:


Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Archibald MacLeish Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA.

History of the Collection

Donated by Archibald MacLeish, 1949.

Archibald MacLeish donated the collection to Flora Bell Ludington, Mount Holyoke College Librarian (1936-1964) with the written instructions, in 1949, that the material "be used by 'authorized persons' working on UNESCO history." Flora Bell Ludington served as the first director of the Office of War Information's Information Library at Bombay, India, 1944-1946, a department maintained by the State Department as part of its cultural relations program. At this time MacLeish was Assistant Secretary of State for Cultural Affairs.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

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Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Arciniegas, German, 1900-1999
  • Hansen, Kurt Heinrich
  • International Cooperation -- History -- 20th Century
  • MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982
  • Rosen, Aaron Tani
  • U.S. National Commission for UNESCO
  • Unesco
  • Unesco -- History
  • Unesco -- Management
  • United States Department of State -- UNESCO Relations Staff

Genre terms
  • Letters

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