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2005-2006 Visiting Fellows

Sarah Snyder
Cassius Marcellus Clay Fellow
Department of History
Yale University

I am writing to express my appreciation to the Friends of Princeton University Library for their generous support of my research on the importance of human rights in United States foreign policy formulation in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The collections at the Seeley G. Mudd Library were helpful in enhancing my understanding of the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations in shaping United States foreign policy in these years.  As I believe NGOs played a significant role in shaping United States human rights policy, the records of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU ), Freedom House, and the organizations’ founders were central to my research. 

The records of the ACLU were the most productive for my project.  The collection included excellent materials related to the ACLU’s International Civil Liberties Committee, the International League for the Rights of Man, individual cases of human rights abuses, and broader questions related to human rights.  The collection also informed my research on the United Nations’ International Human Rights Year as well as the Bricker Amendment controversy. 

Roger Baldwin’s correspondence with other national committees such as the Japan Civil Liberties Union and similar groups in Mexico, the USSR, and elsewhere was illuminating as it highlighted his personal and professional commitment to human rights.  In this respect, it supplemented my research in the International League for Human Rights’ records at the New York Public Library.  Furthermore, Baldwin’s papers demonstrated his efforts to establish the League as the champion of human rights abroad while the ACLU fought for such rights at home.  His papers included interesting commentary on the challenges to gaining widespread public support for human rights in an international context given Vietnam, domestic politics, and what he termed “a depressing state of the world.”

The collections related to Freedom House demonstrated the extent to which the organization struggled to define freedom and to which policy issues the group should therefore devote its attention. 

As debates on self-determination, racial discrimination, and concern for human rights at the United Nations in the 1960s greatly affected United States foreign policy, the Library’s collections offered an important window into the influence of the international body.  In advance of my research, I hoped that the papers of three United States ambassadors to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, Charles Yost, and George Ball, would enable me to examine how increasing attention to human rights and racial discrimination at the United Nations influenced United States policy.   During the course of my time at the Mudd Library, however, I found former Representative Peter Frelinghuysen’s papers to be the most productive on that question.   Frelinghuysen’s records were quite helpful as they addressed a wide range of human rights issues such as Biafra, Rhodesia, South Africa, Soviet Jewry, and Greece as well as the plights of specific individuals. 

The materials I collected during the course of my research at the Seeley G. Mudd Library will be examined in the context of other collections essential to understanding the formulation of United States human rights policy, including those of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, the John F. Kennedy Library, and the Nixon Presidential Materials Project as well as the records of the State Department, influential members of Congress, and NGOs such as Amnesty International USA and the International League of the Rights of Man.  Together they will enable me to analyze the evolution of human rights as a priority in United States foreign policy during the long 1960s.

I sincerely appreciate the Friends of the Princeton University Library’s generous support of my work.


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