Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Joseph Abraham Mendenhall papers
Date (inclusive): 1927-2011
Collection Number: 2011C52
Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
Language of Material:
18 manuscript boxes
(7.5 Linear Feet)
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches and writings, printed matter, personal documents, and photographs relating to American foreign relations
and to the Vietnam War.
Mendenhall, Joseph Abraham, 1920-
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives
The collection is open for research; materials must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2011.
[Identification of item], Joseph Abraham Mendenhall papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives.
||Born, Calvert, Maryland
||B.A., University of Delaware
||U.S. Army service, attained rank of captain
||U.S. Foreign Service officer
||Vice Consul, Istanbul, Turkey
||Assistant Chief, Economic Cooperation Administration Mission to Iceland
||Second Secretary of Embassy, Switzerland
||Department of State Bureau of Southeast Asian Affairs officer, Washington, D.C.
||Counselor of Embassy, South Vietnam
||U.S. National War College student
||Director, Department of State Vietnam Working Group, Washington, D.C.
||Director, Department of State Office of Far Eastern Regional Affairs, Washington, D.C.
||Director, U.S. Agency for International Development Mission to Laos
||Deputy and acting Assistant Administrator for Vietnam, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.
||U.S. Foreign Service inspector
||Ambassador to Madagascar
||Retired and took up residence in Italy
||Returned to the United States
Scope and Content of Collection
Joseph A. Mendenhall's career as a U.S. Foreign Service officer was highlighted by specialization in Southeast Asian affairs
during the Vietnam War era. Both on the ground in Vietnam (1959-1962) and Laos (1965-1968) and in senior Department of State
positions in Washington, D.C., including that of Director of the Department's Office of Far Eastern Regional Affairs, he was
intimately involved in the formulation and execution of American foreign policy in the area. The
U.S. Foreign Service File in his papers presents only a partial record of his government service, as most of the official documents that passed through
his hands remain in possession of the United States government. However, the file does include the texts and outline notes
of many speeches at public functions and of presentations at many internal staff meetings and in-house Department of State
conferences and briefing sessions. These afford an inside view of foreign policy formation.
After his retirement in 1975, Mendenhall devoted much thought to retrospective analysis of the Vietnam War, a war that he
continued to believe could and should have been won. He also maintained a lively interest in new issues in American foreign
policy. His views on these matters are expressed in letters in the
Retirement Formal Correspondence file and in writings, published and unpublished, in the
Retirement Speeches and Writings file.
Personal Correspondence file accounts for a large portion of the collection. This consists of informal correspondence with family and friends over
the whole of Mendenhall's life, and also includes the correspondence of his wife Leone. Many letters are from the Mendenhalls
to their respective parents. This series is noteworthy for its unusually complete and detailed description of the life of
a Foreign Service family frequently stationed abroad. It also reflects subjective reactions to local and world events. Chronological
arrangement facilitates correlation with Mendenhall's various career postings.
Ambassador Mendenhall donated his papers to the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 2011.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Vietnam War, 1961-1975
United States -- Foreign relations -- Laos
Laos -- Foreign relations -- United States
United States -- Foreign relations -- Vietnam
Vietnam -- Foreign relations -- United States
Diplomats -- United States
United States -- Foreign relations -- Madagascar
Madagascar -- Foreign relations -- United States
United States. Department of State
United States. Agency for International Development