Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Davis, Nathaniel mss., ca. 1947-2010, consist of the papers of diplomat Nathaniel Davis. Davis was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on April 12, 1925, to Harvey Nathaniel Davis, a professor at Harvard University, and Alice Rohde Davis, a research physician. He received his B.A. from Brown University graduating with the Class of 1946, following service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Davis completed a master's degree and Ph.D. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University in 1960. A well-known career diplomat who served in the United States Foreign Service and the Peace Corps for 36 years, Davis spent his final years teaching at the Claremont Colleges in California.

Davis began his Foreign Service career with an assignment in Prague in 1947, followed by postings in Florence, Rome and Moscow, before returning to the U.S. in 1956 to work at the Soviet Desk at the State Department in Washington, D.C. His next foreign assignment was in Caracas, Venezuela, from 1960 to 1962. From 1962 to 1965, he served in the Peace Corps, first as Special Assistant to the Director, R. Sargent Shriver, and later Deputy Director for Program Development and Operations. He left the Peace Corps in 1965 to serve as the United States Envoy to Bulgaria (1965-1966). After his ambassadorship in Bulgaria, he served on the staff of the National Security Council in the White House, as Lyndon Johnson's senior advisor on Soviet and Eastern European affairs, as well as the United Nations. In 1968, he went to Guatemala to serve as Ambassador to Guatemala (1968-1971), followed by service as Ambassador to Chile (1971-1973). He was ambassador in Chile during the presidency of Salvador Allende and through the coup that deposed him. Davis wrote a history of that period titled The Last Two Years of Salvador Allende (Cornell University Press, 1985). Upon his return from Chile, Davis held two positions at the assistant secretary level: as Director General of the Foreign Service (1973-1975) and as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Ford administration from 1975 to 1976. Davis resigned from the latter post over a policy difference with then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger regarding covert action in Angola. Davis was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Switzerland (1976-1977). In 1977, Davis moved to Newport, R.I., where he taught at the Naval War College for six years as Diplomat in Residence. In 1983, he retired from the Foreign Service.

Upon his retirement from the Foreign Service, Davis accepted a position as the first Alexander and Adelaide Hixon Professor of Humanities at Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California, where he taught political science from 1983 until he retired from teaching in 2002. At that time he was named Professor Emeritus of Political Science. During his time at Harvey Mudd College, he wrote A Long Walk to Church: a Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, using research he had been working on since 1947 and which had been the basis for his doctoral dissertation. He died May 16, 2011, at the age of 86 in Claremont, California.

The collection contains correspondence, writings, research files, professional files, subject files, photographs, clippings, class materials, original notes, audio-visual materials, legal records, and publications. For clarity and authenticity, the original order of the collection and titles of its individual files have been largely maintained.

Correspondents include: Nathaniel Davis; Ray Davis; William C. Fletcher; Martha Grover; Kempton B. Jenkins; Lyndon B. Johnson; Henry Kissinger; Anthony Lewis; Dean Rusk; Daniel Schuman; Sergeant Shriver. Topics of correspondence include professional issues, governmental matters, and the controversy surrounding the movie Missing.

Writings include original drafts and proofs of Davis' books A Long Walk to Church and The Last Two Years of Salvador Allende. Research files include background information pertaining to Davis' written works, as well as the movie Missing and the disappearance of Charles Horman in Chile. Legal records include depositions and other documents pertaining to the court cases Horman v. Kissinger and Ray E. Davis v. Costa-Gravas, which dealt, respectively, with the disappearance of American journalist and filmmaker Charles Horman in Chile during the 1973 coup led by General Augusto Pinochet that deposed Salvador Allende; and the 1982 movie about that event, Missing, directed by Costa-Gravas. Publications include Russian journals, religious and political journals, and Department of State newsletters.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2012

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.