Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Joseph Abraham Mendenhall papers
Collection Number: 2011C52
Creator: Mendenhall, Joseph Abraham, 1920-
18 manuscript boxes
(7.5 linear feet)
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches and writings, printed matter, personal documents, and photographs, relating to American foreign relations
and to the Vietnam War.
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
Collection is open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to
copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives
at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see
or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
[Identification of item], Joseph Abraham Mendenhall papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2011.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find
the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at
. Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number
of boxes listed in this finding aid.
||Born, Calvert, Maryland
||B.A., University of Delaware
||U.S. Army service, attaining 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 in the Hoover Institution Archives 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 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.
A 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 Archives in 2011.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
United States--Foreign relations--Vietnam.
Vietnam--Foreign relations--United States.
United States--Foreign relations--Laos.
Laos--Foreign relations--United States.
United States--Foreign relations--Madagascar.
Madagascar--Foreign relations--United States.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975.
United States.--Dept. of State.
United States.--Agency for International Development.