NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who helped steer Vietnam war policy, will donate his collection of some one million documents and objects covering his life as a diplomat, teacher and private citizen to Yale University.
Yale President Richard Levin said Wednesday the collection will enhance Yale's archives of 20th century American leaders. Yale holds the papers of renowned former diplomats and alumni Henry Stimson, Dean Acheson and Cyrus Vance, as well as those of President Woodrow Wilson's most influential adviser, Edward House.
"The collection that will come to Yale will be the most comprehensive collection of Kissinger materials," Yale history professor John Gaddis said. "There will be considerable new material. In the end I think there will be all kinds of fresh interpretations that will come out of this."
Some materials could be available soon, but other parts of the collection could take some time to make available to the public, Gaddis said, noting there was an ongoing effort to get documents from the 1970s declassified.
Yale says Kissinger made a financial contribution to the digitization of his government papers held at the Library of Congress, so those papers will be available at Yale.
Kissinger was national security adviser and secretary of state under President Richard M. Nixon and continued as chief diplomat during the administration of President Gerald R. Ford. Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his role in negotiations with his North Vietnamese adversary that led to a peace accord.
He later founded a consulting firm and wrote books and articles on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs.
The Kissinger archives at Yale will serve as the foundation for the new Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy.
"Yale is honored," Levin said, "to be chosen as the home for the papers of Dr. Kissinger, who has been among the major figures of the past century in shaping U.S. foreign policy."
Kissinger received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from rival Harvard University, where he was a member of the faculty from 1954 to 1971. Kissinger noted that his two children attended Yale and he taught at Yale.
"With its remarkable array of academic programs and library collections in world affairs, as well as its established involvement with practitioners of international security and diplomacy, Yale will make a superb home for my papers," Kissinger said.
His latest book, "On China," a major analysis of Sino-American relations, was published last month.