Collection Opening: Lincoln Gordon Personal Papers


by Jennifer Marciello and Christina Fitzpatrick, Processing Archivists

We are pleased to announce the opening of the Lincoln Gordon Personal Papers. Gordon served as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil (September 1961 – March 1966) in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He was known as an expert on Latin American culture, economy, and politics.


JFKWHP-ST-45-1-62. President Kennedy and Ambassador Gordon talk in the Oval Office, 6 February 1962. View more about this picture here.


The collection contains a wide range of materials relating to Gordon’s professional career in government service, as well as his positions in academia and in non-profit research organizations. The papers also document Gordon’s life-long interest in the areas of business, economics, government, and Latin American politics (with a focus on Brazil) as well as his involvement in a variety of non-profit organizations and associations. Spanning the years 1931 to 2007, the collection comprises primarily chronological files, correspondence, subject files, speech files, photographs, office files, and appointment calendars.

Lincoln Gordon was born in New York City on September 10, 1913 and attended Harvard University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1933. Following his graduation, Gordon studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and obtained his Ph.D. in 1936; he then returned to Harvard as an instructor in government. During World War II and its aftermath, Gordon worked for a number of government agencies in Washington, D.C. and was stationed in Paris and London for several years. He was instrumental in the creation of the Marshall Plan to provide post-war economic aid to Europe. In between these government posts (during the 1950s) Gordon continued to teach at Harvard as a professor of international economic relations.

After the 1960 election, Gordon was appointed to President Kennedy’s Task Force on Latin America. In August 1961 he served as a delegate to the Inter-American Conference at Punta del Este, Uruguay, where the Alliance for Progress program was established. In September Gordon was named the United States Ambassador to Brazil. He remained in this position until March 1966, when he was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.


LGPP-V001-008-p0001LGPP-124-021. Letter from President Kennedy thanking Gordon for his work on the Latin America Task Force, 28 February 1961.


LGPP-V001-009-p0001LGPP-142-008. Letter from Robert F. Kennedy congratulating Gordon on his new job at the State Department, 8 February 1966.


LGPP-V001-011-p0001LGPP-142-013. Published Alliance for Progress declaration inscribed by President Johnson: “To Linc Gordon, with deep appreciation for your help in making the summit a success.”


LGPP-V001-021-p0001LGPP-219-013. Invitation from President Clinton to a symposium on the legacy of the Marshall Plan, 13 November 1995.


After leaving the State Department in June 1967, Gordon became the president of Johns Hopkins University. Student unrest and budgetary issues led to his resignation in March 1971. He returned to his scholarly research interests for the remainder of his career and worked at several non-profit think tanks. While at the Brookings Institution, he wrote the books Eroding Empire: Western Relations with Eastern Europe (1987) and Brazil’s Second Chance (2001). Gordon also worked at the CIA on the Senior Review Panel in the early 1980s. He passed away at the age of 96 on December 19, 2009.

A detailed guide to the Lincoln Gordon Personal Papers is available on our website.


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