OnLine with NARA: More State Department electronic telegrams

I have found more State Department telegrams mentioning Peace Corps and available online on the NARA website. I  originally had been able to locate only three.   Using “hunt and peck,” “try different combinations,” and, of course, “when all else fails, read the instructions,” I was able to locate this very valuable collection. I apologize for the earlier incomplete information.  Peace Corps is mentioned in 87 items that include State Department telegrams from 1973-1976 and Memos for the Record of conversations. They have been declassified and posted online on the NARA website.  The telegrams can be read online; the memos are in PDF format.  Some of the situations described in the telegrams involve the closing of country Peace Corps programs.  Peru is one such country.

This is how the collection can be accessed:

1) Go to

2) Choose “Research our Records” on the home page.

3) On the next page,  in the left hand box, choose “Try our new online Public Access System.

4) On the next page, In the search box, type “Peace Corps” Note: Make sure to enclose Peace Corps in quotation marks.

5) When the page appears, there is a notation in the upper right hand corner of the first box; it reads, “View all Online Holdings.” Click on it.  (This is important) All 87 entries should appear and clicking on the title can then access the documents. They can be read online or downloaded.

A cautionary note:  The telegrams are posted as written.  The first few sentences in the online description may appear to link Peace Corps with various other US agencies involved in intelligence gathering or military activities.When the telegram is read in its entirety, it can be seen that the telegram is reporting rumors within the host country and/or refuting such rumors.

I hope to visit the National Archives in College Park Md. next week for two days.  I look forward to blogging about that trip.


Leave a comment
  • I visited the site and randomly selected messages to scan.

    My general comments would be:

    1. The Peace Corps and specifically its Director are part of the “country team” which includes all federal agencies present in a country and is headed by the Ambassador.
    2. The Peace Corps uses embassy resources to communicate with headquarters and other PC sites.
    3. Most of the messages I scanned, which all came from the 1970’s, dealt with an apparent effort at the time to get host country governments to either begin or increase financial contributions to Peace Corps activiities.
    4. Embassies provide substantial support for the Peace Corps. My wife, who was also a Foreign Service Officer, provided lots of logistical, material, financial and other support and services to the local Peace Corps as an admin officer in Kiev, Port au Prince and Windhoek.

    My specific comments would be:

    1. A message from our embassy in Kabul provided an annual report of all “country team” activities. While this report did include Peace Coprs activiities, it also included our cultural presentations including a visit by the “Jubilee Singers.” In oher words it was a wrap-up of all US government work for the year in Afghanistan.
    2. There were several reports on Peru’s move to end the Peace Corps work in that country.
    3. There were some reports about Yemen’s officials using “canned” Communist materials to criticize the Peace Corps in that country. I saw this same attack in Ethiopia as a PCV.

    The best item I read was an annual wrap up from Embassy Kabul that inter alia said, “Peace Corps Volunteers are the best resources for giving Afghans a true picture of the United States.” Isn’t that the second goal? The same report went on to “…question over-emphazing project development criteria as the primary means of determining the value of the Peace Corps in Afghanistan.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Dear Joey,

    Thank you for finding this resource.

    I went straight to the site and looked up all the cables pertaining to Peru, my country of service and found several cables about the expulsion of the Peace Corps from Peru in 1974.

    One interesting cable about the situation in Peru and a meeting betwen the ambassador and the Peruvian Foreign Minister to discuss the expulsion is at:

    I was in Peru at the time of the expulsion and the way things are presented in the cable are nothing like the way it was presented in the local press.

    Best Regards,

    Hugh Pickens

  • This is amazing. I worked at PC/HQ as being a Volunteer, and I didn’t know most of the information on this whole page. And I should have in my role. Pretty interesting stuff. Is this issue of poor record keeping truly answered in the Comprehensive Assessment document?

    Also, while I’m here, do you know anything about the letter that Bill Moyers read during the National Archives event?

    Thanks for this amazing page.


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