James R. Lilley papers now available

June 17, 2014
Glynn Edwards

James Roderick Lilley (1928-2009) was an American diplomat who was the ambassador to China during the time of the Tiananmen Square protests. The youngest of three children, he was born to American parents in China and was educated in American schools there until he returned to the US in 1940. After graduation from Yale University in 1951, he was employed by the CIA from 1951-1978 and worked in various Asian countries. He served as director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 19981-1984, Ambassador to South Korea from 1986-1989, and Ambassador to China from 1989-1991. He was Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1991-1993, and upon retirement from government service worked at the American Enterprise Institute. His memoir China Hands: nine decades of adventure, espionage, and diplomacy in Asia was published in 2004.

The collection contains correspondence, ephemera, newspaper clippings, manuscript drafts and chapter outlines relating to Lilley’s book. The rest of the collection consists of articles written by James Lilley, United States Department of State Diplomatic Cables, interviews of Lilley, business and personal correspondence (of note are personal letters to, from, and about George Herbert Walker Bush from 1976, 1980, 1993, and 1999), copies of speeches, photographs, newspaper clippings on a variety of subjects, 16 books (including Lilley’s) relating to China’s military and to North Korea, audio visual materials which include VHS tapes of several television interviews of James Lilley, two personal diaries, and photocopies of official United States documents.

M1849 (22 manuscript boxes) 

A finding aid is available online.