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Foreign Policy Institute, School of Advanced International Studies records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-07-210

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The records of The Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute (FPI), formerly the Washington Center of Foreign Policy Research, span the years from 1954 to 1992. Most of the files, however, are concentrated in two time periods; the first group dates from the 1960s to the mid-1970s, and the second group falls mainly between 1983 and 1990. The records are primarily those of Arnold Wolfers, Director of the Washington Center until his death in 1968, and Simon H. Serfaty, Director of FPI from 1984 to 1991 (Ph.D., Political Science, JHU, 1967; M.A., SAIS, 1964; former director of the Washington Center), although there are some records of Robert E. Osgood, Director of the Center in the intervening years. The record group is divided into two subgroups, of which the first is further divided into six series, while the second is divided into three series. Subgroup 1 contains the records of the Center of Foreign Policy Research and is broken down as follows: (1) Administrative Records, 1957-1977; (2) Faculty and Research Associates, 1956-1973; (3) Seminars, Colloquia and Roundtable Discussions, 1958-1980; (4) Publications of the Center, 1958- 1980; (5) Grant-Funded Projects, 1957-1974; and (6) Extra-University Correspondence, 1954-1977. Subgroup 2 consists of Administrative Records of the Foreign Policy Institute, 1970-1992, and is divided into three series: (1) Paper Records, 1970-1992; (2) Records From Computer Diskettes, 1985-1989; and (3) Faculty, Visiting Scholars, and Research Assistants, 1980-1990.


  • Creation: 1954-1992


Use Restrictions

Administrative records in series 1, 5 and 6 (Subgroup 1), and in Subgroup 2, are restricted for twenty-five years from their date of creation. Education records in series 1 and 2 (Subgroup 1) and Subgroup 2, as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as well as employment records in series 1 and 2 (Subgroup 1), and series 3 (Subgroup 2) are also restricted. For details, see Regulations Governing Access to Restricted Records, at the front of each binder.


The Washington Center of Foreign Policy Research was founded in 1957 by the Honorable Paul H. Nitze, former Secretary of the Navy and Deputy Secretary of Defense; Nitze was also one of the founders of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). The Washington Center, located in Washington, DC, was a major teaching and research division of SAIS. The Center was founded with a grant from the Ford Foundation and survived on further grants from the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford, Avalon, Old Dominion and Rockefeller Foundations.

The purpose of the Center was to study international politics with a focus on American foreign policy. In its literature, the Center claimed it sought to "strengthen the bonds between theory and practice, and between scholarship and policy making." Holding roundtable meetings was an important function of the Center. The meetings allowed Center members, visiting scholars, diplomats, government officials and journalists to exchange views on a wide variety of topics in international politics. Because most of the Center's files are from the 1960s, topics such as the Vietnam War, detente, and civil violence are prominent. The roundtable minutes in this subgroup capture the essence of the discussions, which were informal and encouraged the free flow of ideas. SAIS faculty served as members of the Center, while visiting lecturers and fellows were usually scholars from other research institutions or government officials.

In mid-1980, the Washington Center of Foreign Policy Research was superseded by the Foreign Policy Institute. Similarities as well as differences are visible between the Center and the Institute. First, the Institute receives more grant funding from other institutions than did the Center towards its end. Also, the Institute is less pedagogical and more research-oriented than the Center was. Many of the programs of the Center were adopted and expanded by the Institute. Some personnel of the Institute were members of the Center. However, the administration has seen changes in one major respect. The new administration established the position of Chairman, an internationally-known figure who provides prestigious leadership for the Institute. Harold Brown, Secretary of Defense during the Carter administration, became FPI Chairman in July 1984. The responsibilities of the Director of the Center have been divided in the Institute between an Executive Director and the Chairman.

The FPI organizes research and teaching in a variety of fields including security studies, international economic policy, international energy policy, and regional studies. Its Washington Roundtables deal with specialized policy-related issues in international affairs and center around papers written for this purpose by guest experts. Its Embassy Series permits the presentation by foreign diplomats of problems and policies faced by their countries. Its Policy Study Groups provide for high level discussions of foreign policy and defense issues of vital interest to the United States. Its Washington Briefings are specifically organized for the international press corps in Washington. In addition, the institute occasionally hosts other special events, such as conferences and seminars.

The FPI sponsors the publication of a monograph series--the SAIS Papers in International Affairs --that represents current research and analysis taking place within the school. It also publishes the student- edited and student-managed SAIS Review, a semi-annual journal on foreign affairs. Other publications include the FPI Policy Briefs, which examine issues of current policy interest, the FPI Case Studies on formal diplomatic negotiations, which are usually written by SAIS professors or FPI fellows working together with SAIS students as co-authors, and Policy Consensus Reports, which present recommendations of leading American citizens on vital foreign policy issues.


21.11 Cubic Feet (14 record center cartons, 9 letter size document boxes, 1 letter half-size document box)

Language of Materials



Subgroup 1 was transferred to the Archives by Elaine Clark, Administrative Secretary of the Center. Subgroup 2 was transferred by Kim Neale, of the Foreign Policy Institute.

Accession Number

84.36, 93.2, 93.31

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Kristin Alden, Kim E. Bettcher, Joanna Brzeska, and Nancy Enneking.

Foreign Policy Institute, School of Advanced International Studies records
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA