Oral History Project

Foreign Service Oral History Project

The AAFSW Spouse Oral History Collection is housed at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia.

Established in 1986, the Spouse Oral History Collection continues to interest researchers and journalists. To note the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Korean conflict, Kristie Miller, Washington correspondent for the LaSalle, IL, News Tribune, based her column on an interview with Patricia Bartz recorded in 1987 and featured in Jewell Fenzi’s Married to the Foreign Service, which is available from AAFSW.

Mrs. Bartz was one of 682 women and children (and one man) evacuated from Seoul June 25, 1950 with no emergency plan. The evacuees crossed to Japan on a small freighter designed for a 12-man crew; it carried a cargo of fertilizer that shifted in heavy seas. Temperatures plunged and there were no blankets or warm clothing. When food was eventually air-lifted to the evacuees, only the strong voluntary leadership of one woman averted a riot. There were pregnant women and a case of polio on board, and Bartz found it miraculous that the ship reached Japan with everyone alive.

Journalist Miller later noted that the experiences of Foreign Service spouses add a new perspective to U.S. diplomatic history. ADST has produced a CD-ROM containing over 140 of these Spouse Oral Histories, available from the ADST. Researchers should contact Marilyn Bentley at 703-302-6990 or at marilyn_bentley@adst.org.

To be interviewed for the spouse oral history program, email oralhistory@aafsw.org.

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