COVID-19 and DCA
Fletcher School Records
Scope and Contents
- Majority of material found within 1960 -- 2017
- 1923 -- 2018
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
185.1 Linear Feet (110 boxes and 1 oversize folder )
761 Digital Object(s)
Biographical / Historical
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy was established in 1933 by a bequest from Austin Barclay Fletcher, late president of the Board of Trustees and lifetime benefactor of Tufts. Fletcher's gift of $1,000,000 was intended to finance a school of law and diplomacy, but it was nearly ten years after his death before the Fletcher School opened its doors. When it did so, in the midst of the Great Depression and with the collaboration of Harvard University, the Fletcher School became the first graduate-only school of international affairs in the United States.
As envisioned by Fletcher and President Cousens, the Fletcher School was to have occupied a new building on the Medford Campus, situated next to Miner Hall. However, as the financial uncertainties brought on by the Depression increased, it was decided to open the school in the old Goddard Gymnasium instead, with the understanding that dramatic renovations would be made to make the building habitable. Classroom and office space was provided in the building, but the focus of the renovations was to provide a home for the school's library. In 1964, Mugar Hall was built adjacent to Goddard Hall to provide additional office space and dining facilities for Fletcher students. In 1981 the Cabot Intercultural Center was added to the complex, linking Goddard and Mugar Halls. The Cabot Center provided a large auditorium and seven floors of offices for faculty and administrators of the school.
The library of the Fletcher School was one of the thorniest problems presented to the school's founders. The books, serials, and other publications deemed necessary to support the curriculum of a school such as Fletcher were absent from the college library and to acquire them would have constituted a major expense at a time when finances were extraordinarily tight. Problems over how to manage the library contributed to the delayed opening of the school. After several years of discussions and negotiations, a solution was presented in 1933 when the World Peace Foundation, at the prompting of Fletcher's Acting Dean Hoskins and thanks to groundwork laid by President Cousens, offered to donate its library of 40,000 volumes to the institution to form the basis for a suitable collection. In subsequent years the Foundation maintained many of the periodical subscriptions essential to the collection.
Harvard's involvement with the Fletcher School began in the planning stages, when Tufts President John Cousens opened discussions with several individuals at Harvard in 1930 concerning the proposed school. Roscoe Pound, dean of the Harvard Law School, was sufficiently intrigued by the possibilities to bring the plan to the attention of the president of Harvard. Cooperation between Harvard and Tufts in the development of Fletcher was seen to bring assets to both institutions, and in 1932, a plan was developed by which Tufts and Harvard would manage Fletcher. According to this agreement, a Joint Executive Committee was formed with members from Tufts and Harvard, and professors were to be chosen from the faculties of both institutions. The deanship of the Fletcher School was to be held by Tufts and the school was to be located on the Medford Campus. This agreement ultimately served as the basis on which the Fletcher School was built. However, within a short time the agreement was under discussion again as Harvard registered objections to the manner in which administration of the school had evolved. A revised agreement signed in 1934 reworked the participation of Harvard in the administration of the school and was the foundation for the duration of Harvard's involvement with Fletcher. As a result of this agreement, Fletcher was officially known as "The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, administered by Tufts College, with the cooperation of Harvard University."
While initially conceived to offer a Ph. D. degree in addition to a masters degree, it was quickly apparent that the new school would not be able to offer the resources necessary to support such a program. Instead, students were offered the choice of obtaining either a Master of Arts degree after one year of study or the specially designed Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) after two years of study and successful completion of a thesis and examination by the faculty. Students chose to concentrate in either Public and International Law, Diplomacy and International Relations, or International Economics. The focus was to be on preparing students for foreign service or international business, and to that end, the school sought to build a small student body of exceptionally qualified students. Twenty-one students entered Fletcher in October 1933, all with bachelor's degrees and four already holding a master's. They were expected to have reading knowledge of French or German - if not both - and a thorough grounding in history, government, and economics.
Faculty staffing was an ongoing issue in the early years of the school. As initially conceived, Fletcher was to have a full-time resident faculty supplemented by adjuncts from Tufts and Harvard. However, it initially proved to be a difficult task to attract faculty of sufficient caliber at the salaries that Fletcher was able to offer. The first full-time faculty member, Dr. Norman J. Padelford, professor of International Law and Organization, was not appointed until 1936-37.
Housing for Fletcher students was acquired in 1936 with the purchase of Wilson House on Winthrop Street. In 1939 Blakeslee House, on Curtis Street, was added to house women students at Fletcher. Both houses were named for original members of the Fletcher faculty. In the early 1960s Fletcher was given Fletcher Hall to use as a dormitory for its students, and Wilson House and Blakeslee House were returned to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
After World War II, Fletcher instituted specialized training programs for career diplomats in other countries. The first such program was in 1949, for the diplomatic corps of newly independent Pakistan. Since then, programs have been run for groups from Kuwait, Qatar, and others.
When student protests against the United States' involvement in Vietnam and the presence of ROTC and in-service training officers on campus and particularly the Fletcher School reached a peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Fletcher became the focus of student anger. Dean Guillon of the Fletcher School was an outspoken supporter of the US role in Vietnam and the presence of military personnel on campus, prompting student outrage. In 1970 students firebombed Dean Guillon's office in Mugar Hall, causing an estimated $70,000 in damage.
In 1973-74 a combined degree program with the was instituted in which highly qualified undergraduates would be admitted at the end of the Junior year to work toward both the B.A. and the Fletcher M.A. Because Fletcher's student body has traditionally been made up of students with experience in the field, either in diplomatic service or international business, as well as grounding in multiple foreign languages, very few undergraduates have been admitted to the program.
In 2005, Fletcher enrolled an average of 350 students per year, from the United States and more than seventy countries around the world. Students choose from fields of study including Public International Law, International Organizations, International Business and Economic Law, Law and Development, United States, Europe, Asia, Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization, International Information and Communication, International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, International Trade and Commercial Policies, International Monetary Theory and Policy, Development Economics, International Environment and Resource Policy, International Technology Policy and Management, Political Systems and Theories, International Security Studies, Comparative and Developmental Political Analysis, International Political Economy, and International Business Relations.
In October of 2019, Rachel Kyte was appointed as dean, the first woman to hold this position. Kyte graduated from the Fletcher Global Master of Arts Program in 2002 and served as a professor in the school from 2014 to 2019.
As of 2020, the average number of students enrolled has increased to an average of 550 students each year from over 41 countries around the world. In November of 2020, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy announced it would begin offering a new Master in Global Affairs program in September 2021. This change was implemented to prepare students to become leaders in Fletcher’s preexisting disciplines as well as in global warming, cybersecurity, and other large global issues.
For Series 9:This material was received from the Fletcher School in 2005 as part of a continuation of their Board of Overseer Records, which is a series in the Fletcher School records. This material was placed in UA181 as a new collection when it was first received. While checking on some background information about Fletcher, Laura Cutter, Archival Assistant, discovered there was already a series in UA015 for the records of the Fletcher Board. It was agreed that this material should be moved into UA015 and the records in UA181 were deleted when processing was complete.
The material consistently referred to both the “Board of Overseers” and the “Board of Visitors.” Before processing began, the Fletcher School confirmed that the Board of Overseers was, in fact, part of the records of the Board of Visitors. Around 1996/97, Fletcher began using the term “Overseers” instead of “Visitors.” It was determined that the two sections of material (regarding “Visitors” and regarding “Overseers”) in the boxes were part of a continuous set of records.
The content of the new additions to this collection were determined to be primarily files relating to the annual meetings held by the Board of Overseers (formerly Board of Visitors), 2-3 times per year. A small percentage of the material involved Board development and correspondence. Also included a few written histories of the Fletcher School’s Board, based primarily upon Russell Miller’s books. Except a grouping of historical documents and meeting minutes, no obvious order was visible.
The decision was made to standardize the folder names for those files that contain meeting material. Many were simply dated with the month and year. The previous set of records received (from 1950-80) were standardized and labeled as meeting materials. Those folders were then filed alphabetically with the other folders in the collection. That process was duplicated with these records. The meeting records are alphabetical within all the records, and are chronological within themselves. Whenever possible, the original names were kept for the non-meeting folders. The alphabetical style was kept in anticipation of future records from the Board of Overseers.
Beginning in 1997 (with the name change to “Overseer”) the Board began presenting their meeting materials in binders, rather than folders. The material from 1997-2005 was all in binders. It was decided that for preservation purposes, the materials should be removed from the binders and transferred to folders, even though it somewhat destroyed the original format. In order to indicate the original placement of materials, the folders were all given standardized labeling which indicates how the material was arranged. Since future materials will probably be sent in binders, these standards can be used for them as well.