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   Arthur Doak Barnett Papers, 1929-2010

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Preferred Citation

Arthur Doak Barnett Papers. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Columbia University.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information


The Arthur Doak Barnett Papers consist of personal and professional documents created and amassed by a leading scholar and government advisor on United States-China policy and relations in the 20th century. Barnett wrote, co-authored, or edited more than 20 books on China and Asia. His papers chronicle his academic, reporting, and government careers, plus his writings and travels throughout Asia and China from the 1940s through the 1990s.

At a Glance

Bib ID:4078917 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Barnett, A. Doak.
Title:Arthur Doak Barnett Papers, 1929-2010
Physical description:147 linear ft (182 boxes).
Language(s):Material is primarily in English with some Chinese, French, Japanese, and Korean.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »


This collection is arranged in six series. Folder names given by Barnett have been retained when possible. Items pertaining to Eugene E. Barnett have been moved to the Eugene E. Barnett Papers 1905-1970, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of documents created in the course of Barnett's academic and government careers. Included are typed and handwritten letters, reports, speeches, organizational records, academic records, instructional materials, manuscripts, photographs, cassette tapes and videos, maps, and some books.

Among the major works included are Cadres, Bureaucracy and Political Power, China and the Major Powers , Uncertain Passage , China's Economy in Global Persepctive , and the unpublished manuscript of "Reds, Rice and Revolution." Files on Association for Asian Studies projects and Barnett's Oreon Scott Lectures are also included. Also, extensive files on Columbia University, the Ford Foundation, additional materials on China's Economy in Global Perspective and other writings of Mr. Barnett.

Series I: Academic and Government Career, 1929-1999

Academic and Government Career contains material from Barnett’s education at Yale University and teaching tenures at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University plus research while at the Brookings Institution. Included are documents related to numerous consultancies, activities, and honors upon retirement and his death and memorial service. Folders marked "Completed" contain accepted invitations, announcements, and requests to attend and/or speak at conferences, workshops, parties, and other professional and social events. Not included are invitations, announcements, and requests, which Barnett marked "Refused."

Subseries I.1: Early Career, 1929-1961

Early Career contains correspondence and other material from Barnett’s undergraduate and graduate studies at Yale University and work as a correspondent for the Chicago Daily News and associate with the American Universities Field Staff. Included are academic transcripts from grade school through graduate school, Yale course notebooks, and several annuals or yearbooks. Barnett’s Daily News dispatches are contained in Suberies IV.1.

Subseries I.2: Columbia University, 1961-1969

Columbia University contains correspondence and other records during Barnett’s tenure at Columbia, along with lecture notes, syllabi, and administrative records for courses taught there. Also in this subseries are correspondence and other documents pertaining to speeches, interviews, and papers given by Barnett via television, radio and conferences he attended. Of special note are handwritten drafts, final copies, and correspondence pertaining to his 1966 statements before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Subcommittee on the Far East and Pacific plus records of his role on the Asian Task Force for Hubert H. Humphrey’s unsuccessful Presidential campaign in 1968. This subseries also contains records of Barnett’s fellowship year in Hong Kong, 1964-1965, to study Chinese Communist political systems at the local level.

Subseries I.3: Brookings Institution, 1966-1982

Brookings Institution consists of correspondence, grant proposals, board records, and related documents during Barnett’s years as a senior fellow in Brookings’ Foreign Policy Studies Program. Included are correspondence between Barnett and government officials including Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Carter; members of Congress; and National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Documents cover Barnett’s views on Taiwan and on relations between the US, China, and the Soviet Union, as well as the Nixon Administration’s rapprochement with China. Records cover meetings Barnett organized at Brookings of academicians and government officials on US China policies. Also here are letters written to Barnett from Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, media representatives, academic colleagues, and others after Barnett’s heart attack in 1971. There are documents on Jimmy Carter’s Presidential candidacy, State Department officials and members of Congress. Materials also include reports on a 1980 meeting of the US-People’s Republic of China Joint Commission on Cooperation in Science and Technology, which was held in China and the subsequent 1981 Brookings-Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Conference on Political, Economic, and Security Trends and Problems in East Asia, held in Williamsburg, Virginia

Subseries I.4: Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, 1982-1989

Johns Hopkins University contains material covering Barnett’s tenure as the George and Sadie Hyman Professor of Chinese Studies at Hopkins’ Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Included here are notebooks from his courses on Chinese politics and foreign policy. There are also notes and transcripts from speeches given and conferences attended. Records from a 1984 trip to China and the USSR include notes from an individual interview with Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang on Chinese foreign policy. Folders on multiple trips to Asia include correspondence, receipts, expenses, schedules, newspaper clippings, interview lists, and handwritten notes. There are reports from a 1988 Soviet-American Conference in Moscow on Mutual Security. Barnett’s personal travel diaries are contained in Suberies V.1.

Subseries I.5: Retirement, Biographical Material, Memorials, 1989-1999

Retirement, Biographical Material, Memorials contains documents pertaining to conferences, workshops, and other events Barnett participated in during retirement, along with documents on trips to Asia and elsewhere. Also here are notes and drafts of Barnett’s contribution to the Center for Strategic & International Studies Asian Studies Report, US China Policy: Building a New Consensus, "US-China Relations: Time for a New Beginning-Again." This subseries also contains biographical materials he compiled before his death along with memorials and tributes after he died.

Series II: Organizations, 1950-1998

Organizations consists of correspondence, meeting announcements, minutes, reports, background papers, and other documents from Barnett’s participation throughout his career in several research and policy organizations in the United States and worldwide.

Subseries II.1: Council on Foreign Relations, 1955-1998

Organizations consists of correspondence, meeting announcements, minutes, reports, background papers, and other documents from Barnett’s participation throughout his career in several research and policy organizations in the United States and worldwide.

Subseries II.2: Institute of Current World Affairs, 1950-1997

Institute of Current World Affairs documents start with a 1950 memo at the beginning of the Korean War and continue through Barnett’s retirement. There are Board of Governors’, Nominating Committee, and Annual Meeting minutes. Correspondence with Institute Executive Director Richard Nolte details Barnett’s active involvement in internal governance and leadership

Subseries II.3: National Committee on US-China Relations, 1965-1995

National Committee on US-China Relations traces Barnett’s role in the Committee’s establishment, his tenure as Board Chairman in 1968, and active participation through retirement. Included are proposal drafts for a National Committee on US-China Policy, a draft prospectus using the current organization name, correspondence among founding members, a certificate of incorporation, and a press release announcing the committee’s formation. Correspondence with elected and appointed government officials document the Committee’s impact on US policy in Asia during the Vietnam War while maintaining its identity as a "catalyst and service organization." There are materials from a 1969 convocation, "United States and China: the Next Decade," along with position papers on topics such as Sino-American cultural exchanges. Also here are memos and other items from the Chinese Table Tennis Team’s US visit in 1972, known as "ping pong diplomacy." Board of Directors Meeting records include background papers.

Subseries II.4: Organizations-Alphabetical, 1949-1998

Organizations, Alphabetical contains materials, which Barnett arranged alphabetically, from his participation in several organizations, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies. There are documents from the Government Research Corporation’s China Advisory Group, which later became the China Group. In 1970 Barnett helped organize what came to be the China Discussion Group, a gathering of academicians, ambassadors, intelligence officials and others who met at each other’s homes to discuss US-China policy. Correspondence, agendas, member lists, and other materials from those meetings are in this subseries. Also here are materials on the origins and activities of the Social Science Research Council’s Joint Committee on Contemporary China. Some items on the National Committee on US-Cbhina Relations are here

Series III: Alphabetical and Chronological Files, 1948-1990

Alphabetical, Chronological consists primarily of carbon copies of correspondence Barnett dictated throughout his professional career. Some items have attachments.

Subseries III.1: Alphabetical, 1941-1990

Alphabetical are arranged alphabetically by last name. Included here are correspondence, galleys, news clippings, and a final copy of the 1967 Freedom House Public Affairs Institute report, "The United States and Eastern Asia," which generated considerable media and public response.

Subseries III.2: Chronological, 1963-1985

Chronological are arranged chronologically by month and year. Included here is correspondence pertaining to Nixon’s China trip and a 1997 letter from Henry Kissinger.

Series IV: Writings and Master files, 1939-1997

Writings and Master Files contains news dispatches, essays, opinion pieces, journal articles, books, and other works written by Barnett from his undergraduate days at Yale and reporting for the Chicago Daily News through retirement. He wrote the introduction to the once ubiquitous red paperback, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung , published in 1967.

Subseries IV.1: "Past Publications," 1939-1995

"Past Publications" (Barnett’s words) contains news clippings and teletype reports filed by Barnett from China beginning in 1947 and chronicling the Communist siege of Peking. Also here is a carbon copy of a December 1948 letter written by Barnett and New York Herald Tribune reporter A.T. Steele to Mao Zedong requesting an interview with a list of questions about the Nanking Government, the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee, and future Communist relations with the outside world. This subseries contains reports, some with maps, sent by Barnett from throughout Asia as an American Universities Field Staff correspondent for the Institute of Current World Affairs during the 1940s and 1950s. Also here are opinion pieces and interviews on Nixon’s 1972 trip to China and later US China policy as well as correspondence, notes, drafts, and final versions of speeches and published articles. Handwritten speech and lecture notes from 1950 through 1997 discuss topics such as US-China relations, foreign policy decisions, political and economic trends in China, and problems of security and stability in Asia. Press references folders contain news clippings of interviews of Barnett and articles in which he is quoted or referenced. Of special note are press reactions to Barnett’s testimony on US-China relations at 1966 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearings.

Subseries IV.2: Books, 1960-1996

Books contains correspondence, contracts, notes, drafts, manuscripts, readers’ comments, footnote material, publicity, advance copy mailing lists, and reviews for books written by Barnett. This subseries also contains materials on publications Barnett co-authored and chapters he wrote in books authored by others. Author-publisher letters consist of correspondence between Barnett and colleagues or publishing representatives regarding his and others’ works. A 1977 note to Barnett from Council on Foreign Affairs Vice President John Temple Swing congratulates Barnett for being "our all-time best-selling author.

Subseries IV.3: Unpublished Works, 1932-1989

Unpublished Works consists of book manuscripts, high school and college essay assignments, and miscellaneous papers, speeches, articles, and other documents. Included here are chapters for a 1950 book, "Reds, Rice and Revolution." Copies of some items also appear in other series.

Subseries IV.4: "Master Files," 1948-1995

"Master Files" (so named by Barnett) consists primarily of photocopies and some originals of interviews, speeches, essays, and contributions to others’ published works. Originals or copies of most of these items are contained in other subseries.

Series V: Mixed Media: 1940-1997

Mixed Media contains materials in various formats including handwritten notecards and pocket spiral notebooks, photographic prints and negatives, audio and video recordings, and travel and tourism items.

Subseries V.1: Notecards and Notebooks, 1940-1996

Notecards and Notebooks consists of handwritten notecards and small spiral bound notebooks. Some notecards contain interview notes from Barnett’s travels through Asia early in his career; some are address cards arranged by location or by last name. Other notecards are handwritten speech and lecture outlines. Spiral notebooks number more than 200 and contain personal and travel diaries from trips to Asia throughout his career. Tucked among them is a January 5, 1960, memo, "CFR Study Group on US Policy in Southeast Asia."

Subseries V.2: Photographs: 1933-1989

Photographs contains black and white as well as color prints and negatives plus some slides and a small roll of exposed film. Early images chronicle Barnett family celebrations in Shanghai in the 1930s along with shots of Yale from his undergraduate days. Subsequent photos record his journeys throughout Asia and include pre-Communist China as well as Communist troops entering Peking in 1949. Photos from the 1980s cover later trips to China and elsewhere in Asia.

Subseries V.3: Audio and Video Recordings, 1958-1999

Audio and Video Recordings contains cassette and open reel audiotapes, videotapes, long-playing records, and filmstrips of conferences Barnett organized or addressed, interviews he granted, and appearances he made on television and radio programs. Also here are some instructional resources.

Subseries V.4: Travel Materials, 1945-1990

Travel Materials consists of maps, tourism brochures, promotional brochures, background data, travel guides, and some hardbound books. Of special note are a large 1948 map of Xinjiang with handwritten notes and 1940s paper booklets on Szechuan that belonged to his father.

Series VI: Listed files

This series is not as thoroughly processed as the preceeding five series.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Arthur Doak Barnett Papers. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Columbia University.

Related Resources:

"Interview: A. Doak Barnett." (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Review, Fall, 1982, pp. 21-23).

"A. Doak Barnett Memorial Essay Contest." (New York: National Committee on United States-China Relations. 2000).

Obituary. "Arthur Doak Barnett, an American mandarin, died on March 17th, aged 77." (London: The Economist. March 25, 1999).

Oksenberg, Michel. "Obituary: In Memory of A. Doak Barnett." (Cambridge University Press: The China Quarterly, No. 158 (Jun., 1999), pp. 484-487).

Tyler, Patrick E. "A. Doak Barnett Dies; China Scholar, 77." (New York: The New York Times, March 19, 1999).

Related Columbia Collections:

Eugene E. Barnett Papers 1905-1970, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University .

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jacqueline Rider, Pratt Institute, 2014.

Finding aid written by Jacqueline Rider in August 2014.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion March 25, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-03-25 File created.
    2019-03-25 container/title XML structure fixed to just container kws

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Association for Asian Studies.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Barnett, A. Doak.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Barnett, Eugene E.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Brookings Institution.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, D.C.).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Chiang, Kai-shek, 1887-1975.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Chicago Daily News, Inc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
China--Economic conditions--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
China--Politics and government--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
College teachers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Faculty.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Council on Foreign Relations.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Democratic National Committee (U.S.).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ford Foundation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ford Foundation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Humphrey, Hubert Horatio, 1911-1978.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Institute of Current World Affairs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johns Hopkins University. School of Advanced International Studies.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Joint Committee on Contemporary China.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mao, Zedong, 1893-1976.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
National Committee on U.S. China Relations.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Oksenberg, Michel.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Arthur Doak Barnett (1921-1999) was born in Shanghai, the fourth child of Eugene Epperson and Bertha Smith Barnett. His father worked in China for the Young Men's Christian Association until 1936 when the family returned to the United States. Barnett graduated from Yale University summa cum laude with undergraduate and master's degrees in international relations. He served in the U.S. Marine Corp in the Pacific during World War II. .

In 1947 Barnett returned to China as a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs and a correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. He traveled throughout China, covering the civil war, the occupation of Peking (Beijing) in 1949, and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. After the revolution he became a public affairs officer for the American Consulate General in Hong Kong. A 1955 Daily News clipping described him as "the last American correspondent to leave China after the Reds took over."

Returning to the United States in 1959, Barnett joined the Ford Foundation where he secured funds for research projects on China despite the political climate of McCarthyism. He joined the Columbia University faculty in 1961 as Professor of Public Law and Government and taught there for eight years. His students included Kenneth Lieberthal, an advisor on China to the Clinton Administration, and Michel Oksenberg, who participated in the Carter Administration's establishment of diplomatic relations with China.

In 1966 Barnett was principal witness for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee review of U.S. China policy. Consistently advocating a non-confrontational approach, he advised Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon to reach out to China, coining the phrase ''containment without isolation." President Ronald Reagan adopted Barnett's position against the sale of jet fighters to Taiwan in early 1980s, and the Bush and Clinton Administrations were guided by his views on the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Barnett was instrumental in establishing several organizations on China, including the Joint Committee on Contemporary China, the Committee on Scholarly Communications with the People’s Republic of China, and the National Committee on US-China Relations.

He returned to China many times throughout his life to conduct research that formed the basis for his many published works and as a member of delegations and exchanges he helped to organize. He told an interviewer his most interesting years were spent traveling to every province in China, often on horseback, in the 1940s as a half-time reporter for the Daily News.

"We in the West, and particularly in the United States, keep going through cycles, or swings of the pendulum, from unrealistic euphoria about China to a feeling of disillusionment because it doesn’t live up to our unrealistic expectations. " (Brookings, 22)

A. Doak Barnett died at age 77 in Washington, D.C.

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