Dulles, Eleanor Lansing, 1895-1996

Alternative names
Birth 1895-06-01
Death 1996-10-30

Biographical notes:

Eleanor Lansing Dulles (b. June 1, 1895-d. Oct. 31, 1996) was an educator, diplomat, and author. She worked for the U.S. State Department serving as an economic specialist whose efforts helped rebuild West Berlin after World War II, earning her the name "the Mother of Berlin." Dulles was part of a family that was highly involved in civil service. Under President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration, her brother John Foster Dulles was secretary of state, while her brother Allen W. Dulles was director of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). Dulles' interest in helping those impacted by war began early in her life. During World War I she went to France to assist refugees. She returned to the United States for work at the American Tube and Stamping Company. In 1924, she began teaching at Simmons College in Boston, with stints at Bryn Mawr College and the University of Pennsylvania to follow. In 1936, she began work with the U.S. Government's Social Security Board, leaving that position to join the U.S. State Department in 1942. Her work as a diplomat included being an economic officer, financial attache in Austria, and special assistant in the Office of German Affairs. It was through her work with the German office that she helped revitalize the German economy after World War II, bringing its unemployment levels down significantly from thirty-three percent. She also worked to secure funds for West Berlin's Congress Hall, hospitals, and educational facilities. After her time at the State Department, she went on to hold positions such as professor at Georgetown University, visiting professor at Duke University, consultant for the U.S. Department of State, and organizer of the John Foster Dulles Centennial Program at Princeton University. She received the Grand Cross of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany, Carl Schurz Plaque, an honorary professorship at the University of Berlin, and a Tribute of Appreciation from the U.S. State Department (1985).

From the description of Dulles, Eleanor Lansing, 1895-1996 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10580411

Eleanor Lansing Dulles, (b. June 1, 1895, d. Oct. 30, 1996), was a member of a powerful diplomatic family. Her uncle, Robert Lansing, was Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. Her eldest brother, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and another brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. In her memoir, Eleanor Lansing Dulles: Chances of a Lifetime (Prentice-Hall, 1980), Eleanor describes her family as a pride of lions. Her background in economics and her familiarity with European affairs enabled her to fill many important positions in an era when women were generally not chosen to serve at high levels of Government. She worked for relief agencies in France during World War I. She entered Government service in 1936 as director of financial research for the Social Security Board, and helped to organize President Franklin D. Roosevelt's new Social Security System. In 1942 she moved to the State Department, and played a major role in postwar-planning for Germany, Austria, France, and Belgium. She was often on the front lines of economic recovery in Germany and Austria, and was a member of the American delegation to the Bretton Woods international monetary conference in New Hampshire in 1944. Serving as the head of the State Department's Berlin desk during the days of the Berlin Airlift and the Cold War, she became known as the Mother of Berlin helping to revitalize the war-worn city and establishing the basis for modern U.S.-German relations. She travelled extensively throughout Europe, Africa, Latin American, and Asia for her work for the U.S. Department of State, the Center for Strategic Studies at Georgetown University, Youth for Understanding, and for her own independent research. In addition to her work for the United States Government, she was a teacher, a scholar, and a prolific author, penning more than a dozen published works.

From the description of Eleanor Lansing Dulles papers, 1867-1993, bulk 1935-1990. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 550577687

Economist, government official.

From the description of Reminiscences of Eleanor Lansing Dulles : oral history, 1978. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122574338

From the description of Reminiscences of Eleanor Lansing Dulles : oral history, 1967. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122513337

From the description of Reminiscences of Eleanor Lansing Dulles : oral history, 1977. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122620004


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  • Cold War
  • Economists--Interviews
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Social security
  • International economic relations
  • World War, 1939-1945--Civilian relief
  • Political refugees
  • Reconstruction (1939-1951)
  • International finance
  • Women in the civil service--Interviews
  • Government executives--Interviews
  • World War, 1939-1945


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  • United States (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Austria (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Germany (East) (as recorded)
  • Austria (as recorded)
  • Germany (West) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Berlin (Germany) (as recorded)