Watson, Barbara Mae, 1918-1983

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Barbara Mae Watson (1918-1983) business woman, lawyer, government executive and diplomat. Watson was the first woman and first African-American Assistant Secretary of State, serving under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. As Acting Administrator and Administrator, Watson headed the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of [Security and] Consular Affairs from 1966-1974 and 1977-1980. From 1980-1981, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia.

Born in New York City, Watson was educated at Hunter Model School and High School. She earned degrees from Barnard College and New York Law School. From 1946 to 1955 Watson was the owner and director of the African-American modelling agency and charm school, Brandford Models, Inc. (later changed to Barbara Watson Models). In 1958 until 1959 Watson served as coordinator of Student Activities at Hampton Institute. Upon graduation from law school in 1962 she worked as an attorney with three New York City government agencies; the Board of Statutory Consolidation of the City of New York, the Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, and as director of the New York City Commission to the United Nations. Upon retirement from the U.S. State Department she entered private law practice with two Washington based firms specializing in international law and business development and trade. At the time of her death in 1983 she had received an appointment to the U.S. Department of State's Special Selection Board.

From the description of Barbara Mae Watson papers, 1929-1984. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122598247

Barbara Mae Watson (1918-1983) business woman, lawyer, government executive and diplomat. Watson was the first woman and first African-American Assistant Secretary of State, serving under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. As Acting Administrator and Administrator, Watson headed the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of [Security and] Consular Affairs from 1966-1974 and 1977-1980. From 1980-1981, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia.

Born in New York City, Watson was educated at Hunter Model School and High School. She earned degrees from Barnard College and New York Law School. From 1946 to 1955 Watson was the owner and director of the African-American modelling agency and charm school, Brandford Models, Inc. (later changed to Barbara Watson Models). In 1958 until 1959 Watson served as coordinator of Student Activities at Hampton Institute. Upon graduation from law school in 1962 she worked as an attorney with three New York City government agencies; the Board of Statutory Consolidation of the City of New York, the Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, and as director of the New York City Commission to the United Nations. Upon retirement from the U.S. State Department she entered private law practice with two Washington based firms specializing in international law and business development and trade. At the time of her death in 1983 she had received an appointment to the U.S. Department of State's Special Selection Board.

From the guide to the Barbara Mae Watson papers, 1929-1984, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Women Ambassadors Oral History Project MS 204., 1916-2002, 1980-1990 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Watson, James S., 1882-1952. James S. Watson papers, 1913-1991 (bulk 1913-1952). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Watson, Barbara Mae, 1918-1983. Barbara Mae Watson papers, 1929-1984. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Barbara Mae Watson papers, 1929-1984 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Annenberg, Walter H., 1908-2002. person
associatedWith Barbara Watson Models (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Barthé, Richmond, 1901-1989. person
associatedWith Brandford Models, Inc. (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Carter, Jimmy, 1924- person
associatedWith Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946. person
associatedWith German, Milagros A. person
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. person
associatedWith Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978. person
associatedWith Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973. person
associatedWith Knight, Francis G. person
associatedWith McKay, Claude, 1890-1948. person
associatedWith Morin, Ann Miller person
associatedWith New York (N.Y.). City Commission for the United Nations and for the Consular Corps. corporateBody
associatedWith Rusk, Dean, 1909-1994. person
associatedWith Sangster, Donald B. person
associatedWith Skinner, Arturo, 1923-1975 person
associatedWith Skinner, Arturo, 1924-1975. person
associatedWith Suzman, Helen. person
associatedWith United States. Bureau of Consular Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of State. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Visa Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Watson, James L (James Lopez), 1922-2001. person
associatedWith Watson, James S., 1882-1952. person
associatedWith Watson, Violet L. (Violet Lopez), 1891-1971. person
associatedWith Yunkers, Adja, 1900-1983. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
New York (N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
Malaysia
Malaysia
Subject
Ambassadors--United States
Diplomats
Women lawyers--United States
Diplomatic and consular service, American--Malaysia
African American lawyers
Beauty, personal
Cabinet officers--United States
African American women executives
African Americans in radio broadcasting
African American orators
Cabinet officers
Passports--United States
Lawyers
Women orators--United States
Clothing and dress
African American government executives
Women in radio broadcasting--United States
Diplomatic and consular service, American
Diplomatic and consular service
Black author
Diplomatic and consular service--Malaysia
Modeling agencies
Women orators
Women government executives
Embassy buildings--Malaysia
Radio broadcasting--United States
Embassies
Government executives
Orators
Visas--United States
African Americans--Politics and government
Orators--United States
African American diplomats
Government executives--United States
Radio broadcasting
Modeling agencies--United States
Women government executives--United States
Women lawyers
Women diplomats
Women diplomats--United States
African American executives
Passports
Lawyers--United States
Women in radio broadcasting
Visas
Diplomats--United States
Ambassadors
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1918

Death 1983

Information

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