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Francis M. White papers

Identifier: MS-0194

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence, speeches, memos and office files relating to White's career in the Foreign Service and his work for ITT and the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council. The bulk of the papers spans the years 1914-1961. The State Department series, composed of his years in the Foreign Service, his term as Assistant Secretary of State, and ambassadorships to Mexico and Sweden, contains the greatest amount of material. White spent 25 years in the Department's employ. The most complete information is contained in the press releases, memos and correspondence generated while he was Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs. The papers of the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council address economic aspects of United States-Central/South American relations, including White's efforts to obtain payment on defaulted bonds for American investors. On a more personal level, White was a dedicated correspondent to Virginia and Miles White, Jr.,his parents, Nancy White, his wife and Elizabeth White, his daughter, while he was overseas. His letters describe his experiences in China (1915-1918), Tehran (1918-1919) Havana (1920), Buenos Aires (1922), Madrid (1926) and Stockholm (1943-1944).


  • Creation: 1913 - 1961


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Francis M. White was born on March 4, 1892 in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Virginia Purviance Bonsal White and Miles White, Jr. His grandfather, Francis White, Jr. had been an executor of Johns Hopkins will and a member of the first Board of Trustees of The Johns Hopkins University. Consequently, Francis M. White had a long-standing relationship with the University, and was himself a Trustee from 1939-1961.

Francis White attended kindergarten at home, and then attended the Boys' Country School (later renamed the Gilman School) from 1902-1906. From 1906-1908, he went to the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Connecticut, and then transferred to the Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania in 1908. He graduated from there in 1910 at which time he entered the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University where he earned a Ph. B. (Bachelor of Philosophy) in 1913. After graduation, he traveled to Europe to pursue graduate studies at the University of Grenoble (1913), the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques in Paris (1914), University of Madrid and the Real Academia de Jurisprudencia y Legislacion, Madrid (1914-1915). Although he did course work at each of these institutions, he did not earn a graduate degree. Instead, he chose to enter the Foreign Service.

His appointment to the Service came on July 28, 1915. White's first assignment was as third secretary to the legation in Peking, a position he held until 1918. During this time, White kept a diary of a trip from Peking (now Beijing) to Bangkok and back (summer 1917).

In January of 1918, White went to Tehran, again as a Secretary to the legation. He also served as acting Charge de Affaires for eight months. Tehran was White's last Middle Eastern post; in December 1919 he arrived in Havana, Cuba.

In Cuba, White was a second secretary to the legation and also Charge de Affaires. He married Nancy Brewster during his Cuba assignment on June 28, 1920.

In November 1920, Francis and Nancy White were sent to Buenos Aires where Francis was again Charge and first Secretary. Nancy's health prevented her remaining in Buenos Aires; she returned to the United States in October 1921. March 1922 found Francis White, too, heading stateside to succeed Sumner Welles as the State Department's Chief of Latin American Affairs. He held this post until June 1926. As part of his duties, White was appointed a member of the U.S.-Panama Commission in June 1924.

In 1926, the Whites headed back to Europe for Francis' temporary assignment as Counselor to first the Paris Embassy (August-October 1926) and later the Madrid Embassy (October 1926-March 1927). In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge recalled White to Washington to serve as the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America.

As Assistant Secretary, White assumed a role in the negotiations of boundary disputes in Central and South America, including the settlement of a dispute between Guatemala and Honduras (1930-1931). In 1932, as Chairman of the Commission of Neutrals, he brought Paraguay and Bolivia to the negotiating table for a discussion of the Chaco boundary dispute.

With the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, White lobbied for the ambassadorship to Cuba. That post, however, went to Sumner Welles, and White instead received an appointment as Ambassador to Czechoslovakia. He remained in Prague until December 1933, when he resigned his post to accept a position in the private sector with International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT).

At ITT, White was Vice-President of the Postal Telegraph and Cable Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of ITT, and was also a vice president of the parent corporation. White spent only 8 months with the company (May-December 1934), leaving to assume the vice presidency of the Foreign Bondholders' Protective Council.

The Foreign Bondholders' Protective Council (hereafter referred to as FBPC), was a private non- profit agency organized at the request of the United States government. It negotiated settlement of defaults on about 2 billion dollars of non-United States government bonds in the hands of American investors. In 1938, White became the President of FBPC, a position he held until his resignation in 1942.

From 1942-1949, White once again worked for ITT. He was appointed vice-president of the International Standard Electric Company (another wholly owned subsidiary of ITT). In this position, he traveled to Madrid and Stockholm to oversee ITT's overseas operations.

White resigned from ITT in May 1949 to work on special projects for the Trustees of The Johns Hopkins University. He remained in the employ of the University until December 1949, when he was offered the vice chairmanship of the board of the Baugh Company, a Baltimore based manufacturer of agricultural products. He held this post until March 1953.

In March 1953, White had the opportunity to rejoin the Foreign Service. President Eisenhower appointed him ambassador to Mexico. Francis served in Mexico until July 1957 when he became the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden. Stockholm was his last diplomatic post, and he retired from the service in January 1959.

In April 1959, White rejoined the Baugh Company, again as Vice-Chairman of the Board. He held this position until his death in 1961.

Francis White was survived by his wife, Nancy Brewster White, and daughter, Elizabeth White Glascock, who was married to G. Graham Glascock.

A chronology of White's active Foreign Service career is attached following the series descriptions.


15 Cubic Feet (5 letter size document boxes, 26 legal size document boxes, 1 legal half-size document box, 2 flat boxes (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches))

Language of Materials



Francis White (1892 – 1961) was an American diplomat born in Baltimore. The collection consists of correspondence, speeches, memos and office files relating to White's career in the Foreign Service and his work for ITT and the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council. The bulk of the papers spans the years 1914-1961.


The papers are arranged in 12 series: outgoing letters; datebooks; State Department; Foreign Bondholders Protective Council; ITT; Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees; incoming letters; speeches; Nancy B. White's outgoing letters; Elizabeth White's outgoing letters; White family manuscripts; and biographical material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers came to The Johns Hopkins University in the 1970s through the Garrett Librarian. Letters (De-classified) related to Mexican affairs added June 1998. The originals of Francis White's correspondence to Virginia and Miles White, Jr. (his parents), Nancy White (his wife), and Elizabeth White Glassock (his daughter (1920s-1961) were copied and translated into typescript by Elizabeth (Betty) White Glascock. Those copies, the gift of Betty Glascock, were added in July 1999. The Accession Number is 98-99.6.

Related Materials

The Herbert Hoover Library owns 17 cubic feet of White's diplomatic correspondence.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Margaret N. Burri in May 1987. It is assumed that the collection was partially processed while in storage at Evergreen, so it is difficult to determine the extent of original order. Only the office files and memos from the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council maintained the creator's original order.

Liz Beckman revised the Biographical note, Immediate Source of Acquisition, and collection level and several series level Scope and Content notes in this finding aid in December 2023 to bring them into compliance with Johns Hopkins guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.


Francis M. White papers
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA