Moments Posted in Spouses and children

This is an archive of Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History posted in the Spouses and children category.

A Front Row Seat to the 1975 Coup d’Etat in Chad

Throughout the 1970s, trouble was brewing in Chad. President François (N’Garta) Tombalbaye was the first president of Chad following its independence from France in 1960. His authoritarian regime became increasingly distrustful of and alienated from Chad’s military and Tombalbaye had jailed several prominent commanders. An insurgency in the north led by the Libyan-armed FROLINAT [National […]



Selwa Roosevelt:  The Lucky Chief of Protocol

Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt is best known for her role as Chief of Protocol of the United States from 1982 to 1989. After graduating from Vassar College in New York, Lucky pursued a career in journalism, covering social events in Washington D.C. She was invited to take the position of Chief of Protocol by Nancy Reagan […]



I, Spy?  Diplomatic Adventures during Soviet-American Détente    

Among the challenges of serving as a U.S. diplomat in the USSR during the Cold War years of 1945 to 1991 were the certain knowledge that one’s words and actions were being monitored and reported back to the host – and often hostile – government. Intelligence gathering was carried out by both sides to learn […]



Monkeys and Olives for Dinner: The Glamorous Life of a U.S. Ambassador

Arriving at a new post and setting up your household and office can be quite a challenge, even for a Chief of Mission. For a first-time ambassador at a newly-opened African post, acquiring the fundamentals for survival while preserving diplomatic protocol might seem more like Mission Impossible. Melissa Foelsch Wells recalls her time as Ambassador in […]



Melissa Wells: From Vegas Showgirl to Chief of Mission

Melissa Foelsch Wells, accomplished diplomat and four-time ambassador, was among the pioneers who paved the way for women to work in the Foreign Service. The daughter of a physicist and a renowned Estonian opera singer and film star, Wells grew up travelling around the United States and Mexico before her family settled in Hollywood. She […]



Trust In Me

Living abroad often comes with an array of challenges and frightening encounters. In the 1930s before joining the Foreign Service, Ken Landon served as a missionary in Thailand with his family, where his run-in with a king cobra would prove to be one of his most vivid experiences during his time in Asia. The king cobra […]



The King and I and The Missionary’s Wife

The Foreign Service has attracted some very talented people over the years and many of those are the spouses of Foreign Service Officers. Julia Child is one notable example. Another is Phyllis Oakley, who was forced to resign from the Foreign Service when she got married, rejoined in the 1970s, and rose to become Assistant […]



That’s What Friends Are For

One of the great advantages of being in the Foreign Service is the opportunity to live abroad, learn new languages, experience different cultures — and have some very unusual pets. Here are a few anecdotes about families who decided not to have their turkey for Thanksgiving and one boy who insisted on having a vulture […]



House Un-American: Foreign-Born Wives of American Diplomats

Before World War II, there was a concern, particularly with upper-level Foreign Service officers like Ambassador William C. Bullitt, regarding American diplomats marrying foreign-born women. He used his influence with President Franklin Roosevelt to encourage a rule requiring FSO’s to submit their resignation and formally request permission to marry foreign spouses. Many people felt that […]



A Giant of the Kennedy Era: John Kenneth Galbraith

With his impressive intellect, polarizing personality, close ties to the Kennedy White House and imposing stature, Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith was a larger-than-life figure in American diplomacy.  Born in the Canadian town of Iona Station, Ontario in 1908, Ambassador Galbraith began his education at the Ontario Agricultural College, graduating with a degree in Agricultural Economics. […]