Moments Posted in Spouses and children

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

Mari-Luci Jaramillo: Shoemaker’s Daughter to Madame Ambassador

Mari-Luci Jaramillo, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras from 1977-1980, rose from poverty in New Mexico to a life of diplomacy and advocacy of civil rights for Hispanics.  With a husband, three children and a factory job, she completed an undergraduate degree at New Mexico Highlands University with the goal of teaching elementary school.  In 1977, President […]



Which Witch?

When stationed abroad, Foreign Service Officers may face dangers such as carjackings, bombings, or even assassination attempts. However, for some, the most serious threat may be a supernatural one:  being cursed by a local witch doctor. The supernatural threats encountered by FSOs must always be taken seriously; otherwise, one risks temporal pain and spiritual punishment […]



The Enigmatic Jackie Kennedy

Popular U.S. politicians and their wives often become celebrities to the public, both home and abroad. This can make state visits incredibly thrilling for the public and exciting for the Foreign Service Officers who are involved in making the visit run seamlessly. Jacqueline Kennedy was one of those celebrities who caused a stir wherever she […]



Dangerous Roads – Carjacking and the Foreign Service

Foreign Service officers are trained to handle and adapt to any number of highly dangerous situations. One such situation is carjacking, a regrettably common threat in many areas of the world. The perpetrators range from terrorist organizations to petty criminals to opportunistic ne’er-do-wells. Carjackers always want the vehicle, and, on some occasions, they want the […]



A Personnel Tragedy

Charles William Thomas was a bright mid-career Foreign Service officer who was selected out because his efficiency report was mixed with a poorer officer of the same name. After his lifelong dream of serving in the State Department came crashing down, Thomas committed suicide and his case became a cause celebre. His wife Cynthia held […]



Wives Gone Wild

Every Foreign Service Officer can have a difficult job of navigating cultural differences, memorizing customs and sticking to protocol while at their post. The long list of do’s and don’ts apply equally to a Foreign Service spouse, and while they usually do a commendable job, there have been a few cases when they have made […]



Ghana’s Populist Mystic, Jerry Rawlings

Like many leaders throughout Africa, Jerry Rawlings was a paradoxical figure. He could be calculating and ruthless, as when he ordered a bloody “housecleaning” of those he viewed as corrupt or disloyal. Or he could demonstrate genuine concern for the well-being of Ghanaians as he tried to address the country’s myriad problems. Jerry John Rawlings […]



Cracking the Glass Ceiling: A Conversation with Foreign Service Women

Despite their education and background, women Foreign Service Officers in the 1950s and 60s faced discrimination and were often treated like second-class citizens. Even in the late 1960s, some ambassadors would object to a woman being posted to their embassies while female FSOs were sometimes expected to act as social secretary to the Ambassador’s wife. […]



The Irrepressible Prudence Bushnell

As a teenage daughter of a Foreign Service Officer who moved his family from country to country every so often, Prudence Bushnell frequently complained that the Foreign Service ruined her life. It is ironic then — poetic even — that as destiny would have it, Bushnell found herself in Dakar, Senegal, in 1981 on her […]



From ‘Wife of’ to Assistant Secretary of State: Phyllis Oakley Rises Through the State Department

While it was never written into the formal policies of the U.S. Department of State, it had been common practice for women in the Foreign Service to retire once they were married. In the early 1970s, after years of legal challenges from Foreign Service Officer Alison Palmer and others, the State Department finally dropped the […]