Soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, A Morroccan Embassy arrived in England. The best-known evidence of such contacts can be seen in the haunting portrait of Abd el-Ouahed Messaoud ben Mohammed Anoun, ambassador to Elizabeth from Muly Hamet [sic] (the only claimant to the throne of Morocco to survive the real Battle of Alcazar), which now hangs in the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-Upon-Avon. El-Ouahed, who spent six months in London during 1600, was sent to the court to negotiate an alliance against Spain. Muly Hamet wanted an English fleet to help him invade Spain, a design too quixotic for Elizabeth’s pragmatic diplomacy; his ambassador had to be content with trade agreements instead.

Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500-1800 By Virginia Mason Vaughan (p.57)

You can read an overview of the Anglo-Moroccan alliance here. The alliance lasted for more than a century, and diplomatic missions back and forth were necessary to maintain it. Another portrait was made in the 1730s of Admiral Abdelkader Pérez, another ambassador from Morocco to the monarch of England:

CUBA, HAVANA : Cubans watch US President Barack Obama talking on TV about the reestablishment of full diplomatic ties with Cuba, in Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama announced that the United States and Cuba will re-establish full diplomatic relations, severed 54 years ago in the angry heat of the Cold War. The US president and Cuban state television simultaneously announced the landmark agreement, aimed at easing decades of enmity across the narrow Straits of Florida. Under the deal, embassies in Washington and Havana will be reopened as soon as July 20, in what Obama described as a “historic step forward,” and a “new chapter” in US relations with Latin America.   AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE                        


Charter of the United Nations 

From the series:  Treaties, Agreements, and Other International Acts for Which the United States is the Depositary Government, 1943 - 1984

On June 26, 1945, in San Francisco, the United Nations Charter was established. It was created at the end of World War II in an attempt to maintain international peace and security and to achieve cooperation among nations on economic, social and humanitarian problem. The required number of nations ratified the charter on October 24, 1945, which is now celebrated as United Nations Day. 

History of the United Nations Charter (via UN.org)

(The united-nations is also on Tumblr!)

How’s your Russian or French?  Help Transcribe the United Nations Charter in the National Archives Catalog!


Re-establishing Diplomatic Relations with Cuba (Historic Photos)

It has been 54 years since the U.S. Embassy in Havana closed its doors.  Upon ending diplomatic relations with our neighboring island nation, President Eisenhower announced, “It is my hope and my conviction that it is in the not too distant future that it will be possible for the historic friendship between us once again to find its reflection in normal relations of every sort.” Although it has taken more than half a century, President Obama recently announced that the United States would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Coincidentally, the National Archives Still Photos Division recently acquired a large collection of photos from the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations.  The collection includes photos of embassies, consulates, and diplomatic residencies from all over the world.  Included in this collection are a number of photos from the original U.S. embassy in Cuba.  These photos were processed earlier this month and can be viewed at: Re-establishing Diplomatic Relations with Cuba (Historic Photos) | The Unwritten Record

MYANMAR, YANGON : US President Barack Obama (L) and Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi make their way from a press conference at her residence in Yangon on November 14, 2014. Obama began talks with Suu Kyi, in a show of support for the opposition leader as the nation turns towards elections next year with uncertainty over the direction of reforms. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

Survivor Stories of the Lusitania

Imagine you were en route to Europe one hundred years ago aboard the Lusitania. The majestic ship, one of the larger passenger vessels in the world at the time, neared the Irish coastline several days after its May 1 departure from New York. What was it like to experience the tragedy first-hand?

R.M.S. Lusitania, Hit by Torpedos Off Kinsale Head, Ireland
Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Consul at Cork Wesley Frost’s May 9, 1915, telegram provides two intimate snapshots of Lusitania survivors’ harrowing ordeal. Passenger Robert Rankin testified that throughout the morning of May 7, “Lusitania going slow,” and “had been blowing foghorn till about 10a.m.” Rankin noted that around noontime, the ship started “to zigzag course.” Yet, this was not cause for too much alarm. After a quick lunch, Rankin and three companions walked about on deck. At 2:10pm, one of his party spotted what looked like a submarine, a “low black ridge” just off the ship’s starboard bow. “Torpedo left submarine almost instantly,” Rankin stated, and “traveled rapidly toward boat, leaving white trail.”

Below deck, first class passenger Mrs. Jessie Taft Smith heard and felt the torpedo’s impact. In the reading room after lunch, she stated, she “heard noise and ship seemed to lift.” Smith left for her stateroom, though “was told not to hurry as there was no danger.” Thankfully, she was prepared. “Had beforehand got life belt ready in cabin,” she testified. “Now put it on and went upper deck. Steward helped me into boat hanging in davits. Between 40 and 50 people got in, boat was lowered and we pushed off.”

“Telegram from U.S. Consul at Cork (Frost) to the Secretary of State, May 9, 1915”
Credit: Foreign Relations of the United States 1915. Supplement, The World War, (p 386-387)

Read further details of their accounts: “Telegram from U.S. Consul at Cork (Frost) to the Secretary of State, May 9, 1915,” in the Foreign Relations of the United States 1915. Supplement, The World War, (p 386-387) – and check back this fall for release of the volume online at http://history.state.gov.


Like the rest of the country, Cuban baseball has been in crisis. But as the U.S. and Cuba have moved to normalize diplomatic relations, hope is bubbling that the rapprochement could bring new opportunities, stop Cuba’s top talent from fleeing and perhaps lead to reconciliation between those who’ve left and those who’ve stayed.

Back in December, President Obama and President Raul Castro of Cuba gave simultaneous speeches on live television.

The leaders announced that after more than 50 years, the two countries would re-establish ties and that sometime soon the American flag would fly over an embassy in Havana and a Cuban one would fly over an embassy in Washington. 

It wasn’t long before headlines about the potential for baseball diplomacy began appearing.

With Improved Relations, Are The U.S. And Cuba Ready To Play Ball?

Photo Credit: Eyder Peralta/NPR

Deed of Gift for the Statue of Liberty, 7/4/1884.

From the series:  Collected Manuscripts and Papers, ca. 1789 - 1918. General Records of the Department of State, 1763 - 2002

Maybe you noticed today’s Google Doodle celebrating the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in New York City Harbor on June 17, 1885?  Take a look at the  original deed, presenting the statue as a gift from the French People.

How’s your French?  Help out and transcribe the deed in the National Archives Catalog!

(H/T to coolchicksfromhistory!)


Later this month, the U.S. State Department will appoint a gay career diplomat to serve as the country’s first-ever envoy for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, a move that comes at a crucial moment for LGBT rights globally.

While this is good news, it’s important to remember 78 countries still criminalize homosexuality, while seven permit death sentences for it.


Ten countries of dubious existance…what would you consider a “country”?