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Robert Lansing Papers

With the exception of a small number of sketches and photographs, the Lansing Papers consist exclusively of typescript and manuscript material, including letters, telegrams, memoranda, essays, addresses, and diaries. While this material documents many of Lansing's concerns, particularly in his capacity as a lawyer, writer, and public official, there are significant lacunae. Among Lansing's official and personal papers, some years are entirely unrepresented while others are virtually so. Enclosures referred to in letters are often missing. There is a ten-year gap in his diaries between 1910 and 1921. While his writings and speeches are also incomplete – the absence of his most widely noted work, The Peace Negotiations: A Personal Narrative, is a case in point – they form by far the largest and, in many respects, the most revealing body of material in the Lansing Papers. Lansing's literary and scholarly works are well-represented, as are his treatments of contemporary issues arising within and without the corridors of power.Lansing was a reflective man who committed his views to paper both during and after the events in which he was involved. The principal insights which the Lansing Papers offer are related less to the daily workings of public and private life than to the concerns and convictions which underpin them. To the extent that Wilson was his own Secretary of State and denied Lansing his confidence, particularly in the closing months of their association, it is perhaps appropriate that Lansing's thoughts bulk larger than his actions in these papers. Through them, his character and environment can be gauged. A biographical sketch prepared for The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography could be accused of over-enthusiasm in averring that Lansing occupied “a preeminent position in the councils of the world,” but it is plain that he was part of the dynamics if not necessarily the decisions which shaped the fortunes of the United States and its neighbors at a pivotal point in the twentieth-century. For further information on indivual series please see series descriptions located in the contents list portion of this finding aid.