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Dumbarton Oaks Conversations

Dumbarton Oaks Conversations

The Dumbarton Oaks Conversations, from which emerged a tentative agreement that was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the United Nations Charter in 1945, were held between August 21 and October 7, 1944, with delegations from the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and China. The fiftieth anniversary of the Conversations was commemorated at Dumbarton Oaks on May 5–7, 1994, in a conference organized by Harvard University faculty members. Twenty-five years later, we are pleased to offer a reprint of the conference proceedings for purchase, along with a new preface by Director of Dumbarton Oaks Jan Ziolkowski reflecting on the role of our institution and the legacy of the Conversations.

The 1994 conference was accompanied by an exhibition of photographs, documents, and publications. As the catalogue of this exhibition states, “the Conversations were initiated, organized, and carried out by people with political visions and ideals who, at the same time, had quite worldly everyday problems and interests.” The selection of exhibit items highlighted the meeting of these two spheres—the diplomatic and the personal. This online feature reproduces these documents and photographs, which may be explored thematically in the sections below or searched by keyword.

Explore Documents and Photographs


The concentrated and systematic preparation of the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations started in December 1943.


The Dumbarton Oaks Conversations brought together representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and China.


The Dumbarton Oaks Conversations were held in two phases of talks, between 21 August and 28 September and 29 September and 7 October 1944.


The success of the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations can be measured by the prompt formation of the United Nations, an organization founded just over a year later.