By Donna Scaramastra Gorman
The Foreign Service Journal (FSJ or Journal)—published by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)—celebrated its 100th birthday, March 20, with an event that launched the centennial exhibit on display in the U.S. Diplomacy Center through May 13, “Defining Diplomacy for 100 Years.”
More than 130 guests attended the opening, including previous FSJ editors Steve Honley, Steve Dujack and Ann Luppi von Mehren; past AFSA presidents; current and past AFSA governing board members; current and past editorial board members, including current Chair Alexis Ludwig and previous chairs Judy Baroody, retired Ambassador Ed Marks, retired Ambassador Tony Quainton, Jim DeHart and Beth Payne; and more than a dozen retired ambassadors who have written for The Foreign Service Journal.
The exhibit featured images and excerpts from the pages of the Journal. One set of panels had striking images of FSJ covers from 1919 through 2019, with a timeline marking historic cultural and political events of each era.
Another set dove into the texture and rich history of American diplomacy and the U.S. Foreign Service (FS), with panels on the FS career, FS families, the embassy platform and diplomacy at the frontlines of history, as well as famous voices, unusual stories and advertisements from the Journal.
Attendees of the event saw letters to the Journal and articles from former U.S. presidents and other high-level officials, an article on famous FS spouse Julia Child and an interview with Margaret Mead. They were also able to see an FSJ cover image that caused a scandal in 1987 because a classified document was visible on the desk of then Under Secretary for Management Ronald Spiers.
In her opening remarks, AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson said she was “thrilled and honored to be able to share this bold presentation of diplomatic history as told by those who were—and still are—there on the ground around the globe, on the front lines, managing the United States’ relationships with the rest of the world.”
She thanked the U.S. Diplomacy Center for partnering with AFSA to mark the 100th birthday of the FSJ, saying that the partnership “serves both our missions to help bring understanding of diplomacy to the American public.”
“You may be surprised to learn that it all started with economic diplomacy,” said Stephenson, pointing to a graphic from the original March 1919 American Consular Bulletin, the precursor to the FSJ. “The original officers of the U.S. Foreign Service were all about helping American businesses.” With the rise of great power competition and the shift to a multipolar world where U.S. predominance is no longer a given, she said, the Journal helps make the case for a robust Foreign Service playing a convening role as a global leader.
Shawn Dorman, Journal editor-in-chief and a former Foreign Service officer, explained that today’s magazine has both editorial independence and strong support from AFSA. “It is a mirror for the Foreign Service, reflecting 100 years of diplomatic history,” she said. “And it is also a window for those outside our community to gain understanding of what diplomats do and why it matters.” | Cont. |6
“Everything in the exhibit was pulled from the newly upgraded and optimized FSJ digital archive,” said Dorman.
During her speech, Dorman asked members of the assembled crowd to take out their phones, go to the browser and type in “FSJ archive.” The FSJ digital archive immediately popped up on many of their screens. She invited people to search their own names or look up any issue of the FSJ that piques their interest during their tour of the exhibit.
Thanks to AFSA’s FSJ archive digitization initiative, Dorman said, “the century of Journals is now a powerful tool for the Foreign Service community and for those seeking to learn more about diplomacy in practice.”
“I invite you to take the entire archive home with you!” she added, noting that AFSA is working to spread awareness and use of this valuable new resource.
Donna Scaramastra Gorman is associate editor of The Foreign Service Journal.