By Isaac D. Pacheco

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, U.S. diplomacy underwent dramatic changes. In the wake of two world wars that drastically altered physical borders and political landscapes abroad and shifted the global power dynamic, the Department of State led American foreign policy through one of the most consequential eras in modern history, a period that included the Cold War, the space race, the normalization of relations with China, the fall of the Iron Curtain, the emergence of the internet, the rise of globalization, 9/11, the War on Terrorism, and a new era of global competition.

A small team of FSOs launched the first issue of what eventually became State Magazine with the publication of the News Letter from The Director General of The Foreign Service, March 20, 1947.

Over the same period, a cultural revolution was taking place in American society: racial desegregation, the full inclusion of women in the workplace, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and adoption of policies protecting the rights and dignity of all humans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Mirroring the evolving world around it, the Department has worked to diversify its ranks, a process that continues to this day as leaders strive for increased equity, accessibility, and inclusion in the workforce. And while the Department still has a ways to go, the injection of new ideas and perspectives from historically underserved communities has led to greater innovation and resulted in a workforce that is starting to better reflect the nation it serves.

Since its establishment in 1947, State Magazine, in its various iterations, has documented the Department’s many groundbreaking moments, at first sharing these individual and organizational achievements with Department employees in the form of a newsletter, later with the broader government community as a print magazine, and eventually with the general public in its current online format. This year, to celebrate 75 years of telling the Department’s stories, State Magazine will publish a series that highlights key moments in Department history, and some of the modern-day achievements made possible by the dedicated efforts of its employees over the past three quarters of a century.

State Magazine produced a retrospective on the publication’s print history in the final hard copy issue, Sept. 1, 2015.

Like the Department, State Magazine has evolved over the years. The current publication’s interactive, multimedia-focused website is a far cry from the original 8-page, hand-typed, monthly newsletter distributed via carbon copy beginning in March 1947. While early versions of the print publication were restricted to small internal audiences, today’s magazine reaches hundreds of thousands of readers each year thanks to its web platform. Digital distribution comes at a fraction of the cost of past print publications and provides a critical window into Department operations for a broader segment of society, including government leaders, members of the American public, and host-country nationals in the more than 170 countries where American diplomats serve around the world. 

As the Department adapts to new challenges in the 21st century, State Magazine will be there every step of the way, documenting and reporting on the work of those who advance U.S. foreign policy objectives through diplomacy. By recounting the everyday achievements of the Foreign and Civil Service and locally employed staff, State Magazine helps facilitate a better understanding of, and appreciation for, their vital work. This, in turn, can create new avenues for the fundamental work of diplomacy—dialogue and engagement, at home and abroad.

Isaac D. Pacheco is editor-in-chief of State Magazine.

Mapping Diplomatic History

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The cover of the January 1980 issue of State Magazine (The Department of State Newsletter) shows a man and woman standing in front of a building in black and white.
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The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, is featured as the first Post of the Month in Issue 219.


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Bike Diplomacy 2.0

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“[Clean energy is] one of the most powerful ways that we can Department of State employees crowd the C Street lobby to welcome 65th Secretary of State Colin Powell…

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Flashback: March 1998

The contributions of women in society was the primary focus of State Magazine’s March 1998 issue…

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As the Department of State’s first Black secretary of state, Colin Powell led during a critical time that still reverberates in U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic engagement…

Flashback: April 2011

State Magazine’s April 2011 cover showcased the beauty of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, located near Belmopan, as a teaser for…

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In August 2021, the entire world was watching as the city of Kabul fell and the U.S. government undertook the largest humanitarian airlift in its history…

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