University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Kay Boyle
Papers relating to the
Citizens' Mission to Cambodia

1960 - 1979
(bulk dates 1966, 1979)

Manuscript Collection Number: 262
Accessioned: Purchase, 1992
Extent:1 linear ft.
Content: Diaries, correspondence, books, periodicals, news clippings, reports, speeches, audio recording tapes, photographs, and poems
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1993 by Paul Dziewisz

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Kay Boyle, born in 1902, is best known for her work and accomplishments as a poet, short story writer, novelist, journalist, teacher, and political activist. One of the prominent American expatriates during the 1920s and 1930s, much of Kay Boyle's work reflects the influences of that literary circle.

Kay Boyle's career as a writer began in 1923, after moving from St. Paul to New York City, with the publishing of her poem, "Morning," in Harold Loeb's art and literary magazine, Broom. Soon after, she married a French exchange student, Richard Brault, and moved to France for a 20 year period. During that time she divorced Brault and, in 1931, married a fellow expatriate, Laurence Vail (previously the husband of Peggy Guggenheim). She published four novels, Plagued by a Nightmare, Year Before Last, Gentlemen, I Address You Privately, and My Next Bride, during the 1920s reflecting her experiences in France. Boyle divorced Vail and, in 1943, married Baron Joseph von Franckenstein. The two were together until his death in 1963.

A prolific short story writer, Boyle won the first of her two O. Henry short story awards in 1935 for the title story of The White Horses of Vienna and Other Stories. Her second O. Henry was awarded in 1941 for "Defeat." She continued to write short stories throughout her life. The last collection, Life Being the Best and Other Stories, was published in 1988. In addition to the O. Henry award she was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1934) and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 1960 Boyle moved to San Francisco and took a position as an English professor at San Francisco State University. Kay Boyle's later works include the 1967 Autobiography of Emanuel Carnevali and a 1968 revision of Robert McAlmon's memoirs, Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930, to which Boyle added several supplementary chapters.

Throughout her life, Kay Boyle was politically active. This activism reflects a general belief, fostered by her mother, that privilege demands social responsibility. In the 1950s her activism became reinvigorated as she worked toward furthering integration policies, civil rights, a ban on nuclear weapons, and America's withdrawal from Southeast Asia.

Citizens' Mission to Cambodia

Kay Boyle's concern over the potential expansion of the Vietnam War prompted her to accept the invitation of the organization "Americans Want to Know" and embark on a two-week fact finding mission to the area bordering Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Boyle and six others -- Floyd B. McKissick, National Director for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); Rabbi Israel Dresner; Donald Duncan, military editor of Ramparts magazine and ex-Green Beret; Russell Johnson of American Friends Service Committee; publicity director Marc Stone; and New York businessman Norman Eisner -- comprised the Citizens' Mission to Cambodia. The Mission departed for Phnom Penh on July 25, 1966 to investigate U.S. allegations that Cambodia was being used as a training area and staging ground for Viet Cong incursions into South Vietnam.

Americans Want to Know, the Mission's sponsoring organization, formed in 1965 "to gather facts and report them to the American people in any situation where our country seems likely to become embroiled in foreign adventures." They observed such a situation in Cambodia where accusations of misconduct were being made on both sides.

The United States government charged the Cambodian government with creating a "Viet Cong sanctuary," establishing the Sihanouk Trail to augment the Ho Chi Minh Trail by providing arms and food, and accepting arms and food shipments into the port at Sihanoukville. Meanwhile, in addition to denying these charges, Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia claimed the U.S. was violating his nation's vowed territorial neutrality by conducting bombing raids on Cambodian villages. Prince Sihanouk asked for stricter border observations from the International Control Commission and broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S. over the incidents just prior to the delegation's arrival.

During the mission, the delegation visited several spots along the Cambodia/Vietnam border as well as the Cambodia/Laos border where they inspected the site of a recent U.S. attack on the village of Thloc Trach. The delegates personally examined the alleged Sihanouk Trail and the Ho Chi Minh Trail for signs of a Viet Cong presence. In addition, the Mission members boarded and examined ships docking at Sihanoukville looking for arms or food shipments. Finally, the delegation met with Sihanouk and discussed his views on the border violations. The Mission members could find no indications of wrongdoing on the part of the Cambodian government.

Upon their return to the United States, the delegates reported on the Mission's findings through a series of articles, interviews, and lectures around the country.

The collection indicates that Kay Boyle continued her political activism and her interest in the plight of Cambodia well into the decade of the 1970s and probably through to her death on December 27, 1992.


"Kay Boyle, 90, Writer of Novels and Stories, Dies." The New York Times. December 29, 1992.

Note: Much of the biographical data is derived from material contained in the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The manuscript collection of Kay Boyle Relating to the Citizens' Mission to Cambodia consists of material spanning the dates 1960-1979, with bulk dates of 1966 and 1979. The collection contains one linear foot of material including diaries, correspondence, books, periodicals, news clippings, reports, speeches, audio recording tapes, a photograph, and poems.

The bulk of the material surveys the controversial aspects of the ground war in Vietnam and its possible expansion into Cambodia through the recorded thoughts and actions of Kay Boyle and the Citizens' Mission to Cambodia. Additional items capture the evolution of political Cambodia well into the 1970s through various publications and articles. Included in the collection are two unrelated items: a letter and poems sent to a San Francisco public school class, and a speech and poem dedicated to San Francisco Mayor George Moscone following his assassination in 1978.

The collection provides insight into the specifics of the Citizens' Mission examination of the Cambodian border conflict. In addition to the Mission reports, the collection provides opposing opinions, details on living in Cambodia, and reflections on Prince Sihanouk's actions and beliefs. The collection is further highlighted by Kay Boyle's diaries of the journey and by articles of the late 1970s discussing the political situation in Cambodia. Unfortunately there is a gap in the collection between 1966 and 1979 which prevents the researcher from following the actions of Kay Boyle and Americans Want to Know through to their culmination.

The collection is organized topically into four series. The first series of the collection relates specifically to the events and immediate results of the Citizens' Mission. Spanning 1965-1966, this series is the collection's most extensive. Included within the series are Kay Boyle's diaries from Cambodia, various Mission publications, review articles written by delegation members, and correspondence regarding Mission activities.

Series II, Official Statements and Press Releases, provides a context for the outward aims of the key actors in the controversy over Cambodia. It consists of press releases, pronouncements, official statements, and speech transcripts. Series III is a reference collection of published articles, books, and tapes giving background to the conflict in South East Asia as well as the Mission. Finally, series IV consists of two items unrelated to Boyle's mission in Cambodia.

Related collections:

Mss 131 Kay Boyle Papers

Mss 287 Kay Boyle Papers relating to Research on Irish Women

Series Outline

I.   The Citizens' Mission to Cambodia, 1966
     1.   Diaries of the Mission, July 26-August 11, 1966
     2.   Information relating to Mission publications
     3.   Materials related to events of the Mission
     4.   Correspondence

II.  Official Statements and Press Releases, 1964-1966
     1.   Americans Want to Know
     2.   United States government
     3.   Cambodian government
     4.   Miscellaneous organizations

III. Collected Newspaper Articles, Publications, and Productions,
     1.   Articles and publications
     2.   Audio recording tape of the Winter Soldier   Investigations, Detroit, 1971

IV.  Unrelated, 1960 and 1978 

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

 Series I.  The Citizens' Mission to Cambodia, 1966
          This series contains material directly related to the
          Citizens' Mission.  Included are Kay Boyle's diaries,
          in original and corrected draft form; correspondence
          about and drafts of subsequent publications of the
          Mission; articles published by delegation members; and
          correspondence among Mission members.

     Series I.1.  Diaries of the Mission, July 26-August 11, 1966
          This subseries contains journal notebooks, typed
          drafts, and critiques of drafts for Kay Boyle's Mission
          diaries.  A photograph is also included.  The diary of
          Kay Boyle's mission experiences was to be published
          soon after 1966 but was never printed in full.  The
          subseries is arranged in stages beginning with on-site
          journals.  These are followed by drafts for publication
          and commentary on those drafts.

          A further note is required to explain the comprehensive
          diary (found in F6 below) which is a compilation of the
          smaller diaries.  Upon acquisition it was filled with a
          large quantity of related letters and notes placed
          loosely between its pages.  To clarify the order of the
          diary, all pages, including the loose inserts, were
          numbered consecutively from beginning to end.  The
          loose pages were then removed and placed in the
          adjoining folders (F6a, F6b, F6c). 

F1   Photograph (black and white) of Mission members and Sihanouk
     taken at the Prince's palace, 1966

     Diary of the Citizens' Mission, 1966

F2   July 29-August 2
F3   August 3-6
F4   August 6-7
F5   July 26-30 and August 9-11 
F6   July 26-August 11
     A compilation of the above notebooks.  All loose inserts
     have been numbered and removed.  They can be found in the
     following three folders.  

F6a  July 26-August 11
     pp. 1-65.

     Series I.  The Citizens' Mission To Cambodia, 1966 (cont'd)
     Series I.1.  Diaries of the Mission, July 26-August 11,1966

F6b  July 26-August 11
     pp. 66-111.
F6c  July 26-August 11
     pp. 112-end.

     Drafts of Diary Entries

F7   July 26, 1966

F8   July 27, 1966

F9   July 28, 1966

F10  July 29, 1966

F11  July 30, 1966

F12  July 31, 1966

F13  Letters from Russ Johnson relating to Kay Boyle's diary
F14  Undated notes relating to diary drafts
F15  Miscellaneous addresses located with the diary drafts

     Series I.2.  Information relating to Mission publications
          This subseries contains material related to two Mission
          publications, "Findings of Fact on Cambodia's Border"
          and "The Final Report."  Included are various drafts of
          the publications and correspondence among the Mission
          members regarding the publications.

F16  Copies of the "Findings of Fact" bulletin
F17  Correspondence between Kay Boyle and Bill Worthy regarding
     the "Findings of Fact" bulletin
F18  Letter from Russ Johnson to Kay Boyle and Don Duncan 
     regarding the "Finding of Facts" bulletin
F19  Letter to Bill Worthy regarding the "Findings of Fact"

     Series I.  The Citizens' Mission To Cambodia, 1966 (cont'd)
     Series I.2.  Information relating to Mission publications

F20  Drafts of the Missions' "Final Report" including Kay Boyle's

F21  Correspondence relating to the "Final Report"

     Series I.3.  Materials related to the events of the Mission
          This subseries is concerned with events of the Mission
          as conveyed through the plans, statements, and writings
          collected by Kay Boyle.

F22  Statement by Senator Wayne Morse (Dem., Ore.) on the
     Missions' departure

F23  Mission itineraries

F24  Statement from Mission members regarding the bombing of
     Thlok Trach

F25  Article reviewing the Mission by Kay Boyle

F26  Article reviewing the Mission by Russ Johnson

F27  Article reviewing the Mission by Marc Stone

F28  Miscellaneous Mission material

F29  Flight momentoes from Japan Airlines

     Series I.4.  Correspondence
          This subseries contains letters to the editor from Kay
          Boyle, correspondence with the Cambodian government,
          and letters among Mission members and between Misson
          members and sponsoring organizations.  Note that
          letters between Mission members may also be found under
          other, more specific series. 

F30  Letters to the Editor from Kay Boyle

F31  Correspondence with the Cambodian government
F32  Envelope addressed to Kay Boyle from the Permanent Mission
     of Cambodia to the United Nations

F33  Invitations to Cambodian government functions

     Series I.  The Citizens' Mission to Cambodia, 1966 (cont'd)
     Series I.4.  Correspondence (cont'd)

F34  Correspondence with Americans Want to Know

F35  Correspondence with William Worthy

F36  Correspondence with Ramparts Editor Stan Sheinbaum

F37  Miscellaneous correspondence

     Series II.  Official Statements and Press Releases, 1964-1966
          This series consists of official organizational
          statements, press releases, and publications of the
          various policies, observations, and opinions about
          Cambodia-U.S. relations.  It is broken down into four
          subseries focusing on each government or major

     Series II.1.  Americans Want to Know
          Consists of statements from Americans Want to Know, the
          Missions organizer and sponsor, announcing the Mission
          and defining their policy on the Cambodian issue.

F38  Press releases of Americans Want to Know relating to the

     Series II.2.  United States government
          Consists of U.S. documents and memorandums defining the
          U.S. position on Cambodian assistance to the Viet Cong.

F39  Major U.S. pronouncements on policy toward Cambodia

F40  State Department letters defining the U.S. position on

     Series II.3.  Cambodian government
          Contains press bulletins, letters to the U.N. Secretary
          General, and Publications of the Cambodian Government
          in relation to the border controversy.

F41  Press bulletins and correspondence from the Cambodian
     government (French)

F42  Publications of the Cambodian government, 1966

     Series II.  Official Statements and Press Releases, 1964-1966 (cont'd)
     Series II.3.  Cambodian government (cont'd)

F43  List of members in the L'Association des Ecrivains Khmers

F44  Transcript of a Sihanouk press conference, 1979

F45  Political Statement of the Patriotic and Democratic Front of
     Great National Union of Kampuchea, August 21, 1979

     Series II.4.  Miscellaneous organizations
          The Beheiren (Japan "Peace for Vietnam!") Committee
          conducted discussions on solutions to the Vietnam War
          in August of 1966.  This subseries contains statements
          from that organization as well as a copy of the Geneva
          Agreement of 1954 which divided Vietnam into North and

F46  Statements relating to the "Meet in Conference" meeting of
     August 11-15

F47  Copy of Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Viet-Nam 
     Geneva Agreement of 1954).

     Series III.  Collected Newspaper Articles, Publications, and
          Productions, 1965-1979
          This series consists of numerous newspaper clippings,
          books, magazine articles, and an audio tape dealing
          with the political situation between the U.S. and
          Cambodian Governments.  Several of the articles are
          from publications of the late 1970s and contain
          information related to that time frame.

     Series III.1.  Articles and publications
          This subseries contains articles and publications
          dealing with the Citizens' Mission and Cambodia. 

F48  Newspaper articles giving background prior to the Mission

F49  Newspaper articles dealing with the events of the Mission

F50  Post-Mission newspaper articles, 1966

F51  Full newspapers containing articles about the Mission

F52  Newspaper articles, 1979
     Series III.  Collected Newspaper Articles, Publications, and
     Productions, 1965-1979 (cont'd)
     Series III.1.  Articles and publications (cont'd)

F53  Three copies of The Call/el Clarin

F54  Copy of Class Struggle, Summer 1979

F55  Two copies of New War in Southeast Asia, 1979

F56  Three copies of the Magazine, Le Sangkum 
F57  Vietnam! Vietnam! by Felix Greene
F58  I.F. Stone's Weekly, May 30 and July 25, 1966

F59  Sane World, 1966

F60  Travel brochure:  Guide to Tours and Hotels in Cambodia

F61  Periodicals for teachers, 1979

     Series III.2.  Audio recording tape of the Winter Soldier Investigations, Detroit, 1971
          The Winter Soldier Investigations were three days of
          panel discussions sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against
          the War in response to the war crimes conviction of Lt.
          Col. William Calley following the My Lai Massacre.  The
          discussions were designed to examine the widespread
          acts of violence by American soldiers against the
          Vietnamese and display to the United States public that
          Calley's actions were not an aberation but an everyday

F62  The Winter Soldier Investigation, Feb. 1971, Audio Tape
     One reel-to-reel tape of the 25th Infantry Panel discussing
     incursions into Laos and Cambodia, 120 minutes.

F63  Copy of Evergreen, Sept. 1971

     Series IV.  Unrelated, 1960 and 1978
          The items in this series were accessioned along with
          the Cambodia papers.  They are, however, unrelated to
          Cambodia as well as unrelated to one another.

F64  Letter to P.S. #8 and four poems, 1960

F65  Poem and speech in honor of San Francisco Mayor George
     Moscone, 1978
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