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Finding Aid to the John S. Service Papers, 1925-1999
BANC MSS 87/21  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: John S. Service papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1925-1999
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 87/21
    Creators : Service, John S. (John Stewart), 1909-1999
    Extent: Number of containers: Number of containers: 12 boxes, 4 cartons, 2 card file boxes, 1 oversize box, and 5 oversize folders Linear feet: 11.5
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The John S. Service Papers, 1925-1999, document the life experiences of "Jack" Service, a member of the United States Foreign Service who was posted to China during the 1930s and 1940s, and later accused of "losing China to the Communists." As one of the "Old China Hands," Service was implicated in the Amerasia Affair and arrested. Although he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, Service was repeatedly accused of questionable loyalty to the United States, and dismissed. His reinstatement and public exoneration are covered, as is his subsequent career as a China specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. Personal and family papers round out the collection by providing another glimpse of this very private man.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English and Chinese
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94270-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html . Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John S. Service Papers, BANC MSS 87/21, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.
    Additional Notes on Collection:
    Publication of John Service's "Unpublished Memoirs" is restricted: they "may not be published without [written] permission of the executor of John Service's estate."

    Related Collections

    At The Bancroft Library:
    John S. Service: State Department Duty in China, the McCarthy Era, and after, 1933-1977, Oral history transcript, BANC MSS 82/106 c
    Caroline Schulz Service: State Department Duty in China, the McCarthy era, and after, 1933-1977, Oral history transcript, BANC MSS 79/82 c
    Caroline Service Letters to Lisa Green, BANC MSS 99/81 cz
    Grace Service Papers, BANC MSS 87/22 cz
    At the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Service: Combined Papers of John S. Service and Charles E. Rhetts

    Separated Material

    Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991
    Service, John S. (John Stewart), 1909-1999--Archives
    Rhetts, Charles E. (Charles Edward), 1910-1971
    Davies, John Paton, 1908-
    Kennan, George F. (George Frost), 1904-2005
    Tydings, Millard Evelyn, 1890-
    McCarthy, Joseph, 1908-1957
    United States. Foreign Service--Officials and Employees
    United States. Loyalty Review Board
    United States. Dept. of State
    Anti-communist movements--United States
    Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945--Diplomatic history
    Diplomats--United States
    Diplomatic and consular service, American
    United States--Politics and government--1945-1989
    United States--Foreign relations--China
    China--Politics and government--20th century
    China--Foreign relations--United States
    Memoirs.
    Addresses.
    Testimonies.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The John S. Service Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by John Stewart ("Jack") Service in July 1986. Additions were made by his estate in February 1999, and related materials that had been given to the Center for Chinese Studies Library at the University of California, Berkeley by his estate in February 1999 were transferred to The Bancroft Library on November 9, 2001.

    Accruals

    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Originally processed by a Manuscripts Division student assistant in 1987. Reviewed and reprocessed by Mary L. Morganti in 1999, with additions completed in 2001. Classified documents found in collection were sent to the State Department for review in 2004. All were declassified in September 2004, returned, and integrated back into the collection in 2005.

    Biographical Information

    John Service, the son of American YMCA missionaries, was born August 3, 1909 in Chengtu, China and spent his school years there, in Chungking, and in Shanghai. Following his graduation from Oberlin College in 1931, he joined the Foreign Service as a clerk at the American consulate in Kunming. He went to Beijing for language training in 1935-1937, and then served in Shanghai until the U.S. entry into World War II. From 1942 to 1945, Service was in Chungking, for much of that time on the staff of General Joseph Stillwell.
    In July 1944, Service was a member of the first contingent of Americans that went to Yenan, where the Chinese Communist forces had their headquarters: the Dixie Mission. His reporting on conversations with Mao Tse-tung and other top leaders provided U.S. policy-makers with first hand information on Communist plans for China after Japanese defeat. On the basis of long experience and knowledge of China, Service came to believe it very likely that the Communists would prevail over Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Party. For that reason, and also because the Communists had proved effective in fighting the Japanese, Service was one of many Americans in China at the time who advocated providing some military assistance to them. Many read Service's dispatches as a realistic assessment of power in China. However others, most notably Patrick Hurley, the Ambassador to China in 1944-1945, and the pro-Chiang China Lobby thought that Service's recommendations were evidence that he was pro-communist.
    The Amerasia affair further complicated Service's difficulties with the Political Right. Soon after returning from China in April 1945, Service met Philip Jaffe, the editor of Amerasia, a leftist magazine on Asian affairs. Service did not know that the FBI had Jaffe under surveillance for possessing secret government documents and unwittingly provided him with background material for an article, including copies of some of his reports. In June, Service was one of six arrested for alleged espionage. Service defended himself by claiming it was normal for government officials to pass on certain documents to journalists as background material. A federal grand jury voted unanimously not to indict Service and a State Department Loyalty Review Board cleared him of any wrongdoing.
    Senator Joseph R. McCarthy revived the loyalty question in 1950. Drawing on material supplied by the China Lobby, he announced that Service was a "known associate and collaborator with Communists" who had been "consorting with admitted espionage agents."
    The Wisconsin Republican claimed that J. Edgar Hoover had stated that he thought he had a 100% case against Service. The State Department recalled Service who was then on a ship headed for India and the post of Political Conselor in New Delhi.
    The State Department Loyalty Review Board again examined the Amerasia case. It heard testimony from both George Kennan and John K. Fairbank attesting to Service's anti-communism. The FBI provided material designed to convince the panel that Service had fathered an illegitimate child while in China. The Board once again cleared Service. Concurrent with that review, a Senate panel led by Millard Tydings examined McCarthy's charges. Service testified that he had been indiscreet in giving Jaffe material, but then repeated that it was routine to do so. The Tydings Committee cleared Service of any wrongdoing.
    In the fall of 1951, the Civil Service Loyalty Review Board, which had the power to examine cases already decided by the State Department, took up the case. In December it ruled that there was "reasonable doubt" about Service's loyalty, and cited the Amerasia case as justification for this decision. Secretary of State, Dean Acheson then fired Service.
    Service fought his ouster through the courts. In 1957, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Department of State had not followed its own established procedures in firing Service and ordered him reinstated. Service resumed his diplomatic career and served as Consul in Liverpool from 1959 to 1962. However his case remained politically sensitive and the Department was unwilling to promote him or give him an assignment drawing upon his China experience.
    Service retired in 1962 and he and his wife, Caroline, lived in Berkeley and Oakland, California, until their deaths in 1999 and 1997, respectively. After receiving an M.A. in political science at Berkeley in 1963, Service worked for a number of years in the Center for Chinese Studies at the University. He made four trips to China in the 1970s and 1980s, and was a member of many organizations seeking to strengthen U.S.-China relations. For many years Service edited China-related books for the University of California Press.
    Written by his son, Ambassador Robert E. Service,
    February 2002

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The John S. Service Papers, 1925-1999, document the life experiences of "Jack" Service, a member of the United States Foreign Service who was posted to China during the 1930s and 1940s, and later accused of "losing China to the Communists." As one of the "Old China Hands," Service was implicated in the Amerasia Affair and arrested. Although he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, Service was repeatedly accused of questionable loyalty to the United States, and dismissed. His reinstatement and public exoneration are covered here, as is his subsequent career as a China specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. Personal and family papers round out the collection by providing another glimpse of this very private man.
    A significant part of the collection centers around the defense Service prepared to clear his name. Correspondence files contain letters from many of his longtime family friends, and former diplomatic and political associates. In response to various hearings and other legal proceedings, which are documented in some depth, Jack's efforts included his own personal statements, soliciting affidavits of support from friends and colleagues, and gathering documents that could assist his attorney in preparing his defense. Correspondence with his legal counsel, Charles Edward Rhetts and others, is also included. Newspaper clippings about Jack Service during the 1950s convey a sense of the McCarthy Era Red Scare. The investigations of Jack Service continued throughout this time, and involved political figures such as Joseph McCarthy, Dean Acheson, and J. Edgar Hoover.
    Following his retirement from the Foreign Service, Jack Service began to write and give talks about China and U.S.-China relations. Although there is little documentation of his work at the University of California's Center for Chinese Studies. It is during this time that he traveled to China on four occasions, became the subject of several interviews, television documentaries, and articles, and was finally given recognition and honors for his contributions to understanding China. Also of particular interest in the collection are two versions of his autobiographical memoirs, along with family correspondence and papers, which include the memoirs of his mother, Grace Service, that Jack edited for publication.