Shotwell, James T.

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Shotwell, James T.

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  • Shotwell, James Thomson

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James Shotwell, born in 1874 in Strathroy, Canada, was an American historian and diplomat. He studied at Toronto and Columbia where he earned his PhD in 1900. He received a teaching post at Columbia in 1903 and went to Europe for a research trip. He visited many universities and became an active contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica, which allowed him to meet various people who also wrote for the Britannica, such as Bertrand Russell and Henry Ford.

Upon his return to New York, Shotwell received a professorship at Columbia. In his International Relations (IR) research he focused on the impact of science and technology on historical evolution. In 1917 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, founded in 1909, offered Shotwell the post of research director. He was also a member of “The Inquiry”, a group of foreign policy advisors that prepared Woodrow Wilson for the Peace Conference, focusing on social justice, a topic that he had studied particularly with reference to the Russian revolution of 1917. His work contributed to the establishment of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

At the beginning of the 1920s he opposed the US policy of isolationism, and advocated their entry into the League of Nations (LN). He met the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand in order to suggest to him a bilateral pact that would outlaw war. This idea formed the basis of what became the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed on 27 August 1928. He was also involved in the founding of IR research institutions, such as the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London (1920) and the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (1921).
In 1930 he returned to his teaching position at Columbia, where he became Bryce Professor of the History of International Relations in 1937. At the same time, he became director of the economic and historical section of the Carnegie Endowment.

Besides his academic career, Shotwell became a member of the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC) in 1933 and assumed the presidency of the American Committee of Intellectual Cooperation in 1933. In this role, he drafted a memorandum on moral disarmament and international civil society, which was published later as an article in the New York Herald Tribune of 26 February 1933 (cf. UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1: box 20). At the second conference of national committees of intellectual cooperation, held in Paris in July 1927, Shotwell advocated the idea of an Organisation of Intellectual Cooperation (OIC) independent of the LN with its political imperatives and diplomacy. His contributions also included his participation at the Panamerican Conference of Intellectual Cooperation in Santiago, Chile, in January 1939.

As a consultant of the Carnegie Endowment, he participated at the San Francisco conference in 1945. He played a role in putting the declaration of the human rights charter in the UN statutes. In 1945, when the OIC briefly took up its activities, Shotwell was replaced as President of the American Committee of Intellectual Cooperation by the historian and archivist Waldo G. Leland (1879–1966). In 1948, Shotwell retired from university, and between 1949 and 1950 he served as President of the Carnegie Endowment. During the 1950s he continued to travel and research. He died in 1965 and was praised as “one of the most respected and committed protagonists of American internationalist politics” (obituary in the New York Times).


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International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation

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James T. Shotwell was a member of the ICIC.

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Created by Marie Caillot 02/11/2011. English translation by Jan Stöckmann 11-08-2015.




  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1: boîte 6. IICI. A. I. 40. Correspondance avec M. Millikan, membre de la CICI. (1929-1932).
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1: boîte 20. IICI. A. III. 4. (1). Commission nationale américaine de Coopération intellectuelle. (1933-1935).
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1: boîte 20. IICI. A. III. 4. (2). Commission nationale américaine de Coopération intellectuelle. (1936-1945).
  • Anderson, L. "James T. Shotwell: A Life Devoted to Organizing Peace". Site de l'université de Columbia. Retrieved from: Acccessed 2nd November 2011.
  • "James T. Shotwell". Article Wikipédia. Retrieved from: Accessed 2nd November 2011.
  • Josephson, H. (1974). James T. Shotwell and the rise of internationalism in America. New Jersey: Associated Universities Press. P. 69, 92, 118-119, 125, 135, 151, 191, 193, 208, 215-216, 229-233, 247.
  • Renoliet, J.-J. (1999). L'UNESCO oubliée. La Société des Nations et la coopération intellectuelle (1919-1946). Paris : Publications de la Sorbonne. P. 131, 137, 185, 257.

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