Ward, Barclay - Oral History Interview
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Barclay Ward was always interested in international affairs. When he went to college, he thought he would be a geologist at Hamilton College, but after two years, got more involved in government and international affairs. The summer between his sophomore and junior years, he spent at a camp in Austria, digging dirt…and this fixed his interest in international relations. SAIS was the school that he had picked out, quite early, as the one that he really wanted to attend. He was attracted to the practicality of SAIS, the fact that it was in Washington, D.C., and it turned out to be the only school at which he interviewed. So he came down for his interview from Clinton, NY and interviewed with Ellie Salem, who asked him questions, not about his studies and what he wanted to do, but instead he asked him substantive questions (like a quiz) (e.g. when did Napoleon invade Russia?) While at SAIS, Barclay recalls the school being smaller and in a declining building on Florida Avenue. Many of the faculty were adjunct professors and many of them added a great deal. He did Russian studies while at SAIS and many of his classes were taught by Sonnenfeldt, who he recalls as a tough and straight forward teacher. He had students write two page essays on topics that spanned several decades. He also remembers that registration was a quick process (it essentially was a chat with the Dean where courses to be taken were discussed – and if Emma Baker, the Registrar, disagreed on those courses, she would speak out). The students were the key factor for Barclay. He recalls it just being wonderful to be with a lot of people who were so capable and interested in the same kinds of things. He also remembers the strong people on the faculty. He remembers the first day at SAIS and orientation being over at the Quaker meeting house…and Paul Linebarger, one of the great figures at SAIS, greeted them and pointed out that too many of them were straight out of college. Being in Washington was a wonderful thing. Barclay recalls the speakers being fantastic. He also remembers working at the library – didn’t have to apply for it – at the information desk, with Mr. Shork – in this job, he received a 100% increase in salary the following year. Barclay also met his wife at SAIS. He met her on their first day. At the time, he was living with three friends in an apartment on Connecticut Avenue (now the Albanian Embassy). He came out of the apartment with pots and pans and dishes because he was moving and when he got to Union Station, he called his land lady and she said “I can’t let you into the place because I found out that you’re students and my son says that I can’t rent to students.” It was the evening and I had to go somewhere, so I recalled that a friend of mine lived closed to SAIS, so I contacted him to see if I could stay with him….and I could, but he said, “I’ve agreed to help three women move into their apartment house.” They had bought furniture from the old dormitory, and that is how he met Joan, carrying furniture into her apartment. They were married the year following SAIS. Today was their 49th wedding anniversary. Barclay joined the Foreign Service. He took the written exam in his second year and passed the oral exam and entered on September 11, 1961. His wife, Joan, also passed her oral exam and started in 1962. In those days, the Foreign Service required women officers who were married to resign, with one small exception…that if they had a Washington assignment, they could complete the Washington assignment. Barclay had a mind that he and Joan should get married, so he worked hard to get a Washington assignment, and encouraged Joan to do the same…and they both did. That enabled them to get married and allow her to complete her role in Washington. Barclay wanted to go to Eastern Europe (Poland, Yugoslavia, etc.) So he worked hard to try and get such an assignment, but he was told that junior officers were not sent to the Soviet Block (as it was labeled in those days) on their first assignment abroad, and he was encouraged to Western Europe. So he did…he applied to Helsinki, Berlin and Vienna and he was assigned to Ottawa, Canada. He supervisor thought Barclay was very close to getting his first choice. So, Barclay and his wife, Joan, moved to Ottawa and found it to be a wonderful assignment. One of the first things he learned is that Canadians have a completely different view of the world than Americans. He then had a year of Polish language training and finally got his Eastern European assignment and moved to Warsaw, where he was in the Consulate section one year and the economic section the next year. During this time, he ended up doing something very different, which affected his career. The SS Administration required that when a certain amount of money was distributed abroad to beneficiaries, that there had to be a survey. It turned out that one part of the survey could not legally be conducted in Poland…and that was checking the records that the SS Administration had against the originals. They worked out an arrangement where an Embassy officer and a SS person and someone from Polish SS would travel together in a three-person delegation. For five weeks, Barclay traveled with this group, close to 6,000 miles, six days a week, going to places that most people never had a chance to go to. Many years later, Barclay was doing a Doctoral dissertation on Polish provinces, which came from his previous experience in Poland. After Poland, he was back in the State Department in Washington, D.C. for a couple of assignments and he was feeling like he really, really wanted to teach. He realized that if was going to pursue teaching, he would have to do it then. So, he applied to the University of Iowa, spent three years there and then took a position at the University of the South, in Tennessee, where he taught for 31 years. Then, somewhere down the line, something almost like a mistake happened. Barclay was planning his first sabbatical in Warsaw (spring 1982), but because Poland had been in upheaval until 1981 and there was unrest and pressure placed on Poland, he opted to not go. Instead, he met a friend in the field with whom he connected and began working and suddenly he moved to Washington, D.C. Exactly 10 years after he left the State Department, he walked back in to the Arms Control Agency, working on nuclear non-proliferation, and was asked to remain as a consultant, which he did (he sometimes goes back). One of the things that Barclay has treasured in his teaching career is to have one foot in academia and one foot in the government. He feels that this has helped him both ways and it’s having the combination of the two that has been important for him. In terms of giving advice to current students today, Barclay feels that the most important thing is for the students to remain open minded about values and directions they might take. Their two years at SAIS, become two years of really intense exploration and self-examination. He recommends taking a breadth of courses at SAIS (which he recalls happening anyway) and if they stay open minded, they will be in good shape for any number of careers.