People-to-People Program

  1. Program Background
  2. Documents
  3. Photographs
  4. People-to-People Projects
  5. Additional Information
The People-to-People Program was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 11, 1956 to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. President Eisenhower felt that creating understanding between people was essential to building the road to enduring peace and envisioned programs such as city affiliations, pen-pals, stamp exchanges, international sporting events, musical concerts, hospitality programs, theatrical tours and book drives as the means to achieving that goal - a critical goal in the existing Cold War climate.

The idea for People-to-People was President Eisenhower's but he envisioned the execution and implementation of this program coming from the country's citizens, not their government; however, the program did have initial links to the U.S. government through the United States Information Agency (USIA). The People-to-People Program was comprised of forty committees chaired by prominent leaders, businessmen and citizens from all walks of American life. The committees ranged from a Cartoonists Committee to a Sports Committee to a Medical Committee and were charged with coordinating programs and events in their areas of expertise.

"If we are going to take advantage of the assumption that all people want peace, then the problem is for people to get together and to leap governments - if necessary to evade governments - to work out not one method but thousands of methods by which people can gradually learn a little bit more of each other." - President Eisenhower's remarks at the People-to-People Conference, September 11, 1956.