The body of law, customs and practices governing diplomatic conduct is called protocol. It is derived from the Greek words proto (first) and collon (glued), meaning that the first page of a manuscript, often serving as a summary of a treaty or diplomatic dispatch, must be glued to the outside of the document or volume.

The State Department first appointed a full-time protocol officer in 1916 and established the Office of the Chief of Protocol on February 4, 1928. In 1946, the President commissioned the State Department’s Chief of Protocol to also carry the title “Chief of Protocol of the White House.” Since 1961, the Chief of Protocol has been commissioned an Ambassador, requiring the President’s nominee to be confirmed by the Senate.

Former Chiefs of Protocol

Sean Patrick Lawler ……………………. December 2017 – July 2019
Peter A. Selfridge ……………………….. May 2014 – December 2016
Capricia Penavic Marshall ………….. August 2009 – August 2013
Nancy Goodman Brinker …………….. September 2007 – January 2009
Donald Burnham Ensenat …………… June 2001 – February 2007
Mary Mel French ………………………… November 1997 – January 2001
Molly Raiser ………………………………. August 1993 – July 1997
John Giffen Weinmann ……………….. October 1991 – January 1993
Joseph Verner Reed …………………… January 1989 – October 1991
Selwa Roosevelt ………………………… April 1982 – January 1989
Leonore Annenberg ……………………. March 1981 – January 1982
Abelardo L. Valdez ……………………… October 1979 – January 1981
Edith J. Dobelle ………………………….. May 1978 – September 1979
Evan Dobelle ……………………………… March 1977 – May 1978
Shirley Temple Black ………………….. July 1976 – January 1977
Henry E. Catto, Jr. ……………………….. April 1974 – July 1976
Marion H. Smoak ……………………….. July 1972 – March 1974
Emil Mosbacher, Jr. …………………….. January 1969 – June 1972
Tyler Abell ………………………………….. September 1968 – January 1969
Angier Biddle Duke ……………………… April 1968 – September 1968
James W. Symington ………………….. March 1966 – March 1968
Lloyd Nelson Hand …………………….. January 1965 – March 1966
Angier Biddle Duke …………………….. January 1961 – January 1965
Wiley T. Buchanan ………………………. February 1957 – January 1961
John Farr Simmons ……………………. August 1950 – January 1957
Stanley Woodward ……………………… January 1944 – May 1950
George T. Summerlin ………………….. July 1937 – January 1944
Richard Southgate ……………………… April 1935 – July 1937
James Clement Dunn …………………. June 1933 – July 1935
Warren D. Robbins ……………………… July 1931 – May 1933
James Clement Dunn …………………. February 1928 – February 1930

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