Facts & History

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.

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