Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 was not only the first female secretary of state but also the first top diplomat to turn jewelry into a communication tool. “[I]t would never have happened if not for Saddam Hussein,” she wrote in her book, Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box. In 1994, while still serving as US ambassador to the United Nations, she criticized the Iraqi leader’s behavior and drew a sharp response: The government-controlled press published a poem calling her, among other things, “an unparalleled serpent.” Soon after, for a meeting with Iraqi officials, she wore a brooch in the form of a serpent. As the TV cameras zoomed in, she related, she smiled and called the pin just her way of “sending a message.”
It was to be the first of many such messages sent via a wide array of pins and brooches over her diplomatic career. Now an exhibition drawn from her collection will be on view at the Davis Museum from June 9 through July 20. Admission is free for alumnae who register with their name and class year. Timed tickets are required, and advance booking online is strongly advised.