On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and took sixty-six Americans captive. This act triggered a profound crisis of the Carter presidency and began a personal ordeal for Jimmy Carter and the American people that lasted 444 days. However, six American diplomats, often referred to as “the Tehran Six,” did avoid being captured by taking refuge at Swedish and Canadian embassies in Tehran. On January 28, 1980, the diplomats were able to escape Iran through a joint CIA-Canadian Government covert mission, frequently referred to as the “Canadian Caper.” This mission involved the usage of fake Canadian passports and a cover story in which the diplomats posed as a Canadian film crew in order to avoid being discovered.
This historical event is the focus of the recently released movie, Argo. As stated on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Argo is “a dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.” (By the way, if you stick around to watch the credits, you will notice a shout-out for the Jimmy Carter Library!)
If Argo has caught your interest, you may also be interested to come learn more about the larger story of the Iran Hostage Crisis at the Jimmy Carter Library! In addition to some information on the Tehran Six, there are several other resources to check out:
- The Hostage Crisis in Tehran: A brief narrative of events leading to the hostage crisis.
- Iran Hostage Diary: A prison journal was kept by Robert C. Ode after being taken captive by Iranian students at the American embassy in Tehran. Ode donated the diary and other correspondence to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum.
- The Hostages and the Casualties: Of the individuals who were taken hostage, thirteen were released on November 19 and 20, 1979; one was released on July 11, 1980; and the remaining fifty-two were released on January 20, 1981. Ages in this list are at the time of release.
- Rescue Mission Report: The Iranian Hostage Crisis “Rescue Mission Report” from the Lloyd Norton Cutler Files is available online via the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) of the National Archives. ARC can be a tool for locating historical materials within the Library’s holdings.
Educators and students may also be interested in seeing the events of the hostage crisis unfold alongside other events, as seen in the interactive Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century.
As always, please feel free to contact us at the Library with any research questions! Also, please enjoy the following image of a contact sheet from one of our audiovisual collections. Apologies for the size–I wanted to share this particular image because I feel that it gives a sense of “movement” and tension that might not be as readily apparent in an individual photograph. Click on the image to see it better up close. Enjoy!
Post edited 7/23/2013 to address issue with embedded image not displaying properly in some browsers.