Madeleine (Korbelová) Albright
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Marie Jana (Korbelová) Albright (1937 - 2022)

Marie Jana (Madeleine) Albright formerly Korbelová
Born in Smíchov, Prague, Czech Republicmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of [private husband (1930s - unknown)]
Mother of , [private daughter (1960s - unknown)] and [private daughter (1960s - unknown)]
Died at age 84 in Washington, District of Columbia, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 4 Feb 2017
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Madeleine (Korbelová) Albright is a part of United States history.
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Madeleine (Korbelová) Albright is Notable.

Marie Jana Korbelová (aka Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright) was born 15 May 1937 in the Smíchov District of Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). Her parents were Anna (Spieglová) and Czechoslovakian diplomat Josef Korbel. Besides Madeleine, the couple also had two other children, Katherine (born October 1942) and Madeleine's younger brother, named John.

In Madeleine's early years, the family lived in Czechoslovakia, during a time of much unrest. The country had only been independent fewer than 20 years, after having gained independence from Austria-Hungary after World War I. Madeleine's father professionally and personally agreed with those who were a part of the change and spoke out with those who would later try to take over. The disintegration of Czechoslovakia at the hands of Adolf Hitler forced the family into exile, but as a child Madeleine wouldn't know truly why. In 1941, Madeleine's parents Josef and Anna had converted from Judaism to Catholicism, and it was not until years later that she learned of her Jewish heritage and that many of her Jewish relatives in Czechoslovakia had perished in the Holocaust, including three of her grandparents.

Her family lived out the war years in England, and after the defeat of Adolf Hitler, the family moved back to Czechoslovakia. Josef was concerned about his daughters' education, not wanting them to be unduly influenced by opposing viewpoints, so Madeleine was taught by a governess. Eventually she was sent to the Prealpina Institut pour Jeunes Filles Finishing School in Chexbres, on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It was there that Madeleine learned to speak French and changed her name from "Marie Jana" to "Madeleine".

The family remained in Czechoslovakia until 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took control of the country. Once again the family felt threatened and Madeleine's father secured a job at the United Nations in America. Madeleine's life in the United States began officially on November 11, 1948 when their ship arrived at Ellis Island. The family initially settled in Great Neck on Long Island and her father applied for and received political asylum. After a stint in New York, Madeleine's father obtained a position on the staff of the political science department at the University of Denver in Colorado.

Madeleine spent her formative teen years in Denver, Colorado and in 1955 graduated from the Kent Denver School in Cherry Hills Village, a suburb of Denver. While in high school, she grew in her political aspirations. She founded the school's International Relations Club and was its first president. She went on to attend Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, on a full scholarship, majoring in political science. On summer break she interned for The Denver Post, where she met her future husband. Madeleine became a U.S. citizen in 1957, and joined the College Democrats of America. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1959.

Shortly after graduating in 1959, Madeleine married Joseph Medill Patterson Albright, member of a prominent family in the newspaper publishing business. The couple first lived in Rolla, Missouri, while he was in military service at nearby Fort Leonard Wood. As in her formative years, the stay in Missouri was short. In January 1960, the couple moved to Joseph's hometown of Chicago, Illinois. He worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a journalist, and the new Mrs. Albright worked as a picture editor for Encyclopædia Britannica. A year later, the couple moved to New York after Joseph took a job at Newsday, owned by his aunt Alicia Patterson.

In 1961, Madeleine gave birth to twin daughters, Alice Patterson Albright and Anne Korbel Albright. The family moved to Georgetown (in Washington, D.C.) in 1962. Madeleine, who had begun studying the Russian language in New York, began studying international relations and continued her study of Russian at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, a division of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.. Tragedy would soon hit the young family as their daughter, Alice, died in 1963. With the expectation that Joseph would take over Newsday, they moved back to Long Island, New York. Four years later, in 1967, Madeleine gave birth to another daughter, Katherine Medill Albright. Her education continued, this time at Columbia University. At Columbia, she earned a certificate in Russian, a Master of Arts, and (in 1976) a PhD in Public Law and Government.

Madeleine served as chief legislative assistant to Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine from 1976 to 1978. From 1978 to 1981, she was a staff member in the White House under President Jimmy Carter and on the National Security Council under National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Her marriage to Joseph Medill Patterson Albright ended in divorce in 1982. That same year, she joined Georgetown University as a Research Professor of International Affairs in the School of Foreign Service and Director of the university's Women in Foreign Service Program. In 1993, she was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations by President Bill Clinton, serving in that position until her appointment as Secretary of State in 1996. She took office as the 64th U.S. Secretary of State on January 23, 1997. On that day, she became the first female U.S. Secretary of State and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government, at the time of her appointment. After that appointment ended, any aspirations she might have had in politics ended. Since she wasn't a natural-born citizen of the United States, she was not eligible to run as president. Her term as Secretary of State ended with the then-end of President Bill Clinton's term of office on January 20, 2001. The same year, Madeleine received the U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by the Jefferson Awards Foundation. Also in 2001, Albright was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The same year, she founded the Albright Group (later known as the Albright Stonebridge Group), an international strategy consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.. In 2005, she founded Albright Capital Management, a financial business focusing on emerging markets.

Because she was not eligible to run for the U.S. Presidency, it was widely speculated she might run for a position in the Czech Republic. Indeed, she was courted to seek a position but she declined. In 2003, Madeleine was the second recipient of the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award presented by the Prague Society for International Cooperation.

For years after leaving government, Madeleine lived in Georgetown, taught at Georgetown University, and served as a director of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor.[1]

Madeleine K. Albright died on 23 March 2022 at age 84, in Washington, D.C.. The cause of her death was cancer.[1][2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 McFadden, Robert D. Madeleine Albright, First Woman to Serve as Secretary of State, Dies at 84, The New York Times, 23 March 2022. Accessed on 23 March 2022.
  2. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 06 April 2022), memorial page for Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright (15 May 1937–23 Mar 2022), Find A Grave: Memorial #237890638, ; Maintained by Find a Grave Burial Details Unknown.

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