The archive of Ben Bradlee (1921-2014), former editor of The Washington Post, has been donated to the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.
With many of the materials spanning the era of Bradlee’s editorial tenure at the Post from 1965 to 1991, the archive documents the career of Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, whom former San Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein identified as the “last of the lion-king newspaper editors.”
Bradlee presided over the Post — first as managing editor and then as executive editor — and led the paper through the publication of the Pentagon Papers and coverage of the Watergate scandal. Under his leadership, the Post earned 17 Pulitzer Prizes and a reputation for excellence in investigative reporting.
Vast in volume and content, the archive contains Bradlee’s professional correspondence with journalists, elected officials, cultural figures and corporate executives; internal memoranda documenting the workings of the Post; newsroom files and calendars; files from Bradlee’s Newsweek tenure from 1957 to 1965; materials relating to his books “Conversations with Kennedy” (1975) and “A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures” (1995); desk diaries and personal items.
The archive includes extensive original incoming correspondence along with carbons or photocopies of Bradlee’s outgoing letters, many documenting high points of American journalism and some of the 20th century’s most prominent news stories.
Significant material relating to the Watergate scandal is in the archive, ranging from staff memoranda tracing the newspaper’s response to events to versions of Bradlee’s affidavit regarding confidentiality of sources.
Bradlee placed his papers at the Ransom Center in 2012, pledging to donate them upon his death. The archive will reside alongside and complement the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate papers.
Materials from the Bradlee archive will be accessible once processed and cataloged.
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