May 23, 2022

University of Iowa Libraries: Special Collections: Papers of Tom Brokaw Open to Researchers

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

2018-02-02_16-59-07Thousands of documents and pieces from Brokaw’s illustrious career were made available to the public Thursday by the University of Iowa’s Special Collections at the UI Main Library in Iowa City.

The collection, donated by the longtime anchor of “NBC Nightly News” to UI in fall 2016, has been sifted through, organized and archived by Special Collections over the past year. Now, the university where Brokaw spent his freshman year in 1958-59 and eventually dropped out of, will house the parts of history Brokaw collected throughout his decades of work.

The collection will be available to UI students, researchers and those eager to learn more about Brokaw, journalism or world history inside Special Collection’s home on the third floor of the UI Main Library.

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From U. of Iowa: Meet Elizabeth Riordan, University of Iowa School of Library and Information Sciences Graduate Student, Who Prepared the Collection

The Papers of Tom Brokaw: A Life & Career fills more than 90 boxes, and Elizabeth Riordan pored over every single paper and artifact—some more than once. The University of Iowa School of Library and Information Sciences graduate student from Des Moines, Iowa, spent the better part of the last year preparing the collection, which will become accessible to the public Feb. 1, 2018.

“Her knowledge of this collection is second to none,” says Greg Prickman, head of the Department of Special Collections at UI Libraries.

A one-time gift specified for use on the Brokaw collection paid for Riordan’s one-year salary. She started in April 2017, and her first task was to organize the collection—which at times meant removing hundreds of rusty paperclips from documents and spending five hours detangling press badges from decades of world events. While the items were fairly well grouped and labeled, thanks to Brokaw’s assistants over the years, there was still work to be done.

“My first concern is always, ‘How does a researcher approach this? Is it accessible?’ I want to make sure people can find what they need,” Riordan says. “You’re sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place because you want to keep the original order as much as possible. The hardest part was figuring out whether to put something in this grouping or that grouping. For one event, you might have a press badge, photos, and written material. Everything fits together, but elements sometimes are scattered throughout the series.”

Read the Complete Article (About 1400 words)

Additional Resources

Finding Aid: The Papers of Tom Brokaw: A Life & Career

NBC’s Tom Brokaw Donating His Papers, Artifacts to University of Iowa Libraries (November 10, 2016)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.