Edward R. Murrow Papers
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of correspondence, personal materials, work files, scripts, diaries, photographs, audiovisual materials, memorabilia, awards, books, clippings, and tributes to Murrow upon his death. Audiovisual materials include phonograph records, and film and audiotape reels of various formats. The bulk of the material dates from 1927 to 1965 and primarily documents the professional life of Edward R. Murrow. Through these materials one can trace major developments in the history of US news broadcasting, and Murrow's work for the Institute of International Education, CBS Europe and CBS USA as well as the United States Information Agency.
Correspondence comprises the bulk of Murrow's papers and includes the entire period of his career from 1930 to 1965. Please note that there is little correspondence for the period when he was Director of the United States Information Agency. Correspondence relates to historical and current issues; deal with key points and broadcasts in his career; cover problems of reporting and public diplomacy, radio and television - their role, their failures, their triumphs; reveal reactions to his work from viewers, celebrities, students, and how he handled criticism of his reporting and his view of his job; general interest items, including anecdotes, humorous letters, exchanges with close friends and well-known personalities; show something about the man, his non-involvement in politics, his concern over lack of public knowledge and interest in world affairs, his despair with television for not taking a stronger lead in educating people. Included are requests for appointments and invitations to speak, requests from charities and from friends for help in finding jobs and asking for personal advice, as well as inquiries pertaining to his programs and special events over the years.
Series 2 is devoted to personal matters - biographical material, family, college, chronological correspondence, awards, publicity, and Murrow’s death. Murrow's professional employment, documented in Series 3, covers periods with the Institute of International Education, Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., and the United States Information Agency. Subseries of each organization contain its own correspondence, reports, and related activities. In addition, the CBS subseries covers administration, program and business operations, correspondents, nine regularly scheduled programs as well as special programs, scripts and sponsors. This series records the history of radio and television broadcasting and as such has tremendous research value.
The collection reveals not only Murrow's demanding radio and television schedule but his extensive extra-curricular involvement with foundations, organizations and clubs; his production of albums, writings for publication, speeches; engagements accepted and engagements declined; and travels.
In addition to the papers, there are approximately 1,600 books shelved in the Murrow Memorial Room at the Fletcher School, along with Murrow memorabilia, mostly in facsimile. The oak table used by the Murrows in their London apartment during World War II, and two large black leather chairs and rug from their Pawling, New York home, can be found in the Murrow Memorial Room.
Tapes, films and phonograph records are stored in the Tufts Digital Collections and Archives at Tisch Library, to be used there by permission of the Murrow Center. CBS News is the donor of "File and Reference" prints of the two McCarthy 16mm films (March 9 and April 6, 1954) and the Murrow obituary film, "An Hour with Ed Murrow," and has agreed to donate additional Murrow films.
- Majority of material found within 1927 -- 1965
- 1890 -- 1992
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
167.24 Linear Feet (151 oversize boxes, 144 letter size document boxes, 23 record cartons, 1 half letter size document box, 1 half legal size document box, 1 poster tube, 2 oversized folders, and 2 volumes.)
41 Audiovisual Object(s)
931 Digital Object(s)
Biographical / Historical
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was a prominent CBS broadcaster during the formative years of American radio and television news programs. Stationed in London for CBS Radio from 1937 to 1946, Murrow assembled a group of erudite correspondents who came to be known as the "Murrow Boys" and included one woman, Mary Marvin Breckinridge. Murrow’s and their broadcasts from London, Europe, Africa, and Asia before and during World War II set the standard for US foreign news broadcasting. They also helped shape the public’s view of a war that Americans were at first reluctant to be drawn into.
Returning to the US in 1946, Murrow became one of the most renowned radio and television news broadcasters of his time. Particularly famous were his programs Hear It Now, This I Believe, Person to Person, See It Now, and Years of Crisis. Of particular note are his 1954 broadcast about Senator Joseph McCarthy’s persecution of presumed Communists and his 1960 Harvest of Shame documentary depicting the plight of migrant farm workers in the US. From 1961 to January 1964 he served as the Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA). Murrow died of cancer on April 27, 1965.
On December 24, 1969, Mrs. Janet H. B. Murrow, widow of Edward R. Murrow, by grant of gift, transferred title to the books, papers, scripts, tapes, films, and memorabilia deposited with the Murrow Center, to The Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. These materials were Mr. Murrow's library and the file records of his professional career with some personal materials included.
This gift was accepted by the Murrow Center, subject to the following conditions: "It is my understanding that the Murrow Center will keep the aforementioned materials in the Murrow Center Library, will catalog them in the manner which will make them of maximum benefit in achieving the Center's objectives and will make them available - under appropriate regulations and in the Center's premises or library - to interested students. My son, Charles C. Murrow, and I wish to make sure that quotations and other uses of such materials in published works will reflect properly upon Mr. Murrow's memory and conform to the spirit in which this gift is being made. Therefore, during my life and during the life of my son, you shall not grant any publication rights in any of such materials (other than the right to quote short excerpts therefrom in scholarly works), unless such grant is approved by me, or if I am not living, by my son.
This gift is made subject to all rights, including common law and statutory copyright, which others may have in any of the aforementioned materials. It is also made subject to a certain agreement made as of March 16, 1966, between CBS News, a division of Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., and the Estate of Edward R. Murrow whereby CBS News retained exclusive broadcasting rights in certain of the aforementioned materials."
December 24, 1969 (Signed) Janet H. B. Murrow December 31, 1969 (Agreed to) Tufts University, C. Russell de Burlo, Jr.
Other donations were integrated into the collection while the materials were still at the Fletcher School; some donors are unknown. Known donors include Mary Marvin Breckinridge, Joseph E. Persico, and Edward Bliss.
This collection is open, but the Murrow estate, CBS, and other entities hold the copyright. For permissions, please contact the copyright holder.
The collection was originally processed by Anne Sperber and Ginn Library staff at Fletcher in the 1970s. No processing documentation has survived.
Five 7" audio reels donated by Casey Murrow in 2011 (accession 2011.090) in containers labeled "Small World Severide," were found to be blank during digitization by George Blood, L.P. DCA staff double-checked the reels and confirmed that they were blank. The reels were confidentially destroyed.
On January 4, 2016 MS025.003.002.16.106.00351: Scripts was found to be not in the box by Rose Oliveira. Previous and subsequent boxes (Box 105 and 107) were checked but the folder was not found. Additional notes in collection documentation folder.
As part of a survey review in 2016, four boxes (MS025-003-MS025-006) of empty audio reel boxes for “This I Believe” were found in the green barcodes. This note was found in CIDER: “This item was found uncatalogued in the stacks. Tape boxes are kept as they have symbols we currently cannot identify, fall 2009.” The tape boxes include the following numbers written on the exterior of the boxes: XTV16106, XTV16109-12, XTV16114-19, XTV16155, XTV161159, XTV17168-70, XTV17176, XTV18158, XTV18160, XTV18165, XTV18167, XTV18282, XTV18549, XTV1116097 XTV18560, XT18564, XTV19560, XTV19563-66, XTV19570, XTV19571, XTV20071- XTV20073, XTV20083, XTV20460, XTV20462, XTV20761- XTV20762, XTV20765, XTV21312-13, XTV21522, XTV21525, XTV21529. No associated audio reels were found and none appear to be in the collection. These empty boxes were removed from the collection and permanently destroyed. Rose Oliveira, March 28, 2016.
- Edward R. Murrow Subject Source: Local sources
- Media and broadcast history Subject Source: Local sources
- Radio journalists -- United States -- History -- Sources Subject Source: Local sources
- Television journalists -- United States -- History -- Sources Subject Source: Local sources
Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository
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