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Murrow Papers Donated To Tufts

Murrow Papers Donated To TuftsTufts’ Fletcher School recently received a batch of never-before-seen scripts and papers belonging to journalism pioneer Edward R. Murrow.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.13.06] For nearly 70 years, a unique collection of Edward R. Murrow’s papers sat unnoticed in a plain brown envelope buried amid old files at a London TV station. But in the late 1980s, a CBS producer discovered them, bringing a previously unknown chapter of the broadcast journalism pioneer’s life to light. Now, that treasure trove of history – which documents Murrow’s impressions of London during World War II – has found a new home at The Fletcher School.

"They're a fascinating glimpse of Murrow's early years, when he was just coming into prominence," Anne Sauer, director of Tufts’ digital collections and archives, told The Associated Press. When he wrote them, Murrow was delivering radio play-by-plays of the war to Americans from a station in London.

The papers, which were discovered by Mark H. Harrington III, a producer at CBS TV’s London bureau, were donated to Tufts by Harrington’s widow, Kyle Good. While Harrington was cleaning out his files, Good told the AP.

"He was shocked when he opened it up," Good, who lost her husband to cancer in 1998, told the AP. "When he first found them, he talked about where he might donate them, but I suspect he put them carefully away and just forgot about them. I suspect he thought about it from time to time, but just never got around to doing it."

At the suggestion of a colleague at Scholastic, Inc., where she is a publicist, Good carried out her husband’s original wish and donated the papers to The Fletcher School, which is home to The Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy and the journalist’s professional papers.

The latest relics from Murrow’s life were described by the AP as “handmarked scripts of Murrow's London radio programs, reflections on life in the bomb shelters and other materials that reinforce his image as a journalist of grim passion and integrity.”

Included in the papers, according to the AP, are an undated, six-page manuscript, headlined "Notes on the Way," a 19-page document called "London Underground” and another undated manuscript, titled "News-Chronicle." In them, Murrow reflects on Londoners’ state of mind during the war and living in the city’s bomb shelters.

“London Underground,” according to the AP, “is an impressionistic survey that includes overheard conversations, vignettes of shelter residents and a dismissal of media reports that the war has had a ‘leveling effect,’ on London society.” Murrow’s son, Casey, thinks his mother may have had a hand in shaping the manuscript.

"She spent more time underground than he did and she might have been asked to put in her ideas, too," Murrow, who runs a nonprofit educational organization in Brattleboro, Vt., told the AP. "Dad actually avoided bomb shelters because he was afraid if he started going into them he would never stop going into them."

The documents also shed new light on Murrow’s views of the media coverage of the war.

Reflecting on the war-time reporting of CBS, Murrow wrote, “We have recorded British victories and defeats … believing always that the intrusion of personal prejudice and prophecy is useless if not harmful, and that the listener in America, if given sufficient information will make up his mind in accordance with the ultimate truth.”

 

 

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