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Table of Contents
Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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Series II: Arranged Correspondence
Series III: Arranged Subject Files
Series IV: Writings
Series V: Speeches and Memorials
Series VI: Printed Material
At a Glance
This collection is arranged into 8 series.
Correspondence, manuscripts, speeches, scrapbooks, and printed materials of John B. Oakes, a prominent journalist and editor, who for many years editied the New York Times editorial page.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); John B. Oakes papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Alyssa Nicole Meyers 11/2005.
2010-02-18 Legacy finding aid created from Pro Cite.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
John B. Oakes, journalist, editor, and environmentalist was born in Philadelphia in 1913 to George Washington Ochs-Oakes and Bertie Gans Ochs. He attended Princeton University and studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Following graduation, he started as a reporter on the Trenton Times and the Trenton State Gazette, and in 1937, joined the staff of the Washington Post as a police reporter, but quickly moved to covering both houses of Congress. He was drafted into the Army in 1941 and served in the Office of Strategic Services as a member of a team controlling German double agents in Europe. For this work, John Oakes received the Bronze Star, the Croix de Guerre and the Order of the British Empire. On his return to the United States in 1945, he married Margery Hartman and took a position with the New York Times, of which his uncle, Adolph Ochs, was owner and publisher. He started as a reporter and writer for the "Review of the Week" section of the Times and rose to the position of editor. In 1949, John Oakes joined the Editorial Board of the New York Times, where he became known for his interest in civil and human rights, environmentalism, and his opposition to McCarthyism and the Vietnam War. He succeeded Charles Merz as editor of the editorial page in 1961, winning the George Polk Award in 1966. He proposed and oversaw the creation of the New York Times Op-Ed page in 1970, which was the first contemporary Op-Ed page in the nation, featuring signed opinion columns designed to run opposite the paper's official (and unsigned) editorials. He was forced to leave his position as editor of the editorial page in 1976 over a dispute concerning the Times' endorsement of Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Democratic primary; the publisher, Arthur Hayes Sulzberger, endorsed Moynihan over Oakes's objections. He continued as a contributor to the Op-Ed page into the mid-1990s, particularly focusing on environmental issues.