Rare Book & Manuscript Library

John B. Oakes papers, 1912-2005

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0939
Bib ID 5505398 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Oakes, John B (John Bertram), 1913-2001
Title John B. Oakes papers, 1912-2005
Physical Description 52.50 linear feet (115 manuscript boxes 10 flat boxes)
Language(s) English .

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.



This collection is arranged into 8 series: Series I: Cataloged Correspondence; Series II: Arranged Correspondence; Series III: Arranged Subject Files; Series IV: Writings; Series V: Speeches and Memorials; Series VI: Printed Material; Series VII: Scrapbooks; Series VIII: Related Material



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.

Preferred Citation

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

Processing Information

Papers processed Alyssa Nicole Meyers 11/2005.

Revision Description

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.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Journalists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
New York Times Company Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newspaper editors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newspaper publishing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newspapers -- Sections, columns, etc Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

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.