Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Max Frankel papers, 1896-2008, bulk 1940-2008

Summary Information


The Max Frankel Papers contain personal papers, research files for Frankel's memoirs, and files pertaining to Frankel's journalism career, including extensive working files for the period in which Frankel was Executive Editor of The New York Times.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1597
Bib ID 9128062 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Frankel, Max, 1930-
Title Max Frankel papers, 1896-2008, bulk 1940-2008
Physical Description 11 linear feet (10 record storage cartons 1 half sized document box)
Language(s) Material is primarily in English with some Hebrew and German.

This collection has no restrictions. 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 is arranged in three series.


Scope and Content

The Max Frankel Papers consist mostly of research materials collected for Frankel's memoirs, and they pertain especially to his career in journalism. It begins with material relating to Frankel's immigration and childhood, continues with his time as a foreign and later diplomatic correspondent, and focuses especially on his eight years as executive editor of The New York Times. The collection includes clippings of Frankel's articles for the Columbia Daily Spectator and The New York Times (including articles published without a byline), draft articles, speeches about journalism and foreign policy, diaries, legal briefs and transcripts, scrapbooks, videotapes, and photographs. The collection also includes correspondence with Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Zbigniew Brzezinski, McGeorge Bundy, Barbara Bush, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Mario Cuomo, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Holbrooke, Hubert Humphrey, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Henry Kissinger, Edward Koch, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Bill Moyers, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Rupert Murdoch, Benjamin Netanyahu, President Richard M. Nixon, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, President Ronald Reagan, John D. Rockefeller, Eugene Rostow, Dean Rusk, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., and Cyrus Vance.

Of particular interest are notes taken of off-the-record discussions with President Lyndon B. Johnson, Dean Rusk, and Robert F. Kennedy, particularly concerning the Vietnam War. The collection also contains drafts of legal briefs concerning the publication of the Pentagon Papers, and notes concerning Frankel's questions as a presidential debate moderator in 1976.

  • Series I: Personal Files, 1940-2008

    This series consists of papers relating to Frankel's personal life and career in journalism.

  • Series II: Editorial Files, 1896-1997

    This series contains subject files arranged in alphabetical order, created while Frankel was editor of the editorial page and then executive editor of The New York Times. It includes correspondence between members of the staff of The New York Times, especially between Frankel and publishers Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. It also includes correspondence between Frankel and notable members of the public, and files pertaining to the management of the newspaper generally.

  • Series III: Book Files, 1960-2004

    This series contains files pertaining to the commissioning, writing, publication, and reception of Frankel's two books.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection has no restrictions. 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.

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); Max Frankel Papers; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2011.2012.M053: Source of acquisition--Max Frankel. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--11/22/2011.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed David Allen, GSAS 2019 06/--/2013.

Finding aid written David Allen, GSAS 2019 06/--/2013.

Revision Description

2013-07-12 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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:"
Cold War Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cold War in mass media Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Frankel, Max, 1930- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journalists -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Soviet Union Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sulzberger, Arthur Ochs, 1926-2012 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sulzberger, Arthur Ochs, 1951- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Max Frankel (born 3 April 1930 in Gera, Germany) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Frankel emigrated as a child from Germany on 22 February 1940. He was educated at Columbia University, where he wrote for and edited the Columbia Daily Spectator. Frankel joined The New York Times in 1952, where he remained for fifty years except for a period in the United States Army. Frankel was a foreign correspondent in Vienna, Moscow, and Havana, and later The Times's diplomatic, White House, and Washington correspondent. He was instrumental in the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. He edited The Times's editorial page for nearly a decade, and was executive editor between 1986 and 1994. Frankel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his coverage of President Richard Nixon's visit to China. Frankel is also remembered as the journalist who asked President Gerald Ford a question about Soviet domination of Eastern Europe during a presidential debate in 1976, which Ford answered poorly. Frankel has written two books, The Times of My Life and My Life at The Times (Random House, 1999), and High Noon in the Cold War: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis (Ballantine, 2004).