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   Max Frankel papers, 1896-2008 [Bulk Dates: 1940-2008]

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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.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

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 Dates: 1940-2008]
Physical description:11 linear ft. (10 record storage cartons, 1 half-sized document box)
Language(s): Material is primarily in English with some Hebrew and German
Access: This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »



This collection is arranged in three series

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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.

Subseries I.1: General Files, 1940-2008

This subseries contains of files collated to facilitate the writing of Frankel’s memoirs. It includes clippings and drafts of articles from Frankel’s career in journalism, letters and diaries from his time as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Moscow, files pertaining to the publication and subsequent legal defense of the Pentagon Papers, notes for the 1976 presidential debates, and several folders of correspondence. This subseries also contains notes from off-the-record conversations with President Lyndon B. Johnson. The subseries is arranged roughly in chronological order.

Subseries I.2: Speech Files, 1925-1992

This subseries contains drafts and reading copies of speeches given by Frankel. Subjects include United States and Soviet foreign policy, domestic politics and culture, and journalism.

Subseries I.3: IRS Files, 1977-1993

This subseries contains legal documents, transcripts, and opinions pertaining to Frankel v. Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, a tax case relating to self-employment and home offices.

Subseries I.4: Multimedia Files, 1958-1999

This subseries contains photographs taken by and of Frankel in Lvov, Riga, and Siberia for The New York Times, general photographs taken during President Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, and portraits of Frankel. It also contains video recordings of four interviews given by Frankel in the late 1990s.

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.

Subseries III.1: The Times of My Life and My Life with The Times , 1963-2001

This subseries mostly contains correspondence from readers of Frankel’s memoirs, as well as book reviews and correspondence relating to the book’s publication.

Subseries III.2: High Noon in the Cold War , 1960-2004

This subseries primarily contains drafts of each chapter of Frankel’s book on the Cuban missile crisis, arranged in a day-by-day format. It also contains correspondence relating to the book’s publication.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Restrictions on Use

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.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

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

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

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion July 12, 2013 Finding aid written in English.
    2013-07-12 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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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.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Cold War in mass media.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cold War.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Frankel, Max, 1930-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Journalists--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York times.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Soviet Union--Foreign relations--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Soviet Union.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sulzberger, Arthur Ochs, 1926-2012.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sulzberger, Arthur Ochs, 1951-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Foreign relations--Soviet Union.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Politics and government--20th centuryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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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).

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