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UT's Briscoe Center Acquires Richard and Doris Kearns Goodwin Papers,Popular History

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the papers of Richard N. Goodwin, speechwriter and policymaker for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, acclaimed presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. In addition, Ms. Goodwin will join the Briscoe Center’s Advisory Council.

Mr. Goodwin’s papers stretch more than six decades, from roughly 1950-2014, and provide an intimate look into his distinguished professional career. The papers document Mr. Goodwin’s public service as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, as well as his work as a House subcommittee investigator into the rigged television game show Twenty-One (adapted into Robert Redford’s 1994 film Quiz Show). Mr. Goodwin’s archive, an extraordinary time capsule of the 1960s, includes memos and notes on his contributions to shaping national and international policy during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, including the War on Poverty and the Civil Rights movement. Among the treasures are drafts of several of the most historically significant speeches of the 20th century, including JFK’s inaugural speech, and LBJ’s “Great Society” and “We Shall Overcome” speeches. The draft of LBJ’s landmark Howard University speech calling for affirmative action is accompanied by a telegram from Martin Luther King Jr. that reads: “Never before has a president articulated the depths and dimensions of the problems of racial injustice more eloquently and profoundly.”  

Joseph Califano, LBJ’s domestic policy adviser, described Mr. Goodwin as “the greatest political public policy speechwriter in the history of this country.” His papers provide keen insight on how speech writing can lead to policy and law.

“I have loved history my whole life, so I am delighted that my papers and those of my late husband will reside together as part of the outstanding collection at the Briscoe Center,” said Ms. Goodwin. “I’m impressed by the depth and breadth of the Briscoe Center’s holdings, and also by its innovative mission as a center that actively conducts its own research into its collections, as well as facilitating the research of others. My hope is that our papers will offer unique insight and rich potential for students, historians, and other researchers who will find the material not only informative but also inspiring.”

The archive of Ms. Goodwin, author of seven critically acclaimed and bestselling books and who New York Magazine heralds as “America’s Historian-in-Chief,” spans six decades from the 1960s to near present. The papers provide a road map of her writing process from her initial foray into a subject, and include original research materials, interviews, early outlines, primary sources, and manuscripts.

Read entire article at Briscoe Center for American History