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William Manchester papers

 Collection
Identifier: 1000-169

Scope and Contents

Series I: Writings

Papers related to each of Manchester's 18 books are listed alphabetically in the subseries, Books. Generally, the papers contain correspondence, research and reference materials, manuscript drafts, a fair copy (which Manchester referred to as his first typed clean copy, although there were often drafts which followed the fair copy), a setting copy, galleys, publicity materials, and occasionally fan mail. All other writings of Manchester, including articles, short stories, unpublished or unrealized projects, and dramas, are listed alphabetically in the subseries, Other writings.

Manchester’s working style was unique and he generally applied it from book to book, starting at the beginning with Disturber of the Peace. As he did research, he kept typed notes on each source. Books generally have a series of key documents, called docs, that are listed in an index and individually numbered, usually in red. These documents number from fewer than 100 for Krupp to more than 600 for the Churchill biography The Last Lion. Beyond the docs there is generally much more reference material.

When he was ready to start mapping out the book, he made what he called long notes from his notes. In a memo to his new secretary in 1996, he described a long note as two 8 ½ x 11 pages pasted together end to end. Each Long Note (LN) bears, pasted to it, strips of paper with information, or quotations, or the like. Long notes were stapled and taped into numbered gatherings Manchester called clumps of about fifty pages each. To streamline things, Manchester used codes, and sometimes his codes had codes. In some case, the right side of the strips on the clumps contained a code for the source of the text. The left side had the code for a subject or category. Codes were also sometimes used to outline the chapter topics. An outline was written from clumps; the clump page had a number in top center to keep it in sequence. With the invention of the highlighter, Manchester added the dimension of color to his coding. His codes and outlines bore witness to the complexity of the material.

Material related to The Death of a President has been processed and described at the item level. Please note the restrictions above; in short, all manuscript drafts and galleys, plus papers related to the individuals described above, have been restricted. The container lists those materials which have been restricted. Correspondence and other papers that fall within the restrictions have been removed from folders and marked with a separation sheet. Although some of the papers have been restricted, there is still a wealth of material related to the writing of the book, the drawn efforts to get it published, and Mrs. Kennedy's lawsuit. Transcripts of interviews with over 200 people serve as an oral history of the events surrounding JFK's assassination. There is much primary source material in the hundreds of documents Manchester amassed. Note: In his files, Manchester frequently used the abbreviations, DOAP and TDOAP, when referring to this book.

Material related to all volumes of the The Last Lion is arranged together. Manchester initially performed all of the research and contemplated a two-volume set. A third volume was planned after work had commenced on the first two. There is a good deal of overlap in research materials and outlines reflecting Manchester's changing approach to the work.

For published versions of Manchester's works, see Series II: Printed matter.

Series II. Printed matter

Material related to The Death of a President has been processed and described at the item level. Please note the restrictions above; in short, all manuscript drafts and galleys, plus papers related to the individuals described above, have been restricted. The container lists those materials which have been restricted. Correspondence and other papers that fall within the restrictions have been removed from folders and marked with a separation sheet. Although some of the papers have been restricted, there is still a wealth of material related to the writing of the book, the drawn efforts to get it published, and Mrs. Kennedy's lawsuit. Transcripts of interviews with over 200 people serve as an oral history of the events surrounding JFK's assassination. There is much primary source material in the hundreds of documents Manchester amassed. Note: In his files, Manchester frequently used the abbreviations, DOAP and TDOAP, when referring to this book.

Material related to all volumes of the The Last Lion is arranged together. Manchester initially performed all of the research and contemplated a two-volume set. A third volume was planned after work had commenced on the first two. There is a good deal of overlap in research materials and outlines reflecting Manchester's changing approach to the work.

For published versions of Manchester's works, see Series II: Printed matter.

Series II. Printed matter

This series contains materials which have been formally published, such as magazines, pamphlets, and the like. Published works written by Manchester are found in the subseries, Writings by Manchester. Otherwise, materials will be found in the three subseries, Serials, Newspapers, and Other publications. Here may be found such items as a 1963 Dallas Yellow Pages phone book, articles written by Manchester's friends, magazine accounts of the Death of a President controversy, and reviews of Manchester's books. The materials are arranged alphabetically by the title of the publication or serial.

For additional published materials, see Series VI: Scrapbooks.

Series III: Writings of others

This series contains, for the most part, the unpublished writings of others, such as manuscript, drafts, and proofs. Of note is a script of The Arrangement by Elia Kazan annotated by Manchester. It is arranged alphabetically by writer's name, or if it is not known, the title of the work.

Series IV: Correspondence

Although there is a specific series called Correspondence, it should be noted that correspondence is found throughout the collection. Correspondence in Series IV consists of correspondence files maintained separately from projects and other categories, such as awards, financial papers, legal papers, and so on. There is much parallel and overlapping correspondence as well; the thorough researcher will need to consult a variety of subseries to be sure that all potential sources have been tapped. Correspondence maintained by topic or correspondent, such as Little Brown, has been arranged by topic in the subseries, Aphabetical. All loose correspondence has been placed in the subseries, Chronological. The subseries, Correspondence, bulk 1966-1969, contains much Death of a President fan mail, but also business and personal correspondence. Manchester employed three different administrative assistants who maintained runs of correspondence, and that order has been preserved. He also was given correspondence which had been maintained at the office of his agent, Don Congdon of the Harold Matson Co., that is found in the subseries, Harold Matson Co. Manchester also had several separate, overlapping files of correspondence relating to the Kennedy family, and that has been consolidated in its own subseries. The last subseries in Series IV: Correspondence contains two letters from noted spy Kim Philby.

As mentioned, to see all correspondence related to a topic, one should consider all subseries in Series IV: Correpsondence for possible sources. For example, to research the Kennedy controversy, one should inspect the alphabetical subseries, the years 1966-67 in the chronological subseries, the Correspondence bulk 1966-69 subseries, the Harold Marson Co. subseries, and the Kennedy family subseries. Additional correspondence will be found in Series I: Writings in the Death of a President files.

Series V: Personal papers

Series V: Personal papers fall into several large subseries and a variety of small ones. The subseries, Early records, contains papers related to Manchester's childhood, education, and United States Marine Corps service. The subseries, Awards and honors, contains materials related to his honorary degrees and other awards. The subseries, Baltimore Sunpapers, relates to Manchester's employment from 1947-54 and includes documentation of his foreign correspondent experience. Manchester's innocuous FBI file is found in the subseries, Federal Bureau of Investigation. The subseries, Financial, includes royalty statements, correspondence, business matters, and records related to banking, investments, and taxes. The folders labeled General contain a wide variety of notes and emphemeral material. The subseries, Legal, has papers related to lawsuits (except for the Jacqueline Kennedy lawsuit, which is found in Series I: Writings The Death of a President), contracts, and other topics. The subseries, Office files, contains the files that were found in file cabinets in Manchester's office at the time of his death, and have been preserved in their original order. The subseries, Speeches, contains copies of talks, speeches, and other occasions at which Manchester delivered remarks. (In the cases of remarks delivered in conjunction with honorary degrees, the remarks will be found in the subseries, Awards and honors.) The subseries, 316 Pine St. files, contains files kept at Manchester's home, and their integrity has been maintained. The subseries, Wesleyan University, contains a variety of documents, memoranda, and other records related to Manchester's long association with the university.

Dates

  • 1934-2004

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research except for certain materials related to The Death of a President. A 1967 judgment and decree defines such material as: (1) the Manuscript; (2) any writing of which Manchester is the author which ever was, or was intended by him to be, part of any version of Manchester's proposed work of which the Manuscript is one version; (3) written notes made by Manchester personally in the course of preparation of the Manuscript during the period March 26, 1964 through April 15, 1966 of interviews or conversations between Manchester and any member of the plaintiff's [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was the plaintiff] family (which term, as used in this Judgment and Decree, shall include the family of the late President John F. Kennedy) or members of her household (which term, as used in this Judgment and Decree, shall mean and include all persons at any time prior to April 15, 1966 in the personal employ of the plaintiff or the late President John F. Kennedy and those who served at any time during the administration of the late President John F. Kennedy as members of the White House household staff, such as maids, butlers, valets, gardeners, nurses and all others performing essentially personal or household services for the President and his family, or as personal secretaries, or as members of the Secret Service or White House police attached, in whole or part, to the President or members of his family personally); (4) tapes or other voice recordings, furnished to or possessed by Manchester, of plaintiff or members of her family or members of her household, and all copies, excerpts, fragments, transcripts, abstracts and summaries of any of the foregoing; (5) letters or written communications from the late President to plaintiff, from plaintiff to the late President, and between and among the plaintiff, the late President, any members of her family and any member of her household, and all copies, abstracts and summaries of any of the foregoing; (6) the items mentioned in the subdivisions (4) and (5) hereof shall be limited to such items therein described as were furnished to, or obtained by, Manchester during the period March 26, 1964 through April 15, 1966. [Complete judgment and decree found in box 56 folders 33-34] Additionally, The undersigned hereby agree that they shall treat as if they are 'material', subject to the provisions of the Judgment and Decree, all notes of interviews, letters or other communications of the following: Robert S. McNamara Kenneth P. O'Donnell David Powers Pierre Salinger occurring during the period March 26, 1964 to April 15, 1966, which concern the actions, conduct or statements of Mrs. John F. Kennedy or her children during the period November 22, 1963 through November 30, 1963. [Signed Jacqueline B. Kennedy; William Manchester; Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. by Cass Canfield. Box 56 folder 30.] This material is restricted until 2067 January 17. The container list below details some of the material that is restricted; otherwise, separation sheets will be found in the papers.

Conditions Governing Use

University records - Copyright held by Wesleyan University; all other copyright is retained by the creator - In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted

Biographical / Historical

William Manchester was a well-known figure on the Wesleyan University campus for more than forty years, serving first as an editor of university publications, then as a fellow of the Center of Advanced Studies, later as adjunct professor of history and a writer-in-residence, and, finally, as adjunct professor emeritus. After enjoying modest success writing fiction and nonfiction books in the 1950s, he suddenly rose to national prominence in 1964 when Jacqueline Kennedy selected him to write the authorized account of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Two years later, she sued him to prevent the publication of The Death of a President, setting off a controversy that played out on the front pages of newspapers around the world. Manchester -- protégé of H. L. Mencken, newspaper man, foreign correspondent, and best-selling author—profiled larger-than-life figures, including John F. Kennedy, General Douglas MacArthur, and Winston Churchill, and chronicled contemporary American history.

William Raymond Manchester Jr. was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts on April 1, 1922. His parentage bridged the Mason-Dixon Line; his mother’s family was from Virginia, his father’s family from Massachusetts. They met when his father was recuperating in Norfolk from disabling wounds sustained as a marine during the First World War. In spite of physical handicaps, the senior Manchester was an independent and capable man who became the Western Massachusetts supervisor of public welfare. The father’s expectations had a lasting influence on his eldest son. Manchester Jr. had one brother, Robert, fourteen years younger.

Manchester started school in Attleboro, Massachusetts, continuing in Springfield, Massachusetts after the family moved there. Although not physically strong, he was an active Boy Scout, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He attended Springfield Classical High School, where he was active in drama. A natural leader, he directed plays and also acted in them. His writing skills were already evident in his re-working of a play by de Maupassant, The Necklace, to be broadcast on the radio and in his modernization of Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer. He graduated from high school in June 1940. Manchester entered Massachusetts State College (now known as the University of Massachusetts) in September 1940. As a freshman, he pledged to the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and was subjected to the usual hazing. His letter to the editor of The Collegian takes issue with that custom, but he joined the following year. In January of Manchester’s freshman year, his father died. Although he was grieving, Manchester returned to college for the spring semester. He tried his hand at poetry and represented Massachusetts State College at a poetry-reading contest in May, 1941. In his sophomore year, he was on the staff of the college literary magazine, The Collegian Quarterly, and became assistant editor in his junior year. He also wrote for the college newspaper, The Collegian. His love of words is evident in a well-worn dictionary given to him in 1941. It traveled with him his whole life; the front endpapers document his various addresses in Amherst, Baltimore, and Middletown. Manchester was an avid football fan, then and in his many years at Wesleyan. The school songs that he obviously enjoyed were reflected later in his books in his use of popular songs to evoke the spirit of the times.

In the summer of 1942, after his sophomore year, Manchester enlisted in the Marines, perhaps as a tribute to his father. His reserve status allowed him to complete his third year of college, but at the end of this time, in July 1943, he was sent to Dartmouth College for training in the newly-created V-12 program. This program allowed recruits to continue their education while creating a pool of potential officers for the Navy and Marines. (Wesleyan also hosted a V-12 program at that time.) Manchester’s program was completed in November 1943. From New Hampshire, he went to Parris Island, South Carolina, for boot camp; Quantico, Virginia, for officer candidate school (he was never commissioned); and then to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for an advanced combat intelligence course.

On August 1, 1944, he was shipped out to the Pacific Ocean island of Guadalcanal, where he endured eight more months of training in tropical jungle conditions. On April 1, 1945 -- his twenty-third birthday -- he was sent to Okinawa. For the next two months, he witnessed war at its worst. His unit was part of the force that took Sugar Loaf Hill at the end of May. Shortly after that, he was lightly wounded and hospitalized but quickly left the hospital to rejoin his unit. His war journal was eerily predictive. He wrote about how much he looked forward to being back, and yet, if you keep running the target up, sooner or later it’s going to get hit. He was seriously wounded on June 4, 1945, evacuated to Saipan, and honorably discharged on October 24, 1945. He returned home to his mother in Oklahoma City.

Extent

327 Linear Feet (470 hollinger and flat hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Correspondence, manuscript drafts, proofs, galleys, extensive research and reference materials, photographs, and other documentation relating to Manchester's professional career, his eighteen books and dozens of articles and other writings, and personal affairs, including his college years, awards, speeches, financial and legal matters, the construction of his Middletown house, and travels. Also includes scrapbooks, audio and video tapes and computer files, and realia.

Arrangement

  • Series I: Writings
  • Series II: Printed matter
  • Series III: Writings of others
  • Series IV: Correspondence
  • Series V: Personal papers
  • Series VI: Scrapbooks
  • Series VII: Reference files
  • Series VIII: Photographs
  • Series IX: Media
  • Series X: Realia

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bequest of William Manchester, 2004.

Title
William Manchester papers, 1934-2004
Status
Completed
Author
Processed and finding aid created by Leith Johnson and Jenny Miglus
Date
February 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & Archives Repository

Contact:
252 Church Street
Middletown CT 06459 USA
860-685-3864