About the Collection

Scope and Content


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The Dan Rather collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, professional material, printed material, artwork, subject files, photographs, personal memorabilia, video and audio recordings, and other items.

Manuscripts by Rather in the collection include drafts of his books The Palace Guard, written with Gary P. Gates (Harper, 1974); The Camera Never Blinks, written with Mickey Herskowitz (Morrow, 1977); Memoirs: I Remember, written with Peter Wyden (Houghton, 1991); The Camera Never Blinks Twice, written with Mickey Herskowitz (Morrow, 1994); Our Times: America at the Birth of the Twentieth Century, edited by Mark Sullivan (Scribner, 1995); Deadlines and Datelines (Morrow, 1999); and The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation (Harper, 2001). Also present are numerous drafts of his column "Dan Rather Reporting," speeches, articles, radio and television broadcast scripts, and other items. In addition, the collection includes manuscripts by authors other than Rather, including a draft of This Just In by Bob Schieffer.

Notebooks by Rather in the collection are extensive. They date from 1964 to 2000, and include interview questions and answers, professional and personal notes and observations, and diary entries. Also present are several appointment calendars recording Rather's daily activities, dating from 1970 to 1991.

Correspondence in the collection includes hundreds of letters to and from Rather, dating from 1954 to 2008. These include personal and professional letters, fan mail, letters of recommendation from Rather, and other items. Topics of note include Rather's mugging in New York City in 1986; the attack of September 11, 2001; 60 Minutes II's coverage of Bob Kerrey's service in the Vietnam conflict (2001); and Rather's books.

Notable correspondents include Walter Cronkite, Fidel Castro, Barbara Walters, Andy Rooney, Judy Woodruf, Bill O'Reilly, Sam Donaldson, Ed Bradley, Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Robert Morgenthau, Bob Schieffer, Peter Jennings, King Abdullah of Jordan, Jane Pauley, Al Gore, Bryant Gumbel, Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopolous, Lynda Wertheim, Madeleine Albright, Christiane Amanpour, Anderson Cooper, Ann Curry, Larry King, Arlen Specter, Ted Turner, Bill Clinton, and many other journalists and public figures.

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Professional material in the collection consists of material relevant to Rather's long career as a reporter and broadcaster. This includes various items regarding elections and campaigns, including several items regarding the disputed 2000 Presidential election; Presidential inaugurations; state summits and visits from foreign leaders; Afghanistan; the Persian Gulf War; the Iraq War; Iran; Israel and Palestine; the Vietnam War; Europe; various Presidents and their administrations; the Watergate scandal; and various other news stories. The material includes research files, printed items, correspondence, broadcast transcripts, clippings, notes, memos, diaries, and other material. Additional professional material includes items regarding public appearances and endorsements by Rather; resumes; biographies; itineraries; interviews with Rather; press passes and credentials; and several items regarding CBS News.

Printed material in the collection includes numerous magazines; newspaper clippings; galleys and proofs for Rather's books; printed transcripts; programs; brochures; maps; reports; posters; and other items. Artwork in the collection includes various editorial cartoons, cartoon strips, and caricatures, including original drawings by Garry Trudeau, Pat Oliphant, Tom Batiuk, Jim Borgman, and others. Other items include several portraits of Rather in various media by various artists. Subject files in the collection consist of various documents collected by Rather, primarily for use as background research for his reporting. They also reflect Rather's personal interest in certain subjects. Prominent topics include artists and entertainers; athletics and recreation; business and industry; the CIA; children's issues; crime; Cuba; illegal drugs; health care; John F. Kennedy; NASA; race relations; the O. J. Simpson trial; the Soviet Union and Russia; terrorism; Texas; the Columbia space shuttle disaster; the Iraq war (2003); and several others. Photographs in the collection are extensive. There are numerous photos of Rather in various settings, including in the CBS studios, reporting from the field, meeting with various important and notable individuals, with his friends and family, in publicity and promotional photos, posing for portrait photos, at important public events, at speaking engagements and award ceremonies, and elsewhere. There are several significant individuals with photos present, including Eric Sevaried, Leslie Stahl, Fidel Castro, Helen Thomas, Robert Trout, Billy Graham, Walter Cronkite, Nelson Mandela, Hosni Mubarak, Ariel Sharon, Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brian Williams, W. Paul Bremer, and U.S. Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Also present is a portrait of Rather by Annie Liebowitz, signed by Rather.

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Personal memorabilia in the collection includes several awards given to Rather, including George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Awards (1988, 1989, 1998), a Kennedy Center Honors Award (1990), a recognition from the National Press Club (1992), several Emmy Awards, and numerous others. Other memorabilia includes uniform clothing worn by Rather during his coverage of Vietnam in 1966; equipment and clothing used by Rather during his coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991; Cuban cigars given to Rather by Fidel Castro; a baseball signed by the World Series-winning New York Yankees in 2000, given to Rather by team owner George Steinbrenner; items regarding Rather's coverage of the Sep. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York; and many other miscellaneous items, most gifts to Rather from various parties.

Video in the collection primarily consists of video cassettes (in VHS, Beta, U-Matic, and DVD formats) of various television broadcasts by Rather. These date from Rather's groundbreaking coverage of Hurricane Carla in 1961, through his on-site coverage of Vietnam, his years in the White House press corps, his many decades as an anchorman at CBS for the CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, 60 Minutes II, 48 Hours, up to his current work with HDNET, as well as various other television appearances and taped public appearances.

Audio recordings in the collection date from recordings of Rather's early work as a sportscaster in Texas through his work as a reporter. The recordings include speeches and public appearances, news broadcasts, interviews with various subjects, and other items. There are reel-to-reel tapes, long-playing record albums, cassette tapes, and compact discs present.

Other items include miscellanea regarding Rather's family, including some of his juvenilia; financial documents; various contracts and legal agreements; a copy of Rather's FBI file; and various other objects, documents, and ephemera.

 

Biography


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Award-winning American journalist, author and long-time CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather (1931 - ) has interviewed countless world leaders, and covered milestone events around the globe for over 60 years. He is the recipient of numerous Emmy Awards for News and Documentary and has won six highly coveted Peabody Awards: 1975 for CBS News; 1976, 60 Minutes; 1994, CBS Reports: D-Day; 1995, CBS Reports: In the Killing Fields of America; 2000, 48 Hours: Heroes Under Fire; 2001, 60 Minutes II: Memories of a Massacre; and in 2004 for 60 Minutes II: Abuse at Abu Ghraib. In 1996 he received the Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism from the National Press Foundation, and in 1997 Rather was honored with the Paul White Award for Lifetime Achievement given out by the Radio Television Digital News Association.  In 2013, he received the prestigious Trustees Award of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  Throughout his illustrious career, Rather's commitment to investigative reporting, in-depth interviews and quest for the truth, have made him one of the most respected figures in broadcasting.

Daniel Irvin Rather, Jr. was born in Wharton County, Texas to Daniel Irvin Rather, Sr. and Byrl Veda Rather on October 31, 1931. Rather's interest in journalism started at a young age due in part to his parents avid newspaper reading habits and a bout with rheumatic fever in his early teens that left him bedridden for a couple of years. During this time he listened voraciously to radio broadcasts by correspondents such as Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid and Charles Collingwood, as they were covering World War II, and developed a keen interest in what he calls "boots on the ground" reporting.

His family moved to Houston, Texas where Rather attended the William G. Love Elementary School, Hamilton Middle School and in 1950 graduated from John H. Reagan High School. He went on to graduate from Sam Houston State Teacher's College in Huntsville, Texas (which became Sam Houston State College) in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. During college he was the editor of the college newspaper The Houstonian, and worked as a reporter for the Associated Press, United Press International and at the KSAM-FM radio station as a news reporter, disc jockey, and play-by-play announcer for junior high school, high school, and Sam Houston State College football games. The Sam Houston State College later honored Rather and his venerable career with the naming of the Dan Rather Communications Building in 1994.

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His full-time career as a professional journalist began in 1954 when he was hired as a news reporter by the KTRH radio station owned by the Houston Chronicle newspaper. By 1956 he had been promoted to the position of station news director, and in 1959 took his first job in television as a reporter at KTRK-TV in Houston. In 1961 he was hired as news director at the CBS affiliate, KHOU-TV, where, in September of 1961 his unique coverage of hurricane Carla brought him to the attention of CBS network executives. He covered the hurricane live from Galveston, TX, and had a meteorologist draw an outline of the Gulf of Mexico which was superimposed over the black and white radar display. Modern computerized radar didn't exist at that point and his idea of displaying a map of where the storm might hit and the enormity of it, was the first time this technique had ever been used. In February of 1962 he was hired by the network as bureau chief of CBS's Southwest Bureau in Dallas, TX. and in 1963 was appointed bureau chief of CBS's Southern Bureau in New Orleans, LA. It was in this position that he covered President John F. Kennedy's assassination and the period of national bereavement which followed. Once again his coverage brought him to the attention of CBS executives and in 1964 he was appointed to the prestigious position of CBS White house Correspondent.

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In 1965 he served as bureau chief of CBS London and from 1965-1966 he was the bureau chief of CBS Saigon, where he covered the Vietnam war. In 1966 he returned to his position as White House correspondent, and was front and center during the Richard M. Nixon administration and the Watergate scandal. Rather was one of the journalists to accompany Nixon on his historical trip to China, and later reported on the Watergate scandal, the subsequent investigation and impeachment trial. Starting in 1968 Rather was also a frequent contributor on the CBS weekly news program, 60 Minutes, which he also hosted over the years and was a co-editor on the show. During this time he was also the chief correspondent for the documentary series CBS Reports. While serving as the CBS White House correspondent, Rather was also appointed as the anchor of the CBS Weekend News. In 1981, upon Walter Cronkite's retirement, Rather was given the distinguished position of anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News. He made his first broadcast on March 9, 1981. Ever the dedicated journalist, he held down top anchor positions on three national news programs simultaneously: CBS Evening News, 48 Hours and 60 Minutes II. On March 9, 2005 Rather left his position as anchor of CBS Evening News, following a much publicized controversy over a story on then President George W. Bush's military service. In 2006 moved to the HDNet cable network with his own show, Dan Rather Reports.

Rather has also written several books including, The Camera Never Blinks (William Morrow and Co., 1977); Deadlines and Datelines (William Morrow and Co., 1999); The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of our Nation (William Morrow and Co., 2001), and his memoir, Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News (Grand Central Publishing, 2012).

While working at KTRH Rather met Jean Goebel, whom he married in 1957. The Rather's have two children, Danjack, an Assistant District Attorney in New York City and Robin, an environmentalist in Austin, Texas. Rather and his wife reside in New York City and Austin, Texas.