News Release — July 30, 2003
Ransom Center Receives First Documents of Watergate Papers
The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center has received the first portion of the Watergate papers of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
The University of Texas at Austin announced in April the $5 million acquisition of the Watergate papers of Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein. Woodward and Bernstein were the first journalists to establish the connection between the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate complex and aides to President Richard M. Nixon.
Upon receipt of the entire archive, contents will include more than 250 pocket-sized notebooks, memos, story drafts, clippings, manuscripts for "All the President's Men" and "The Final Days," photographs and memorabilia.
"This archive will provide students, researchers, legal scholars, political historians, journalists and the public an unparalleled, behind the scenes insight to study the multidisciplinary nature of investigative journalism and the American political process all in one place," said Thomas F. Staley, director of the Ransom Center. "We're ready to begin working on processing the collection so that it may be available for use in the near future."
The Ransom Center will be responsible for the arrangement and description of the archive as well as its preservation. Upon receiving the material the Ransom Center conducts a conservation inspection, specifically a "bug check" to assure that existing collections are not contaminated by insects or mold present in the newly received material.
The Ransom Center will document all incoming materials before any organization is undertaken. When processing the contents, the center will maintain the original order of the materials to prescribe that the arrangement of materials remain as it was established and used by the creators.
Stephen Mielke, the Ransom Center's archivist who will oversee the processing of the collection, will conduct an initial survey of the documents without disturbing the organization of the materials. Mielke will examine the collection box by box and folder by folder to become familiar with the contents, arrangement, date span, activities that generated materials, type of materials and subjects within the archive.
After this process, the archivist formulates a work plan that outlines the potential organization of the collection, including the order of materials and consideration of the researchers' needs and how the collection is likely to be used. The creation of an archival inventory will describe the records and papers in the context of their development. A general description of the archive's materials and how they were generated, used and maintained by the creators will accompany the complete archive.
The contract between The University of Texas at Austin and Woodward and Bernstein stipulates the contents of the archive to arrive in four separate shipments with the first portion to arrive in July 2003. The final shipment of materials will arrive on or before Feb. 7, 2004.
Once arrangement and description of the entire archive are complete, a finding aid will be created for the collection. The finding aid will be available on the Ransom Center's Web site and on The University of Texas Libraries online library catalog.
One of the university's treasures, the Ransom Center houses one of the world's finest cultural archives, specifically 36 million manuscripts, five million photographs, one million books and more than 100,000 works of art and design.