Baker, Russell (1925-2019)
The Russell Baker collection consists of manuscripts, photographs, correspondence, printed material, notebooks, subject files, legal and financial material, personal memorabilia, and artwork.

Manuscripts for books by Baker in the collection include An American in Washington (Knopf, 1961); the collections Poor Russell’s Almanac (Doubleday, 1972) and So This Is Depravity (Congdon and Lattes, 1980); the juvenile fiction The Upside-Down Man (McGraw-Hill, 1977); the autobiographies Growing Up (Congdon and Weed, 1982) and The Good Times (Morrow, 1989); the collection of “Observer” columns titled There’s a Country in my Cellar (Morrow, 1990); and the anthologies Russell Baker’s Book of Light Verse (Norton, ca. 1986-1987) and Russell Baker’s Book of American Humor (Norton, 1993), both edited by Baker.  Also present are manuscripts for Baker’s introductions and synopses for several episodes of the PBS television program Masterpiece Theatre, dated 1993-1996 and 2000.  Baker’s manuscripts also include a near-complete run of his column “The Observer,” for The New York Times, dating from 1967 to 1998 and comprised of hundreds of items.  Other manuscripts by Baker include his reportage on the 1960 debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and other items related to the presidential campaign that year; several magazine pieces, dating from the 1960s through the 1970s; various speeches; introductions to books by others, including editions of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and George Orwell’s Animal Farm; the musical Home Again, with book by Baker, lyrics by Barbara Fried, and music by Cy Coleman; a film treatment titled Ichabod; and a film story and treatment titled The Spy in G-Flat, written with Art Buchwald.  In addition, the collection includes manuscripts for Baker’s Men, a musical revue based on Baker’s writings, by Charles Horine; and Baker’s narration script for an episode of the television documentary The Way West, with Baker’s notes.

Photographs in the collection include various prints of Baker, mostly black and white, including Baker being interviewed by Studs Terkel and Baker at various college and university commencements.  Also present is a photo of Harpo Marx inscribed to Baker, and a photograph of Baker with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Correspondence in the collection is extensive, and include both personal and professional letters.  Letters to Baker regarding Growing Up date from 1982 to 1986; they include several family letters, as well as letters from Jacob Javits, Gay Talese, and Nan Robertson.  There are numerous letters to Baker sent in response to his news stories and his “Observer” columns; these date from 1957 to 1982, and include letters from Jacob Javits and Howard Johnson.  Other correspondence include general letters from friends and admirers; correspondence with The New York Times editors and staff; letters regarding Masterpiece Theatre (including a letter from Baker to former host Alistair Cooke from 1993); correspondence regarding various speaking engagements and fund-raising events; and others.  Notable correspondents include Stephen Ambrose, Erma Bombeck, Art Buchwald, James Clavell, Alistair Cooke, Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer), Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Seeger, Charles Kuralt, Diane Sawyer, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Abigail Van Buren, Ralph Nader, Walter Cronkite, David Halberstam, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, David McCullough, Nathaniel Benchley, Peter Benchley, Jose Ferrer, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Groucho Marx, and Carl Sandburg.

Printed material in the collection include clippings of Baker’s columns for the Baltimore Sun (1948-1952), The New York Times (1954-1988), and various other newspapers and magazines.  Also, the collection includes reviews and other material pertaining to Growing Up, The Good Times, Russell Baker’s Book of American Humor, There’s a Country in my Cellar, The Upside-Down Man, and So This Is Depravity; as well as various items regarding the musical Home Again and Masterpiece Theatre.  Additional items include material regarding Dwight D. Eisenhower, from Baker’s time in the press pool (1959); articles about or mentioning Baker, including an interview of Baker by Nora Ephron (1975); and other material.

Notebooks by Baker in the collection consist of forty-three spiral-bound reporter’s notebooks, fulled with Baker’s handwritten notes, regarding events he covered from 1954 to 1968.  Topics include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, the CIA, space flights, state department affairs, and political campaigns.  

Subject files in the collection consist of files compiled and arranged by Baker.  The contents of these files include printed material, correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, notes, financial material, and other items.  Prominent subject include the Pulitzer Prize (Baker won the prize in 1979 and later served as a juror and on the board); Masterpiece Theatre; Poor Russell’s Almanac; and Richard Nixon in the 1960 U.S. Presidential campaign.  There are several files regarding speaking engagements and honorary degrees awarded to Baker.        

Legal and financial material in the collection consists of various contracts, agreements, bank statements, bills, receipts, invoices, and other items.  These pertain to various writings by Baker, as well as his travel expenses for his reporting and his work on Masterpiece Theatre.    

Research material in the collection includes interviews and notes regarding Baker’s family, for Growing Up; author biographies for Tolstoy, Wilkie Collins, the Brontes, and George Eliot, for Masterpiece Theatre; and various other items.

Personal memorabilia in the collection various awards and honorary degrees, including Baker’s George Polk Award (1979); a shoe box full of campaign buttons; and various invitations, cards, badges and passes from the time period described in The Good Times.

Artwork in the collection includes a pencil sketch by political cartoonist Tom Oliphant; a sketch by cartoonist Jim Hartzell depicting the city room rewrite desk of the Baltimore Sun; an original print of a cartoon by Mike Peters, inscribed to Baker; and two drawings by cartoonist and illustrator Patrick McDonnell, including a handwritten note from McDonnell.
Notable Figures
1. Baker, Russell, 1925-
Associated Subjects
1. Literary Collections Subject Guide
2. Humor, Comedy, and Satire Subject Guide