John Seigenthaler Papers to be housed at Vanderbilt University Library

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – John Seigenthaler, eminent journalist, author,
civil rights leader and founder of the First Amendment Center, has
announced that he will donate his papers to Vanderbilt University
Library’s special collections department.

"I am honored and more than a little surprised that Vanderbilt
University is interested in these papers," Seigenthaler said. "If the
documents can help explain the journalism, literature, government and
politics of the last half-century, I will be doubly honored."

The prized papers contain correspondence, book manuscripts and
photographic material spanning Seigenthaler’s life, including
correspondence from his 43 years at The Tennessean, his tenure at USA
Today and his service as a special aide to Robert Kennedy during the
Civil Rights Movement. In addition, there are research materials,
drafts and proofs for his latest book, James K. Polk. Seigenthaler will
also donate materials from his recent work as chair of the panel that
investigated former USA Today reporter Jack Kelley.

"John’s papers will greatly augment the library’s holdings in
history, political science, literature and, above all, journalism,"
said Vanderbilt University Librarian Paul Gherman.

Seigenthaler, a Nashville native, has been a strong advocate for
upholding the First Amendment and the public’s right to know since his
early days at The Tennessean, where he began as a young reporter and
eventually became editor, publisher and CEO. The former president of
the American Society of Newspaper Editors was named chairman emeritus
of the Nashville morning newspaper in 1991.

The award-winning journalist took a leave of absence from The
Tennessean in 1958 to serve as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
He also left the paper in 1960 to work for Attorney General Robert F.
Kennedy. He became the federal government’s chief negotiator with
George Wallace, governor of Alabama, during the Freedom Rides, which
challenged outdated segregation practices that had been ruled
unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1961, Seigenthaler was
beaten unconscious while attempting to help two student protestors
escape from a violent group of Klansmen.

While serving as editor of The Tennessean, the newspaper carried out
several major undercover investigations and won a Pulitzer Prize for a
story about corruption involving union and management in the coal
industry. Seigenthaler’s numerous awards have included the National
Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting, the Sidney Hilman Prize
for Courage in Publishing and the Mass Media Award from the American
Jewish Committee.

In 2002 the Vanderbilt Board of Trust named the expanded and
renovated building on its Peabody campus that houses the First
Amendment Center and the Nashville offices of the Freedom Forum the
John Seigenthaler Center. Seigenthaler founded the First Amendment
Center in 1991 to promote awareness, discussion and debate about First
Amendment rights and values.

Seigenthaler’s most recent book is the biography James K. Polk,
published by Times Books (January 2004). He served on the National
Commission on Federal Election Reform organized by former Presidents
Carter and Ford in 2001. He is also a member of the Constitution
Project on Liberty and Security formed after the Sept. 11 terrorist

Seigenthaler also is the longtime host of "A Word on Words," a
weekly book review program on WNPT, Nashville’s public television
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Media contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, (615) 322-NEWS

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