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William Price Collection on the Murder of George Polk

Call Number



1946-1992, inclusive
; 1946-1950, bulk


Price, William Addison, 1915-2009 (Role: Donor)
Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk


1.25 Linear Feet in 3 manuscript boxes.

Language of Materials

Materials are primarily in English, with some in Greek.


George Polk was a CBS news correspondent covering the Greek civil war who was murdered in Salonika on May 16th, 1948. In the course of his investigations, he had uncovered, and was about to publish, evidence of criminal activity by rightist forces who had the support of the United States and Great Britain. The Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk was founded in 1948 at the initiative of the New York Chapter of the Newspaper Guild. Several people associated with the Greek Communist Pary were convicted of involvement in the murder of Polk in a trial and verdict now widely believed to be fraudulent. The collection contains correspondence, clippings, reports, and a transcript of the trial of Gregorios Stahtopoulos and Anna Stahtopoulos, accused of complicity in the murder. There are also photographs of George Polk and some Price family memorabilia. Correspondents include: John Donovan, William Donovan, Ernest Hemingway, Walter Lippman, Herbert Mitgang, Edward Morrow, George Polk, Rhea Polk, William Polk, Constantine Poulos, William Price, Howard Smith, and I.M. Stone.

Historical/Biographical Note:

On May 16, 1948, the body of George Polk, at the time the Middle East correspondent for CBS, was found floating in the harbor of the Northern Greek city of Salonika. He had been shot in the head and his hands and feet were firmly bound. Polk had been in Greece covering the Civil War between the Communist Forces entrenched in the North and led by Markos Vafiades and the Monarchist-Fascist government dominated by the army. Polk had been critical not only of the Greek government but also of the newly released Truman Doctrine which made defeating the Communists in Greece a priority. In an article published in Harper's in December 1947, Polk called the $300 million in aid to Greece "a poor investment." Most importantly, Polk claimed, the money was being terribly misused. Indeed, immediately before his murder, Polk, in an interview with Constantine Tsaldaris, the head of the Royalist Party, threatened to expose Tsaldaris' illegal bank accounts in the United States. Polk's widow, Rea Polk, later claimed: "I am surprised he lived for three days after that interview."

When Polk was murdered he had been traveling north in an attempt to make contact with General Markos. Polk had been last seen on May 9. The Greek government immediately accused the Communists of the murder. Major Nicholas Mouscoundis, the head of the Greek investigation of the murder, announced that he was "1,000%" sure the Communists had killed Polk. In a trial now considered a sham, a Greek Communist Gregorios Stahopoulos and his mother Anna were convicted of complicity.

In response to the murder and the tainted investigation, the Newspaper Guild organized the Newsmen's Commission in 1948. Among its members were William Polk, George Polk's brother, and William Price, Polk's cousin, and the United Nations Correspondent for the Daily News. Among the known journalists who lent their name, time, and support for the Commission were Ernest Hemingway and Homer Bigart.

Another investigative committee led by Walter Lippmann and called the Overseas Writers Special Committee to Inquire Into the Murder of George Polk was also organized. It later endorsed the trial verdict--a verdict questioned by the Commission. As a result, many Commission members, including William Price, were later officially blacklisted.


Chatzeargyres, Kostas. He hyothese Polk: ho rolos ton Xenon Hypersion sten Hellada. Athens: Ekd. Eirene, 1988.Keeley, Edmund. The Salonika Bay Murder: Cold War Politics and the Polk Affair. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.Marton, Kati. The Polk Conspiracy: Murder and Cover-Up in the Case of CBS News correspondent George Polk. New York: Farrar Straus, Giroux, 1990.Vlanton, Elias. Who Killed George Polk?: The Press Covers Up a Death in the Family. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.


Folders are arranged alphabetically.

The collection is organized into eight series (see container list, below): I. Greek Civil War; II. George Polk; III. Polk Murder; IV. Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk; V. William Price; VI. William Polk; VII. Name Files; VIII. Photographs.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials about the murder of George Polk and the Newsmen's Commission. The collection also includes personal papers of George Polk, William Polk, and William Price. A George Polk series includes a selection of personal papers of George Polk, including financial papers and correspondence and his naval service records. Much of the collection is devoted to documents about the murder--including press releases and reports--and the trial. Especially significant are copies of the indictment of Gregorios and Anna Stahtopoulos and trial summaries and notes. One of the selection of notes are William Polk's, detailing the trial proceedings and his personal reactions.

The selection of materials on the Newsmen's Commission itself documents its fundraising and publicity. Materials include fundraising letters and receipts, correspondence, and press releases. Also of importance are debates and resolutions within the Newspaper Guild and the United Nations Correspondents about the level of support for the Commission.

Additionally, there are approximately 120 images (photocopies, photographs, and negatives). Image subject matter includes Polk's careers in the military and journalism, events surrounding Polk's murder and the investigation, and Polk's family.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to materials in this collection created by William Price was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; William Price collection on the murder of George Polk; TAM 159; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by William Price, cousin of George Polk, in 1995. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1995.009, 1995.011 and NPA.1996.014.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

John Poulos and Constantine Poulos Papers (TAM 114)

Collection processed by

Daniel Bender, 2009. Finding aid edited in 2013 by David Olson to reflect reincorporation of nonprint materials, 2013.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:54:49 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is in English

Processing Information

The collection was processed in August of 1996. Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk Photographs (PHOTOS 073). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk Records as Series VIII: Photos. It is unprocessed.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from (Newsmens Commission Guide.wpd


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012