Victor S. Navasky Papers
Language of Materials
Victor Navasky, highly regarded journalist, editor, author and educator, is best known for his close association with The Nation, America's longest continuously published weekly magazine. He was its editor from 1978-1995, publisher and editorial director from 1995-2005, and is now publisher emeritus. He has also written a number of award-winning books and contributed articles and reviews to numerous magazines and journals. Navasky is Professor of Journalism and Director of the George Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia University and serves as Chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review. The collection provides a broad view of Victor Navasky's life, his interests, and his work. It contains many items of a personal nature such as school and military records, family correspondence, and photographs. Biographical articles, interviews and resumes are included, along with materials reflecting the history of The Nation and Navasky's association with the magazine. His books, articles, essays, plays, and speeches are represented, along with extensive research, intermediate writing products, and other related items. Materials drawn from his continuing career at Columbia University, as well as a large series of varied subject files, form a significant part of the collection. There is a small audio-visual series containing, for example, audio recordings of a number of interviews Navasky conducted for his book, Naming Names, and an event honoring I.F. Stone on his 80th birthday.
Victor Navasky, highly regarded journalist, editor, author and educator, is best known for his close association with The Nation, America's longest continuously published weekly magazine. He was its editor from 1978-1995, publisher and editorial director from 1995-2005, and is now publisher emeritus. He has also written a number of award-winning books and contributed articles and reviews to numerous magazines and journals. Navasky is Professor of Journalism and Director of the George Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia University and serves as Chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review.
Victor Navasky was born in New York City on July 5, 1932, the son of Macy Navasky and Esther (Goldberg) Navasky. His father ran a small clothing manufacturing business in the Garment District. From kindergarten through fifth grade, Navasky attended the Rudolf Steiner School and then the progressive Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School. After graduating in 1950, he went on to Swarthmore, where he earned Phi Beta Kappa honors and a degree in 1954. His majors were English Literature and Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy. A stint in the Army followed (1954-1956). He was stationed at Fort Richardson in Alaska.
After his military service, Navasky took advantage of the GI Bill to enroll at Yale Law School, earning his LLB in 1959. While at Yale, he and a friend, Richard Lingeman, started a magazine of political satire, Monocle, which they continued through mail subscription after graduation. They also published The Outsider's Newsletter and then The Radical Sporadical, with the last issue in 1965.
Navasky worked for a short time as a speechwriter for G. Mennen Williams, then governor of Michigan, and, after moving back to New York in 1960, began freelance writing for various publications, principally for The New York Times Magazine where he became an editor in 1970. In 1971 Navasky published Kennedy Justice, an account of Robert Kennedy's tenure as Attorney General. It was a finalist for the 1972 National Book Award. By that time he had started a new book, Naming Names, the outgrowth of an article on the Hollywood Ten that he wrote earlier for The New York Times Magazine. Naming Names would be published in 1980 and win the National Book Award in 1982.
During the 1970s, while working on Naming Names, Navasky coordinated the New York senatorial campaign of Ramsey Clark, wrote a monthly column ("In Cold Print") for the New York Times Book Review, and taught for a time at New York University in its adult education program, as well as at a number of other colleges and universities. One course, for example, at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, focused on informers and cooperative witnesses. Navasky was the Ferris Visiting Professor of Journalism at Princeton (1976-1977).
In 1978, Victor Navasky became editor of The Nation and, in 1995, its publisher and editorial director. Those responsibilities were handed over to Katrina vanden Heuvel in 2005, and Navasky became publisher emeritus.
In 1984, Navasky (with Christopher Cerf) published The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation and, in 2008, in a similar vein, Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq, each book a compilation of the collective wisdom of many individuals presumed to know what they talking about, but who get it very wrong. Navasky won a George Polk Book Award in 2005 for A Matter of Opinion, part memoir and part meditation on opinion journalism. He released The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power in 2013. His most recent publication is an eBook, The O'Dell File (2014).
Victor Navasky has been married since 1966 to Anne (Strongin) Navasky. They live in New York City and have two daughters, Miri and Jenny, and a son, Bruno.
The Victor S. Navasky Papers are arranged into ten series, six of which are further arranged into subseries. Folders are, for the most part, arranged alphabetically. Materials added to the collection in 2016 have been incorporated into the corresponding series and arranged at the box level at the end of each series or subseries.
The series arrangement of the collection is as follows:
Series I: Personal and Biographical Material, 1939-2012
>Series II: Navasky and The Nation, 1902-2011
Subseries IIA: Early History
Subseries IIB: Navasky as Editor (1978-1994)
Subseries IIC: Navasky Becomes Publisher (1994-2005)
Subseries IID: Legal Issues
Subseries IIE: Content
Subseries IIF: Additional Nation-related Materials
Series III: Monocle and Monocle Books, 1957-2002
Series IV: The Hollywood Blacklist and Naming Names, 1935-2013
Subseries IVA: Research and Related Materials
Subseries IVB: The Writing Process
Subseries IVC: Post Publication
Series V: Opinion Journalism and A Matter of Opinion, 1903-2008
Subseries VA: Opinion Journalism File
Subseries VB: A Matter of Opinion Research and Related Materials
Subseries VC: A Matter of Opinion Writng Process
Series VI: Political Cartoons and The Art of Controversy, 1910-2013
Subseries VIA: Research and Related Materials
Subseries VIB: The Writing Process
Series VII: Other Navasky Writings, 1930s-2012
Subseries VIIA: Books
Subseries VIIB: Articles and Essays
Subseries VIIC: Articles and Essays - Alger Hiss
Subseries VIID: Plays
Subseries VIIE: Speeches
Series VIII: Navasky at Columbia University, 1963-2013
Subseries VIIIA: Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
Subseries VIIIB: Columbia Journalism Review
Series IX: Subject Files, 1918-201
Series X: Audio-Visual Materials, 1976-1996, undated
Series XI: 2017 Accession
Scope and Content Note
This collection provides a broad view of Victor Navasky's life, his interests, and his work. It contains personal items from as early as his time in the third grade at the Rudolf Steiner School, as well as school and military records, family correspondence, and samples of his earliest writings. Material in the collection describes his first venture as an editor and publisher with the satirical journal, Monocle, and recounts the history of The Nation and Navasky's association with the magazine. Among the books he has written or co-authored, three warranted individual series in the collection -- Naming Names (Viking Press, 1980); A Matter of Opinion (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005); and The Art of Controversy (Knopf, 2013). Each of these series contains extensive research material and varied products of Navasky's writing process, such as notes, outlines, drafts, typescripts and galley proofs. Much of his other work is represented in the series "Other Navasky Writings," including his first book – Kennedy Justice (Atheneum, 1971). The series also contains articles, essays, plays, and speeches, some with background research and other relevant items. There are materials drawn from Navasky's continuing career at Columbia University and, also, a large series containing a wide range of subject files representing either research for books, articles, speeches, or lectures, or merely items collected based on Navasky's personal interests.
Correspondence appears across the collection, in almost every series. Among the varied items are personal letters; communications with research sources and subjects, and with writers, publishers, editors and others involved in Navasky's many projects and activities. There is also Nation correspondence, both internal and external. Correspondents include many who are well-known, such as William F. Buckley, John Henry Faulk, Henry Kissinger, Molly Ivins, Anthony Lewis, Gus Hall, Elie Wiesel, Merle Miller, Sally and Cedric Belfrage, Hal Holbrook, and Merle Miller. There is also correspondence to which Victor Navasky is not a party. Examples include exchanges involving Albert Maltz, Dalton Trumbo, and Ring Lardner Jr.; also between Alice Orans and Frank Donner. Among the highlights are photocopies of many letters written to early editors of The Nation from such notables as Clarence Darrow, John Maynard Keynes, Felix Frankfurter, H.L. Mencken, Franklin Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Cordell Hull, and many others.
Some of the topics and individuals may be found across multiple series. Navasky's association with The Nation, for example, has its own series but related materials also form a large part of the research for A Matter of Opinion, and references to The Nation appear in other series as well. Similarly, materials concerning Alger Hiss can be found in numerous places. Although there are brief mentions in the series for the Monocle and Naming Names, most is to be found in materials associated with A Matter of Opinion and in the subseries "Articles and Essays – Alger Hiss". There are also Hiss items and research on Soviet espionage in "Subject Files". The Rosenberg Case, another of Navasky's long-time investigative interests, appears in research files for both Naming Names and A Matter of Opinion; in the articles subseries (a 1975 book review of We Are your Sons); in subject files; and in the audio-visual material. Among other individuals who may be found across series are Carey McWilliams (Naming Names, as well as A Matter of Opinion,) John Henry Faulk, Christopher Hitchens, and Alexander Cockburn. Researchers interested in a specific topic or individual should search across all series.
The collection contains significant audio-visual material. Of particular interest are audio recordings of a number of interviews Victor Navasky conducted for Naming Names and a special event sponsored by The Nation Institute, "A Conversation with I.F. Stone at 80."
Papers added to the collection in 2016 consist of 22 boxes of drafts, correspondence, administrative files, and research related to Navasky's work at the Columbia School of Journalism and his publications. Columbia School of Journalism materials include teaching files and course design materials, including correspondence with public intellectuals he invited to his classes as guest lecturers. These materials also include files related to the operation of two Columbia University publications, which were edited by Navasky, The Columbia Journalism Review and The New York Review of Magazines. Other materials related to Navasky's work at Columbia include correspondence and administrative files related the organization of the Delacorte Lecture Series 2001-2008, and transcripts of Delacorte lectures 2000-2013. It also contains significant materials related to Navasky's research on Alger Hiss. The bulk of these files include research related to the 1996 release of the Venona Papers and include correspondence with journalists and scholars about the revelations, copies articles, notes, and drafts of Navasky's writing about Venona. They also include several files related to the website The Alger Hiss Project, which was created in 2001 through grants from the Nation Institute. Additionally this donation includes some personal materials from Navasky's adolescence, organizational files from the Monocle, and five boxes of research files compiled between the 1990s and 2008. Many of the research files relate topics covered in other series and include copies of articles, drafts, notes, and correspondence.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Victor S. Navasky were transferred to New York University in 2011 by Victor S. Navasky. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identification of item, date; Victor S. Navasky Papers; TAM 594; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased from Victor Navasky in 2011; additional materials were donated by Navasky in 2016 and by Richard Kreitner in 2016. The accession numbers associated with this collection are 2011.128, 2013.018, 2016.051, and 2016.013.
Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures
Audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact email@example.com with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Advance notice is required for the use of computer records. Original physical digital media is restricted. Born-digital materials have not been transferred and may not be available to researchers. Researchers may request access copies. To request that material be transferred, or if you are unsure if material has been transferred, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.
About this Guide
Processing Information Note
Upon receipt, the collection had no consistent overall arrangement, although there were numerous groupings of related material. Several file structures existed such as Navasky's "New Nation" file and a large sequential file focused on opinion journalism. The folders in these groups were not always contiguous. There were several sections of folders that were somewhat alphabetical. Many boxes contained loose material, some unfoldered, while the content of others was clearly arranged and labeled. Related items were often found scattered throughout the boxes, with pockets of discernable organization. These were physically and intellectually brought together and described. A series arrangement was imposed by the archivist based on aggregation of materials with similar titles and related content, creating individual series for major aspects of Navasky's career and for his published works that are most strongly represented in the collection. Original folder titles were used to the extent possible. Clarification was added as necessary. In addition to the arrangement and descriptive work, a number of items required cleaning. Fragile material was photocopied. The collection was rehoused in acid-free folders. Appropriately sized boxes were utilized for oversized materials some of which had been folded and compressed.
In 2016 an additional 22 boxes were incorporated into the collection. The majority of these papers were housed in hanging files and roughly grouped by topic. Materials from this donation were rehoused in archival boxes and folders and renumbered 95-116. The order of the original boxes was slightly altered to unite files on similar topics, but materials within boxes have not been rearranged. Original folders and titles were retained where possible, but the majority of titles were supplied by the archivist. The majority of these files have been incorporated into the existing arrangement of the collection and described by general topics at the box level. Five boxes of research files, which are grouped in roughly chronological order from the 1990s to 2008 and touch on a variety of topics, have been added to Series IX: Subject files as Research Files from 2016 Accretion. Electronic records from the 2016 accretion have been identified and inventoried, but have not been forensically imaged, analyzed, or described individually in the finding aid.
In 2017 materials from a 2016 donation were added as a new series, Series XI:2017 Accession, and described at the series-level. At the time of accessioning paper records were moved to a separate box from audio visual materials, and A/V extents were recorded. Digital materials recorded on DVD-R were inventoried but have not been forensically imaged.