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Oberdorfer, Don (1931-2015)
Don Oberdorfer Papers on Princeton University: The First 250 Years
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1


Don Oberdorfer is a member of the Princeton class of 1952 and was a well-regarded political correspondent with the Washington Post for 25 years. Consists of notes and photocopies of articles used as research materials for Princeton University: The First 250 Years (1995).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of notes and photocopies of articles used as research materials for Princeton University: The First 250 Years (1995). Included in the collection is a transcript of an interview with former president William G. Bowen, and a 1994 administrative and academic self-study of the University.

Collection Creator Biography:


Don Oberdorfer was born 1931 in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Princeton University in 1952 and served as a U.S. Army lieutenant in Korea, 1953-1954. In 1955 he began his journalistic career as a reporter for the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, becoming the paper's Washington correspondent in 1958. From 1961-1965, he was a Washington editor and contributing editor of the Saturday Evening Post magazine. From 1965-1968, he was national affairs correspondent for the Knight Newspapers chain, covering the Vietnam War both at home and abroad. During the next 25 years, he worked for the Washington Post, serving as White House correspondent (1968-1972), Northeast Asia correspondent based in Tokyo (1972-1975), and diplomatic correspondent (1976-1993).

Oberdorfer won the National Press Club's Edwin M. Hood Award for diplomatic correspondence in 1981 and 1988, and Georgetown University's Edward Weintal prize for diplomatic reporting in 1982 and 1993. From 1994-1996, he was president of Overseas Writers, a professional organization of American and foreign journalists who focus on U.S. diplomacy in Washington. Oberdorfer was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society, and served as chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Washington Center of the Asia Society from 1986-1989.

In addition to The Turn, Oberdorfer is the author of Tet! (Doubleday, 1971; Da Capo Press, 1984), The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (Perseus Books, 1997), the D.B. Hardeman Prize-winning Senator Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat (Smithsonian Books, 2003), and numerous magazine articles.

Oberdorfer was a visiting professor at Princeton University in 1977, 1982, and 1986. In 1995, to commemorate Princeton's bicentennial, he authored an illustrated history of the university titled Princeton University: The First 250 Years.

Oberdorfer served as a resident scholar with the titles of Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Adjunct Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He was named Chairman of the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS in September 2006 and became Chairman Emeritus in July 2013.

He was married to the former Laura Klein, and they had two children, Dan and Karen. Don Oberdorfer passed away on July 23, 2015.

Collection History

Processing Information

No processing information is available.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. If copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers will not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with non-commercial use of materials from the Mudd Library. For materials where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Don Oberdorfer Papers on Princeton University: The First 250 Years; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1

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Related Materials

Papers pertaining to the other works of Don Oberdorfer can be found in the Don Oberdorfer Papers (MC162).

Subject Terms:
Universities and colleges -- New Jersey -- History.
Princeton University
Princeton University. History.
Bowen, William G.