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Martin, John Bartlow, 1915-1987
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
John Bartlow Martin Papers on Adlai Stevenson
Public Policy Papers
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The John Bartlow Martin Papers contain research materials compiled in preparation for the writing of Martin's two-volume biography Adlai Stevenson of Illinois: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson (1976) and Adlai Stevenson and the World: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson (1977). The collection illuminates Stevenson's personal life, law practice, and political and diplomatic career.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The John Bartlow Martin papers on Adlai Stevenson contain transcripts of interviews and Martin's notes used in the preparation of the two volume biography, Adlai Stevenson of Illinois (1976) and Adlai Stevenson and the World (1977). The interviews illuminate Stevenson's personal, professional and political career spanning over six decades.

The collection provides insights into Stevenson's family, law career, early involvement in the Roosevelt administration, participation in the Preparatory Commission of the U.N., role as Illinois governor, his 1952 and 1956 presidential campaigns, and his role as Ambassador to the U.N. during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (including his involvement in the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his discussions with U Thant).

Collection Creator Biography:

Author, journalist, political adviser and U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, John Bartlow Martin, was born 4 August 1915 in Hamilton, Ohio, the eldest son of John W. Martin and Laura Bartlow Martin. Martin knew from a young age that he wanted to write. That passion took him to DePauw University. After graduation, he began to pursue his writing career by working as a stringer and eventually a full-time reporter for the Indianapolis Times. As Martin worked his way through the ranks at the Times, the newspaper's managing editor suggested he write for magazines. Using his early experience on the police headquarters beat, Martin began writing for Official Detective and Actual Detective. In the 1940s, Martin graduated to higher circulation magazines such as Harper's, Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look, Collier's, and The Atlantic. Martin published They Call It North Country, the first of sixteen books in 1944. Martin's 1948 article, "The Blast in Centralia #5" in Harper's, established his national reputation.

Early in the 1950s, Martin was asked to edit a book of speeches by Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson. After Stevenson's 1952 Democratic presidential nomination, Martin joined the governor's team of speechwriters. Martin quickly became known for his skill as editorial advance man and his ability to craft the short stump speech. Martin also worked on Stevenson's 1956 presidential campaign, all the while continuing to write and publish as a freelancer.

As a result of his seven-part series in the Saturday Evening Post on the Senate labor racketeering investigation of Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters Union, Martin became involved with the 1960 Kennedy campaign. After Kennedy's election, he wrote speeches for the Kennedy administration. One speech, drafted for Newton Minow, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, coined the phrase "vast wasteland" referring to the quality of television. Kennedy appointed Martin United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a position he would hold until Kennedy's assassination. Martin went on to work on the presidential campaigns of Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy but retreated from politics after Robert Kennedy's assassination.

Writing had always been Martin's primary interest, so he focused on his experiences in the Dominican Republic: Overtaken by Events (1966) and U.S. Policy in the Caribbean (1978); a two-volume biography: Adlai Stevenson of Illinois: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson (1976) and Adlai Stevenson and the World: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson (1977); and his memoirs It Seems Like Only Yesterday: Memoirs of Writing, Presidential Politics, and the Diplomatic Life (1986). In 1964, Martin accepted a series of visiting fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Wesleyan University; Princeton University; and the City University of New York. From 1970 to 1980 Martin taught journalism at Northwestern University in the Medill School of Journalism.

Martin died on 3 January 1987. In 1988 the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism established the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism.

Collection History


John Bartlow Martin donated the collection in 1986 .

Archival Appraisal Information:

Appraisal criteria for acquiring this collection include the Library's ongoing efforts to strengthen its public policy papers collection and its Adlai Stevenson holdings.


These papers were processed with the generous support of The John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Renè Boatman in Spring 2000. Finding aid written by Renè Boatman in Spring 2000. EAD finding aid developed in 2006.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and 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. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Credit this material:

John Bartlow Martin Papers on Adlai Stevenson; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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