- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Purdum, Todd S.
- Todd S. Purdum Papers
- Public Policy Papers
- Permanent URL:
- 1950-2013 (mostly 2008-2012)
- 3 boxes and 34 items
- Storage Note:
- Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-3
Todd S. Purdum (1959-) is a political journalist whose work has appeared in a number of publications, including Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and POLITICO. The collection is mostly composed of Purdum's research materials on various political and cultural figures created for his work with Vanity Fair. Other noteworthy materials in the collection relate to Purdum's senior thesis written for Princeton University's History Department on the Eisenhower-era State Department's Loyalty-Security Program.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The Todd Purdum Papers are predominately composed of Purdum's research materials on various political and cultural figures, created for his work with Vanity Fair and for other projects and publications. Most of Purdum's research is in the form of interviews, existent in the collection as transcriptions or on audiocassette tapes.
With the exception of the Norman Sherman and the Bush administration files, all of the transcription files contain typed transcripts of interviews that Purdum conducted with the file's subject, mainly for Vanity Fair. A number of files include a small amount of clippings, notes, and e-mail correspondence related to the subject of the file. A significant portion of these transcripts relate to an oral history project on the George W. Bush administration. Others pertain to John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration, including the interviews with Sander Vanocur, Harry McPherson, Letitia Baldrige, and Harris Wofford. Rahm Emanuel and the speechwriter Jon Favreau's interviews offer insight into Barack Obama's administration. Purdum also conducted a number of interviews and/or corresponded with individuals active in the civil rights movement as research for his book on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These individuals include Nicholas Katzenbach, James Hamilton, Kenneth Teasdale, Cornelius "Neal" Kennedy, Walter F. Mondale, Daniel Inouye, John G. Stewart, John Dingell, Norman Sherman, and George Stevens, Jr. The "Hollywood Interviews" folders (identified as such by Purdum) include interviews with the children of widely known actors, producers, directors, and others involved with the entertainment industry during the industry's "Golden Age," including Marlo Thomas, Candice Bergen, Robert Wagner, Tina Sinatra, and many others.
Of particular note are the materials pertaining to Purdum's unpublished piece on Michelle Obama, including Purdum's working manuscript of the article; his interviews with Obama's associates, such as Sam Kass, Angela Acree, and Valerie Jarrett; and five notebooks, two specifically on the First Lady's travels in South Africa.
The collection also contains around 50 audiocassette tapes, mostly of interviews conducted by Purdum for The New York Times, though a few tapes are of speeches or other types of recordings. The audiocassette tapes focus on major political figures and those associated with them, including Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Edward Koch, John McCain, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Karl Rove, and others.
Other noteworthy materials in the collection relate to Purdum's senior thesis written for Princeton University's History Department on the Eisenhower-era State Department's Loyalty-Security Program. The original typescript of the thesis is included, as are some of Purdum's research materials, almost all of which are photocopies of the detailed diaries of Robert Walter Scott McLeod, who headed the Department of State's Bureau for Security and Consular Affairs from 1953 to 1957. To a lesser extent, Purdum's thesis research materials include copies of official State Department documents collected by McLeod, including correspondence and reports regarding suspected homosexual individuals in the department.
Materials remain in their original order as received from the donor.
- Collection Creator Biography:
Todd S. Purdum (1959-) is a political journalist whose work has appeared in a number of publications, including Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and POLITICO. After graduating from Princeton University in 1982, Purdum worked at The New York Times from 1994 to 2005, covering both local and national politics and serving as the paper's Los Angeles bureau chief. Purdum is currently a contributing editor of Vanity Fair and a senior writer at POLITICO. His features for Vanity Fair on well-known political figures such as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Sarah Palin, published in the late 2000s, garnered a large amount of national attention. Purdum is the author of the 2014 book An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The collection was donated by Todd S. Purdum in two installments in 2014. The accession numbers associated with these donations are ML.2014.013 and ML.2014.015.
No materials have been separated from this collection.
- Processing Information
This collection was processed by Rachel Van Unen in 2014. At this time, loose papers were placed into archival housing, digital content was accessioned, and all materials were described in a finding aid.
Access & Use
- Conditions Governing Access
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. 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.
- Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Access to audiocassette tapes in this collection follows the Mudd Manuscript Library policy for preservation and access to audiovisual materials.
Sixteen interview transcripts and one speech transcript are available to researchers as Microsoft Word documents. Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.
- Credit this material:
Todd S. Purdum Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Subject Terms:
- Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century
Mayors -- New York (State) -- New York.
Motion pictures -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Presidents -- United States -- 20th century.
- Genre Terms:
- Born digital.
- United States. Department of State
Boehner, John, 1949-
Bush, George W. (George Walker), 1946-
Clinton, Bill, 1946-
Kennedy, John F. John Fitzgerald 1917-1963
Kerry, John, 1943-
Koch, Ed, 1924-2013
McLeod, Scott, 1914-1961
Obama, Michelle, 1964-
Powell, Colin L.