Arthur Hays Sulzberger was the publisher of xxThe New York Timesxx from 1935 until 1961 and chairman of the board of The New York Times Company from 1961 until 1968. While he was publisher, circulation of The Times almost doubled; the editorial page developed a reputation for strong opinions; news events were subjected to more analysis and coverage of specialized topics was strengthened; new sections and departments were created for food, fashion, and women; and the overall style of the paper became less rigid and more aesthetically pleasing. The papers document Sulzberger's life and career at xxThe New York Timesxx, with the majority of the collection relating to Sulzberger's 26 years as president and publisher of the paper. Included in the collection are correspondence with family members, friends, colleagues, world leaders, and other dignitaries; memoranda regarding the business of the newspaper, including Sulzberger's notes of praise and criticism to his editors, managers, and writers; reports on his meetings with world leaders, including Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman; and photographs of Sulzberger, his family, business trips, vacations, and The Times' buildings.
129.9 linear feet and 297 boxes, 10 volumes
New York Times Company Records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger Papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.
Scope and Content:
The Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers document Sulzberger's life and career at xxThe New York Timesxx, with the majority of the collection relating to Sulzberger's 26 years as president and publisher of the paper. Included in the collection are correspondence with family members, friends, colleagues, world leaders, and other dignitaries; memoranda regarding the business of the newspaper, including Sulzberger's notes of praise and criticism to his editors, managers, and writers; reports on his meetings with world leaders, including Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman; and photographs of Sulzberger, his family, business trips, vacations, and The Times' buildings.
The bulk of the collection documents Sulzberger's career as publisher of xxThe Timesxx between 1935 and 1961, with additional material dating from his early years at the paper as assistant to the general manager (1917-1935) and his final involvement with the paper from his retirement in 1961 until his death in 1968. He involved himself in every aspect of the paper from editorials down to the placement of advertisements. He corresponded with a great number of people about stories in the paper, events at the paper and in the world at large, and about personal matters. He read the entire paper every day, sending notes to editors and reporters with criticism, praise, and questions. He answered letters from readers, acknowledging or forwarding letters of praise on to the appropriate person, defending stands taken by the paper or the editorial page, and explaining his own beliefs and attitudes and how they affected the paper. While this collection documents Sulzberger's career at xxThe Timesxx, there is material that falls outside of that timeframe, as well as material that dates before and after his life. See series notes for more information.
The papers are divided into two series, People and Subjects, according to a system established at xxThe Timesxx. The People series contains mainly personal correspondence between Sulzberger and friends, family, and others, as well as some business correspondence that could not be categorized in the Subject series. The Subject series contains material relating to xxThe Timesxx, businesses and other organizations, general topics, and some personal material that could be described in topical terms.
Biographical / Historical:
Arthur Hays Sulzberger was the publisher of xxThe New York Timesxx from 1935 until 1961 and chairman of the board of The New York Times Company from 1961 until 1968. While he was publisher, circulation of The Times almost doubled; the editorial page developed a reputation for strong opinions; news events were subjected to more analysis and coverage of specialized topics was strengthened; new sections and departments were created for food, fashion, and women; and the overall style of the paper became less rigid and more aesthetically pleasing.
Sulzberger was born in Manhattan in 1891 to Cyrus L. Sulzberger and Rachel Peixotto Hays Sulzberger. He was the middle of three brothers, Leo the eldest and David Hays the youngest. His father owned N. Erlanger, Blumgart & Company, a textile company, and the family was wealthy and socially prominent. Sulzberger graduated from the Horace Mann School in 1909, studied engineering at Columbia University, graduating in 1913. He joined his father's business after graduation and worked there until 1916 when he took a leave of absence to enlist in an officers' training corps in Plattsburgh, N.Y. There he met Julius Ochs Adler, the nephew of Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of xxThe New York Timesxx. The two became friends and Sulzberger spent weekends with Adler at Ochs' Lake George, N.Y. estate, Abenia. There, Sulzberger was reacquainted with Iphigene, Ochs' daughter. The two had met while he was at Columbia and she at Barnard College. They courted over the summer of 1916 and Sulzberger proposed in August. Although his initial proposal was rejected, Sulzberger persisted and by the following year Iphigene consented. Ochs agreed to allow the two to marry on the condition that Sulzberger join xxThe Timesxx. He agreed and the two were married in November 1917.
In his early years at The Times, Sulzberger was officially the assistant to the general manager. Other than managing the paper's charity, the Hundred Neediest Cases, it was a position that had few formal duties. Although Ochs wanted Sulzberger to learn all aspects of the newspaper business, he offered little guidance on how best to do this. Sulzberger soon saw an opportunity by assuming responsibility for the acquisition of newsprint. He was soon traveling to Canada and Scandinavia to scout supplemental shipments and new suppliers. His first success at xxThe Timesxx was convincing Ochs to become part owner in the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company in Kapuskasing, Ontario. This provided xxThe Timesxx with a consistent source of newsprint at a price they could control.
Sulzberger's next coup was in 1927 when he engineered a contract for exclusive rights to Charles Lindbergh's personal account of his trans-Atlantic flight. While Sulzberger did not have much faith that Lindbergh would reach his destination, his decision to reserve full and exclusive rights to the story was extremely profitable for xxThe Timesxx. While Sulzberger's acquisition of a paper mill for the paper would increase profits in the long run, the rights to the Lindbergh story produced almost immediate profits which greatly impressed Ochs. He began to take a greater interest in Sulzberger's apprenticeship and sent him on a number of international trips to establish contacts with correspondents and foreign offices. During these trips Sulzberger familiarized himself with the news operations of the paper and developed an aptitude for the news business.
Until the late 1920s, Adler had been viewed as Ochs' successor, but Sulzberger's natural abilities soon overshadowed him. Upon Ochs' death in 1935, Sulzberger became publisher and president of xxThe New York Timesxx. In stepping into this new role, he made it clear that he saw himself as a steward who was to preserve the quality and status of The Times. He wanted to continue Ochs' vision for the paper, "to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect or interest involved." He felt it was also his duty to strengthen The Times' reputation as the finest newspaper in the world and to improve the paper before handing it to the next generation.
For the first year he made no changes out of respect for Ochs. After that he began to institute the many innovations that reinvented the image of xxThe Timesxx. He jettisoned the supplements xxCurrent Historyxx, xxMid-Week Pictorial, American Year Bookxx, and xxThe Annalistxx. He introduced more and larger photographs and allowed more leeway with the format of the front page, headlines, and body of the paper. He introduced new technologies to improve all aspects of production, including the Times Facsimile, the transmission of photographs over telephone wires, allowing for the more and larger photographs in the paper. In 1936, he officially hired Anne O'Hare McCormick (she had been a freelancer and regular contributor since 1921 but Ochs did not approve of women working on xxThe Timesxx) and Ruby Hart Phillips in 1937. He instituted a daily luncheon that all members of the managerial staff were expected to attend. Presidents, foreign leaders, industrialists, and many other dignitaries were invited to these luncheons where conversation was off the record. Because leaders were able to speak freely it allowed Sulzberger and his associates to gain greater insight into world events and to cultivate relationships with these people.
Perhaps the greatest change instituted by Sulzberger was on the editorial page. Throughout his time at xxThe Timesxx, Ochs maintained that it was not the role of a newspaper to advance opinions. However, Sulzberger felt that the neutral presentation of the news would in no way be compromised by a strong editorial page; it was moreover the duty of a great newspaper to present educated arguments. He did not impose his own beliefs on the editorial staff, but instead allowed them to debate their side of an issue with him when he disagreed. The person who presented the best argument in these cases won the right to decide whether a column would be printed. On occasion Sulzberger had difficulty having some of his own editorials printed.
Once he became comfortable in his stewardship, Sulzberger became involved in a number of organizations outside of xxThe Timesxx. He was elected a director of the Associated Press in 1943, was a trustee of Columbia University from 1944 to 1959, and was very active in the Red Cross and was elected to a number of positions. He was granted a number of honorary degrees and other awards from institutions across the country and the world.
Sulzberger retired as publisher in 1961 and his son-in-law, Orvil E. Dryfoos took his place. Sulzberger served as the chairman of the board from 1961 until his death in 1968. During this time he relinquished a number of duties to Dryfoos and his successor, Sulzberger's son, Arthur Ochs (Punch) Sulzberger, but maintained a measure of control over the paper. He continued to read the paper or have it read to him every day. He continued to praise and criticize stories, columns, and decisions.
Sulzberger and Iphigene had four children, Marian, Ruth, Judith, and Arthur. The Sulzberger children, with the exception of Judith, were involved in the operation of The New York Times or The Chattanooga Times at one time or another (The Chattanooga Times was Ochs' first newspaper and remained important to him after his acquisition of The New York Times.) Marian was a member of the board of directors of The New York Times Company for 14 years, Ruth was the publisher of The Chattanooga Times and was the director of The New York Times Company for 30 years, Judith received her medical degree from Columbia University, worked as a doctor, and served on the board of many institutions, and Arthur was publisher of The New York Times between 1963 and 1992.
Sulzberger died in 1968 after a long illness. Upon his death, a number of tributes were printed in The Times written by friends, colleagues, and world leaders.
Catledge, Turner, Lillian K. Lang, and Arthur Hays Sulzberger. A.H.S. as Seen by an Editor, a Secretary and Himself. Times Talk 21, no. 4 (1968): 2-4.
Leff, Laurel. Buried by The Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Shepard, Richard F. The Paper's Papers. New York: Times Books, 1996.
Sulzberger, Arthur Hays. The New York Times, 1851-1951, A Centenary Address. New York: Newcomen Society of America, 1951.
Tifft, Susan E., and Alex S. Jones. The Trust. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2000.
New York Times, 12 December, 1968.
One part wisdom, one part wit, one part humanity, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, 1891-1968, publisher of the New York times, 1935-1961, Chairman of the Board, 1961-1968. [New York]: The New York Times Company, 1969.
Donated by The New York Times Company, June 2007
The Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers were originally arranged and maintained by the New York Times Archives. The history of the archives of The New York Times Company begins in 1952, with Lucille Sunshine, an information assistant in the News Department. She was chosen to organize the files of the then publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. According to the history of the archives written by an archivist at The Times, her assignment was to identify historical or biographical information, discard unnecessary material, and reorganize the files so that they could be used as an active centralized file of past and future material for all members of the Publisher's staff. Until that time, the publisher's files were arranged chronologically and housed in filing cabinets in or near his office. Over the next two years, Sunshine read through Sulzberger's files, selected and integrated material, and separated it into two categories, material pertaining to Sulzberger (named the Biographical File) and material pertaining to The Times (named the Subject File). Biographical material was chiefly material of a personal nature relating to Sulzberger, including friendly correspondence and lunch appointments, and material covering a wide range of topics that could not be easily filed in the Subject series. Subject material was mainly anything relating to The Times or material on an easily identified topic that was filed under topical or geographical terms or by organization name. In 1969 the next publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, established an official archives at The Times. He created the department and requested executives, editors, and writers to contribute their records to the archives when they were no longer needed as working files. His memorandum requested business files and any additional material pertaining to public activities that would give insight into the range of their contribution. The mission of the archives was to collect, select, organize, preserve and store materials documenting the history and activities of newspaper, of the company as a whole, and of its principal executives, editors and writers. The first ten years of the archives was mainly spent in collecting material and establishing record groups (publishers, managing editors, other editors, business executives, major columnists and other writers, and some specific departments or "desks"). The next ten years were spent organizing and describing these record groups according to the scheme established by Lucille Sunshine. Over the years, there was a blurring of these distinctions and personal material was filed in the Subject series. Material relating to anniversaries, birthdays, property, and vacations were grouped together and filed in the Subject series. The archives of The Times were donated to the New York Public Library in June, 2007. The order of the records has been maintained and the inventories created by the archivists of The Times have been edited for content. The one major change made by the staff of the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library is the integration of material in the Book and Map Files into their original record groups. Bound items such as photograph albums, scrapbooks, ledgers, and bound commemorative volumes were physically separated from their record group and filed with the Book File. Similarly, oversize items such as maps and architectural drawings were filed in the Map File.
Processed by Megan O'Shea.
The New York Times Company Records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger Papers are organized in the following series:
Series I. People, 1873, 1884-1968, 1972, 1975, n.d.
Series II. Subjects, 1823, 1858, 1875, 1891, 1895, 1900-1910, 1916-1972, 1978-1999, n.d.
New York Times Company Records. Adolph S. Ochs Papers. Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library.
Cross references for "Photograph file" refer to a file created by The New York Times that is not yet available. Portions of the following files are closed until 2019 per donor agreement:Series I. People: Adler, Julius Ochs, Jr., Blair, William M., Cohen, Richard N., Golden, Ben Hale, Rosenschein, Matthew, Windsor, Duke and Duchess of. Series II. Subjects: Sulzberger Family. The following files are closed until 2034 per donor agreement: Series II. Subjects: Insurance,Pulitzer Prizes, Sulzberger Foundation,Sulzberger, Iphigene Ochs, Trust. The following file is closed until 2039 per donor agreement: Series II. Subjects: Finances, Personal.
TERMS OF ACCESS:
Copyright has been transferred to the Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library
New York Times Company Records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger Papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.