Other Drew Pearson Collections in the American University Library
Drew Pearson Washington Merry-Go-Round Radio Broadcast Collection. Media Services Unit/Special Collections Unit.
Includes 1,092 original reel-to-reel tapes representing the period April 5, 1953-December 21, 1967. These programs are generally 12 minutes in length. Many of the original recordings have been transferred onto audio cassette tapes for library use. Finding aids are available. The following eight broadcast tapes are cataloged in ALADIN, the library’s online catalog, and print transcripts are available for these dates: May 3, 1953; February 14, 1954; March 14, 1954; December 25, 1955; October 14, 1956; October 21, 1956; April 5, 1959; March 28, 1965.
Most of Pearson’s broadcasts originated in Washington, D.C. The master audio tapes were made and processed in Washington as well. Many of the broadcasts were professionally recorded by Rawdon Smith Associates, Inc., Washington, D.C., which was located at the following three addresses: 2217 M Street, N.W.(in 1953); 1319 Nineteenth Street, N.W. (in 1954); and 1735 20th Street, N.W (by 1961).
Programs cover a wide range of the following topics: the Suez Canal; the invasion of Poland by Russia; issues regarding major corporations, including General Motors and Warner Brothers; political elections at the local, state and federal levels, as well as campaign spending; military matters, such as United States troops in Iceland; racketeering in state and local legislatures and in military services; medical issues; nuclear bomb testing; issues regarding democracy and freedom in the world, including Pearson’s own efforts on behalf of the Crusade for Freedom; and the United Nations. Specific programs that would interest scholars in a broad range of disciplines include, for example, flood problems in California, Texas insurance scams, Detroit mayoral races, Christmas for servicemen at the North Pole, and the impact of McCarthyism on education.
The radio programs discuss practically every prominent person in the news during the years represented in the broadcasts. These include United States presidents, numerous senators, congressmen, cabinet members, and many other persons representing most agencies of the government. Significant leaders and dignitaries from foreign countries are also covered, as well as members of the United Nations and prominent individuals from the private sector. Researchers can expect to find significant information and commentary on, for example, King Feisal II of Iraq, King Farouk of Egypt, Chou En-lai, Nikita Khruschev, Nikolai Bulganin, Anastas Mikoyan, Gamal Nasser, Joseph R. McCarthy, Selwyn Lloyd, W. Averell Harriman, Marshal Tito, Harold Stassen, Henry Cabot Lodge, Adam Clayton Powell, Everett M. Dirksen, John Foster Dulles, Wayne Morris, and Adlai Stevenson.
Many radio programs also deal with unusual topics and lesser-known individuals. Examples include the ramifications of free government cookbooks provided by Republican candidates prior to the 1956 election, information on the use of the White House limousine, and issues relating to the four million letters sent out to farm states in 1956 by Senator Martin of Iowa, as well as information on Doctors Howard Sterns and Frank Fowler, who initiated “one of the most blatant efforts to put the medical profession in politics” (Pearson’s words).
Among the unique and innovative features of the Pearson broadcasts are the final segments that were then popularly known as the “Drew Pearson predictions.” His “predictions of things to come” were based on information obtained from his private sources, as well as his keen sense of analysis (see for example, the broadcast titled “Drew Pearson Makes Predictions about President Truman’s Farewell Address” aired on January 11, 1953 on WMAL AM640, as cited in the Washington Post).
Another significant aspect of the broadcasts was Pearson’s manner of presentation which, best described, was hard-hitting commentary tinged with emotion and subjectivity. Pearson’s innovations and manner of delivery inspired a host of similar commentators and broadcasters in the years that followed. Commentators Jack Anderson and John McLaughlin are examples of the Pearson legacy.
The subjects of these video broadcasts are broad and cover a range of people and places, including Elvis Presley, Alaska, U.S. military readiness, “bootleg” illicit distilling, Alton Ochsner, the dean of surgery at Tulane University; Israel, Harry S. Truman; tour of Congress; U.S. submarines, New York Central Railroad, war in Indo-China, and the Puerto Rican attack on Congress.
This collection includes numerous letters written by Pearson early in his career in the 1920s when he was a correspondent in Australia and New Zealand, and as an orator on the Chautauqua circuit during the 1920s and during his student days at Swarthmore College. Also in the collection are letters to and from Barbara Pearson Lange, sister of Drew Pearson and Tyler Abell, step-son of Drew Pearson; hand written drafts of articles about World War I and other topics by Pearson; articles on Pearson from the Montgomery County Sentinel as well as articles written by Pearson from such newspapers as The World, The North American, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, New York Herald Tribune and The Observer; a photograph of Drew Pearson with Hubert H. Humphrey; a pamphlet by Oscar Ameringer entitled “Socialism: What It Is and How to Get It” (Socialist Party, 1913), which is the congressional platform of the Socialist Party; a class test (March 14, 1918) of Pearson when he was a student at Swarthmore College; photographs of Barbara Godfrey and Swarthmore College; a book titled Swarthmore Remembered (1964); miscellaneous biographical information about Pearson; an article by Drew Pearson about his father Paul Martin Pearson; a press release of an address by Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., dated December 13, 1973.
Other items include a copy of a “Bromo-Seltzer” advertisement that Pearson did likely during the 1950s, a board game titled “Drew Pearson’s Predict-a-Word” manufactured in 1949, and magazines with articles by and about Pearson, including Collier’s (July 30, 1949) and Saturday Evening Post (November 17 and 24, 1956).