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Marguerite Higgins Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DO
Date: 30 Mar 2004

Biographical History

Marguerite Higgins (1920-1966), pioneering newspaperwoman, columnist, and author, was best known for reporting from the front lines during the Korean War. Honored as the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of international affairs (1951), she had a long career with the New York Herald Tribune (1942-1963), and later, as a syndicated columnist for Newsday (1963-1965). She also wrote books on reporting, Korea, Russia and Vietnam, and contributed articles to several other newspapers and magazines including America, the Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), Mademoiselle, and McCall'. She made television appearances on shows such as "Meet the Press" and "Today." A frequently requested lecturer, she traveled as extensively inside the U.S. as abroad. She visited Vietnam several times, and while touring there in 1965 contracted leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease, which forced her to return to the U.S. where she died in Washington D.C. on January 3, 1966 at age 45. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Higgins was born in Hong Kong on September 3, 1920 to Lawrence Daniel Higgins, a WWI pilot, steamship freight manager, and businessman and Marguerite de Godard Higgins, a Frenchwoman and teacher. She grew up in Oakland, California and attended the prestigious Anna Head School in Berkeley. In 1941 she graduated cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley, after which she moved to New York City with the hopes of finding a newspaper job. Frustrated in her efforts, she applied for a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. While attending Columbia, she became a campus correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and upon graduating in 1942, joined the city desk staff. She married Stanley Moore, a philosophy professor at Harvard, in 1942, but their union later ended in divorce.

In 1944, she was appointed to the Tribune's London bureau and in 1945, the Paris bureau. One of the first two Americans to reach Dachau, she was met by German SS troops who surrendered to her and a colleague just before the allied troops arrived. Her coverage of the liberation earned a New York Newspaperwomen's Club award for Best Foreign Correspondent in 1945. She also reported the liberation of Buchenwald and the capture of Hitler's home Berchtesgaden. After the war she covered the Marshal Henri Pétain and Nuremberg Trials. In 1947 she was named chief of the Berlin bureau and spent the next few years traveling throughout Eastern Europe covering the communist take over of Poland and Czechoslovakia, and the Berlin blockade.

In 1950, a few weeks before the Korean War began, she was assigned chief of the Tokyo bureau. She was in Seoul during the invasion and landed at Inchon with the marines. She and Homer Bigart, her colleague at the Tribune, competed for front-page coverage that resulted in both winning Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting. In a much publicized effort to remain on the front lines, she persuaded General Douglas MacArthur, whom she had interviewed at the beginning of the war, to allow her return to the action after Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker had banned women reporters due to lack of proper "facilities." Her first book, War in Korea: Report of a Woman Combat Correspondent was published in 1951. And as her work in Korea became well known, her life-story was widely sought after by the major Hollywood studios and agents.

She returned to Vietnam in 1951 for the first time since childhood to interview Emperor Bao Dai. During this year she also interviewed world leaders such as the Shah of Iran, Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, Queen Frederika of Greece, Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain, Prime Minister Nehru of India, and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, among others.

From 1952-1954 she remained based in the Far East where she covered the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu. The first westerner to penetrate the Black Sea since WWII, Higgins' travels throughout the USSR during 1954 and 1955 were used for the basis of her book, Red Plush and Black Bread.

In 1952 she married then Air Force Major General William E. Hall, a U.S. intelligence director, whom she met while bureau chief in Berlin. Their first daughter, born in 1953, died five days after a premature birth. In 1958 she gave birth to a son and in 1959, a daughter. Her autobiographical book on reporting, News is a Singular Thing, was published in 1955.

In addition to American presidents, politicians, and diplomats, she interviewed such international figures as: General MacArthur, General Gruenther, General Van Fleet, General K rulak, General Mohammed Naquib, Lord Ismay, Konrad Adenauer, Chiang Kai-Shek, Madame Kai-Shek, Syngman Rhee, Ngo Dinh Nhu and Madame Nhu, Ramon Magsaysay, Mohammed Mossadegh, and Prince Sihanouk.

She joined the Washington Bureau of the Tribune in 1956. As a diplomatic correspondent, she accompanied Nixon to Russia in 1959, Kennedy to Europe in 1961, and secured an interview with rebel leader Antoine Gizenga of the Belgian Congo, just as Indian planes arrived in Leopoldville. She interviewed Rose Kennedy after President Kennedy's assassination. In 1962, her only children's book, Jessie Benton Fremont, was published.

In November of 1963 she left the New York Herald Tribune to become a syndicated columnist for Newsday. Her column, "On the Spot," appeared three times a week in several newspapers. She also became a columnist for Die Welt (Hamburg), Die Welt am Sonntag (Hamburg), and the Evening Star (Washington, D.C.). She continued to write books, and in 1964, Overtime in Heaven: Adventures in the Foreign Service, which she co-authored with Peter Lisagor of the Chicago Daily News, was published. Vietnam consumed the final years of Higgins' life. Her last book, Our Vietnam Nightmare, was published in 1965.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1943 to 1986, the Marguerite Higgins Papers comprises correspondence, writings and memorabilia of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writer (1920-1966). The collection primarily covers the journalistic and writing career of Higgins, but also documents her pioneering role as a female war and political correspondent and to a lesser extent, the workings of two prominent newspapers of the time, the New York Herald Tribune and the Newsday syndicate.

Family Correspondence (Box 1), filed alphabetically, includes incoming and outgoing drafts and copies of letters to and from Higgins' parents during the time she met Stanley Moore, graduated from Columbia University, and began her employment with the Tribune. These letters illustrate Higgins' enthusiasm and thoughts about her first assignments.

The Correspondence-Subject Files (Boxes 2-19) include a combination of drafts and final copies of outgoing and incoming letters and telegrams, materials by or about correspondents, reports, publications, or newspaper clippings regarding a variety of topics.

Correspondence, sometimes extensive, covers her work at the Tribune and Newsday, current events, comments on book drafts, and social letters, such as wedding or publishing congratulatory notes, speaking invitations, or personal business. Subject files include countries such as Africa, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Greece, the Soviet Union and Vietnam, and topics such as protests at the University of California, Berkeley, the Buddhist riots in Vietnam, and the Vietnam War. Also included are "backgrounders," notes from conversations with the Clay Committee, President Johnson, Dean Rusk, Kennedy White House aide Fred Holborn, and Ted Kennedy.

Correspondents include newspaper, magazine, and book publishers, and other literary colleagues and personalities; U.S. and foreign presidents, aides and officials, senators and congressmen, ambassadors, diplomats, and military leaders; television and Hollywood personalities, producers, executives and advertising agents interested in portraying her life story or discussing Higgins' appearances on such programs as "At Random," "The Garry Moore Show," "Last Word," "Meet Betty Furness," "Meet the Press," "Milwaukee Presents," "Small World," or plans for Higgins' own syndicated show, "News Closeups"; organizations seeking Higgins as a speaker or honoring her; fan mail in response to television appearances, or articles, or columns; and Higgins' personal business associates including accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, doctors, secretarial or research services, and lecture bureaus. Following is a list of correspondents of particular interest in the various categories.

Newspaper editors, publishers, and colleagues: Chicago Daily News (Keyes Beech, Creed Black, Lawrence S. Fanning, Peter Lisagor); Chicago Sun-Times (Emmett Dedmon); Daily Reporter (Dover, OH) (Harry Yockey); Dallas Times Herald (Felix McNight); Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) (William I. Hill, Crosby Noyes, Newbold Noyes, Jeremiah O'Leary, Miriam Ottenberg, Marshall Peck, Charles Seib); Hearst Newspapers (Frank Coniff, Charles Gould, Willliam Hearst Jr.); New York Daily News (Michael O'Neill); Houston Post (Felton West, William J. Woestendick); El Mundo (P. Vargas Bardillo); New York Herald Tribune (Sylvan M. Barnet, Jim Bellows, Bob Cooke, George A. Cornish, Robert J. Donovan, Thomas B. Dorsey, L.L. Engelking, Joe Freed, Seymour Freidin, Joseph G. Herzberg, Eve D. Juster, Frank Kelley, Walter B. Kerr, Margaret Parton, Raymond K. Price Jr., Helen Reid, Ogden R. Reid, Whitlaw Reid, Hope Ridings Miller, Dwight D. Sargeant, Walter Thayer, Irita Van Doren, Richard Wald, Everett Walker, James E. Warner, Robert M. White, Don Whitehead, John Hay Whitney); New York Times (Arthur Krock, James Reston, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, C.L. Sulzberger); Newsday (Joseph Patterson Albright, Mark Etheridge, Bob Gillespie, Harry F. Guggenheim, Charles M. Hupp, Al Marlens, Robert E. Rhodes, Phil Sanborn, William J. Woestendick); Philadelphia Inquirer (Walter P. Annenberg), San Francisco Examiner (Ed Dooley, Charles Gould); Times-Picayune (George F. Healy); Washington Post (Benjamin C. Bradlee, Alfred Friendly, Katherine Graham, Philip Graham, James Russell Wiggins), Die Welt and Die Welt am Sonntag (Ernst J. Cramer, Günter Schlichting, Axel Springer).

Magazine editors and publishers: America; Armor Magazine (William G. Bell); Collier's (Cornelius Ryan); Commonweal (Philip Scharper); Human Events (Cy Peterman); Ladies Home Journal (Bruce Gould); Life Magazine (Emmet J. Hughes, Carl Mydans); Look Magazine (S.O. Shapiro); Mademoiselle; McCalls (Herbert R. Mayes, Otto Storch); National Review (Clare Booth Luce); Neue Illustrierte (Ewald Stuwe); Reader's Digest (William A.H. Birnie); Saturday Evening Post (Ralph Knight, Don McKinney, Martin Sommers); Saturday Review (Rochelle Girson, Raymond Walters Jr.); Time (Otto Fuerbringer, John Mecklin, Hugh Sidey); and U.S. News and World Report (David Lawrence).

Book publishers: Delacourte Press (Richard Gilston); Doubleday (Wolcott Gibbs Jr., Kenneth D. McCormick), Harper & Row (Cass Canfield, Stuart Harper, Marguerite Munson, Evan Thomas), and Houghton Mifflin (Sterling North).

Columnists, editors, reporters, and literary agents and figures: Joseph Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Margaret Bourke-White, George T. Bye, Jimmy Cannon, John Chamberlain, Roscoe Drummond, Norman and Ellen Cousins, Lucy Freeman, Harold Ober Associates, John Jakes, Paul Lendvai, Walter Lippmann, Clare Booth Luce, Father Patrick O'Connor, Bayard Herbert Swope, Dorothy Thompson, and Morris L. West.

U.S. Presidents, White House aides and personnel, and cabinet secretaries: McGeorge Bundy, William Bundy, Horace Busby, Frank Carlucci, Liz Carpenter, John Foster Dulles, Allen W. Dulles, Pres. Eisenhower, James C. Hagerty, Christian Herter, Roger Hilsman, Fred Holborn, Bob Jensen, Pres. Johnson, Pres. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Evelyn Lincoln, Bill Moyers, George Reedy, Juanita Roberts, Walter Rostow, Carl T. Rowan, Dean Rusk, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Bob Schulz, Harry F. Truman, Pamela Turnure, Jack Valenti, and W. Marvin Watson.

U.S. Ambassadors and diplomats: Chester Bowles, David Bruce, Jefferson Caffrey, James M. Gavin, Henry F. Grady, Donald R. Heath, William Leonhart, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., Robert D. Murphy, Frederick E. Nolting, and Jerauld Wright.

U.S. Military officials: Adm. Arleigh Burke, Gen. Lucius Clay, Gen. Alfred Gruenther, Gen. Victor H. Krulak, Maj. Gen. R. B. Landry, Gen. Edward G. Lansdale, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Lt. Gen. J. H. Michaelis, Lt. Gen. Joseph H. Moore, Gen. Lemuel C. Sheperd, Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, Gen. James A. Van Fleet, Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, and Gen. William C. Westmoreland.

U.S. Senators and Congressmen: Sen. Styles Bridges, Sen. Thomas Dodd, Congress. Gerald R. Ford, Sen. Barry Goldwater, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, Sen. Kenneth B. Keating, Congress. Melvin Laird, Sen. Mike Mansfield, Sen. Charles Mathias, Sen. Wayne Morris, Sen. Leverett Saltonstall, Sen. Hugh Scott, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, Sen. Stuart Symington, Sen. Robert A. Taft, Sen. Alexander Wiley, Congress, and Clement J. Zablocki.

International leaders, ambassadors, dignitaries and military officials: Ambassador Allah-Yar Saleh, Lt. Col. A.M. Amin, Ambassador Alex Beblar, Mayor Willy Brandt, Chiang Kai Shek, Madame Chang Kai Shek, King Constantine of Greece, Premier Alcide De Gasperi of Italy, Gen. Duong Ngo Lam, Gen. Muzzaffer Göksenin, Ambassador Mikhail Menshikov, Maj. Dang Sy, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ambassador Tran Van Chuong, Nong Kimny, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlevi (Shah of Iran), Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, President Gamel Abdel Nasser, Ngo Dinh Nhu, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, Gen. Nguyen Khanh, Gen. Papathanasiades, Gen Pham Ngoc Thao, Santiago Polanco-Albreau, President Syngman Rhee, Prime Minister Norodom Sihanouk, Ambassador Tran Thiem Khiem, and Ambassador Mauclair Zephirim.

Television personalities and Hollywood producers/studios: Robert C. Bennett, Ned Calmer (CBS), Bob Considine, Wells Church (CBS), Walter Cronkite, Clifford Evans, Jinx Falkenberg, W.E. Flannery (Hollywood agent), Kurt Frings (Hollywood agent), Betty Furness, Viola Ilma, Jim Karayn, King Features Syndicate, Thomas Lowell, Kenneth MacKenna (actor), MCA, Garry Moore, Penny Morgan, NBC, Paramount Studios, Bill Perlberg, Lela B. Rogers (Ginger Rogers' mother and agent), Sprous Skouras, "Meet the Press" (Betty Cole, Martha Rountree, Lawrence Spivak), Twentieth-Century-Fox, Walter F. Wanger, and Lew Wasserman.

Advertising and promotional agents and firms: Paul F. Adler, Keedick Lecture Bureau, Inc., Lennen & Newell, Inc., Maxon Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Ruder & Finn Incorporated, Ted Bates and Company, V.E. Friedman Associates, W. Colston Leigh, Inc., and William Esty Company.

Personal and business-related: Paul F. Adler (agent), Bienstock Associates, Inc. (accountant), Brown, Cross & Hamilton (lawyers), Gale, Bernays, Falk & Eisner (lawyers), Gimbel Brothers, Dr. Robert H. Glasgow, Harold Ober Associates, J. Leo Kolb Company (insurance/real estate), Keedick Lecture Bureau, Inc., Migonis Secretarial Service, Diana Postel (secretary), Presbyterian Hospital (NYC), Round Hill Developments, Ltd. of Jamaica (real estate), Townley, Updike, Carter & Rodgers (lawyers), and Dr. Janet Travall.

Others: Malcolm Baldridge, Bernard M. Baruch, Leo Cherne, Tobé C. Davis, Henry Ford, Gimbel Brothers, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, R.W. Johnson, Edward Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Rose Kennedy, Edward R. Murrow, Walter P. Reuther, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Lucie Biglow Rosen, Nettie Rosenstein, and Harold E. Stassen.

Higgins' Writings (Boxes 20-43) are categorized as books, articles (journal and newspaper), diary, notebooks, notes, and reviews. Included are drafts, galley proofs, and typescripts of books and journal articles, and drafts, copy, dispatches, galley proofs, clippings, by-line files and press releases for newspaper articles. A diary and notebooks used while on assignment or developing content for her books are also included as are notes from interviews with Sen. Humphrey, Jackie Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, a trip with Gen. Westmoreland, and an unidentified interview about the death of President Diem. Materials from interviews (notes, drafts or clippings) with W. German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Earl Browder, Gen. Chikov, Gen. Mark W. Clark, Angier Biddle Duke, Antoine Gizenga, William S.B. Lacy, Jean Letourneau, Gen. MacArthur, Mohammed Mossadegh, the King of Siam, Ngo Dinh Nhu, Madame Ngo Ding Nhu, Shah of Iran, and Syngman Rhee are also included here.

Memorabilia (Boxes 44-58) encompass awards and certificates, biographical material, publicity, promotional advertising, reviews of Higgins' books, financial and legal material, photographs, scrapbooks and miscellanea.

Awards and certificates (Boxes 44, 47-50) includes Higgins' Pulitzer Prize certificate for distinguished reporting of international affairs in 1951, along with several other certificates and plaques.

Biographical material (Box 44) includes newspaper and journal articles and editorials (clippings) about Higgins' life and career, written by her or others, particularly during her coverage of the Korean War.

Publicity (Box 44) includes printed material (articles, press releases, posters, and advertising) from the New York Herald Tribune, Newsday, Die Welt and book publishers about Higgins' columns, newspaper series, and books.

Promotional advertising (Box 44) includes an ad for Camel cigarettes.

Reviews include essays about Higgins' books by others.

Financial and legal (Box 45) material includes newspaper and publisher contracts, employment records for Higgins' employees, and expense accounts at the New York Herald Tribune. Records document expenses for lunches and receptions with diplomats, ambassadors, White House officials and Cabinet chiefs such as Robert F. Kennedy, Chester Bowles and a reception for Khrushchev; travel for various assignments to the Congo, Hong Kong, Formosa, Vietnam, Cambodia, Europe, Asia, India, and travel in the U.S. including a trip to Hyannisport, Massachusetts to interview Joseph P. Kennedy and Washington, D.C. for background material and interviews with Eisenhower, Franco, Marshall, Truman, Pace and Griffis; and an interview with Bernard M. Baruch on a French ship. Also included are identification cards and travel documents as well as tax forms, leases, and personal financial material. Items include pay stubs, invoices, bills and receipts, expenses for a party, canceled checks, bank deposit slips, investment statements, office and salary expenses for personnel statements from Higgins' accountant, and appearance statements from the Keedick Lecture Bureau.

Photographs (Boxes 46 and 47) include an assortment of personal and family snapshots, professional portraits, and her appearances at lectures and social events. The bulk of the photographs document her trips to Cambodia, Korea, Egypt, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam. Many from Korea were taken by Life photographer Carl Mydans and used in her book, War in Korea. Several from the Soviet Union are used in her book Red Plush and Black Bread. Also included is a collection of photographs taken during the student protests and rallies at the University of California, Berkeley, during 1964 and 1965. Among others identified in the photographs are such notables as Ron Anastasi, Mark Comfort, Hal Draper, Sandor Fuchs, David Goines, Art Goldberg, Conn Hallinan, Mike Klein, Larry Loughlin, Jim Petras, Martin Roysher, Jerry Rubin, Mario Savio, Professor Steve Smale, Beth Stapleton, Robert Treuhaft, and Burton White. There are a few photographs of noted individuals such as Bernard M. Baruch (signed, with Higgins), Gen. Lucius D. Clay (signed), Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger (with Higgins), Ladybird Johnson (with Higgins and others), President Johnson (signed, with Higgins), Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, Dean Rusk (with Higgins), and Lt. Gen. Walton Walker.

Scrapbooks (Box 51-58) contain newspaper clippings of articles by Higgins and others from 1944 to1965.

Miscellanea (Box 45) includes invitation lists for a "Welcome to Washington Party" for Sen. Edmundson, a reception for Mr. and Mrs. Carl T. Rowan, and a paper target from Higgins' first lesson in marksmanship as witnessed (and signed) by Lt. Gen. Hall.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence-subject files, both Family and other, are arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Writings are arranged alphabetically by type and within each type alphabetically by title.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has made a concerted effort over the years to ensure that its manuscript and rare books holdings complement each other. As a result, many of our manuscript collections are supported by books, pamphlets, serials and other items which are cataloged in the Rare Books Collection. Please be sure to search the Classic Catalog for these related materials.

Of particular interest are Women war correspondents in the Vietnam War, 1961-1975 by Virginia Elwood-Akers (Spec Coll., Call No. DS557.7.E49 1988) and William V. Kennedy's Press Coverage of the Vietnam War: the third view, draft report of the Study Group (Spec Coll., Call No. DS557.8.T4 1979x).

Subject Headings


Higgins, Marguerite -- Archives.


Journalists -- United States.
Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Journalists.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Journalists.
War correspondents -- United States.
Women authors, American.
Women journalists -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.
Notes (documents)
Press releases.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Marguerite Higgins Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Lieutenant General William E. Hall (husband)

Table of Contents

Family correspondence-subject files

Correspondence-subject files