Scope and arrangement
The Tom Wicker papers consist of people and subject files documenting Wicker's tenure at The New York Times as head of the Washington Bureau (1964-1966) and as associate editor and columnist (1966-1991). This collection does not document Wicker's early career before coming to The Times, his role as a Washington reporter between 1960 and 1964, or his output as a fiction writer. Much of the collection is comprised of incoming and outgoing correspondence with fellow Times employees (such as Managing Editors Clifton Daniel and A.M. Rosenthal) regarding editorial matters and the management of the Washington Bureau, as well as letters with outside colleagues and Times readers discussing Wicker's columns, essays, speeches, and political views.
The collection is divided into two series: I. People and II. Subjects. The People files consist of records pertaining to individuals, while the Subjects files contain items on specific topics, institutions, locations, and document types. Items germane to two or more people or subjects are often cross-referenced in the finding aid; documents related to specific issues are generally located in subject files rather than the people folders of those involved.
Records from the 1960s are primarily made up of correspondence and memoranda between Wicker, stationed at the Washington Bureau, and Times staff in New York. Items from the 1970s and 1980s, when Wicker was located in New York, consist of both internal memoranda, as well as readers' mail (with carbon responses), and letters to and from acquaintances, colleagues, and institutions that Wicker had connections to. These files touch on many of Wicker's areas of interest, such as Washington politics, living conditions in prisons, environmental conservation, and other topics.
The New York Times Company records. Tom Wicker papers are arranged in two series:
This series is made up of files that contain letters to, from, or concerning various individuals. Files include communications with New York Times editors, reporters, and publishers, typically discussing news coverage, editorial decisions, and personnel management. Other correspondents include prominent public figures whose letters concern Wicker's coverage of them; fellow journalists, writers, other acquaintances; and readers of Wicker's columns, magazine articles, and books. Both incoming letters and carbon copies of Wicker's responses are present. Miscellaneous Correspondence files primarily consist of letters with people outside of The Times. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files.
Files are arranged alphabetically by name. These files do not necessarily contain every letter, memorandum, or document related to the individual; subject files should also be consulted.
This series is made up of alphabetical subject files that are organized (and titled) by topical keywords, events (Iran-Contra Affair, Watergate), issues (Arms Control, Crime and Criminals, Energy), individual columns, institution names, geographic locations, or document type. While the bulk of the files consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence, this series also holds photographs of Wicker (see the Pictures file), and copies of Wicker's speeches from the 1960s to the 1980s (see the Speaking Engagements files). Wicker, an active public speaker, gave speeches to academic institutions, journalist conferences, historical societies, corporations, and philanthropic organizations around the United States and abroad; he spoke often on politics, journalism, history, and economic issues. Also present is a name index (1976) and subject index (1971-1977) for Wicker's column "In the Nation."
Of note are the Washington Bureau files that contain criticisms from the paper's publishers and New York editors of the content and writing styles of Wicker and other Washington reporters, along with memoranda concerning personnel management and staff assignments. Other particularly extensive subject files include the Economy files, which feature push back from readers on Wicker's views on "Reaganomics;" the Environment file that discuss theories on global warming; and the Prisons files, which are made up of extended discussions with politicians, correctional facilities employees, criminal justice lawyers and policy advocates, and academics on a range of prison-related topics. Also of note are the Prisons: Inmate Mail files that contain letters to Wicker from inmates around the country, such as prisoners at Attica who reported on the lack of improvements in living standards in the years after the 1971 riots. Wicker's responses to these letters are not present.
Files are arranged alphabetically by file title. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files.