Syracuse University Library has received a grant of $86,000 from the Dana Foundation to process recently acquired personal papers of the late William Safire. Safire, the Pulitzer prize- winning political columnist for the New York Times and former Nixon speechwriter, passed away in 2009. This grant will enable the Library to hire a full-time, professional archivist to arrange and describe the collection, currently on deposit in the Special Collections Research Center. In addition, the archivist will create an online finding aid (a file-level inventory of the collection) and select 500 items to be digitized and made available on the Library’s web site.
This addition to the Safire papers includes materials relating to his “On Language” column, subject files, correspondence with leading literary and political figures, including former president Bill Clinton and author Norman Mailer, as well as scrapbooks, and videos of lectures. The collection is not available for research while it is being processed, however SCRC staff will request permission from the Safire family on behalf of researchers interested in accessing Safire’s papers.
Safire’s estate also donated almost 1,700 books, some of them rare, including a 1663 edition of Nicolas Caussin’s The Holy Court in Five Tomes (London). Safire donated books from his personal collection and selected personal papers to the Library between 1994 and 1998. At that time, the Dana Foundation provided funding for the construction of the Safire Room on the 6th floor of Bird Library, a popular quiet study spot.
Safire was on the Board of Directors of the Dana Foundation and served as its chairman from 2000 until his death. He also served on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees.