University of Texas

UT Briscoe Center Receives Archives From JFK Speechwriter

The donated materials help historians gain insight into policies and speechwriting dating back to the 1960s, officials say

Official White House photo, courtesy of the LBJ Presidential Library

The Dolph Brisco Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin announced Thursday it has acquired papers from renowned writer Richard N. Goodwin who helped shape the history of the United States.

Goodwin, who died in 2018 was best known for his speechwriting and policymaking for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The donation was made by Goodwin's wife, author Doris Kearns Goodwin, who will also join the Center's Advisory Council.

"I have loved history my whole life, so I am delighted that my papers and those of my late husband will reside together as part of the outstanding collection at the Briscoe Center," Goodwin said. "My hope is that our papers will offer unique insight and rich potential for students, historians, and other researchers who will find the material not only informative but also inspiring." 

With the papers covering decades of American history, the Briscoe Center says Goodwin's archive serves as a time capsule of the 1960s and highlighted key moments from 1950 to 2014 including the War on Poverty and the Civil Rights movement.

In addition to the memorandum, Goodwin's documents contained JFK's inaugural speech, LBJ's "Great Society" and "We Shall Overcome" speeches.

The archive also highlights Doris Goodwin's career as a writer and according to the Center, "the papers provide a road map of her writing process from her initial foray into a subject and include original research materials, interviews, early outlines, primary sources, and manuscripts."

"This acquisition is a landmark event in the relatively short history of the Briscoe Center," said Don Carleton, the Briscoe Center's executive director. "These two archives cover an amazingly wide range of significant events in American political, presidential, and cultural history extending from the late 1950s until the very recent past."

According to the Briscoe Center, part of the new advising council member's duties will include supporting the university through on-campus appearances as well as lectures, seminars, and consultations with students.

The new additions will be held in the New Acquisitions Gallery located in the Research and Collections Division at UT Austin.

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