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Briscoe Center Acquires the Terry McDonell Papers

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Letter from George Washington to John Armstrong, Aug. 24, 1769; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

Map of area related to Letter from George Washington to John Armstrong, Aug. 24, 1769; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

The Briscoe Center has acquired the papers of renowned magazine editor Terry McDonell, whose papers document his years as editor at Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Esquire, Outside, Men's Journal and Sports Illustrated, as well as his work as the author of screenplays, novels and poetry. The collection includes McDonell's extensive correspondence with some of the twentieth century's most important writers.

"Terry's long and successful career coincided with the golden age of the American magazine," said Dr. Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "His archive will be an indispensable resource for scholars who seek to understand the editorial workings of the industry—how magazines were crafted, how they influenced Americans, and how those who published and edited them sought to adapt to the changing media landscape of the last 20 years."

McDonell retired from Time Inc. as senior editorial adviser in 2012 after editing the Sports Illustrated Group's magazines and websites for a decade. That same year, he was inducted into the ASME Editors Hall of Fame. McDonell has been published widely as an author and journalist in his own right. His writing includes the novel California Bloodstock (1980), screenplays for television shows such as Miami Vice and China Beach and a noted work of poetry, Wyoming (2010). His widely acclaimed memoir, The Accidental Life: An Editor's Notes on Writing and Writers, was published by Knopf Doubleday in August 2016.

"When I left Time Inc., I had to decide what to do with all the documents, letters and photographs I had accumulated over my career. The Briscoe Center made the most sense because it had already already collected the papers of many journalists whose careers coincided with my own; and thanks to Dr. Don Carleton and his team, the center is also a 'living archive,' actively pursuing projects based on its collections," said McDonell. "Additionally, the process of sorting through my papers was an important step in the writing my memoir. In that sense, I was the first researcher to use the collection, and hopefully not the last."

The McDonell Papers are composed of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, personal memorabilia, and more than 1,500 books and bound issues of the magazines McDonell edited. The archive also includes numerous screenplays, poems and journalistic pieces that McDonell authored and his correspondence with many writers, including Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Harrison, James Salter, Peter Matthiessen, Richard Ford, George Plimpton and P. J. O'Rourke.