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Eugene C. Patterson papers, 1940s-2000s

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rs1rg

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Patterson, Eugene C. (Eugene Corbett), 1923-2013.
Title: Eugene C. Patterson papers, 1940s-2000s
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1380
Extent: 50 linear feet (51 boxes), 7 oversized papers boxes and 1 oversized papers folder (OP), and AV Masters: .5 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:Professional and personal papers of journalist Eugene Patterson including professional files from his time at various newspapers, personal papers, awards and honors, printed material, and photographs and audiovisual material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Special restrictions apply: Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact MARBL at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder MARBL's ability to provide access to audiovisual material.


Gift, 2016

Custodial History

The Eugene Patterson papers were gifted to by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies which the held, organized, and preserved the papers until their transfer to Emory University in 2016.


[after identification of item(s)], Eugene C. Patterson papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Arranged and Described at the series level by Carrie Hintz, November 2016.

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Collection Description

Biographical Note

Eugene Corbett Patterson (1923-2013) was born in Valdosta, Georgia to William C. and Annabel Corbett Patterson. He spent most of his youth on a small farm near Adel, Georgia. Patterson attended the North Georgia College at Dahlonega before transferring to the University of Georgia at Athens where he earned a degree in journalism in 1943. Upon graduation, Patterson joined the United States Army and became a tank platoon commander, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge under General Patton. He continued in the service after the war, becoming an Army pilot, until he ultimately left the Army in 1947 to pursue a career in journalism.

Patterson started his journalism career as a reporter for the Temple Daily Telegram in Texas and the Macon Telegraph in Macon, Georgia before he joined the United Press in 1948, working as a journalist in Atlanta, New York, and London before moving to the Atlanta Constitution in 1956. He became editor of the Constitution in 1960, following in the footsteps of his friend and mentor, Ralph McGill.

While editor of the Atlanta Constitution Patterson wrote a daily editorial column, including a column written after the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in Birmingham Alabama entitled “A Flower for the Graves” that Patterson read, at the invitation of Walter Cronkite, on the CBS Evening News. Patterson won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for editorial columns.

Patterson was an outspoken supporter of civil rights. In 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Patterson as vice chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, a position he held until 1968.

In 1968 Patterson left the Constitution to take on the position of managing editor at The Washington Post, a position he held until 1971 when he left The Post to teach at Duke University. Patterson remained at Duke one academic year, but returned to newsrooms in 1972 when he became editor of the St. Petersburg Times and its associated publications, The Evening Independent in St. Petersburg and the Congressional Quarterly, a publication covering politics and government. He became chairman of the board of the company upon the death of Nelson Poynter, the owner of the company, in 1978. Patterson retired in 1988.

Patterson was an active member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), serving as president of that organization in 1977-1978. He was a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board from 1974-1985, a member of the board of the Poynter Institute, and a trustee of Duke University.

Patterson married Mary Sue (Sue) Carter in 1950. She died in 1999. The couple had a daughter, Mary Patterson Fausch. Patterson died on January 12, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida from complications of cancer.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of the papers of Eugene Patterson from the 1940s through the 2000s. It includes Professional Files, Personal Files, Awards and Honors, Printed Material, and Photographs and Audiovisual Material. Professional Files comprise the bulk of the collection and consist of correspondence, memos, reports and planning documents, and some writings and columns. Correspondence in the collection includes letters with colleagues, readers, and professional organizations. The correspondence files generally include carbons of Patterson’s outgoing correspondence, as well as incoming letters and notes. The correspondence and business files are arranged roughly chronologically and include material directly relating to the running of the newspapers Patterson edited, as well as correspondence and files related to other personal organizations and Patterson’s charitable work on various boards and advisory councils. Personal papers include letters and notes from family and friends, material relating to Patterson’s time in the army, and family history material.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by record type, and chronologically within record types.

Selected Search Terms

Uniform Title

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms


Container List

Professional Files
Box Folder Content
1 - Presidential and other important letters
9 - Atlanta Constitution—Correspondence and Invitations, 1956-1968
10 - Atlanta Constitution, 1956-1968
11 - Atlanta Constitution—Correspondence A-L, 1956-1968
12 - Atlanta Constitution—Correspondence M-Z, 1956-1968
18 - Board and Civic Engagement—Correspondence, 1957-1964
19 - Correspondence C-E, 1968-1978
25 - 1963 Birmingham Bombing Column and Responses, 1963
37 - Pulitzer Prize Congratulatory Notes, 1967
39 - Atlanta Constitution Columns, 1960-1967
39 - Correspondence, 1967-1971
40 - Correspondence, 1967-1971
41 - Correspondence, 1967-1971
3 - Washington Post Correspondence and Memos, 1968-1971
18 - Washington Post, 1968-1971
6 - Duke University teaching and administrative material, 1971
7 - St. Petersburg Times
13 - St. Petersburg Times
14 - St. Petersburg Times
15 - St. Petersburg Times—Correspondence and Reports
17 - St. Petersburg Times—Reports
17 - St. Petersburg Times- Correspondence
16 - Congressional Quarterly, 1972-1980
34 - Congressional Quarterly, 1970s
7 - Congressional Quarterly, 1975-1988
24 - American Society of Newspaper Editors Files, 1970s
24 - Patterson Memos, 1970s
35 - Correspondence, M-P, 1970s
36 - Correspondence, 1970s
32 - American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1970s (including Patterson’s trip to China)
43 - St. Petersburg Times, 1970s-1980s
29 - St. Petersburg Times—Correspondence, 1980s
27 - Modern Media Institute, 1975-1981
20 - Correspondence S-T, 1980s
21 - Correspondence U-Z, 1980s
22 - Correspondence S-U, 1970s
23 - Correspondence, 1980s-2004
37 - Correspondence, 1980s (Including Ralph McGill correspondence)
30 - Congressional Quarterly, 1980s
31 - American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1980s
33 - Congressional Quarterly, 1980s
26 - Correspondence, 1980s-1990s
28 - Duke University, 1990s
28 - Collins Center, 1990s
8 - Pulitzer Prize Board
5 - Speeches and Speech-related correspondence and notes
5 - General Material
8 - Poynter Fund and Poynter Institute
Personal Files
1 - World War II
2 - World War II
OP8 - World War II Scrapbook
4 - Family and financial material
37 - Correspondence- Personal, 1950s-2000s
38 - Correspondence and Records- Personal, 1990s-2000s
41 - Patterson- Biographical Information
41 - Patterson- Financial Information
41 - Patterson- Retirement
42 - Correspondence, 2000s
44 - Family Correspondence and Genealogical Materials
Photographs and Audiovisual Material
2 - Photographs
OP1 1 Photographs
OP2 1 Photographs
49 - Audiovisual Material
AV1 - The Happy Birthday Grandaddy Tape, Eugene C. Patterson, October 1991 [original: VHS]
Awards and Honors
50 - Awards and Honors
OP1 - Awards and Honors
OP2 1 Awards and Honors
OP5 1 Awards and Honors
47 - Academic Robes
48 - Academic Robes
Printed Material
45 - Printed Material
46 - Printed Material
OP3 1 Printed Material
OP4 1 Printed Material-- Newspapers
OP6 1 Original Patterson columns, 1960-1964
OP7 1 Original Patterson columns, 1965-1968
51 - Original Patterson columns, 1972-1985