Morley Safer papers
Scope and Contents
The Morley Safer Papers, 1945-2019, are comprised of 124 feet and 8 gigabytes of news scripts, research files, correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, and videos documenting Morley Safer’s journalistic career, including reporting for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Of particular interest are documents related to Safer's coverage of the Vietnam War, especially the burning of the village of Cam Ne by U.S. Marines, and the Pentagon’s response.
Photographs, scripts, notes, and correspondence document the creation of Red China Diary, the first United States broadcast news program documenting life in the People’s Republic of China. Scripts of stories filed from Poland, Berlin, and London chronicle his tenure with CBC’s television program Newsmagazine.
Materials from Safer’s work on the CBS program 60 Minutes include segment transcripts, bluesheets, research files for segments (including segments that never aired), interview transcripts, and multimedia. These records cover notable 60 Minutes stories such as "Lenell Geter’s in Jail," and "Yes . . . but Is It Art?," along with profiles of entertainer Jackie Gleason and Ruth Madoff, wife of fraudster Bernie Madoff.
- 1945 - 2019
- Safer, Morley. (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Access to some audiovisual formats requires an appointment; contact repository for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
Researchers must obtain written permission from CBS News before photographing, copying, or otherwise duplicating CBS News material. This restriction includes duplicates intended for personal use.
Morley Safer was born on November 8, 1931, in Toronto, Canada. He began his career in journalism as a reporter for newspapers in Canada before becoming a correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s program Newsmagazine. Safer joined CBS News in 1964 and earned recognition for his coverage of the Vietnam War and in particular the burning of the village of Cam Ne by U. S. Marines. CBS broadcast Safer’s coverage of the destruction of the village during the August 5, 1965, edition of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Safer wrote about his time in Vietnam in his 1990 best-selling book, Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam. In 1967, Safer traveled under a Canadian passport to the People’s Republic of China and produced the program Red China Diary.
Safer served as the CBS London Bureau Chief from 1967 to 1970, when he joined the television program 60 Minutes. Safer produced hundreds of segments as a reporter and investigative journalist at 60 Minutes, and he was recognized for his reporting in several of these segments. One such segment was the 1983 report “Lenell Geter’s in Jail,” which resulted in the release of Lenell Geter, who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to a life term in Texas.
In addition to 60 Minutes, Safer participated in numerous CBS productions and specials including Sunday Morning, and Legendary Hangouts, a joint production with the Food Network. As an artist and art enthusiast, Safer reported on contemporary art for 60 Minutes and Sunday Morning. The segment "Yes . . . But is it Art?" for 60 Minutes created a controversy in the contemporary art world and garnered both criticism and praise.
Safer retired from 60 Minutes in May 2016, after forty-six seasons on the show. He died on May 19, days after his retirement.
During his long career, Safer earned numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, twelve other Emmys, three Overseas Press Club Awards, four George Foster Peabody Awards, four Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Awards, and two George Polk Memorial Awards. Furthermore, the French government named him a Chévalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1995.
124 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Morley Safer Papers, 1945 to 2019, are comprised of 124 feet and 8 gigabytes of news scripts, research files, correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, and videos documenting Morley Safer’s journalistic career, including reporting for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).
2008-177; 2008-199; 2009-199; 2010-032; 2010-058; 2016-272; 2016-266; 2017-021; 2017-040
Artifacts have been separated to the Material Culture unit.
Digital records have been separated to the Digital Archives unit.
This collection was processed by Evan Usler, October 2010. Subsequent revisions made by Amanda Reyes, January 2020, and Shannon Costello, June 2022.
- Morley Safer Papers, 1945-2019
- Ready To Publish
- Evan Usler
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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