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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2090

Dispatches from Time magazine correspondents: first series


Reports from foreign and domestic correspondents that were circulated to editors at the New York office of Time magazine.


  • Creation: 1942-1955

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is restricted from use. Readers must use positive microfilm available in the Houghton Reading Room.

The originals of this collection are not housed at the Houghton Library but are shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Should a reader receive permission to consult the originals, retrieval will require extra time. Consult the Houghton Reading Room staff for details.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to publish material from these dispatches should be addressed to both Houghton Library and Time, Inc. Time, Inc. may not be able to authorize publication in the case of dispatches from freelance correspondents. In that case it is the responsibility of the user to solicit the owner of the literary property for any material that is in copyright.


72 linear feet (55 boxes)

When correspondents sent their dispatches to Time magazine, the documents were retyped, duplicated, and distributed to the editors in the relevant departments of the magazine. Many of the distribution lists also included Roy E. Larsen, and it is Larsen's copies that form the present collection.

The dispatches cover foreign and domestic affairs. During World War II the bulk of the material is foreign and war-related. Afterwards, the proportion of foreign news is much lower. Education, a special interest of Larsen's, is particularly well represented. Otherwise, the so-called back-of-the-book departments (Sport, Cinema, etc.) are not usually included. Besides dispatches from individual correspondents, there are weekly memoranda from Time's Washington bureau with story suggestions and briefings.

Since the dispatches were more or less rewritten, or sometimes not used at all, by the Time editors, they are themselves the only primary witnesses to the original words of the correspondents. There is a good proportion of off-the-record information, usually marked "not for attribution" or the like, from conversations with officials and other public figures.

Biographical / Historical

Roy E. Larsen (1899-1979) was the circulation manager of Time Magazine at its foundation in 1922 and he became the chief business manager of the company under Henry R. Luce. He was President of Time, Inc. from 1939 to 1960, including the years of these dispatches.

The dispatches were at first closed to scholars, until the war correspondents should have had the chance to use their own reports for their books. In the early 1970s the dispatches were separated into earlier (1942-1955) and later (1956-1968) parts, and this, the earlier part, was opened to scholars. In the absence of any finding aid, however, it remained very little used.

Biographical / Historical

The term "Negro" appears throughout this finding aid as it was commonly used througout the mid-twentieth century in the headlines of Dispatches. The term was adopted and preferred by members of the Black community starting in the latter half of the nineteenth century, becoming dominant in language in the United States by the 1950s. As the Civil Rights movement developed, the term was criticized for being imposed upon the Black community by white people, and a new term to self-identify was sought. By the mid-1960s, more progressive language shifted to the preference for the word ""Black,"" with some arguing the ""Black"" referred to radical, progressive figures, while ""Negro"" was used for those who were ""established"" or more in keeping ""with the status quo."" (See Citation below.) Black grew in popularity over the latter half of the twentieth century and is the contemporarily preferred term at the time of writing (2024). The inclusion of the term ""Negro"" in this description is in keeping with the establishment usage throughout the 1950s-1960s.

Citation: Smith, Tom W. “Changing Racial Labels: From ‘Colored’ to ‘Negro’ to ‘Black’ to ‘African American.’” The Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 4, 1992, pp. 496–514. JSTOR, Accessed 16 Jan. 2024.


The dispatches are arranged chronologically by the date sent (which is sometimes but not always earlier than the date received). Each item number corresponds to a folder containing the disptaches from usually 1-5 days. Within each day, domestic dispatches come first, then foreign beginning with London.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

96M-31. Gift of Roy E. Larsen; received in regular installments, 1942-1955.

Related Materials

The collection of dispatches continues until May 1968. The years 1956-1968 have been separated and are now bMS Am 2090.1 (Dispatches from Time magazine correspondents: second series)

A list of all the named correspondents in the collection, with the date of their first disptaches, will be found as part of the finding aid to the second series (bMS Am 2090.1).

Processing Information

Processed by: J. F. Coakley, Lan Bui, Allison Andrews, Skip Kendall, Katherine Benson, Steve McDermott, Mel Yiasemide, and Amanda Sobel.

Processing Information

This finding aid was reviewed in 2023-2024 to address outdated and harmful descriptive language. During that review, it was decided that the potentially harmful and problematic language is largely in direct titles of dispatches, and in order to not censor this history, have been left as-is. These in particular often involve the description of indigenous people. Dispatches throughout this series were also reviewed for the inclusion of the use of outdated terms relating to Black people; changes were not made to those featuring the term "Negro" as these are the formal titles of articles, but please see the historical note with regards to this term and its inclusion and context. If you have questions or comments about these revisions, please contact Houghton Library. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

Time, inc. Dispatches from Time magazine correspondents: first series, 1942-1955: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description
Cataloging of this collection was made possible by a grant from the Larsen Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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