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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1086

Papers of Nancy Brinker, 1954-2019


Correspondence, speeches, and photographs of Ambassador and breast cancer advocate Nancy Brinker.


  • Creation: 1954-2019

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Nancy Brinker is held by Nancy Brinker. Upon her death, copyright will transfer to her son, Eric Brinker. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1.88 linear feet ((4 file boxes, 1 half file box) plus 1 folio+ folder, 7 photograph folders)

The Nancy Brinker papers contain correspondence, speeches, clippings, and photographs. The collection documents Brinker's family relationships that led to the founding of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation; Brinker's work to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research, and her role as United States Ambassador to Hungary, Chief of Protocol, and subsequent Ambassadorial positions. Brinker's correspondence reveals decades-long relationship with Texan Republican politicians George W. Bush and Ross Perot, as well as nationally active Republican politicians. A folder of letters from Suzy and Nancy's trip to Europe in 1965 details two young women traveling alone, as well as the close bond the sisters shared.

Brinker arranged the material into plastic folders before sending it to the Library. These groupings have been maintained; in some cases material in each original folder was further subdivided. Folder titles in the inventory are Brinker's, additional titles in brackets were added by the archivist. Material is arranged in alphabetical order by folder title, and in some cases chronologically thereunder.


Ambassador and breast cancer advocate Nancy Goodman Brinker was born December 6, 1946 in Peoria, Illinois, to Marvin and Eleanor (Newman) Goodman. She attended Peoria High School and the University of Illinois (B.A., 1968), where she was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. After college, Brinker moved to Dallas, Texas, where she worked at Nieman Marcus and married Nieman Marcus executive Robert Leitstein; they had a son, Eric, in 1975 and divorced in 1978. In 1981 she married businessman Norman Brinker; they divorced in 2000.

Brinker's older sister Susan Goodman Komen died of breast cancer at age 36 in 1980. In 1982, Brinker established the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit organization to raise money for breast cancer research. Susan G. Komen has grown to be the largest breast cancer-focused nonprofit in the United States, Brinker served as CEO of Komen from 2009 to 2013. Brinker herself survived breast cancer in the early 1980s. Her memoir, Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer, was published in 2010. In 2018, Brinker founded the Promise Fund of Florida with Julie Fisher Cummings and Laurie Silvers, to raise money for breast cancer prevention and diagnosis specifically in South Florida.

Nancy Brinker was an early donor to the Presidential campaign of fellow Texan George W. Bush. President Bush nominated Brinker to be the United States Ambassador to Hungary; she served in that capacity from 2001 to 2003. Brinker also served as Chief of Protocol of the United States from 2007 to January 2009. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Since 2009, Brinker has been the World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2020-M48

The papers of Nancy Brinker were given to the Schlesinger Library by Nancy Brinker in July 2020.

Processing Information

Processed: August 2020

By: Jenny Gotwals

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Alice Jeanette Ward Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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