College Awaits Barbara Walters' Archives

Alumna Barbara Walters with President Karen Lawrence at the 2014 commencement. Photo credit: Tanya Savayan/The Journal News

Alumna Barbara Walters with President Karen Lawrence at the 2014 commencement. Photo credit: Tanya Savayan/The Journal News

At the 2014 commencement ceremony, one of Sarah Lawrence's most prolific alumna announced the donation of her archives to the school. In the year and a half since, the college continues to make Barbara Walters' gift a reality.

“It’s a process. With somebody who’s produced this much over their career and their’s hard to just have [copies of Walters' interviews, papers and photographs] appear," said Sarah Lawrence Archivist Abby Lester. "I honestly cannot give you an estimate on time. I wish I could, but it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Lester shed more light on the process, which includes corresponding with Walters' past networks, their legal advisors, former producers, as well as Syracuse University, which went through a similar process back in 2011 with the donation of Ted Koppel's archives.

“It’s coordinating with a lot of different people who are very busy and have a lot of other things going on," Lester said, “And trying to get things done as quickly as possible but understanding that everybody else has other jobs, too.”

With that said, Lester says the networks have been cooperative. The school has yet to hit any barriers regarding the obtaining of the materials.

But even after the school receives the copies of Walters' work, Lester says, time still needs to be allowed for the processing of the content, whether it be paper or digital.

Still, Lester appears to be taking it in stride.

“I am excited. It’s always exciting to have something new and a change and an influx of a different type of material because it’s different than anything we’ve had before," Lester said. "So it’ll be a challenge but also very exciting.”

That different type of material will include Walters' interviews with everyone from former President Ronald Reagan to Miley Cyrus. It will chronicle her time on the Today Show, ABC World News, 20/20, and the View. It will also give the Sarah Lawrence Community access to her notes.

"We are extremely fortunate that our esteemed alumna Barbara Walters has donated her archives to the College," said President Karen Lawrence in an email to The Phoenix. "This trove of materials–interviews and correspondence–will give our College community access to rich primary source material about the insights and actions of some of the world’s most powerful leaders and influential public figures of the 20th century."

One of those figures may just be Walters herself.


Jamie Jordan '19

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