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The Papers of Tom Brokaw: A Life & Career

Identifier: MsC1053

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Scope and Contents

The Papers of Tom Brokaw cover both Brokaw’s career and personal life. The collection is 38.75 liner feet and is broken up into sixteen series: Appointment Books, Artifacts, Biographical and Personal, Correspondence, Events and Speeches, Honors/Awards/Mementoes, Photographs, Press Passes and Badges, Radio Commentary, Reporter’s Notebooks, Specials, Subject Files, Videos/Film/Audio Cassettes, Writings, Miscellaneous, and Duplicates.

Appointment Books series contains Brokaw’s personal appointment books, along with appointment books kept by his assistants, from 1973 to 1999, 2001, 2002.

Artifacts series includes rocks picked up from the Great Wall of China, a PanAm Bag belonging to Andrea Brokaw (which is where the press badges were originally stored), political buttons, and a black case where photos from the Watergate coverage was kept.

Biographical and Personal series contains items and papers from time at school, including Brokaw’s application for University of South Dakota and various information about his parents, wife and children. Collection also includes items from his early career in Omaha, Georgia, and Los Angeles. Items from his early career also include several memorabilia pieces from man landing on the moon in 1969. The series also includes articles written about Tom Brokaw by various publications through the years.

Correspondence series includes letters and notes to and from Tom Brokaw, including correspondence from US Presidents Ford to Obama.

Events and Speeches series contains material on various events Brokaw participated in, as well as speeches he gave. Several university commencement speeches are included with this series, as well as several letters and photos that correspond to events.

Honors, Awards, and Mementos series documents programs and invitations to multiple award ceremonies Brokaw has received over the years, including several honorary degrees and White House invitations.

Photographs series has photos from both Brokaw’s public and personal life. Major events, trips, publicity shots, and speeches are documented. Photos of his ranch in Montana, family and friends are also represented. Series also includes several large format photos and framed photos.

Press Badges series contains six decades of different press badges and access passes. A few of the badges come with hand written notes from Brokaw explaining their significance.

Radio Commentary series contains transcripts of Brokaw’s radio commentary from 1982 to 1987.

Reporter’s Notebooks series has various notepads and loose paper from Brokaw’s time in the field, including a few notecards from a political debate.

Specials series looks at special stories reported by Brokaw for NBC News, as well as a few other institutions.

Subject Files series contains files kept by Brokaw’s offices that cover people, organizations, locations, and more.

Video, Film, Audio Cassettes series includes VHS tapes, DVDs, reel film, audio cassettes, and flash drives with different interviews, specials, and reporting Brokaw has done through his career.

Writings series holds articles written by Brokaw, research and drafts for book projects, and work done on Greatest Generation, Greatest Generation Speaks, Boom!, A Long Way From Home, and A Lucky Life Interrupted.

Miscellaneous series includes trip information, gifts from fans, and other various objects found in his collection.

Duplicates series contains repeats of articles and various other items already found within the collection.


  • Creation: 1940-

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research but limited to in-person reading room use only. No digital reproductions can be sent to patrons.

Conditions Governing Use

Any form of reproduction, including the taking of pictures with a camera, cell phone, or any other recording device, is prohibited without permission from Special Collections & Archives or Tom Brokaw. Material may be subject to copyright by third parties, including NBC Universal. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections & Archives as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Tom Brokaw is an American journalist, author, and former NBC News anchorman. Working for NBC News for over 50 years, Brokaw is the only person to have anchored its three major programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press. Retiring from the anchor desk of Nightly News in 2004, he now serves as a Special Correspondent for NBC and works on various documentary projects.

Brokaw was born February 6, 1940 in South Dakota to Eugenia “Jean” and Anthony “Red” Brokaw. He attended the University of Iowa, majoring, in his own words, in beer and co-eds for one year before leaving. He would go on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Dakota in 1964.

Brokaw’s television career began in KTIV in Sioux City, IA before moving to KMTV-TV in Omaha, NE, and then on to WSB-TV in Atlanta, GA. In 1966 NBC News hired Brokaw as a reporter for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. By 1973 Brokaw had been made a White House Correspondent for NBC, just in time for the breakout of the Watergate scandal.

He became the host of NBC’s Today Show in 1976, working alongside Jane Pauley. Brokaw stayed with the Today Show until 1981 before moving on to co-anchor NBC Nightly News with Roger Mudd. In a controversial decision, NBC chose to make Brokaw a sole anchor of Nightly News on September 5, 1983.

As a news anchor, Brokaw, along with Peter Jennings at ABC and Dan Rather at CBS, was one of the “Big Three” anchors in the U.S. during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. By 1996, NBC and Brokaw held the top ratings in broadcast news, and it would remain that way until Brokaw retired in 2004.

Brokaw is also a well-known author. His most famous work, "The Greatest Generation," focuses on WWII veterans. It was such a popular book that fan mail from other war vets spurred two other books on WWII, Greatest Generation Speaks and An Album of Memories. His latest book, A Lucky Life Interrupted, chronicles his fight with multiple myeloma after his diagnoses in 2013., which he was diagnosed with in 2013.

He has been married to Meredith Auld Brokaw since 1962, whose influence and support can be seen throughout the collection. They have three daughters: Jennifer, Andrea, and Sarah.


38.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



NBC news anchor and reporter who covered over 50 years of world events. He is also the author who coined the phrase "Greatest Generation." Collection contains primarily notes, transcripts, and photos from his career at NBC and his research and work on "Greatest Generation."

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Tom Brokaw in 2016.

Papers of Tom Brokaw
Elizabeth Riordan
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)