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Susan Stamberg papers

 Collection 0009-MMC-NPBA
Susan Stamberg is best known as a co-host on National Public Radio's All Things Considered from 1971 to 1986 and as the host of Weekend Edition Sunday from its inception in 1987 to 1989. In her later career in the 1990s, she worked as a cultural reporter on various NPR newsmagazines. The bulk of the collection documents Stamberg's career at WAMU in Washington, DC and her career at NPR from 1971 until 2011. It also contains materials from numerous other projects, including her books Every Night at Five, The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road, Talk, and her other writings.

Dates

  • 1921 - 2011 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1968 - 1993

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections Reading Room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection

Some series contains both restricted and audiovisual materials. Please check the series and folder listings for additional information about individual restrictions.

Please note that audiovisual items that cannot be used in the Special Collections reading room or are too fragile for researchers require that a digital copy be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit, so we may determine the proper steps to be taken.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Extent

48.5 Linear Feet (54 Hollinger Boxes, 13 Paige Boxes, and 2 Cassette Boxes)

33 Linear Feet (54 Hollinger Boxes and 4 Paige Boxes)

13.5 Linear Feet (9 Paige Boxes containing approximately 120 audio reels)

2 Linear Feet (2 Cassette Boxes containing 49 audio cassettes and 1 DVD)

Biography

Susan Levitt Stamberg was born September 7, 1938 in New Jersey and raised in New York City. She received a diploma from the High School of Music and Art in New York in 1955 and an A.B. from Barnard College in 1959. At Barnard, she majored in English Literature. After her graduation, she briefly attended graduate school at Brandeis University and then worked as a secretary and editorial assistant for Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in Boston, Massachusetts, eventually rising to the position of Publications Assistant. In 1962 she married Louis Stamberg, who worked for the State Department, and moved to Washington, DC.

Stamberg started her career as a broadcaster in January 1963 at WAMU 88.5 FM, Washington, DC, the public radio station of American University. Until January 1966 she served as the producer and program director for Kaleidoscope, a radio magazine airing on weeknights, and as the general manager for the entire station.

In February 1966 Louis Stamberg's career with the State Department took the couple to New Dehli, India. Susan Stamberg worked as the assistant to Mrs. Chester Bowles, the wife of the American Ambassador to India, as well as continuing as a broadcaster, both by sending special reports to WAMU and by serving as a writer, reporter, and broadcaster for Voice of America. The Stambergs returned from their term abroad in May, 1968 and Susan Stamberg resumed her work at WAMU. She served as the producer and host for Kaleidoscope until its cancellation as a nighttime program in December, 1969.

Stamberg's association with National Public Radio began with the network's inception in April, 1971, when she was hired as a part-time associate producer. In September, 1971 she replaced the regular host of All Things Considered, the network's premier news magazine, while he was on vacation. By 1972, Stamberg took over as the regular host of the show, becoming the first woman to regularly host a national news broadcast in the United States.

Although her cohosts changed several times, Stamberg remained a fixture on All Things Considered throughout the 1970s. However, in November 1980 she took a sabbatical of six months to write Every Night at Five: An All Things Considered Book, published by Pantheon in 1982. The book grew out of listeners' letters to National Public Radio and was originally intended to celebrate the tenth anniversary of All Things Considered. It chronicles the daily creation of the newsmagazine, its most popular broadcasts, and the activities of its listeners.

Stamberg continued to host All Things Considered until September, 1986, when she left the show to develop and host Weekend Edition Sunday. The magazine first aired in January, 1987 and was hosted by Stamberg until October, 1989. In the spring of 1989, Stamberg commissioned several authors to write serial pieces exploring the theme of a wedding cake in the middle of the road. The stories were then read by the authors on Weekend Edition Sunday, and from them developed The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road, a collection of short stories co-edited by Stamberg and George Garrett and published by W.W. Norton in 1992. Authors include Ann Beattie, Richard Bausch, Ron Carlson, Stuart Dybek, Marita Golden, Judith Guest, Pamela Houston, Brian Klam, David Leavitt, Bharati Mukherjee, Mary Lee Settle, Allen Wier, Joy Williams, Hannah Wilson, and George Garrett.

After Stamberg retired as host of Weekend Edition Sunday in 1989, she became the substitute host of Weekend Edition Saturday and served as special reporter on culture for all the other National Public Radio newsmagazines. Major reporting assignments during this period included a tour of Russia with the National Symphony Orchestra in September and October, 1993, inclusion in an art exhibit entitled "The Art of Work, the Work of Art," airing in April, 1995, a retrospective for the fiftieth anniversary of "A Streetcar Named Desire," airing in December 1997, and a profile of the Jewish community in China during World War II, airing in September 1990.

In 1993 Stamberg's second book, Talk, was published by Turtle Bay Press. It provides excerpts of interviews from 1971, Stamberg's first year on All Things Considered, to 1991. Interviewees include Robert Altman, John Erlichman, Margot Fonteyn, Garrison Keillor, David Mamet, Nadine Gordimer, Nancy Reagan, Dave Brubeck, Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, Jane Goodall, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Annie Leibovitz, and Andre Dubus.

In addition to her work as a host of All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Sunday, and Weekend Edition Saturday, Stamberg also occupied many positions both in public and commercial radio and television broadcasting. In October, 1979 she served as the moderator of a National Public Radio call-in show with President Carter. In 1980 she served as a moderator for three Mr. Roger's Neighborhood television specials, entitled "Divorce," "Superheroes," and "Old Friends, New Friends." From 1984 to 1991 she served as a commentator on Capitol Edition, a show airing on WTOP (now WUSA), a CBS affiliate in Washington, DC. Stamberg also wrote several articles published in Continental Airlines Magazine and National Geographic Traveler and served as a board member of the American Institute of Architects. In 1986 she participated in a Jefferson Fellowship to Thailand, sponsored by the East-West Center.

Stamberg has won many awards throughout her career, including the Major Armstrong Award for Educational Broadcasting for Kaleidoscope at WAMU and the 1978 Clarion Award for a series of interviews with woman artists. She also received the DuPont Award from the Columbia University School of Journalism in February, 1984, the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1980, and the Distinguished Broadcaster Award from the American Women in Radio and Television in May 1990. She was chosen as one of fifty women to watch in the 1980s by Ms. Magazine in January 1980. Stamberg has received honorary degrees from Marlboro College, Knox College, Dartmouth College, State University of New York at Albany, and Rollins College, and is a Fellow of Silliman College, Yale University. She serves on the boards of the PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award Foundation and Columbia University's Medill School National Arts Journalism Program. Stamberg was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Radio Hall of Fame in 1996.

Arrangement

The collection is organized as eleven series.
Series 1
Early Career
Series 2
National Public Radio
Series 3
Non-National Public Radio Projects
Series 4
Publications Research, Manuscripts, and General Files
Series 5
Speeches
Series 6
Clippings
Series 7
Fan Mail
Series 8
Personal Materials
Series 9
Audiovisual Materials
Series 10
Photographs
Series 11
Engagement Books

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Susan Stamberg papers were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by Susan Stamberg in December of 2001. Stamberg donated additional materials to the University of Maryland Libraries in 2010 and 2016.

Related Material

For additional materials related to Stamberg's work at National Public Radio, please see the National Public Radio records at the University of Maryland.

Processing Information

Brigita Sebald processed the first accession of the Susan Stamberg Collection in October 2004. Sebald arranged the material into eight series: Early Career, National Public Radio, Non-National Public Radio Projects, Books, Speeches, Clippings, Fan Mail, and Personal. At the time, audiovisual materials and restricted materials remained unprocessed.

In 2010 and 2013, Susan Stamberg donated two seperate accessions to the collection, and Caitlin Rizzo processed and incorporated these accessions as well as the unprocessed and restricted materials into the collection in 2017. As part of this process, three additional series were added: Audiovisual Materials, Photographs, and Engagement Books.

All materials received from Susan Stamberg have been reboxed in archival quality boxes and materials have been re-foldered in acid-free folders where necessary.
Title
Guide to the Susan Stamberg papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Brigita Sebald and Caitlin Rizzo.
Date
2004-10-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212