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Guide to the William Price collection on the murder of George Polk TAM 159

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Daniel Bender, 2009. Finding aid edited in 2013 by David Olson to reflect reincorporation of nonprint materials, 2013.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 24, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: William Price Collection on the Murder of George Polk
Dates [inclusive]: 1946-1992
Dates [bulk]: 1946-1950
Abstract: George Polk was a CBS news correspondent covering the Greek civil war who was murdered in Salonika on May 16th, 1948. In the course of his investigations, he had uncovered, and was about to publish, evidence of criminal activity by rightist forces who had the support of the United States and Great Britain. The Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk was founded in 1948 at the initiative of the New York Chapter of the Newspaper Guild. Several people associated with the Greek Communist Pary were convicted of involvement in the murder of Polk in a trial and verdict now widely believed to be fraudulent. The collection contains correspondence, clippings, reports, and a transcript of the trial of Gregorios Stahtopoulos and Anna Stahtopoulos, accused of complicity in the murder. There are also photographs of George Polk and some Price family memorabilia. Correspondents include: John Donovan, William Donovan, Ernest Hemingway, Walter Lippman, Herbert Mitgang, Edward Morrow, George Polk, Rhea Polk, William Polk, Constantine Poulos, William Price, Howard Smith, and I.M. Stone.
Quantity: 1.25 Linear Feet in 3 manuscript boxes.
Language: Materials are primarily in English, with some in Greek.
Call Phrase: TAM 159

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Historical/Biographical Note:

On May 16, 1948, the body of George Polk, at the time the Middle East correspondent for CBS, was found floating in the harbor of the Northern Greek city of Salonika. He had been shot in the head and his hands and feet were firmly bound. Polk had been in Greece covering the Civil War between the Communist Forces entrenched in the North and led by Markos Vafiades and the Monarchist-Fascist government dominated by the army. Polk had been critical not only of the Greek government but also of the newly released Truman Doctrine which made defeating the Communists in Greece a priority. In an article published in Harper's in December 1947, Polk called the $300 million in aid to Greece "a poor investment." Most importantly, Polk claimed, the money was being terribly misused. Indeed, immediately before his murder, Polk, in an interview with Constantine Tsaldaris, the head of the Royalist Party, threatened to expose Tsaldaris' illegal bank accounts in the United States. Polk's widow, Rea Polk, later claimed: "I am surprised he lived for three days after that interview."

When Polk was murdered he had been traveling north in an attempt to make contact with General Markos. Polk had been last seen on May 9. The Greek government immediately accused the Communists of the murder. Major Nicholas Mouscoundis, the head of the Greek investigation of the murder, announced that he was "1,000%" sure the Communists had killed Polk. In a trial now considered a sham, a Greek Communist Gregorios Stahopoulos and his mother Anna were convicted of complicity.

In response to the murder and the tainted investigation, the Newspaper Guild organized the Newsmen's Commission in 1948. Among its members were William Polk, George Polk's brother, and William Price, Polk's cousin, and the United Nations Correspondent for the Daily News. Among the known journalists who lent their name, time, and support for the Commission were Ernest Hemingway and Homer Bigart.

Another investigative committee led by Walter Lippmann and called the Overseas Writers Special Committee to Inquire Into the Murder of George Polk was also organized. It later endorsed the trial verdict--a verdict questioned by the Commission. As a result, many Commission members, including William Price, were later officially blacklisted.

Sources:

  • Chatzeargyres, Kostas. He hyothese Polk: ho rolos ton Xenon Hypersion sten Hellada. Athens: Ekd. Eirene, 1988.
  • Keeley, Edmund. The Salonika Bay Murder: Cold War Politics and the Polk Affair. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.
  • Marton, Kati. The Polk Conspiracy: Murder and Cover-Up in the Case of CBS News correspondent George Polk. New York: Farrar Straus, Giroux, 1990.
  • Vlanton, Elias. Who Killed George Polk?: The Press Covers Up a Death in the Family. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials about the murder of George Polk and the Newsmen's Commission. The collection also includes personal papers of George Polk, William Polk, and William Price. A George Polk series includes a selection of personal papers of George Polk, including financial papers and correspondence and his naval service records. Much of the collection is devoted to documents about the murder--including press releases and reports--and the trial. Especially significant are copies of the indictment of Gregorios and Anna Stahtopoulos and trial summaries and notes. One of the selection of notes are William Polk's, detailing the trial proceedings and his personal reactions.

The selection of materials on the Newsmen's Commission itself documents its fundraising and publicity. Materials include fundraising letters and receipts, correspondence, and press releases. Also of importance are debates and resolutions within the Newspaper Guild and the United Nations Correspondents about the level of support for the Commission.

Additionally, there are approximately 120 images (photocopies, photographs, and negatives). Image subject matter includes Polk's careers in the military and journalism, events surrounding Polk's murder and the investigation, and Polk's family.

Arrangement

Folders are arranged alphabetically.

The collection is organized into eight series (see container list, below): I. Greek Civil War; II. George Polk; III. Polk Murder; IV. Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk; V. William Price; VI. William Polk; VII. Name Files; VIII. Photographs.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Price, William Addison, 1915-2009
  • Polk, William Roe, 1929-
  • Lippmann, Walter, 1889-1974.
  • Donovan, John.
  • Donovan, William.
  • Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961
  • Stahtopoulos, Anna
  • Stahtopoulos, Gregorios.
  • Poulos, Constantine, 1916-1986
  • Smith, Howard K. (Howard Kingsbury), 1914-2002
  • Stone, I. F. (Isidor Feinstein), 1907-1989
  • Polk, George, 1913-1948
  • Polk, Rhea.
  • Mitgang, Herbert.
  • Murrow, Edward R.

Document Type

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Reports.
  • Transcripts.
  • Correspondence.
  • Photographic prints.
  • Minutes (administrative records)
  • Press releases.

Subject Organizations

  • Kommounistikon Komma tēs Hellados
  • CBS Television Network
  • CBS News
  • Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk
  • Committee of Overseas Writers to Inquire into the Murder of George Polk
  • Daily news (New York, N.Y.)
  • United Nations

Subject Topics

  • Cold War.
  • Foreign correspondents -- United States.
  • War correspondents -- United States.
  • Communists -- Greece.
  • Trials (Murder) -- Greece.
  • Journalists -- United States.

Subject Places

  • Greece |x History |x Civil War, 1944-1949 |x Journalists.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to materials in this collection created by William Price was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; William Price collection on the murder of George Polk; TAM 159; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

John Poulos and Constantine Poulos Papers (TAM 114)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by William Price, cousin of George Polk, in 1995. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1995.009, 1995.011 and NPA.1996.014.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in August of 1996. Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk Photographs (PHOTOS 073). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk Records as Series VIII: Photos. It is unprocessed.

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Container List

Series I: Greek Civil War

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 American Council for a Democratic Greece
1948
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Daily Press Review
1949
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Greek Civil War
1946-1948

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Series II: George Polk

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Broadcasts
1946-1948
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1942-1945
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Diary
1924-1926
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Financial
1942-1945
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Middle East Mosaic(title of planned book)
1946-1947
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Navy
1942-1948
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Personal
1937-1948

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Series III: Polk Murder

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 11 CBS
1948-1949
Box: 1 Folder : 12 CBS-Views of the Press
1948
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Press Reports
1948
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Report of the Overseas Writers of the Special Committee to Inquire Into the Murder at Salonika Greece
1949
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Researcher's Correspondence
1948-1949
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Resolutions
1948
Box: 1 Folder : 17 State Department
1948
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Trial-Indictment
1949
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Trial-Notes
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Trial-Summaries (English)
1949
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Trial-Transcripts (Greek)
1949

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Series IV: Newsmen's Commission to Investigate the Murder of George Polk

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 General
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1948-1950
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Finances
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Fundraising
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Fundraising-Receipts
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Minutes
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Newspaper Guild
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Report
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 9 United Nations Correspondents
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Washington Reports
1948

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Series V: William Price

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Correspondence
1947-1949, 1990-1991
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Lowell Limpus
1949-1950
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Newspaper Guild-Elections
1949-1950
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Family
1981-1986
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Polk Award
1948-1991

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Series VI: William Polk

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Correspondence
1946-1952
Box: 2 Folder : 17 William Price and William Polk-Correspondence
1949-1955, 1985
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Condolence Letters
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Memorandum
1948
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Misc.
1948-1984 , 2008
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Trial Notes
1949

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Series VII: Name Files

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Shana Ager Alexander
1948, 1990
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Homer Bigart
1948, 1991
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Winston Burdett
1948, 1990
Box: 3 Folder : 6 John Donovan
1947-1949
Box: 3 Folder : 7 William Donovan
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Howard Dratch
1991
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Ernest Hemingway
1948
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Marcelle Hitschmann
1991
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Herbert Mitgang
1987-1993
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Edward Murrow
1948
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Adelaide Roe Polk
1948-1949
Box: 3 Folder : 14 Rea Polk
1948-1949
Box: 3 Folder : 15 Constantine Poulos
1948-1950
Box: 3 Folder : 16 Howard K. Smith
1984-1985
Box: 3 Folder : 17 I.F. Stone
1984, 1952
Box: 3 Folder : 18 Elias Vlanton
1991-1992

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Box
3
Folder
19-29
 

Series VIII: Photographs

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