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Archibald MacLeish

Curator 1938-1939

“So the man who runs Nieman Foundation is the curator of a flock of journalists, now foreign as well as domestic! And the thing has worked.”

So said MacLeish, the first Nieman curator, in the book Archibald MacLeish: Reflections. As the first curator, he helped shape the program as it continues today.

He was enamored of the idea of turning “15 youngsters loose in the university” as one of the best ways to immerse journalists in a year of give and take with Harvard’s greatest scholars. That tradition continues as the fellowship program nears its 70th year.

After leaving as curator after one year to become the Librarian of Congress, he continued to write poems, plays, and articles all the while receiving numerous awards for his work. His awards include three Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award, an Academy Award for a documentary on Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He remained a great friend of the Nieman Foundation throughout his long life. He died in Boston in 1982 at the age of 99.