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Fulton Oursler, Jr. Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS159

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Fulton Oursler, Jr. Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, and printed materials collected by Ourlser during his career at Reader's Digest, mostly related to the work he did with well known writers and personalities who wrote for the magazine. The collection is divided up into five series: The Individuals Series, the James A. Michener Series, the Duke of Windsor Series, the John F. Kennedy and Espionage Series, and the Reader's Digest Series.

The Individuals Series contains correspondence and manuscripts from noted writers whose work Oursler edited for Reader's Digest, especially for a collection of essays by notable Americans on 'What America Means to Me?' Among these 'America' essayists are Arthur Ashe, Theodore H. White, Warren E. Burger, Neil A. Armstrong, Clare Booth Luce, and Eric Hoffer. A large amount of material from Alex Haley is also in this series, including early outlines and versions of 'Roots', correspondence about the work's creation, and manuscripts and correspondence regarding other writing projects. Also included are correspondence and manuscripts from such notable people as Lady Bird Johnson, Joe Alsop, Barry Goldwater, Jack Kemp, Hubert H. Humphrey, William F. Buckley, Jr., Lowell Thomas, Catherine Marshall, Meyer Levin, and Theodore H. White.

The James A. Michener Series contains memos, letters, telegrams, article drafts, as well as the edited manuscript of 'China Diary', Michener's personal account of President Richard Nixon's historic visit to Peking with Henry Kissinger, which ran in Reader's Digest in May, 1972. Also included is correspondence relating to Michener's 'Kent State' and 'The Covenant'.

The Duke of Windsor Series contains correspondence, notes, clippings and other materials relating to Fulton Oursler, Jr.'s article about meetings between Fulton Oursler, Sr. and the Duke of Windsor in the Bahamas in 1940 during which time Windsor asked for the United States cooperating in ensuring Nazi victory and the placement of the Duke on the British throne again. Oursler based this article, which appeared in American Heritage Magazine, on a diary kept by his father which is now held in box 19a of the Fulton Oursler (Sr.) Memorial Colleciton here at Georgetown University Special Collections. Box 19a contains Fulton Oursler, Sr.'s Diary (a typed original diary and a photocopy version of the diary). The diary was written by Fulton Oursler, Sr. There is also a 1940 dialy calender in box 19a.

The John F. Kennedy Assassination and Espionage Series contins memos, reports, correspondence and printed materials relating to the publication of articles and books by Henry Hurt, Edward J. Epstein, and others on the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Cold War spies. Oursler was the editor of two works by Henry Hurt: 'Shadrin, The Spy Who Never Came Back' and 'Reasonable Doubt', the latter being an inquiry into the John F. Kennedy assassination. Edward J. Epstein's book, 'Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald', was one of the first in-depth inquiries into the assassination of John F. Kennedy, breaking the story of the Soviet defector, Yuri Nosenko.

The Reader's Digest Series contains memos, reports, correspondence, and printed materials on generaly corporate and editorial policies at the magazine from the mid-1960's to the mid-1980's. Topics include how to edit down incoming artilces, how to solicit articles, readership demographics, internatiTonal editions, budgeting, and hiring practices.

The collection is arraned in 222 folders in 5 boxes.


  • 1950 - 1990
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1985

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Fulton Oursler, Jr. was born June 27, 1932 in West Falmouth, Massachusetts. His father was Fulton Oursler, Sr., well-known author of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told'. Fulton, Jr. attended Georgetown University, from which he received an A.B. in 1954, and he later married Anne Noel Nevill, who also attended Georgetown where she received a B.S.N. in 1954.

Oursler began working at Reader's Digest in 1956. He served as staff editor and assistant managing editor, and in 1974 he was appointed managing editor of the publication. In 1964, he edited his father's autobiography, 'Behold this Dreamer' (Little, Brown). Fulton Oursler, Jr. retired from Reader's Digest in 1990 and now lives in Nyack, New York.


7.5 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Fulton Oursler, Jr. Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057