Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Eugene Lyons has been a newspaperman, foreign correspondent, editor, radio commentator, and a prolific political writer. He has corresponded with many of the prominent people responsible for major historical events in the twentieth century, and has dedicated himself to a lifetime of studies of Soviet affairs, the U.S.S.R., and communism. At first sympathetic to the "communist experiment," Lyons later turned fervently against it. He has written and lectured extensively on the Soviet system and world communism.
Lyons was born in Uzlain, Russia, on July 1, 1898, to Nathan and Minnie (Privin) Lyons. In 1907 he came to the United States. He attended the College of the City of New York in 1916-17, and Columbia University in 1917. In 1918, he joined the U.S. Army.
His career as a journalist began in 1919 as a reporter and editor for several eastern papers. In 1924, he received a position with the Tass News Agency offices in New York as either an editor or assistant director, depending upon the reference work cited.
In 1928, he was hired as a foreign correspondent for United Press and was stationed in Moscow. During this assignment he became the first foreign reporter granted an interview with Joseph Stalin. His experiences during this period are related in his book,
Assignment in Utopia, published late in 1937.
During the war years (1939-1944) Lyons was the editor for
The American Mercury in New York. In 1945 he initiated and served as the first editor for
The Pageant; and in 1946, he was offered a post on the editorial staff of
Reader's Digest where he remained until his retirement in 1968.
In his other activities, he helped found and served as the first president for the American Committee for the Liberation of Peoples of Russia (known later as the Radio Liberty Committee), was among the founding members and the second president (1939-1940) of the Overseas Press Club and was a member of the Dutch Treat Club. Lyons currently resides in New York.
The collection consists primarily of manuscripts of published works, such as
Assignment In Utopia, Our Secret Allies, and biographies of Herbert Hoover and David Sarnoff. The four folders of letters in the collection include those from prominent people, such as Major Semyon Budenni (a hero of the Russian revolution), Cecil B. deMille, Lewis Gannett, Sir Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, Joseph Stalin, and Harry Truman. Most of the correspondence, however, is of the nature of "fan" letters from readers of
Assignment In Utopia. Of special interest is an original typed and corrected copy of an interview of Joseph Stalin by Lyons, dated November 22, 1930 and signed by Stalin.
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
Collection is open to the public.
Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.
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Preferred Citation :
[Identification of item], Eugene Lyons Papers, Coll 117, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
Collection is organized into the following series:
Series: Manuscripts and books
Series: Letters received, and mementos
Processing Note :
Collection processed by processing staff, September 2006.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Manuscripts and books
Assignment in Utopia. Published by Harcourt, Brace. Carbon of original draft. Unconnected.
David Sarnoff. Published by Harper & Row. Photocopy of final corrected copy. Galley proof, corrected. Page proof, corrected.
Herbert Hoover. Published by Doubleday. Original draft, revised and corrected. Printer's copy, "with original title : The Many Lives of Herbert Hoover. (Box 2)
Our Secret Allies. Published by Duell, Sloane
& Pearce. Top carbon of final draft, corrected.
Typed, signed, and 1 card, autograph note, signed.
Typed letter, signed, Nov. 26, 1929. -- Original typed and corrected copy of interview, Lyons and Stalin. Signed by Stalin.
November 22, 1930
Budenni, (Marshal) Semion M. Autographed, signed letter to Lyons.
Menu of dinner given by American correspondents for Soviet Ambassador Troyanovsky. Autographed by guests, including Harpo Marx, Louis Fischer, Bella Rodman, TF. H. Charaberlin, Linton Tells, Spencer Williams, Eugene Lyons.
December 4, 1933
Russian press identification pass issued to Eugene Lyons