Columbia University Libraries Acquires Papers of Investigative Reporter Peter Maas

NEW YORK, December 9, 2009 – Columbia University Libraries has acquired the papers of noted journalist and author, Peter Maas (1929-2001).


A native New Yorker, Maas came to public attention in the 1960s as an investigative reporter and one of the first representatives of the “New Journalism,” a movement that included Hunter Thompson, Gay Talese, and Tom Wolfe. The New Journalism introduced the techniques of fiction into reporting and developed a unique hybrid style of journalism.

Maas’ big break as a reporter came when he obtained access through the FBI to Mafia hitman, Joe Valachi in the 1960s. Although plagued by lawsuits and controversy, Maas’ interviews with Valachi eventually saw light in 1969 as The Valachi Papers, a hugely popular book that also had great critical acclaim.

Fame came quickly to Maas, who was able to trump the success of the Valachi book with Serpico (1973), his account of the New York City detective who blew the whistle on rampant police corruption. Both books were made into movies. Maas is the author of more than twelve books including an account of one woman’s war against state government corruption, two exposés of government spying as well as another book on organized crime, Underboss (1997). Maas also wrote for the New York Herald Tribune, The Saturday Evening Post, the New York Times Magazine, Parade, and others.

The Maas Papers include his correspondence files, published and unpublished manuscripts, notes, and printed matter. When organized and processed, the papers will be available for research in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children’s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.