Rare Book & Manuscript Library Acquires Papers of Patricia S. McCormack

Beginning in 1949 and continuing until the 1980s, McCormack wrote about domestic matters, healthcare, and home economics. Her comments discussed issues serious – “Leftover Medicine is Danger” – and not-quite-so serious – “Dumb Jock Jokes May Become Thing of Past.” Opening with a sprightly and colloquial lead-in her articles usually turned to medical or professional opinion, providing readers a combination of entertainment and expert advice.

McCormack worked for various publications and syndicates during her career, including the International News Service, United Press International, the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, and the Greenwich Citizen. 

“Patricia McCormack, at age 75 or thereabouts, was among my first hires as editor of the fledgling Greenwich Citizen,” said founding editor Don Harrison. “Her credentials over a lengthy journalistic career were impeccable and she quickly established herself as our star reporter. Pat could be gruff on occasion, but she was an indefatigable worker and she had a warm heart.” 

An individual McCormack column might track the career of 1,258 geniuses or serve as a celebration of the humble office memo. But most often she wrote about family matters, delving into the stresses involved with creating a household in the modern world. “Infants Pull Wool Over Parents’ Eyes,” “Tiny Tots Fracture Language,” “New Father Needn’t be Fifth Wheel,” “Teenagers Sound Off About Adults’ Habits” – these were characteristic topics for her typewriter. 

“McCormack’s writing offers discrete spotlights on midcentury America,” said Thai Jones, Herbert H. Lehman Curator for U.S. History at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. “Her work offers insights into the minor fascinations and nagging fears of a generation, while largely avoiding the existential threats that shadowed Cold War society. For researchers, these papers will be a fascinating resource for investigations into journalism, gender, and domesticity.” 

The Patricia S. McCormack papers – consisting of 18 linear feet of correspondence, story drafts, and printed materials – join the RBML’s already-significant holdings in the history of journalism. Other important Columbia collections in this field include materials related to editors Marie Mattingly Meloney, Joseph Pulitzer, and John Oakes, as well as such journalistic organizations as the Woman’s Press Club of New York City, the Overseas Press Club of America, and Committee to Protect Journalists. The library’s collections also include materials collected by distinguished columnists, correspondents, and reporters, including Ernestine Evans, Walter Lippmann, Lincoln Steffens, Benjamin Stolberg, Herbert Matthews, and Harrison Salisbury.  

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year.  The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.