Daniel Ellsberg seated with right hand visible on the table looking to his left speaking into a microphone

Daniel Ellsberg in front of microphones. ca. 1971

In the fall of 2019 UMass Amherst announced that it had acquired the papers of Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg is known to most people around the world as the man who leaked the so-called “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times in 1971. Although casual observers will know him only for this singular event, his 60+ year career in the military, government, and activism has positioned him to engage in some of the late 20th century’s greatest ethical questions around wartime planning and execution, decisionmaking, empire, and nuclear policy.

This voluminous collection will provide scholars and students with a plethora of material to explore such historic topics as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, nuclear energy and policy, antiwar and anti nuclear activism, and countless others. Dr. Ellsberg’s endless curiosity and intellect is reflected in the breadth and depth of topics reflected in this collection. Besides material collected as a part of his day to day work in government and activism, the collection contains material amassed by Ellsberg that reflects his ability to connect these historic events and actors to broader topics such as spirituality, morality, and psychology.

Read more about Ellsberg and the collection on his collection page.

Collection Updates

Daniel Ellsberg is smiling leaning on a post on his left shoulder in army fatigues with an M16 machine gun in his right hand pointed at the ground

Daniel Ellsberg in Vietnam, ca. 1966

In the summer of 2020, the collection began to be physically organized and described by Jeremy Smith, a UMass Library and SCUA veteran, who lists managing the W. E. B. Du Bois digitization project and processing the papers of NORML among his accomplishments.

February-April 2021

  • A new website  was produced in collaboration with History Professor Christian Appy and Journalism Professor Kathy Roberts Forde along with the GroundTruth Project’s Charlie Sennott. The site contains material from the archive chosen by students in Appy and Forde’s seminar, Truth Dissent and the Life of Daniel Ellsberg, a timeline and a podcast.

December 2020

  • Refoldering and organization has begun! Jeremy is currently doing a more detailed look through boxes to sort and refine material into several archival series and put in brand new acid-free archival folders. Another 91 boxes are also currently being shipped.

October 2020

  • All 370 or so boxes that were shipped last year have been perused, given a rough description, and a shelf location. This rough inventory will make it easier for researchers to access material during processing and will help shape the organization of the collection.

August/September 2020

  • Intellectual organization of the collection continues as students in Professor Chris Appy’s History class, Truth, Dissent, and the Life of Daniel Ellsberg, begin using the collection for research. The class was given permission by the University to hold in-person classes due to the need to physically access the papers.

June/July 2020

  • Due to allowances for small numbers of staff to return to the library, Ellsberg archivist Jeremy Smith has begun processing the physical collection and inventory.

May/June 2020

  • A series of remote lectures by Ellsberg on the Cuban Missile Crisis were recorded over Zoom and will be made available later this year.

March/April 2020

  • A research guide for the collection was built with links to existing Ellsberg resources on the web. Shipping lists have been integrated into a collection index that will form the basis of a current inventory of the collection.

Ellsberg-related news

April  21, 2021
Fifty years ago, my father leaked the Pentagon papers to The New York Times. It changed his life – and mine
Written by Robert Ellsberg, Daniel’s son.

April 8, 2021
The Deceit and Conflict Behind the Leak of the Pentagon Papers
Ben Bradlee Jr. explores the months leading up to the release of the Pentagon Papers.

March 17, 2021
Daniel Ellsberg Talks About Whistleblowing, the Pervasiveness Of Official Lies, and the Dangers of the Espionage Act
From Matt Taibbi’s Useful Idiots Podcast.

February 5, 2021
Consider the source: How the New York Times deceived Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg
Examines the recent “revelation” of how Neil Sheehan acquired the Pentagon Papers). See also: Seeing the Pentagon Papers in a New Light by Stephen Engelberg at Pro Publica.

November 2, 2020
We need ‘a landslide victory’: Legendary activist Daniel Ellsberg explains why progressives should vote Biden
Ellsberg and his son Michael argue against voting for third party candidates during the 2020 election and how it can harm the progressive agenda.

August 4, 2020
Me and Roger Stone: Tracing connections between the Nixon and Trump White Houses
This article details Roger Stone’s connections to the attempted attack on Ellsberg during a protest on May 3, 1972; written by Michael Segal, one of the organizers of the protest.

July 21, 2020
Tran Ngoc Chau: Vietnamese soldier and influential American ally
Tran Ngoc Chau died on June 17 of complications from COVID-19. He was a friend of Ellsberg, who was introduced to him by John Paul Vann in Vietnam.

March 30, 2020
Michael Balaban, who worked for Robert F. Kennedy, dies
Michael Balaban represented Ellsberg & Anthony Russo in the Pentagon Papers case.

February 4, 2020
Judge OKs limited release of Pentagon Papers case records

Learn more:

Video

 

Institute for New Economic Thinking: A History of the Nuclear Danger that the Military Industrial Complex Engineered
Ellsberg discusses his book, The Doomsday Machine. From December 14, 2020

 

Community Church of Boston 50th Anniversary talk (hear the original May 1971 talk in Learn More above), From Here to Doomsday: Endless Wars and the Insane Nuclear Policies since the Pentagon Papers.
Dan begins at 39 minutes after an introduction from a member of the Church.
from December 13, 2020

 

Kevin Gosztola Interviews Pentagon Papers Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg On Assange Extradition Trial
From September 26, 2020

 

Daniel Ellsberg and Angela Richter: The Urgent Global Need for Whistleblowers | DiEM25 TV
Streamed on April 21, 2020, acclaimed Croatian-German theatre director, activist and author Angela Richter interviews Daniel Ellsberg on the need for government whistleblowers.

 

Panel Discussion on the 1 year anniversary of Julian Assange’s arrest
Held on April 11, 2020, this virtual panel discussion discusses the free speech implications of Wikileaks founder Julain Assange’s arrest. It features Dan Ellsberg along with Chris Hedges, Marjorie Cohn, and Aaron Mate. Sponsored by the Courage Foundation.

 

The Daniel Ellsberg Collection: I. Contents of the Archive
In this excerpt from an interview held in April of 2019, Ellsberg describes the contents of his vast archive.

 

A Conversation with Daniel Ellsberg and Charles Sennott ’84
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy introduced Daniel Ellsberg and UMass Amherst alumnus Charles Sennott ’84 for a WGBH conversation Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at One Guest Street in Boston.

October 2019 Friends of the Library talk
Daniel Ellsberg speaks about his book The Doomsday Machine and his career campaigning against nuclear weapons at the 21st Annual Friends of the Library Fall 2019 Reception.

 

Leaking in the Age of Trump
From Vice News August 4, 2017