Merrill Mueller Papers, 1935-1976


Summary Information
Title: Merrill Mueller Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1935-1976

Creator:
  • Mueller, Merrill, 1916-1980
Call Number: Mss 704; Micro 1102; Tape 1178A; PH Mss 704

Quantity: 0.8 c.f. (2 archives boxes), 3 reels of microfilm (35mm), 7 tape recordings, 24 photographs, and 3 pieces of ephemera

Repository:
Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Abstract:
Papers of Merrill Mueller, a prominent journalist best known for his news reporting for the National Broadcasting Company (1944-1968). Included are biographical clippings, photographs, and publicity; fragmentary correspondence primarily concerning the internal operations of NBC and INS (for whom he also reported early in his career); news stories and radio scripts (many of them eyewitness accounts) concerning World War II, the Palestine Crisis (1947), and the NASA program (1961-1974); several drafts of “The Great Crusade,” an unpublished book concerning his experiences as a correspondent during World War II; and other writings. The World War II materials, which are only available on microfilm, include an extensive run of dispatches sent to Newsweek from Northern Africa (1942-1943) and radio scripts for NBC pertaining to his coverage of General Eisenhower's headquarters, 1944-1945, written for NBC and for the World Press Pool whose representative he was at Allied headquarters. Prominent correspondents in the collection include Mark Clark, Dwight Eisenhower, Julian Goodman, Ray Henle, Elmer Lower, and William R. McAndrew. Recordings of several news reports are included with the papers.

Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mss00704
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Biography/History

Journalist Merrill Mueller, son of the well-known artist Karl Mueller, was born in 1916 in New York City and educated in Connecticut public schools. He studied at Springfield (Massachusetts) University for one year but then dropped out to pursue a career in journalism and broadcasting. Mueller, or “Red” as he was known, began his career as a reporter at the Buffalo Times but soon took a position as clerk and copy boy with the King Features Syndicate in New York. Three years later he joined the staff of the Independent News Service in Washington, D.C., where he covered various New Deal agencies. Also during this time, Mueller worked as a specialist on labor and aviation news before briefly covering the Spanish Civil War. In 1938 Mueller was sent to Paris. From this base, he was dispatched on special assignments covering the major capitals of Europe. He thus became one of the youngest American foreign correspondents.

In 1938 NBC Radio made an arrangement with INS for Mueller to alternate with Paul Archinard on its Red and Blue Networks. On a trip to Warsaw Mueller learned of Hitler's planned invasion of Poland and quickly returned to Paris to file his important scoop. Later in 1939 he cabled an eyewitness account of the fall of France.

During 1941 and 1942 Mueller served as European director for Newsweek with occasional bylines in the magazine. During that period he was also a roving reporter for NBC, covering Europe, Africa, India, Asia, and the Pacific. In 1942 Mueller returned to the United States, resigned from INS, and officially became a reporter for NBC, for whom he would cover some of his biggest war stories: D-Day, the Normandy Invasion, and the Battle of the Bulge. At this time he was the official voice of the World Radio Pool, covering General Eisenhower's headquarters for the four major radio networks.

During the following year Mueller was transferred to the Pacific theater from which post he observed the remainder of the war. In this capacity he filed reports on the destruction of Hiroshima and covered the Japanese surrender on the Missouri .

For the four years after the war Mueller directed NBC's London bureau. From this desk he covered the takeover of Czechoslovakia, the Palestinian crisis, the Klaus Fuchs spy trial, the Korean truce talks, the food crisis in India, and other stories of international importance. By 1951 Mueller had received thirteen decorations (including the Purple Heart) and numerous professional awards including the Overseas Press Club Award and the Polk Award.

Returning to the United States, Mueller was assigned to cover the 1952 presidential conventions. He thus began building his reputation as a political correspondent. In 1956 he personally developed a computerized statistical model to improve reporters' ability to predict election results. Mueller continued to serve as floor reporter and co-anchor for all presidential elections and as co-anchor for all inaugurations through 1976.

In 1953 Mueller produced, directed, and served as commentator for NBC's innovative Weekend radio program. He also briefly anchored Today and regularly substituted for John Cameron Swayze on the Camel News Caravan. In addition, he anchored numerous news specials, covered Queen Elizabeth's coronation, and reported on the death of Pope Pius XII and the election of John XXIII.

Drawing on his interest in aviation and his experience during World War II, NBC assigned him to cover all NASA spaceflights. In 1964 he travelled with Nelson Rockefeller during the presidential campaign. In 1968 he switched to ABC and was briefly managing editor in Denver of KOA-TV. Later he returned to the New York/Washington and Los Angeles circuits. In 1972, his final campaign assignment, Mueller covered George McGovern.

In 1975 Mueller joined the staff of the Federal Energy Administration's Communications and Public Affairs staff in Washington, D.C., and as official historian of the agency he drafted The Continuing Crisis. Other publications by Mueller include the booklet Escape from Belgium (1940), American Air Power (1941), and Space Benefits (1960). In addition, he was a contributing editor of U.S. Foreign Policy in 1947.

Merrill Mueller retired in 1979 and died in 1980. He was survived by his wife Jane and sons, Kenneth and Kevin.

Scope and Content Note

Although the Merrill Mueller Papers document almost the full extent of his long and distinguished career in broadcast journalism, the overall coverage of the papers is quite fragmentary with the bulk of the collection concerning his World War II reporting for INS, NBC, and Newsweek. The material pertaining to the World War II period was received in a highly deteriorated condition. In order to preserve their intellectual content, in 1987 these files were microfilmed and the originals destroyed.

The collection consists of promotional and biographical material, correspondence, and broadcast scripts, news stories, articles, speeches, book drafts, and other writings and miscellany. In addition, the collection includes a few recordings of news stories and some miscellaneous photographs.

BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL AND PUBLICITY contains general background information on Mueller, including career summaries, resumes, clippings, photographs, and promotional material about him and some of the programs with which he was associated. Photographs and ephemera include portraits of Mueller, images of him working in broadcasting, and press identification cards.

CORRESPONDENCE is comprised primarily of information on professional and business operations, especially at INS and NBC. There is little of a personal nature, although there are a few World War II letters written to his family. Overall, the coverage of the correspondence is quite fragmentary and rather disappointing, especially because his unpublished book on World War II hints at the existence of long, detailed letters (and actually quotes a few items) written to his family about his experiences for a projected history of the war. The World War II diaries are similarly missing from the collection.

The correspondence is divided by type (letters sent, letters received, letters about Mueller, inter-office memos, and telegrams) and then filed chronologically. Prominent correspondents within the letters received section include Mark Clark, Dwight Eisenhower, Julian Goodman, Ray Henle, Elmer Lower, and William R. McAndrew. One letter from Eisenhower in 1947 contains some interesting comments on politics, a career which Mueller was apparently considering. Later letters concern Eisenhower's own political ambitions. There is also some brief correspondence on Mueller's award-winning coverage of the takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948.

Largely absent from the letters received section are responses from listeners or viewers. The primary exception to this is a small group of letters, mostly negative, written in response to a Mueller broadcast on News of the World (1960) dealing with the South's reluctant steps toward desegregation. Letters about Mueller include items mentioning, but not directly addressed to Mueller. These include letters on personnel matters and complimentary letters from NBC executives about Mueller. There is also a letter from General Eisenhower to Mueller's mother about her son's wartime activities. Inter-office memos primarily deal with INS and NBC operations. Included are reviews of meetings and conferences and program suggestions from Mueller. Of note here is an inquiry from Eisenhower concerning employment of Mueller in a public relations capacity. The file of telegrams contains cables relating to general reportorial duties, including two from Eisenhower and one from Winston Churchill.

WRITINGS in the collection include broadcast scripts and news stories, speeches, book drafts, and other miscellaneous items. Broadcast scripts and news stories, many of them extensively annotated, constitute perhaps the most important section of the collection. A few of the files contain supplementary background material. The bulk of the scripts and news stories cover reporting during World War II, with only a relatively small portion relating to his post-war work. Some of these later news scripts, however, as well as supplementary correspondence and memoranda, may be found in the records of the National Broadcasting Company and in the papers of Ray Henle and John MacVane and other NBC journalists held by the Historical Society.

Well represented in the scripts and news stories for the World War II period are cabled stories from the Allied African Headquarters for Newsweek (1942-1943) and radio scripts written for NBC and as the World Press Pool representative at Eisenhower's headquarters (1944-1945). Other broadcasts concern the Palestine crisis (1947), the Korean War (1951), Vatican City (1958, 1963), the NASA space program (1961-circa 1974), and the presidential campaigns of Nelson Rockefeller (1963-1964) and George McGovern (1972).

The section of speeches is comprised of lectures on various topics, including post-war Japanese recovery, Anglo-American relations, and Mueller's perceptions of the threat of Communism.

Book drafts include an annotated carbon (circa 1975) of his FEA history, The Continuing Crisis; a proposal for “Full Cycle,” a book that was to deal with contemporary politics and history from the 1930s through the 1970s; and several drafts of “The Great Crusade,” his unpublished, autobiographical account of Eisenhower's career from D-Day to V-E Day.

Other writings in the papers include a seven-part newspaper series on the progress of the war (1941), an award-winning newspaper piece on the invasion of Czechoslovakia (1948), his booklet Escape from Belgium (1940), and a file of INS articles of uncertain authorship but presumably by Mueller. Recordings of several broadcasts also are present.

MISCELLANY contains two of his reporters' notebooks, one covering August to November 1943 (which includes the Patton slapping incident) and the second outlining the period from Roosevelt's New Deal to the early 1960s possibly for his “Full Cycle” volume. Also included are excerpts from Melville Shavelson's screenplay for the television miniseries Ike: The War Years (1977), annotated by Mueller.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Jane Mueller, Culver City, California, November 19, 1985. Accession Number: M85-450


Processing Information

Processed and prepared for microfilming by Henry Mattoon (Intern), 1986-1987.


Contents List
Mss 704
Series: Biographical Material and Publicity
Box   1
Folder   1
Resumes and publicity, 1940-1968
Box   1
Folder   2
Biographical clippings, 1937-1970
PH Mss 704
Photographs and ephemera
Mss 704
Series: Correspondence
Letters
Box   1
Folder   3
Letters sent, 1939-1975, undated
Box   1
Folder   4
Letters received, 1938-1975, undated
Box   1
Folder   5
Letters about Mueller, 1945-1968
Box   1
Folder   6
Inter-office memos, 1938-1976, undated
Box   1
Folder   7
Telegrams, 1942-1955, undated
Series: Writings
Broadcast scripts and news stories
Box   1
Folder   8
1937-1944
Box   1
Folder   9
1938 INS stories of uncertain authorship
Micro 1102
Reel   1
Frame   1
1943, African headquarters dispatches for Newsweek (#1-53)
Reel   1
Frame   275
1944-1945, NBC and World Press Pool scripts
Tape 1178A
No.   6
Report, June 9, 1944 from Eisenhower's headquarters made as the network pool representative
No.   1
Undated radio documentary concerning NBC News coverage of D-Day
Scope and Content Note: In addition to Mueller, various other reporters are featured including Richard Harkness, H. V. Kaltenborn, Robert McCormick, Elmer Peterson, and Lowell Thomas.
Mss 704
Box   1
Folder   10
1947, Palestine Crisis
Box   2
Folder   1
1951-1961
Tape 1178A
No.   4
Report, October 8, 1958, by Robert Wilson concerning the death of Pope Pius XII
Note: A report by Mueller from Rome is included.
Mss 704
Box   2
Folder   2
1961-1974, undated, NASA
Tape 1178A
No.   7
Report, October 11, 1968, by Mueller from Cape Canaveral concerning the launching of Apollo 7
No.   3
Report, July 1970, by Willard Scott concerning the launching of Apollo 11
Mss 704
Box   2
Folder   3
1962-1972
Tape 1178A
No.   5
Report, 1963, by Mueller from Rome with Father Robert O'Donnell concerning the election of a successor to Pope John XXIII
No.   2
1974, July 7, ABC News special report by Mueller concerning the final vote for impeachment of President Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee
Mss 704
Box   2
Folder   4
Speeches, circa 1947-1976, undated
Box   2
Folder   5
Miscellaneous writings, 1940-1955
Book drafts and other preliminary material
Micro 1102
“The Great Crusade”
1942 draft
Reel   1
Frame   786
Chapter 1
Reel   1
Frame   823
“Way Down Under”
Note: Originally drafted as Chapter 9 and perhaps other chapters, but in this order in material received from donor.
Reel   1
Frame   983
Chapter 2, “April 16, May 10, and Mr. Hess”
Reel   1
Frame   1015
Chapter 3, “Family Letter”
Reel   1
Frame   1049
Chapter 4, “Fifth Column on Our Side”
Reel   2
Frame   1
Chapter 6, “The Rock”
Reel   2
Frame   18
Chapter 7, “The Most Bombed Spot”
Reel   2
Frame   40
Chapter 8, “Libya, Cairo”
Reel   2
Frame   61
Chapter 9, “To the East”
Reel   2
Frame   84
Chapter 10, “Java”
Reel   2
Frame   135
Chapter 17, “Home to Intolerance”
Reel   2
Frame   166
Chapter 18, “American World Tomorrow”
Reel   2
Frame   186
Loose pages
1944-1945 draft
Draft #1
Reel   2
Frame   251
Chapter 1
Reel   2
Frame   321
Chapter 2, “Arsenal”
Reel   2
Frame   404
Chapter 3, “Indomitable Base”
Reel   2
Frame   471
Chapter 4, “Bombs, Bombs, Bombs”
Reel   2
Frame   528
Pages censored and missing from Draft 1, 7-124
Draft #2
Reel   2
Frame   567
Chapter 1, “Four Years and One Man”
Reel   2
Frame   622
Chapter 2, “Arsenal”
Reel   2
Frame   622
Chapter 3, “Indomitable Base”
Reel   2
Frame   691
Chapter 4, “Bombs, Bombs, Bombs”
Reel   2
Frame   733
Chapter 5, “The Plan”
Reel   2
Frame   754
Chapter 6, “D Day”
Reel   2
Frame   810
Chapter 7, “Battles of the Beaches”
Reel   2
Frame   914
Chapter 8, “Breakthrough”
Reel   3
Frame   1
Chapter 9, “Arnheim or Cologne”
Reel   3
Frame   52
Chapter 10 “Strengthening the Line”
Reel   3
Frame   109
Chapter 11, “Counteroffensive”
Reel   3
Frame   171
Chapter 12, “Prelude to Victory”
Reel   3
Frame   242
Chapter 13, “Over the Rhine”
Reel   3
Frame   322
Chapter 14, “Berlin to Tokyo”
Mss 704
Box   2
Folder   6
“Bye, Bye, Britain,” Prospectus and notes, circa 1949
Box   2
Folder   7
“Purely Personal,” Chapter II, circa 1949
Box   2
Folder   8
“Full Cycle,” Proposal, circa 1972
Box   2
Folder   9
“The Continuing Crisis: The FEA's First Official Year,” Annotated carbon draft, circa 1975
Series: Miscellany
Box   2
Folder   10
Reporter's notebooks, 1943, circa 1961
Box   2
Folder   11
Ike: the War Years, 1977, Extracts only