Joseph E. Persico Papers, 1910-2003
- The papers of Joseph Persico focus on his careers as a full-time author and as a political speechwriter for New York State Commissioner of Health, Hollis Ingraham, and New York State Governor, Nelson Rockefeller.
- 18.54 cubic ft.
- English .
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Joseph E. Persico Papers, 1910-2003. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Persico Papers).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
The collected papers of Joseph Persico focus on his careers as a political speechwriter and as a full-time author. His speeches from the 1960s include his work for both New York State Commissioner of Health, Hollis Ingraham, and New York State Governor, Nelson Rockefeller. Press releases and transcripts associated with the speeches are also present in the Persico files. Nelson Rockefeller's Messages to the Legislature and "Quotes on Issues" during the late 1960s and early 1970s have been filed in Series 1 with Persico's speeches. The Chronological Index to Press Releases, Speeches, and Transcripts Written for Nelson A. Rockefeller was transcribed by Kevin Lawyer from the handwritten original provided by the donor. The index covers the years 1964-1976.
The author's publications files include manuscripts, correspondence, screenplays, interviews for The Imperial Rockefeller, and research notes. For Persico's Piercing the Reich, several folders hold parts of a single OSS (Office of Strategic Services) War Report from 1949, detailing OSS action in Europe, Africa, and Asia during World War II. For Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, the author's files contain a draft of the work and research material including photos from the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Trials.
The texts, drafts, news clippings, correspondence, and other supporting material is available for speeches and other non-book writings of Persico. Among the author's correspondence is an exchange with movie director John Huston who Persico interviewed for an article in American Heritage. Note that correspondence can be found throughout the collection. For example, references to Persico's publications will be found in both the general correspondence files and specific publications' series. An attempt was made to retain the original filing system of the creator with the most recent accessions, but previous arrangement divided some of the correspondence into professional and personal folders.
The material received from the donor in 2006, 2012-2013, and 2018 is not yet arranged and described in this finding aid. Contact Department staff for further information.
Additional material collected and created by Persico during the writing of Piercing the Reich was deposited by Persico at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University. The finding aid for this material is available online through the Online Archive of California. Persico also gave additional material related to his book Edward R. Murrow: An American Original to the Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy at Tufts University.
- Biographical / Historical:
Joseph E. Persico, author and former speechwriter for New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, was born to Thomas and Blanche Persico of Gloversville, New York, on July 19, 1930. In 1952, after receiving a BA in both English and Political Science from the New York State College for Teachers (as the University at Albany was then known), he entered the U.S. Navy and remained in the military for three years. Persico served as a Lieutenant Junior Grade aboard a minesweeper and also with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Headquarters in Naples, Italy. Returning to the U.S. in 1956, Persico matriculated at Columbia University in New York for his graduate work.
In 1956, Joseph Persico began his political writing career, serving Governor W. Averell Harriman as a writer and researcher. After three years with Harriman, Persico then became a Foreign Service Officer for the United States Information Agency (USIA) working in Argentina, Brazil, and Washington. Between 1963 and 1966, Persico served as Executive Assistant to the New York State Health Commissioner, Hollis Ingraham. In 1966, Joseph Persico became the chief speechwriter for New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. Continuing in this position for seven years, he remained Rockefeller's primary speechwriter as the Governor assumed the office of Vice President of the United States from 1974 to 1977.
In 1977, Joseph Persico transitioned into a full-time author, focusing on historical subjects. In that year, his Civil War piece, My Enemy My Brother: Men and Days of Gettysburg, was released. Two years later, he followed up this work with a novel, The Spiderweb, and a nonfiction study, Piercing the Reich: The Penetration of Nazi Germany by American Secret Agents During World War II. In 1982, Persico focused on Nelson Rockefeller's life and published the biography, The Imperial Rockefeller. During the 1990s, Persico created other historical works on both American espionage and the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials following World War II. These works were Casey: From the OSS to the CIA and Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial. Persico also targeted renowned broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow for a biographical sketch in 1990. In addition to his books, Persico has also published numerous articles on American history.
Persico collaborated with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, on his biography. Between 1994 and 1996, the author developed a personal relationship with his subject, occasionally addressing Powell as "Sir Colin", and "Mon General", from "The Hired Pen". Joseph Persico continues to publish books on historical subjects. In November 2001, Random House Inc. released Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage and in 2004, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax was published.
Apart from his professional career, Joseph Persico's private life has been spent with his wife, Sylvia La Vista Persico, and his children, Vanya and Andrea. He currently lives in Guilderland, N.Y.
Chronological Index to Press Releases, Speeches, and Transcripts Written for Nelson A. Rockefeller
This index was transcribed from the handwritten original provided by the donor covering the years 1964-1976.
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Joseph E. Persico in 1984. The Department received additional material from Mr. Persico in August 1997, May 1998, December 1999, December 2003, May 2006, October 2012, July 2013, and April 2018.
The collection is organized into five series.
- Processing information:
Processed by H.W., L.J. and D. Christiansen. Updated and revised by Mike Newman in November 2001 and Amy C. Schindler in March 2006.
State University of New York SUNY, Central Administration
Military and Armed Conflict
Medicine and Health Care
Albany, New York
Generals -- United States.
Gettysburg Campaign, 1863.
Government and the press -- New York (State)
Intelligence officers -- United States.
Nuremberg Trial of Major German War Criminals, Nuremberg, Germany, 1945-1946.
New York (State) -- Politics and government.
United States -- Politics and government.
- Casey, William J.
Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979.
Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006.
Murrow, Edward R.
United States. Central Intelligence Agency.
United States. Office of Strategic Services.