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Harrison Forman papers

Identifier: Coll 024

Scope and Contents note

The Harrison Forman Papers include a variety of material, the most noteworthy being 62 diaries he kept while a correspondent and traveler. They have been arranged chronologically, 1932-1973. Of special interest is Diary #19 (2/1) which includes interviews with Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. There is only one folder of correspondence and a limited amount of manuscript material. Also included in the collection are news dispatches (mostly concerning China) radio broadcast interviews, audio-visual scripts concerning geographic areas, and books.

Approximately 100 photographs, 59 slides of Tibet, and 8 filmstrips on Africa are included.

A catalogue of Harrison Forman photographs which the donor separated from this collection for separate sale can be found in Box 7, Folder 1)


  • Creation: 1931-1974


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary. Glass plate negatives and lantern slides are restricted due to the fragility of the format. All decisions regarding use will be at the discretion of the curator for visual materials.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Harrison Forman (1904-1978) was an American explorer, aviator, photographer, journalist and author. Forman was born June 15, 1904 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 11329 after majoring in Oriental Languages. During the early 1930's he went to China where he sold American aircraft and trained pilots.

It was in China that he heard of a mysterious mountain in Tibet supposedly taller than Mt. Everest, officially the highest mountain in the world. Forman went to Tibet and although he never found the mountain he sought he did earn the distinction of being one of the first western visitors to visit Tibet. As a result of his experience in Tibet, Forman in 1937 was the technical director for Lost Horizon, an Academy Award-winning film.

During the late thirties Forman covered the Sino-Japanese conflict as a cameraman for the "March of Time" newsreel service and also reported for the New York Times on Japanese forces across Asia. Forman became best known during this time for his coverage of the Sino-Japanese conflict, the Chinese government under Chiang Kai-shek, the Japanese bombardment of Shanghai in 1937, and the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. It was also during World War II in 1944 that Forman interviewed Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai, and other communist leaders.

After the war Harrison Forman became an often quoted authority on Far East matters. He wrote books on China, Africa, photography and later ran a travel agency. Among the many newspapers and magazines he worked for were the London Times, New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Harper's, Life, Reader's Digest, and National Geographic. He was also a lifetime member of the Explorer's Club. Mr. Forman died on January 31, 1978 in New York City.


7.75 linear feet (10 containers, 1 package, 11 volumes)

Language of Materials



Harrison Forman (1904-1978) was an American explorer, aviator, photographer, journalist and author. Collection comprises 62 diaries kept by Forman while a world traveler and journalist, as well as photographs, journalism, interviews, writings, and books by Forman. Collection materials include accounts of the Sino-Japanese conflict, the Chinese government under Chiang Kai-shek, the Japanese bombardment of Shanghai in 1937, and the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Correspondence Manuscripts: Articles, news stories Diaries Dispatches Newsclips Other writings Radio broadcast interviews with Forman Photographic materials: Audio-visual scripts Photographic materials: Photographs, slides Photographic materials: Filmstrips Photographic materials: Miscellaneous Packages

Separated Materials note

Maps in this collection are stored separately in the Map Library.

Artworks in this collection have been transferred to the University of Oregon Museum of Art.

General Physical Description note

10 containers, 1 package, 11 volumes

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Harrison Forman Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Francis Keating
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA