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Eugene Lyons papers

Identifier: Coll 117

Scope and Contents note

The collection consists primarily of manuscripts of published works, such as Assignment In Utopia, Our Secret Allies, and biographies of Herbert Hoover and David Sarnoff. The four folders of letters in the collection include those from prominent people, such as Major Semyon Budenni (a hero of the Russian revolution), Cecil B. deMille, Lewis Gannett, Sir Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, Joseph Stalin, and Harry Truman. Most of the correspondence, however, is of the nature of "fan" letters from readers of Assignment In Utopia. Of special interest is an original typed and corrected copy of an interview of Joseph Stalin by Lyons, dated November 22, 1930 and signed by Stalin.


  • Creation: 1929-1964


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.

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

Eugene Lyons has been a newspaperman, foreign correspondent, editor, radio commentator, and a prolific political writer. He has corresponded with many of the prominent people responsible for major historical events in the twentieth century, and has dedicated himself to a lifetime of studies of Soviet affairs, the U.S.S.R., and communism. At first sympathetic to the "communist experiment," Lyons later turned fervently against it. He has written and lectured extensively on the Soviet system and world communism.

Lyons was born in Uzlain, Russia, on July 1, 1898, to Nathan and Minnie (Privin) Lyons. In 1907 he came to the United States. He attended the College of the City of New York in 1916-17, and Columbia University in 1917. In 1918, he joined the U.S. Army.

His career as a journalist began in 1919 as a reporter and editor for several eastern papers. In 1924, he received a position with the Tass News Agency offices in New York as either an editor or assistant director, depending upon the reference work cited.

In 1928, he was hired as a foreign correspondent for United Press and was stationed in Moscow. During this assignment he became the first foreign reporter granted an interview with Joseph Stalin. His experiences during this period are related in his book, Assignment in Utopia, published late in 1937.

During the war years (1939-1944) Lyons was the editor for The American Mercury in New York. In 1945 he initiated and served as the first editor for The Pageant; and in 1946, he was offered a post on the editorial staff of Reader's Digest where he remained until his retirement in 1968.

In his other activities, he helped found and served as the first president for the American Committee for the Liberation of Peoples of Russia (known later as the Radio Liberty Committee), was among the founding members and the second president (1939-1940) of the Overseas Press Club and was a member of the Dutch Treat Club. Lyons died on January 7, 1985.


3 linear feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



Eugene Lyons (1898-1985) was a newspaperman, foreign correspondent, editor, radio commentator and a political writer. The collection includes manuscripts, publications and letters.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series:

Manuscripts and books

Letters received, and mementos

Other Finding Aids

See the Collective Name Index to the Research Collection of Conservative and Libertarian Studies for a cross-referenced index to names of correspondents in this collection, if any, and 37 related University of Oregon collections, including dates of correspondence. See index instructions on use.

General Physical Description note

2 containers

Processing Information note

Collection processed by processing staff, September 2006.

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 Eugene Lyons Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by processing staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA