Skip to main content

Richard Rhodes papers

Call Number: RH MS 1134


Richard Rhodes, born in Kansas City, Kansas, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose many books and articles reflect his wide ranging subject interests. In these papers are manuscripts of his writings, copies of his many published works, related correspondence, some personal material and photographs, and the author's extensive research files, containing more than one hundred audio tapes of interviews that he conducted.


  • 1938 - 2011


Language of Materials

Mostly English; also Spanish, Polish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, German, and Korean.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to RH MS 1134 box 50 of this collection is prohibited prior to the year 2050, except by permission of Richard Rhodes or his heirs.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Richard Lee Rhodes

Richard Lee Rhodes was born on July 4, 1937 at Kansas City, Kansas, the youngest of three sons born to Arthur and Georgia Collier Rhodes. Following his mother's suicide in 1938 and his father's subsequent remarriage, Rhodes and his brother Stanley suffered severe childhood abuse, which culminated in their admittance to the Andrew Drumm Institute for orphaned boys at Independence, Missouri.

In 1959, Rhodes graduated cum laude from Yale University, earning a bachelor's degree in history and letters. He afterward trained as a writer at Newsweek magazine, taught English, and worked in corporate public relations before turning full-time to writing.

Rhodes' many books, both fiction and non-fiction, and articles in numerous fields of interest have been widely published. His 1986 history of the atomic bomb's development, The Making of the Bomb, was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction as well as a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award. Topics of Rhodes' major works have included the American Middle West, the Ozarks, the 19th century artist and naturalist John James Audubon, the development of the hydrogen bomb, the history of "mad cow" and other similar diseases, the history of Adolf Hitler's death squad, the life of criminologist Lonnie Athens, case histories of childhood abuse, and the ill-fated pioneers of the Donner Party.

Rhodes is an affiliate of Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation and has received grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


85.70 Linear Feet (86 boxes + 8 oversize boxes)

Scope and Contents

The Richard Rhodes papers date from 1938 to 2011 and are arranged in 7 series: Family/Personal Papers, Correspondence, Writings, an addition to the collection, oversize materials, Photographs, and Audiovisual materials.

The photographic images, which include prints, negatives, slides, and microfilm, are located at RH MS-P 1134. Oversize photographs are at RH MS-P 1134 (f). The collection's compact audio cassettes, which include microcassettes, are at RH Cassette Tape 47. They include more than 100 interviews conducted by Rhodes for purposes of his research. In Boxes 76 and 77 are several videotapes, sound recordings, and 8-track audio cassettes.

RH MS 1239, RH MS Q344, RH MS R309, and RH Tape 38 are all later additions to this collection. They mainly consist of research materials for many of his articles, most of which are included in this collection in their final form, as well as drafts and galley proofs of some of Rhodes's books.

RH MS 1260 is an addition onto the Richard Rhodes papers dating from 1938 to 2006. This series includes drafts for his more recent books dating to 2007 through 2011. This series is made up of three boxes.

RH MS Q356 is an addition onto the Richard Rhodes papers dating from 1938 to 2006. This series contains oversize drafts of the illustration inserts for his more recent books.

Series List

Family/Personal Papers, 1965-2005
Papers in this series relate to Rhodes' family life and personal affairs.
Correspondence, 1963-2006
Correspondence in this series pertains chiefly to Rhodes' career as a writer and speaker.
Writings, 1938-2006
Subseries include Major Writings, Other Writings, and Story Ideas.
Addition to collection
Located at RH MS 1239, this includes personal material and material related to Rhodes' writing.
Oversize materials
Materials at RH MS R246 are arranged like the 3 above series at RH MS 1134; there are also materials at RH MS Q344, RH MS R309, and RH MS Q356.
Photographic materials
Includes prints, slides, and microfilm; located at RH MS-P 1134 and RH MS-P 1134(f).
Audiovisual materials
Includes reel to reel audio recordings, audio cassettes, and other materials.

Physical Location

RH MS 1134

Physical Location

RH Cassette Tape 47

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1134(f)

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1134

Physical Location

RH MS R246

Physical Location

RH MS 1239

Physical Location

RH MS Q344

Physical Location

RH MS R309

Physical Location

RH Tape 38

Physical Location

RH MS 1260

Physical Location

RH MS Q356

Guide to the Richard Rhodes Collection
Richard Rhodes papers
Finding aid prepared by sh and sf, 2008; revised by cc, 2011; revised by mwh, 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Richard Rhodes papers, RH MS 1134, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States