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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.


  • Creation: 1938 - 2021


Language of Materials

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

Conditions Governing Access

These materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or, 9-5 M-F CST) no less than three days in advance of a planned visit. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

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 (1937- )

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 has published many books, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as articles in numerous fields of interest. 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's other 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 settlers 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.


134.25 Linear Feet (137 boxes + 8 oversize boxes + 35 folders)

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Richard Rhodes, from 1938 to 2021. Included in the collection are personal records concerning family, travel, and involvement with professional organizations. The collection also includes correspondance, both personal and pertaining to his research and professional career. Further, the collection contains media associated with Rhodes's extensive bibliography, including promotional material, published copies, official artwork, and audiovisual records.

With the above materials, the majority of the collection comprises of various manuscript drafts, gallery proofs, and extensive research files used in Rhodes's writings concerning his published books, academic articles, guest lectures, and other professional engagements.

Staff have organized the collection into seven major series due to its size. Series 1. Family/Personal Papers; Series 2. Correspondence; Series 3. Writings; Series 4. Addition to the Collection at RH MS 1239; Series 5. Oversize Materials; Series 6. Photographic Materials; and Series 7. Audiovisual Materials. Additional arrangement notes within each individual series will be detailed at the series level as needed.

Physical Location

RH MS 1134

Physical Location

RH MS 1239

Physical Location

RH MS 1260

Physical Location

RH MS-P 1134, RH MS-P 1134(f)

Physical Location

RH MS Q344, RH MS Q356

Physical Location

RH MS R246, RH MS R309, RH MS R540

Physical Location


Physical Location

RH Tape 38

Physical Location

RH Cassette Tape 47

Physical Location

Annex (Contact Spencer Library Public Services)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Richard Rhodes, 2021 and previously.

Guide to the Richard Rhodes Collection
Richard Rhodes papers
Finding aid prepared by sh and sf, 2008. Finding aid encoded by sh and sf, 2008. Finding aid revised by cc, 2011; mwh, 2018; kls, mk, and cmp, 2023.
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