McClendon, Sarah 1910-2003

Sarah McClendon papers 1931-1994 - The arrangement of the papers is topical, alphabetical, and chronological. The papers are arranged in six series which have been further arranged into subseries. Unless otherwise noted in the series descriptions, the arrangement scheme for the collections was imposed during processing in the absence of a usable original order.

General note Processing Information: Collection arranged and described by Samantha Winn, 2011

[Identification of item], in the Sarah McClendon papers, The University Archives and Special Collections Department, Robert R. Muntz Library, The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX, USA.

This collection has been divided into six series. Series I: Biographical Material, has subseries A: Material about or by Sarah McClendon, and subseries B: McClendon Family. Series II: Publicity, promotion, and awards, has subseries A: Promotional Materials, subseries B: Posters, subseries C: Photographs, subseries D: Plaques and awards, subseries E: TV and Radio appearances. Series III: Correspondence has subseries A: Professional, subseries B: Sarah McClendon Press Briefing Group, subseries C: Personal, subseries D: Fan Mail, subseries E: Invitations. Series IV: Professional Writing, has subseires A: Columns, subseries B: Articles and Bylines, subseries C: Newsletters, subseries D: Manuscripts, subseries E: Speeches. Series V: Research Files, has subseries A: Subject files and subseries B: Veterans and Veterans Affairs. Series VI: Ephemera and Memorabilia, has no subseries.

Some material may be restricted due to preservation concerns and/or the presence of sensitive documents. Audiovisual materials may require special equipment to access.

This collection documents the trailblazing career of Tyler native Sarah McClendon, a professional journalist, news syndication owner, and Washington correspondent. The collection comprises correspondence, publications, research, speeches, photographs, newspaper clippings, audiovisual recordings, drafts, artifacts, and memorabilia from Sarah McClendon's tenure as a Texas newspaper journalist, veteran, and White House Press Corps member (spanning nine presidencies, from FDR to Clinton). It also contains personal materials, including family correspondence, photographs, vital records, tax documents, and military service documents. Some of the significant topics represented in these files are veterans rights, with a special emphasis on women veterans and the V.A.; the military, covering her affiliation with the VFW, American Legion, WAC, and DACOWITS; women in journalism, including membership in the National Press Club, Womens National Press Club, Women in Communications, and White House Correspondence Association ; women's rights organizations, including the Women's Equity Action League, National Women's Party, Women Involved in Farm Economics, and Soroptomist International; U.S. Presidents, including details of her personal and professional relationships with the presidents, their family, and their staff; the Texas Delegation in Washington, D.C., with a special emphasis on the activities of the Texas Breakfast Club and the careers of prominent Texas politicians; the defense department and U.S. intelligence agencies; Irish-American heritage, including a 1937 trip to Ireland and her term on the St. Patrick's Parade Committee; foreign affairs, with a special emphasis on U.S.- Soviet relations, American actions in Cuba, the Iran-Contra affair, and the 1991 invasion of Iraq; World War II; East Texas, with a special emphasis on the oil industry, agriculture, veterans' health, and Tyler, Texas; aging and the elderly, including A.A.R.P., health care and social security reform. Records and ephemera in this collection are divided into six series: Biographic Material; Publicity, Promotion, and Awards; Correspondence; Professional Writing; Research Files; Ephemera and Memorabilia.

Most documents are in the public domain. Copyright restrictions on some published materials and photographs may apply. Sensitive personal information may be restricted.

Related materials documenting the history of the McClendon family in Tyler may be found at the Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House in Tyler, Texas. The Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House is a historic estate and museum in Tyler; items of interest include photographs, correspondence, and artifacts from of Sarah McClendon's childhood and family. The "Sarah Newcomb McClendon Papers" at the State Historical Society of Missouri are part of the National Women and Media Collection; they contain 3.5 linear feet of personal and professional papers, including materials similar to the Sarah McClendon papers at UT Tyler. The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. has two video interviews of Sarah McClendon in the National Press Club Oral History Collection. The Washington Press Club Foundation has archival materials and interviews of Sarah McClendon for the Women in Journalism Oral History Project. Materials are housed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tyler Junior College holds the "Sarah McClendon Collection", consisting of audiovisual material spanning McClendon's Washington career. Materials are unique from the audiovisual materials in the UT Tyler collection, including many interviews and press conferences.

Sarah McClendon was born in Tyler, Texas on July 8, 1910. She graduated from Tyler Junior College and the University of Missouri, School of Journalism. Her first major news story was the New London, Texas school explosion in March 1937. After reporting for local newspapers in Tyler and Beaumont, she enlisted in the Women's Army Corps where she obtained the rank of first lieutenant. In addition to a position as a Pentagon public affairs officer, she was the first WAC to serve in the Office of the Army Surgeon General. After World War II she remained in Washington and opened the McClendon News Service, a syndication service which primarily served newspapers in Texas. Her columns and newsletters were also syndicated nationally (the most prominent being "Sarah McClendon's Washington" column and her biweekly newsletter, "Sarah McClendon's Washington Report.") As a Washington press correspondent, Sarah McClendon covered eleven presidential administrations, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton. She also reported regularly on Congress and the Defense Department, in addition to serving as a popular radio and television analyst. Sarah McClendon was also a regular speaker at universities, think tanks, Washington, D.C. events, and programs for veterans, women, and journalists. She authored two books, My Eight Presidents (Wyden Books, 1978) and Mr. President, Mr. President (General Publishing Group, 1996). McClendon was best known for her sharp, direct questions of presidents and public officials. Her inquiries at White House press conferences frequently attracted national attention, including her questions to Kennedy about security risks in the State Department, Eisenhower about mobilizing troops in Lebanon without Congressional consent, and George H.W. Bush about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. Further publicity resulted from her questions to President Nixon about delayed GI Bill payments (which resulted in major restructuring at the Veterans Administration) and to President Reagan about his administration's treatment of women. Sarah McClendon held multiple offices in national organizations, including terms as vice-president of the National Press Club (the first woman to hold the office), president of the American News Women's Club, vice-chairman of the National Woman's Party, and president of the Capitol Hill First Friday Club. She also held many appointed offices, including positions on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), Veterans Administration Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, the Army Advisory Task Force on Women in the Army Policy Review, and the National Council of the National Woman's Party. Sarah McClendon received many awards and honors, including a place in the Washington D.C. Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame (Sigma Delta Chi); a Headliner award from Women in Communications; First Presidential Award for Covering Washington from the National Federation of Press Women; Media Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars; the American Woman award from the Women's Research and Education Foundation; the Woman of Conscience Award from the National Council of Women; Association of Government Communicators Award; the Elizabeth Boyer Award from the Women's Equity Action League; the University of Missouri's Distinguished Alumnus Award; and the Golden Eagle Award presented to her in 1991 by the University of Texas at Tyler. She passed away in Washington, D.C. in January 2003. Sarah McClendon was survived by her daughter, Sarah Newcomb McClendon, one granddaughter, and one great-granddaughter.


McClendon, Sarah

American News Women's Club
Association for Women in Communications
National Federation of Press Women
National Press Club (U.S.)
National Woman's Party
Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi
United States. Army. Women's Army Corps
United States. Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services
University of Missouri--Columbia. School of Journalism.
Tyler Junior College

Presidents -- United States
United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1996 -- Anecdotes
Women -- Texas -- Biography
Women journalists -- United States -- Biography
Women Veterans

Tyler (Tex.)
Washington (D.C.)