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Broadcast Journalism Highlights from the Marguerite Cartwright Papers

by Brenda Flora, Curator of Moving Images and Recorded Sound


For Women’s History Month, we continue our look at the papers of journalist and United Nations correspondent Dr. Marguerite Cartwright, which are being processed through support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Journalist David Hazinski reports from Poland during the Crisis of 1980.

A look at the papers of journalist Marguerite Cartwright reveal the habits of a disciplined researcher. Cartwright was a great collector of information. Much of this knowledge was funneled back into her work as a United Nations correspondent, or her stories for The Pittsburgh Courier, The New York Amsterdam News, and other publications. Some of her collected materials, however, may have been used for other purposes. The video tapes included in her papers, for example, seem to have been collected in relation to the Overseas Press Club awards. The result is a collection of some of the finest examples of international broadcast reporting.


Demonstrators in Tehran during the Iran Hostage Crisis.

Videos from the Cartwright collection provide an overview of international journalism from 1975 to 1980. The collection includes over six hours of award-winning deep-dive news features of the era, covering everything from the Iran Hostage Crisis to the plight of Cambodian refugees to the advances of the Polish Labor Movement amid the crisis of 1980. Most carry a focus on world economics, social unrest, and international relations with the United States.

One interesting piece follows Kansas Governor John Carlin and his delegation on a 1979 trade mission to China. The story highlights the cultural difference between the U.S. and China as the delegates tour the country, stopping in Beijing and Shanghai. They meet with Vice Premier Yu Qiuli, and tour the People’s Farm Commune in Beijing. They visit a factory, a retirement center, and they climb the Great Wall. Examining a grain elevator in Shanghai, delegates remark on the inferior quality of the Canadian grain being stored there and suggest that what they would export from Kansas would be of much better quality. On the streets of Shanghai, a crowd gathers around the film camera, and the crew snaps some Polaroid photos of the group. Finally, at the Children’s’ Palace school for the cultural arts, an accordion class regales them with their rendition of “Home on the Range,” while the delegates join in singing. The piece is an interesting look at the cultural similarities and differences of the two countries, but also an illuminating view of Communism’s influence on society in the era shortly following the death of Chairman Mao Zedong.

Chinese accordion students perform “Home on the Range” for the U.S. delegation from Kansas.

The “China Report” story is one of many illuminating and nuanced looks at global society selected and kept by Marguerite Cartwright, highlighting her deep understanding of the world and respect for the profession of journalism. For information about how to view the videos from the Marguerite Cartwright Papers, please contact Amistad’s Research Services Department at reference@amistadresearchcenter.org or call 504-862-3222.

The Marguerite Cartwright Papers are being processed with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission under grant RH-102791-19.



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