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Operational Archives Branch
Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060

Papers of
Neil Sheehan

Biographical Note   

Neil Sheehan was born in Holyoke Massachusetts on 27 October 1936.  After graduating from Harvard University, Sheehan joined the Army. In 1962 he began working at the United Press International's Tokyo bureau, and spent the next two years covering the war in Vietnam as UPI's bureau chief. 

In 1964, he joined the New York Times. He worked the city desk before returning to the Far East to report from Indonesia and then to spend another year in Vietnam.  In the fall of 1966 he became the newspaper's Pentagon correspondent and in 1968 began reporting on the White House.  In 1971 he obtained the Pentagon Papers for the Times. He was a correspondent on political, diplomatic and military affairs.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials relating to Neil Sheehan's book The Arnheiter Affair. It consists chiefly of the legal files relating to Lieutenant Commander Marcus A. Arnheiter's libel suit against Sheehan, Random House, and NBC. Other materials in the collection are sources Sheehan used in writing The Arnheiter Affair and a lesser amount of material relating to the Pentagon Papers.

The collection is organized in 10 series. Series I, Tapes, consists of reel-to-reel and a smaller number of cassettes. They largely contain interviews of various USS Vance crewmembers relating to activities and operations of the ship during Arnheiter's command. Also included are several media interviews of Arnheiter and Vance crewmembers. The tapes are arranged alphabetically by title. Completing the series are four unidentified reels.

Series II, Tape Transcripts, contains transcripts of interviews with USS Vance crewmembers from tapes held in Series I. The transcripts are arranged alphabetically by the interviewee's last name.

Series III contains manuscript drafts for Neil Sheehan's book The Arnheiter Affair.

Series IV consists of publications by Neil Sheehan and other authors. Included are two copies of The Arnheiter Affair, Sheehan's articles "The 99 Days of Captain Arnheiter" and "The Erosion of Liberty," and various news clippings.  This series is arranged alphabetically by title.

Series V, Letters, contains correspondence regarding the publication of The Arnheiter Affair and Marcus Arnheiter's subsequent lawsuit. Much of the correspondence in this series is between Arnheiter, Sheehan, and the publishing firm Random House, Inc.

Series VI holds Neil Sheehan's largely hand-written notes on the Arnheiter lawsuit and transcripts used in writing The Arnheiter Affair.

In Series VII are notes, correspondence, and copies of documents gathered by Sheehan in preparing a brief responding to Arnheiter's initial libel suit. This series is arranged alphabetically.

In Series VIII are court documents created or gathered by Sheehan in response to Marcus Arnheiter's libel suit. Included in this series are correspondence, briefs, investigation reports, and various court files. The materials in this extensive series are largely arranged by title of the case or subject file and chronologically there under.

Series IX contains documents relating to Sheehan's report on the Pentagon Papers. Included are correspondence, subject files on the protection of classified information and information gathering by the media, and documents planning the themes of various stories in the series. Also included are court documents concerning the indictment of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo's appeal to the Supreme Court requesting a stay blocking his imprisonment on charges of contempt of court for failure to testify in the Ellsberg case. This series consists of subject files and is arranged alphabetically.

Completing the collection is a series of miscellaneous material, including advertising posters and illustration layouts for The Arnheiter Affair, appointment calendars, and documents relating to Sheehan's Pulitzer Prize for the Pentagon Papers.

Preferred Citation

Papers of Neil Sheehan, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Navy Yard, Washington, DC.

Restrictions Note

Interview recordings on reel-to-reel and cassette tapes are available only by permission of Head, Operational Archives Branch. Researchers are to use transcripts found in Series II.

Subject Headings (LCSH)

Sheehan, Neil. The Arnheiter Affair.
Arnheiter, Marcus Aurelius, 1925-
Libel and slander--United States.
Torts--United States.
Random House (Firm)
National Broadcasting Company, inc.
New York Times Company.
Pentagon Papers.
Vance (Destroyer)
Ellsberg, Daniel.
Belmonte, Luis--Interviews.
Generous, William T.--Interviews.
Hardy, Ray--Interviews.
Gwynn, Robert--Interviews.
Mason, Ed--Interviews.
Boson, Wilbert--Interviews.
Sides, William--Interviews.
Williams, Tom--Interviews.

09 September 2003