Ephemera: David Halberstam Autograph

  • December 22, 2021

We're proud to feature a series of guest blog posts from collector Michael Ragsdale, who has been amassing New York City event-specific ephemera and autographs since 1997. Ragsdale took up collecting as a hobby while working as a cameraman for C-SPAN, Columbia University, the Manhattan Institute, and the New York-Presbyterian Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell. Following September 11, he shifted his focus to items pertaining to the attacks and their aftermath. Today's installment tells the story of David Halberstam's autograph on a VHS label. 

Blue ink autograph of David Halberstam on a VHS videotape label

A co-worker and I were assigned to videotape famed author David Halberstam at his Manhattan studio in the later part of October 2001, while he was working on an article for Vanity Fair about an FDNY firehouse which lost several men on September 11, 2001. The B-roll footage we captured was used for a future program on BookTV titled, “In Depth with David Halberstam,” about the life and writing career of Halberstam. For three hours, C-SPAN’s Susan Swain spoke with him. 

We got shots of him writing, typing, checking his notes, contemplating what he was going to type next and shots of his studio - his desk, typewriter, shelves of books he wrote and read, and any mementos or statues he might possess. The program aired beginning on November 4, 2001. It was also a call-in show. 

Halberstam is known for his powerful journalist coverage of the Vietnam War, received a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his coverage of the war as a New York Times staff reporter, and wrote dozens of books. 

Because there was no program available, I secured his autograph on a video label. 

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