Scope and Content Note
The Joseph Polakoff Collection documents Polakoff’s career as a State Department employee and journalist. Documents from Polakoff’s early journalistic career are limited to four scrapbooks of Scranton Tribune clippings of his articles titled “Polly’s Chatter.” There is material from his USIA career, notably a scrapbook from a traveling “Atoms for Peace” exhibit and correspondence from London and correspondence and publications Central and South America.
A substantial portion of the collection is from Polakoff’s journalistic career. He retained a considerable amount of material that may have been used for research. A wide variety of newsletters, magazines, interview and speech transcripts, press kits, newspaper clippings, and “junk” mail was present in the collection. Most of the newspaper clippings and common magazines have been appraised out of the collection. The interview and speech transcripts, press kits, and extended runs of newsletters are being retained.
The bulk of the collection contains material relevant to Jewish culture and Middle Eastern politics primarily during the period 1970-1996.
Polakoff served as Washington bureau chief for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) from 1970-1981. Consequently, the collection contains a substantial—but not complete—run of the JTA Daily Bulletin from 1970 To 1996. There is also a collection of the JTA Weekly Report with substantial gaps. There are copies from 1972-1980, 1982, and 1994-1997. The JTA Community Reporter is present from 1970-1997 with substantial gaps including the period from 1984-1989.
There is one processed set of Polakoff’s articles. The set contains typescript articles from 1970 to 1996. The typescript articles are arranged by month and year. His articles also exist in currently unprocessed collections in the form of acidic teletype print-outs and acidic newspaper clippings.
Polakoff collected transcripts from television news interview and debate shows like Meet the Press. There is a substantial amount of these transcripts from the 1970s to the 1990s. Another series contains speech and interview transcripts of government and political figures. Television news shows are arranged by show. Government speech and interview transcripts are arranged by office or department.
Polakoff was on the mailing list of Jonathan Pollard, the convicted Israeli spy. Pollard sent photocopies of articles about his case, with annotations, to Polakoff and other journalists. Along with these mailings, Polakoff retained articles about the Pollard case as well as related court documents. This series is also in a preliminary stage of arrangement.
Polakoff’s correspondence, mostly incoming, is arranged chronologically.
A number of individuals have contributed to the processing of the collection and the creation of this finding aid. Carolyn Barry, Jennifer Page, and Kristina Brown contributed initial processing and list creation. Debbie Zenzal has contributed substantially to refine and reorganize the arrangement of the material and improve the inventory.