Hertzberg, Sidney

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Sidney Hertzberg (1910-83), editor, writer, journalist, and publicist, was born in Manhattan, the son of immigrant garment workers. He was educated in the New York City public schools and was graduated from Morris High School. He attended (without taking a degree) the Experimental College founded by Alexander Meiklejohn at the University of Wisconsin.

His journalistic career began in 1929 when, in order to support his college studies, he took a job as a copy boy at the New York Times . He was quickly invited to join the Times ' staff as general assignment reporter where he remained (at the expense of his college career) until 1934, perfecting his skills as a journalist and carrying out a variety of assignments including assisting the poetry editor, writing editorials and "Topics of the Times" columns, and reporting on political and economic conditions in Scandinavia (where he was sent as special correspondent) for the newspaper's Sunday edition.

During the mid-Depression years (1934-39) Mr. Hertzberg's talents as journalist and publicist found expression in a variety of ways. He was for a time editor of the Labor Tribune (of Jamestown, N.Y.), labor editor of the New Leader, contributing editor for Time (magazine), consultant and reporter on industrial relations for Fortune (magazine) and correspondent for the Milwaukee Leader, the Nation, the New Republic, and the New York Post . As publicist he managed publicity for the New York State Socialist Party; for the 1936 presidential campaign of Norman Thomas; and for the Workers Defense League in its campaign against municipal corruption in Jersey City (N.J.). His on-site coverage of the murder trial of Joseph Shoemaker in Tampa, Florida as representative of the Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tampa was widely publicized in the labor press.

By the outbreak of World War II Mr. Hertzberg had become national publicity director of the America First Committee and had organized the Writers Anti-War Bureau whose members included Stuart Chase, Marquis Childs, Quincy Howe, and Oswald Garrison Villard. The Bureau published under his and Cushman Reynold's editorship a weekly newsletter, Uncensored, which was widely respected for its objectivity and journalistic integrity. In 1943 he succeeded Edward Bingham as editor of Common Sense, a monthly public affairs magazine; and afterwards (1945-47) he served as editorial consultant for Commentary where he was responsible for writing the magazine's "The Month in History" column which analyzed events in the Middle East.

With the return of peace Mr. Hertzberg became increasingly involved with matters relating to India. Since 1943 he had assisted the India League of America in organizing public support for the Indian nationalist movement. When India was threatened with famine in 1946 he organized the India Famine Emergency Committee which was successful in obtaining increased food aid for India. The Committee sponsored the American Famine Mission to India which visited India in the summer of 1946 for the purpose of evaluating India's food requirements. As member of the mission Mr. Hertzberg conferred with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and established lasting friendships with several prominent Indian political figures.

During the next two years (1947-48) Mr. Hertzberg travelled extensively in the Far East as regional representative for Asia of the United Nations Appeal for Children. Based in Shanghai, he visited various countries, consulting with governmental officials and interviewing prominent persons in an effort to obtain the cooperation of foreign governments in carrying out the program of UNAC. The following year he became special consultant in Asia for CARE.

Capitalizing on his knowledge of Asia and on his friendships with Indian figures, Mr. Hertzberg was appointed in 1950 special correspondent in America for The Hindustan Times, a New Delhi daily edited by Mahatma Gandhi's son, Davidas Gandhi. Until his resignation for financial reasons in 1956 he provided weekly commentaries and analyses of American affairs for the Indian audience. During this time he also represented the Gandhi Films Committee of the Gandhi National Memorial Trust which sought to collect original film footage of Mahatma Gandhi. In the spring of 1952 on a return visit to India he succeeded, after much difficult negotiation, in obtaining for CBS Television's "See It Now" program directed by Edward R. Murrow, the first formal television interview ever granted by Prime Minister Nehru.

After brief and personally disappointing stints as public relations director (1956) of the Liberal Party of New York State and as executive director (1957-58) of the League for Industrial Democracy, Mr. Hertzberg founded (1959) Current, a monthly magazine which sought to provide the concerned citizen with a compendium of new ideas derived from a multitude of sources. He remained as its editor until 1964. The following year he served as editorial director of Consumers Union, publisher of "Consumer Reports"; and afterwards (until 1967) he was engaged in a variety of free-lance editorial assignments with the Ford Foundation, the Columbia Broadcasting System, and with Life magazine as director of its educational reprints program.

His last major employment as editor and publicist occurred in 1967 when he was appointed special consultant to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey for the purpose of aiding the latter's bid for the presidency in 1968.

In 1976 in response to Indira Gandhi's "emergency rule" of that year he organized a public appeal for the restoration of human rights in India which was supported by many prominent persons and which was published in the New York Times .

Mr. Hertzberg lived for many years in Palisades, New York. He was married in 1941 to Hazel Whitman Hertzberg who was for many years a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. They had two children: a son, Hendrik Hertzberg; and a daughter, Katrina Hertzberg.

1910, Jan. 30Born in Manhattan. 1929-34New York Times : copy boy; reporter on general assignment; special foreign correspondent in Scandinavia. July 1932-Oct. 1933Associate editor of Current History magazine. 1935-37Editor of Jamestown (N.Y.) Labor Tribune ; labor editor of the New Leader ; Washington correspondent of the Milwaukee Leader ; special correspondent for the New York Post, the Nation, and the New Republic . Co-founder of the Workers Defense League and of the National Sharecroppers Fund. 1937-39Contributing editor of Time (magazine); reporter on labor affairs for Fortune (magazine). 1939Labor relations secretary for Greater New York Fund. 1940-41Editor of Uncensored a weekly newsletter of the Writers Anti-War Bureau. Married (1941) Hazel M. Whitman. 1943-45Editor of Common Sense, a monthly magazine on public affairs. 1945-46Editorial consultant and writer of "The Month in History" column for Commentary (magazine). 1947Organizer and member of the American Famine Mission to India sponsored by the India Famine Emergency Committee. 1948Chief regional representative for Asia of the United Nations Appeal for Children. 1949Special consultant on Asia for CARE. 1950-56Special correspondent and United Nations correspondent in New York for The Hindustan Times of New Delhi, India. 1956-57Public relations director of The Liberal Party of New York State. 1958Executive director of the League for Industrial Democracy. 1959-64Editor of Current, a monthly magazine on public affairs. 1965Editorial director of Consumers Union 1966Free-lance editorial consultant for the Ford Foundation, Columbia Broadcasting System, and other organizations. 1967Editor of educational reprints at Life (magazine); writer of CBS Television documentaries on Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Jawaharlal Nehru. Author (with Hazel Hertzberg) of The UN in the Age of Change . 1967-69Special Consultant to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. 1976Organizer of a public appeal for the restoration of human rights in India during the "emergency rule" of Indira Gandhi. 1984, Dec. 18.Mr. Hertzberg died of lung cancer in Pomona, New York.

From the guide to the Sidney Hertzberg papers, 1924-1984, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Alfred Mitchell Bingham and the Common Sense collection, 1905-1979 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Sidney Hertzberg papers, 1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Guide to the League for Industrial Democracy Records, 1920-1996 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith America First Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Asia Society corporateBody
associatedWith Baldwin, Roger Nash, 1884- person
associatedWith Barnes, Harry Elmer, 1889-1968 person
associatedWith Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965 person
associatedWith Benton, William, 1900-1973 person
associatedWith Bingham, Alfred Mitchell, 1905- person
associatedWith Biṛalā, Ghanaśyāmadāsa, 1894-1983 person
associatedWith Bowles, Chester, 1901- person
associatedWith Bromfield, Louis, 1896-1956 person
associatedWith Buttinger, Joseph person
associatedWith CARE (Firm) corporateBody
associatedWith Columbia Broadcasting System, inc corporateBody
associatedWith Consumers Union of United States corporateBody
associatedWith Cousins, Norman person
associatedWith Deutsch, Babette, 1895-1982 person
associatedWith Fischer, Louis, 1896-1970 person
associatedWith Friendly, Fred W person
associatedWith Fulbright, J. William (James William), 1905- person
associatedWith Gandhi Smarak Nidhi corporateBody
associatedWith Grattan, C. Hartley (Clinton Hartley), 1902-1980 person
associatedWith Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978 person
associatedWith India League of America corporateBody
associatedWith Isaacs, Harol Robert, 1910- person
associatedWith Kristol, Irving person
associatedWith League for Industrial Democracy corporateBody
associatedWith Liberal Party of New York State corporateBody
associatedWith Mayer, Milton Sanford, 1908- person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Socialist Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968 person
associatedWith Time, inc corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin. Experimental College corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
American periodicals



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