Briscoe Center Acquires the Rod Nordland Papers

The Briscoe Center has acquired the papers of Rod Nordland, an award-winning correspondent for the New York Times. Currently based in Afghanistan, where he serves as the Times’s Kabul bureau chief, Nordland has worked as a foreign correspondent across the world, including postings in Bangkok, Beirut, Baghdad, Cairo, Rome, Sarajevo, San Salvador, Islamabad, and London. He is the author of The Lovers: Afghanistan’s Romeo and Juliet, which tells the true story of Zakia and Ali, an Afghan couple who eloped and then escaped their community’s violent reaction.

Rod Nordland with Photojournalist Matthew Naythons, 1984.

“Rod Nordland is a veteran reporter who has seen it all. I’m delighted that his archives will be available in the future to enrich the studies of researchers and students,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “I’m grateful to Rod and also to Matthew Naythons, a friend of the center, who in 2013 donated his photographic archive and was instrumental in making this new acquisition possible.”

Rod Nordland grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His career in journalism began with his hometown newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, in the late 1970s. Beginning as a police beat reporter, Nordland was first sent abroad in 1978 to cover the death of Pope Paul VI. Paul’s successor John Paul I died only 33 days later, so Nordland extended his assignment. It was the first of many that have taken him to over 150 countries. In 1979 he made his first trip to Afghanistan. In 1983, Nordland was a Pulitzer finalist for his coverage of the impact of war and famine on Cambodia, Vietnam, and East Timor. He has also been part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for news, as well as winning two George Polk awards and several Overseas Press Club awards. Nordland began working at the New York Times in 2009He had previously been the chief foreign correspondent for Newsweek, based in Beirut, Bagdad, and London. Presently the Kabul bureau chief for the Times, Nordland is a highly regarded authority on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan

“For years, I’ve been humping around 50 boxes of papers from one posting to another. I realized I needed a better solution, and my friend Matthew Naythons, a photojournalist, recommended the Briscoe Center,” said Nordland in a phone interview from Afghanistan. “Hopefully students and researchers find the papers informative. The Times has developed an extraordinary journalistic machine here. We’ve got people who work all over the country and we cover everything.”

Nordland’s papers include story drafts, correspondence, research photography, clippings, scrapbooks, and reporter’s notes. The papers also include editor’s notes, marked-up manuscripts, proofreader’s marks, and other items related to Nordland’s 2016 book The Lovers.

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