Journalist Charley McDowell Adds to the Archives

Famed journalist Charley McDowell, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1948, has a special place in the history of W&L, for he grew up on campus as the son of Charles McDowell, professor of law, and Catherine McDowell, secretary to the law dean. During his illustrious 49-year career with the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, Charley reported on his share of historical events as a reporter, syndicated columnist and TV panelist.

Now his papers are part of history as well, for he has donated them to the Library of Virginia. The collection, which will no doubt keep researchers busy for years to come, comprises such material as columns, invitations, correspondence, subject files, press credentials, books and videotapes.

You can read an article describing the collection on pp. 2-4 of the latest issue of Broadside: The Magazine of the Library of Virginia.

The article also contains bonus W&L content: reproductions of congratulatory letters to Charley from fellow newsman Roger Mudd, Class of 1950, and Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., Classes of 1929 (undergrad) and 1931 (law). There’s even a photograph of McDowell’s fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, in 1941.

And there is the charming text of a 1996 “roast and toast” of Charley at the National Press Club by Andy McCutcheon, Class of 1948. Andy and Charley were classmates at W&L as well as roommates in Richmond at the start of their journalism careers. “In his graceful, low-key way,” Andy said of his old friend, “he educated readers on life in general, making us all feel better with the reassurance that he was as confused as we were by the world around us.”

1 Response to “Journalist Charley McDowell Adds to the Archives”


  1. 1 Langston Donkle '74 September 15, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I will always think of Charley Mc Dowell as one of the quintessential Washington & Lee gentlemen. I am often reminded of a comment he made in Lee Chapel, “Washington & Lee graduates are proud of each other.”

    Each time he appeared on Washington Week In Review, soft-spoken, good-humored and generous but incisive and informed with a keen sence of history, I was proud to think that we had sat in the same classrooms and absorbed some of the important values.

    We can all be proud of Charley Mc Dowell, for his accomplishments and acclaim but more for the manner and humanity he displayed in each column, each appearance.


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