My Private Tour Of The New York Times’ Morgue

Today I spent a couple of hours in a basement archive belonging to the New York Times. It was a complete throwback to a non-digital time, and really fun!

A friend at the paper connected me with Jeff Roth, the last remaining steward of the paper’s ‘morgue,’ who gave me a private tour (see The Times’ 2017 article about Jeff and the morgue).

It’s fantastic that this archive still exists, when most others have been thrown out or consigned to remote storage. Here, within a short walk of The Times newsroom, there are file cabinets, clippings and reference books galore. Not to mention many very cool relics that Jeff saved from the trash heap when The Times moved out of its old building in 2007.

Many thanks to Jeff for his time, his great storytelling, and for letting me take these photos.

NYT basement archives (Morgue)
NYT morgue history placard
NYT Morgue files do not disturb sign
2019-05-08 17.30.04.jpg
2019-05-08 17.28.39.jpg
2019-05-08 17.23.03.jpg
Jeff Roth.
2019-05-08 17.30.38.jpg
2019-05-08 16.54.16.jpg
The Times not only clipped its own paper daily for future reference, but as many as 30 others.
2019-05-08 17.01.22.jpg
2019-05-08 17.25.28.jpg
2019-05-08 17.26.45.jpg
2019-05-08 17.29.24.jpg
2019-05-08 16.56.58.jpg
2019-05-08 17.32.01.jpg
2019-05-08 17.24.40.jpg
Jeff gives a tour to a group of library science students from Pratt Institute.
2019-05-08 17.33.22.jpg
Some of the NYT’s early attempts at digital storage are no longer readable.
2019-05-08 17.42.37.jpg
Jeff is still processing some special collections, such as page design boards from the archive of one of The Times’ best known art directors.
2019-05-08 17.02.35.jpg
Wall of Times memorabilia Jeff saved from the old building.
2019-05-08 17.05.09.jpg
The last American flag to hang in the old pressroom.
2019-05-08 17.05.55.jpg
An old cracked photo of an editors’ meeting in A.M. Rosenthal’s office.
2019-05-08 17.09.01.jpg
Martin Arnold’s typewriter, with some shoes Bill Cunningham found and gave to Jeff.
2019-05-08 17.06.25.jpg
Someone’s clipboard, with key internal phone numbers. One of them is for Gough’s, a local bar.
2019-05-08 17.44.48.jpg
2019-05-08 17.02.53.jpg
The original NYT morgue employed as many as 30 people, and was located off the newsroom. Reporters would just walk over and make requests for info… pre Google.
2019-05-08 17.13.41.jpg
2019-05-08 17.45.13.jpg
Still active in the 1990s
2019-05-08 17.43.33.jpg
2019-05-08 17.43.27.jpg
2019-05-08 17.22.15.jpg
2019-05-08 17.45.07.jpg
2019-05-08 17.46.14.jpg

Leave a Reply