Alden Whitman

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Alden Whitman (October 27, 1913 – September 4, 1990) was an American journalist. He worked at The New York Times where he pioneered writing personalized obituaries. He is also known for his testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. He was born in New Albany, Nova Scotia and he died on a visit to Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Work before the Times

Whitman worked as a copy editor at the New York Herald Tribune from 1943-1951.

Work at the New York Times

Whitman was hired as a copy editor by the New York Times in 1951. Eventually he pioneered the personalized obituary and became known for his obituary writing.

Whitman in the 1980's

In the 1980s Whitman suffered a debilitating stroke which left him blind. His wife, Joan, hired several Long Island University college students to come to their home in Southampton, NY to engage in a daily ritual of reading Whitman stories from major newspapers and weekly magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, New York Magazine, and The New Yorker.[1] Two of those college students were John Gallagher and Marc Zirogiannis. Gallagher went on to author Black Ice: The Val James Story (2015), the biography of the NHL's first African-American player, Val James. Zirogiannis went on to become lead correspondent of Tae Kwon Do Times Magazine, and the author of the novels, Pannino is Dead (2015) and The Suffering of Innocents (2015).

Whitman's Communist affiliations

Subpoenaed by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee during its investigation of Communists in the media in Nov. 1955, Whitman testified before the Senate in January 1956. Whitman was implicated in Winston Burdett's testimony before the subcommittee in July 1955. Whitman staunchly refused to name other people as Communists and he was indicted in Dec. 1956 for contempt of Congress. Under tough questioning from subcommitte counsel J.G. Sourwine Whitman admitted his own involvement with the Communist Party from 1935-1948. He also told Sourwine he was a member of a cell with "perhaps a half-dozen members" at the New York Herald Tribune when he worked there.


1979: George Polk Awards (Career Award)


  1. "ALDEN WHITMAN, N.Y. TIMES OBITUARIST, DIES". The Washington Post. September 6, 1990. Retrieved 14 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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