Alumnus Mark Plotkin Donates Papers to GW

Collection from the award-winning journalist and advocate for D.C. voting rights and statehood will be housed at the Gelman Library’s Special Collections Research Center

GW President Thomas LeBlanc, Mark Plotkin, and Geneva Henry, dean of GW Libraries and Academic Innovation examine the collection
President Thomas LeBlanc, Mark Plotkin, and Dean Geneva Henry examine materials from the collection.
April 10, 2018

Mark Plotkin, a journalist, political commentator and a past recipient of a George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, has donated his collection of papers to the university.

The collection includes handwritten and typed commentaries, articles from newspapers including The Washington Post and Legal Times, personal documents, and photographs from Mr. Plotkin’s career, which includes an Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.

A reception held in Mr. Plotkin’s honor took place last month in Gelman Library, drawing journalists, GW alumni and politicians including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, three former D.C. mayors, three sitting members of the D.C. Council and a former congressional representative from Northern Virginia.

Geneva Henry, dean of GW Libraries and Academic Innovation, accepted the gift, saying “If you talk to Mark, you’ll learn a lot about Washington, D.C. His papers are fascinating, and I can't imagine Mark will slow down any time soon, so we expect there to be even more in the future.”

Mr. Plotkin, B.A. ’69, is known best as one of the staunchest advocates for voting rights for D.C. residents and D.C. statehood. His doggedness on those issues was a consistent theme among the several speakers who shared stories about him—and from Mr. Plotkin, himself.

“I am very happy and extremely grateful to GW for accepting my commentaries and including them in their Special Collections Research Center,” Mr. Plotkin said. “It is my hope that students, scholars and anyone interested in D.C. will make wide use of them.

“And, I would also like to add that D.C. should be the 51st state. Then and only then will it truly become part of America.”

Ms. Bowser (D) said that his collection would help “to educate many people” on issues important to Washington, D.C. She thanked him for gifting his papers to GW and for “curating them and putting them together in a way that will be helpful to so many others.”

The collection of materials dates from 1983 through 2017. It will enable future generations of journalists, politicos and others to research original historical documents about the life, culture and local politics of the District of Columbia. The gift includes weekly commentaries complete with handwritten and typed notes from Mr. Plotkin’s time as a political analyst at WAMU-FM radio, an NPR affiliate, and WTOP-FM, the city’s all-news radio station. The collection also includes published articles from Mr. Plotkin’s “The Local Angle” column for Legal Times from 1991-1999, and opinion articles from The Washington Post, among other items.

Mr. Plotkin also has made a bequest to GW Libraries and Academic Innovation to create a Focus on Washington Fund, which will support processing and access for the libraries’ post-1974 Washingtoniana collections. This reflects his deep interest in D.C. statehood.


This story was adapted from an article originally published in GW Today.