Hear From the Woman Who Researched the Pentagon Papers in Secret

In a Times newsroom dominated by men, Linda Amster was the only researcher on one of the biggest scoops of the century. Why did her name not appear in the paper?,


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This article is part of a special report on the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers.

Listen to the Pentagon Papers Researcher Tell Her Story

In the spring of 1971, Linda Amster could not tell anyone what she was doing — not her husband, not her friends and not even her co-workers in the New York Times news research department.

Working seven days a week, she shuttled between the Times headquarters and a block of rooms at the Hilton Hotel, where thousands of pages of documents were stacked high, many of them stamped “TOP SECRET.”

Ms. Amster was confirming the accuracy of one of the biggest scoops in journalism: a cache of classified documents that detailed the secret history of United States involvement in Vietnam, known as the Pentagon Papers.

When the stories went to press, the editors and reporters all received credit. Ms. Amster’s name was omitted.

Fifty years later, she explains why.

Linda Amster worked at The New York Times for 38 years, retiring as the director of the newsroom research desk. Ms. Amster was recognized as a crucial member of the Pentagon Papers team when The Times won a Pulitzer Prize for public service.

In her tenure at The Times, Ms. Amster led the news research desk, wrote the Saturday news quiz and contributed articles to multiple sections. She has edited Times cookbooks and currently works as a freelance researcher.

Produced by: Anna Martin, Tracy Mumford and Tally Abecassis

Edited by: Phyllis Fletcher and Wendy Dorr

Mixed by: Chris Wood and Marion Lozano

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