Benson Latin American Collection Opens Horman Papers to Research

Sept. 8, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection of the University of Texas Libraries has opened the Joyce Horman and Edmund Horman Papers to researchers.

The Horman Papers were acquired as a result of the University Libraries' collaboration with the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and are part of the University of Texas Libraries' efforts to document human rights conflicts worldwide.

The papers document the work by Joyce Horman and Edmund Horman to discover the truth behind the abduction, torture and murder of American journalist Charles Horman during the September 1973 coup d'état in Chile by Augusto Pinochet.

On Sept. 11, 1973, Pinochet staged a coup in Chile against the democratically elected Marxist government of Salvador Allende. During and after the coup, thousands of people disappeared, were tortured or executed by Pinochet's military junta. Among those who disappeared was Harvard-educated American journalist Charles Horman.

Horman's wife Joyce and father Edmund began a frantic search to find him, and after the discovery of his body continued their efforts to learn the circumstances of his murder. In 1976 they filed the landmark lawsuit Joyce Horman, et al, v. Henry Kissinger, et al in which they charged Kissinger and other Nixon administration officials with Charles Horman's wrongful death and its concealment.

The events surrounding Horman's death were brought to international attention with the 1978 publication of Thomas Hauser's book "The Execution of Charles Horman: An American Sacrifice" and the 1982 film "Missing" by director Costa-Gavras.

The Horman Papers include documents from the Joyce Horman v. Henry Kissinger suit, as well as correspondence of Edmund Horman with government officials and copies of declassified documents the Hormans obtained through Freedom Of Information Act requests.

In 1999, a previously heavily redacted Department of State memorandum from 1976 was released. It said, "U.S. Intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman's death. At best, it was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the GOC [Government of Chile]. At worst, U.S. Intelligence was aware the GOC saw Horman in a rather serious light and U.S. officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of GOC paranoia."

"The archive, which will continue to grow with new additions from Joyce Horman, will provide researchers at The University of Texas at Austin with valuable primary resource information about U.S. government cold war foreign relations in Latin America and the compromise of human rights and justice," said Benson archivist Christian Kelleher.

The opening will be commemorated on Thursday, Sept. 11, with a free screening of the film "Missing" and discussion with Joyce Horman and Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive to take place in Mezes Auditorium (MEZ 1.306) on the south mall of the university campus.

The archive is open to research at the Benson Latin American Collection in Sid Richardson Hall on The University of Texas at Austin campus. A guide to the archive can be found at the Texas Archival Resources Online.

More information about the Department of State document can be found on the National Security Archive Web site.

More information about Joyce Horman's ongoing work on behalf of human rights and justice can be found at the Charles Horman Truth Project.

For more information, contact: Travis Willmann, University of Texas Libraries, 512 495 4644; Christian Kelleher, archivist, Benson Latin American Collection.