In-Person Autograph Collecting


In-Person Autograph Collecting

Share your in-person collecting anecdotes here. And the image to the left? Event flier signed by Clive James

Location: New York City
Members: 262
Latest Activity: on Tuesday

On November 11, 2001 coworkers and I were assigned to capture an evening discussion at the 92nd St. Y. The focus of the discussion was on biological weapons and warfare. I think they scared the audience.

The panel included:

  • William Broad, now former Senior Science writer for the New York Times
  • Steve Engelberg, who at the time was Senior Investigative Foreign News editor of the NYT
  • Judith Miller, former Senior writer with the NYT
  • Jerome Hauer, former Director of New York’s Office of Emergency Management.
  • and Robert Krulwich, special correspondent with ABC News at the time, and the moderator

Broad, Engelberg and Miller are authors of the book, Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War. And because Krulwich left his two pages of notes behind, I grabbed them.

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Comment Wall


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Comment by Michael Ragsdale on Tuesday

In the aftermath of 9/11 in New York City.

At a week-long conference titled, “Democracy at a Critical Juncture: The Ongoing Implications of 9-11,” almost any issue you can think of regarding the aftermath of 9/11 was discussed. It took place a PACE University, only blocks away from ground zero, in June 2003.

Coworkers and I covered one of the panel discussions titled, “9-11, Iraq, Empire and Democracy” about the book, The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions. It is a compilation of essays, articles, and opinions on the history and future of Iraq and the Middle East. This was only four months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq to look for weapons of mass destruction.

 The panel participants were:

  • Christopher Hitchens, now deceased, was a Vanity Fair columnist and author of A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq.
  • Jonathan Schell, now deceased and was a columnist with The Nation and author of The Unconquerable World: Power, Violence and the Will of the People.
  • Chris Toensing, former editor of Middle East Report and expert on Egypt, Israel-Palestine and Iraq, and U.S. policy toward the region.
  • Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian sociologist, and author who is one of Egypt's leading human rights and democracy activists.
  • and moderated by Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, Co-editors of The Iraq War Reader.

After it, I grabbed their autographs on three separate event handouts.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on April 5, 2021 at 3:44pm

Back in May 2000, a coworker and I were assigned to videotape a Baccalaureate at Princeton University in New Jersey. It featured remarks from a former graduate, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.

I recall her talking about her years at Princeton in the early 70s when she was one of ninety-five women in a class of eight hundred: ninety-five of one hundred fifty-five women on the entire campus. She was happy to learn the ratio of men to women was going to be fifty-fifty in the year 2004.

She met King Hussein in Jordan while planning an aviation training school. While married, she promoted initiatives in the areas of disarmament and peace, education, women and children's welfare, community development and human rights, and more. Noor was widowed a year earlier due to the death of her husband.

Not to be denied an autograph, three years later she came to Manhattan to talk about her book, “Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life.” And although I wasn’t assigned to cover her, I showed up at the 92nd Street Y where she spoke and waited around until I saw an opportunity to ask her for her autograph. I captured it on a printout of a BookTV announcement of the event.

Very cool, that I got to cover her and get her autograph. Very cool.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on April 3, 2021 at 1:15pm

In June 2007, I was asked to videotape a very special dedication at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian. It was a ceremony marking the opening of a new bronchoscopy and endoscopy center named in the memory of Laura Rothenberg, who died at the young age of twenty-two. When she was three days old, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), an incurable genetic illness.

The CEO of the hospital, three doctors who cared for her, her mother and boyfriend spoke; three friends performed two theater pieces, and singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith sang a favorite song of Laura’s.

The host of the affair was Bill Murray, the actor and former SNL funnyman who befriended Laura while she was in the hospital, and actor Debra Winger, her adopted “godmother” was in the audience. Winger had a special relationship with Laura, some of which was written about in a July 2014 article titled, “Living as a Spiritual Practice.”

Laura was a very special patient at the hospital who at a young age became an advocate for the patients’ point of view. Author Andrew Solomon wrote a profile about her; she spoke at university lectures, on National Public Radio, and wrote a book that was published after her death, “Breathing for a Living.”

A memorable occasion.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on April 2, 2021 at 7:46am

This was an interesting book event to help videotape. Why? Because nine months earlier the now-deceased co-author, former Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, was thought to be murdered by two members of Russia's Federal Protective Service for collaborating on the book. In 2016 a public inquiry in London concluded that “Litvinenko's murder by poisoning was carried out under the direction of the FSB and with the approval of President Vladimir Putin and the FSB director.”

In August 2007 at the 82nd Street Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, Russian-American author Yuri Felshtinsky spoke with the National Review’s Contributing Editor, Andrew Stuttaford about the book, “Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror.” In the book, Felshtinsky and former FSB Colonel Alexander Litvinenko alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the Russian secret service to preserve his power and transform Russia back into an authoritarian state.

The book was banned in Russia because it supposedly divulged state secrets; was included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials; and the paperback edition of the book, in 2016, was re-titled, “Blowing up Russia: The Book that Got Litvinenko Assassinated.”

Before the event, I obtained Mr. Felshtinsky autograph twice.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on March 20, 2021 at 10:02am

For C-SPAN, I was given the opportunity to help cover former Fox News personality Lou Dobbs three times. The first time was in December 2001 at the Citigroup Center Barnes & Noble at a talk about his book, “Space: the Next Business Frontier;” then in December 2004 at a “Books for Breakfast” talk at the Carnegie Council for “Exporting America: Why Corporate Greed Is Shipping American Jobs Overseas;” the last time was in December 2007 at the Princeton Club where he was interviewed about his book, “Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit.”

 At the time, Dobbs was with CNN and considered the best-known personality in finance journalism. He later joined Fox Business News but was dropped in February of this year - most likely because of his claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. He was also one of Trump’s staunchest supporters.

In his book about corporate greed he tried to tell readers what they can do to save not only their own careers, but the American way of life; “Independents” looked at issues facing America on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, and his prediction about Space becoming a business frontier never developed and his space news website was sold in 2018.

 I got his autograph two times at each event. Shown is one of them.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on March 15, 2021 at 8:33am

When a coworker and I covered the 2008 State of the Economy speech given by President George W. Bush at Federal Hall in New York City, everyone was asked to wait in the downstairs event space while the Hall was swept for bombs. While waiting, I scoured the room looking for people I recognized so I could ask for their autographs. I recognized three individuals, and secured the signatures of Larry Silverstein, the billionaire owner of the World Trade Center; actor and Conservative activist Ron Silver and former Mayor of New York City, David Dinkins.

Shown is Ron Silver's signature.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on March 11, 2021 at 6:34am

In May 2003 the Columbia Presbyterian Health Sciences Advisory Council presented its Award for Distinguished Service to journalist and “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace, honoring him for his advocacy and commitment to raising awareness of mental health issues. It took place at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

His first episode of depression occurred in the mid-1980s and emerged as one of the most compelling spokespeople in the fight against depression. He spoke openly in interviews about his personal battles with the disease. Mr. Wallace was also the driving force behind an hour-long 1998 HBO documentary titled “Dead Blue: Surviving Depression,” which not only chronicled his own experiences with depression but helped to shed light on the disease.

I acquired Wallace’s autograph four times. The first time was as he was entering the Rose Room at the New York Public Library at the first “New Yorker Book Awards” in February 2000; the second was after the Columbia award ceremony described above, and the third time was in April 2007 at a memorial service for Arthur Schlesinger Jr. at the Great Hall at Cooper Union and lastly at the 28th Annual News & Documentary Awards at the Sheraton New York in September 2007.

I have posted my first acquisition.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on February 24, 2021 at 5:24am

In April 1999 at Columbia University Medical Center author Mary Gordon gave the 1999 Humanities and Medicine Lecture. Before it began, I got her to sign an official event flier.


Gordon is a Professor in English and Writing at Barnard College and the author of seven bestselling novels. She has also published two collections of stories, a book of essays, two memoirs, a biography of “Joan of Arc” and “Reading Jesus, a writer's encounter with the Gospels.”


Her latest books are “The Liar's Wife” a collection of novellas, “There Your Heart Lies: A Novel” and "Payback." She is a prolific writer.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on February 23, 2021 at 7:20am

In the aftermath of 9/11 in New York City

Held in observance of its 15th year of existence, FAIR brought Noam Chomsky to speak about the response of the United States to the terrorist attacks.

Those who spoke before Chomsky were:


•         Jeff Cohen, the founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

•          journalist Laura Flanders, who at the time was with Working Assets Radio

•         human rights activist Phil Donahue

•         and Janine Jackson, program director at FAIR who introduced Chomsky.

 Chomsky spoke on how the media has handled the story of the war on terrorism and its foreign policy. This event took place at the Town Hall on January 22, 2002.

And I got a few autographs.

Comment by Michael Ragsdale on February 21, 2021 at 10:56am

In commemoration of Black History Month.

Malcolm X was assassinated on this day in 1965. So it would be a good time to visit The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, a memorial to Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz located at the corner of Broadway and West 165th Street in Washington Heights.

But it’s Sunday and most likely closed. So here is a picture of a statue of Malcolm X leading to the entrance of the ballroom.


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