Seth MacFarlane Donates Carl Sagan’s Personal Papers To The Library Of Congress
It Belongs in a Museum!
While the hit animated series Family Guy has featured Carl Sagan jokes before, it wasn’t entirely clear how big of a fan creator Seth MacFarlane is of the influential astrophysicist until he threw up an undisclosed (but, let’s be honest, probably huge) sum of money to buy and donate Sagan’s personal papers to the Library of Congress.
According to MacFarlane, the value of Carl Sagan’s work being accessible to the public outweighs monetary concerns: “All I did was write a check, but it’s something that was, to me, worth every penny,” MacFarlane told The Associated Press. “He’s a man whose life’s work should be accessible to everybody.” The papers, held in over 800 filing-cabinet drawers, contain drafts of Sagan’s academic articles, correspondences between other scientists, and the draft of the screenplay for Contact, a movie based upon his novel, in addition to more personal items, such as his grade school report cards and a childhood drawing of space.
Carl Sagan, who died in 1996 at 62, was an astronomer and “citizen scientist” who worked on numerous NASA projects, researched the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, and studied climate change, in addition to hosting a popular television show.
As it turns out, MacFarlane is in the process of rebooting Sagan’s hit educational miniseries, Cosmos, with internet-favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson standing in as the show’s astrophysicist host. The idea for a follow-up series spawned from a an event a few years ago that brought together Hollywood screenwriters and directors with scientists, during which MacFarlane met Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow and coworker.
Druyan is certain that Sagan would be pleased to see his papers available to the public: “He really believed that science belonged to everyone, all of us. He was a ‘small-d’ democrat in the truest sense of the word.”
For MacFarlane, the donation goes beyond public service into the realm of the personal: “He was an enormous and profound influence in my life,” MacFarlane said. “He played an essential role — some would say the only role at the time — in bridging the gap between the academic community and the general public.”
MacFarlane’s Cosmos follow-up begins filming this fall. Carl Sagan has certainly left huge shoes to fill, but as the internet might say about deGrasse Tyson, “watch out, we’ve got a bad ass over here.” We’re not too worried.