8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

By Sarah Zhang on at

As America's foremost ambassador to space, Carl Sagan has continued to inspire our fascination with exploring beyond Earth. The Library of Congress has digitised its Carl Sagan archives, and several items just collected online give us an amazing new look into the mind of the astronomer.

Some items from the Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive are a fun glimpse into Sagan's personal life: young Carl playing the piano or older Carl writing to a young Neil deGrasse Tyson. Others reveal how seriously he took not just science, but communicating scientific ideas. Through poetry, novels, and even video games, he compellingly argued for exploring space—and searching for extraterrestrial life.

Take a look through some of the items that caught our eye, below.


8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

Home movies of a very young Carl Sagan playing the piano and playing outside.

Watch all thirty minutes of the video at the Library of Congress's website.


8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

Drawing by a 10- to 13-year old Carl imagining the newspaper headlines of future spaceflight.

Paul Morigi/Getty.


8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

Teenage Carl namedropping poets in a school newspaper article on poetry and space.

In pondering the possibility of interplanetary spaceflight, teenage Carl sees it fit to cite Tennyson. Read the whole article here.


8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

Notes for a novel where the NSA or CIA investigate UFOs.


8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

A letter to high school student Neil DeGrasse Tyson, inviting him to visit Cornell in 1975.


A rough draft of his novel Contact—later made into the movie starring Jodie Foster—as dictated by Carl Sagan himself.


8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

An early version of his famous "Pale Blue Dot" quote.

The Atlantic has marked up how Sagan's famous quote changed from draft to final version.


8 of the Most Fascinating Items From Carl Sagan's Personal Archives

Ideas for a video game version of Contact "as exciting as most violent video games."


Lead image: Getty/Hulton Archive.