Under the agreement, most of the archive will be available to the public within 11 months, with a limited number of items remaining sealed until the deaths of sources, such as those that might identify "Deep Throat."
"Deep Throat" was a key source inside the Nixon Administration used by Woodward and Bernstein. They were the first reporters to link a 1972 break-in at Democratic National Headquarters and the Nixon White House.
The Woodward-Bernstein Watergate Archive will be established UT's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center in Austin. The center already contains the collections of some of the 20th Century's most famous writers, including Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene.
Woodward and Bernstein are creating a $500,000 endowment to enhance the study of Watergate, journalistic ethics and the contents of the archive, which in raw form fills more than 75 file-drawer-sized boxes.
UT President Larry Faulkner thanked the foundations and individuals who put up the $5 million to preserve what he called "an American historical treasure" and he vowed to protect the confidential sources as outlined in the agreement that took more than a year to negotiate.
"Through the very principle of this acquisition, we affirm the importance of the essential practices of a free press, particularly the protection of sources, to a constitutional society. We also affirm the central importance of ethical leadership," he said. "Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have taught more than one generation already, and through their lasting tie with The University of Texas at Austin, will teach generations more."
More than three decades have passed since the Watergate reporting, which at its outset was attacked by the Nixon White House and even other journalists. This was one of the reasons Woodward and Bernstein wanted to open their files.
"We felt it is finally time to make the basis of our work available to everyone," Bernstein said. "Our partnership with the university will allow most of the material to be made public within a year."
Woodward noted, "Our Watergate reporting for the Post, and our two books, were the subject of substantial controversy at the time. Over the last three decades the emergence of the historical record has demonstrated the validity of our work, but not always what it was based on. A full disclosure of all our files and material will add to the understanding of the Watergate era and help pinpoint how we were able to obtain information and who precisely helped us."
Woodward said the Ransom Center will ensure that the full record will eventually be available "while guaranteeing that the pledge of confidentiality to sources will be maintained throughout the lifetime of those sources."
The reporting of Woodward and Bernstein helped earn The Washington Post the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
The $5 million purchase was made possible through private gifts from foundations and individuals. They included the Cain Foundation, the Hobby Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the RGK Foundation, the Meadows Foundation and Lynn T. and Russell E. Dealey, Christopher Harte, Lee and Joe Jamail, Audre and Bernard Rapoport, and Judy and Charles Tate.