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What is Life Worth?
Feinberg collection offers insight into justice and value of life
UMass Alumnus Kenneth Feinberg's book What is Life Worth?

"Few other people in public life have a portfolio of such breadth. Scholars, academics, students, and the public at large will benefit immensely by having access to this resource.”
- Jay Schafer

An estimated 2,000 boxes documenting the professional and public service life of Kenneth Feinberg ’67, ’02Hon, the attorney known for his compassion in putting dollar amounts on lives lost or broken by human and natural disasters, now reside at the UMass Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois Library.

Feinberg donated the collection, now being appraised, which also includes correspondence with presidents and leaders of Congress. He also committed $325,000 for the Feinberg Archive Fund, a portion of which has been used to hire an archivist who is processing the collection to make its contents available to researchers.

An international expert in complex mediation, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution, Feinberg’s name is associated with nearly every recent significant victim compensation case, from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2011 to Agent Orange cases from the 1970s. Feinberg is best known as the special master for the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund, where he worked pro bono for 32 months, distributing $7 billion to victims of the terrorist attack.

Kenneth R. Feinberg
Jay Schafer, director of the UMass Libraries, says, “Ken’s work intersects with major issues of social change in the U.S. over the past 40 years and our understanding of the value of human life. Few other people in public life have a portfolio of such breadth. Scholars, academics, students, and the public at large will benefit immensely by having access to this resource.”

In a news conference on campus late last year, Feinberg told a crowd that UMass Amherst is the rightful heir to his papers. “I owe UMass so much for my American history degree and my background in scholarship,” said Feinberg.