His Work Was Preserved by a Cartoonist
When Sagan died of pneumonia while battling bone marrow disease in 1996, he left behind a vast library of his life's work in the home he and his family had inhabited during the 1980s.
The home was in upstate New York, near Cornell, and had once been headquarters to a secret society at the university known as the Sphinx Head Tomb. Later, the Sagans moved to a bigger house but kept the former Sphinx Head Tomb as a space for he and Ann Druyan to collaborate on projects. When Sagan got ill, it became a catchall for his scientific papers, idea-filled notes, photographs and sketches -- some dating back to his boyhood. "Thousands of individual items, boxed away in 18-foot-high filing cabinets," Sagan's daughter, Sasha, would later write [source: Sagan].
Druyan sought out colleges and institutions to preserve the collection, but none could provide the mix of meticulous care and thoughtful exhibition she had in mind. Then she met Seth McFarlane, creator of the "Family Guy" cartoon. As the two began to collaborate on a reboot of Sagan's original "Cosmos" series, McFarlane was instrumental in preserving Sagan's legacy -- all the contents of the Sphinx Head Tomb -- in the Library of Congress.
The Seth McFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive opened to the public at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., in November 2013, the same month Sagan would have celebrated his 79th birthday [source: Sagan].