Erik Barnouw

Erik Barnouw (June 23, 1908 – July 19, 2001) was a U.S. historian of radio and television broadcasting.


According to the Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Erik Barnouw was born in Den Haag in the Netherlands, the son of Adriaan (a history teacher), and Ann Eliza Barnouw (who tutored English). The Barnouws came to America in 1919, after the end of World War I when his father became one of the editors of the Weekly Review and later was the Queen Wilhelmina Professor at Columbia University. Erik attended Horace Mann School in New York City.[1] Barnouw, thereafter, went to Princeton University where he was an editor of the Nassau Literary Magazine and collaborated with Joshua Logan on the Princeton Triangle Club's musical play Zuider Zee , after the success of his play Open Collars , which he wrote for Princeton's Theatre Intime and which spoofed undergraduate life at the University. In the spring of his junior year, he and fellow Princetonian Bretaigne Windust, together with Harvard juniors Charles Crane Leatherbee and Kingsley Perry, contributed $100 each towards founding the University Players, a summer stock company in West Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Over the course of 5 summers on Cape Cod and two winter seasons in Baltimore, Maryland, this company gave the professional start to the acting careers of such future stars as Margaret Sullavan, Henry Fonda, Joshua Logan, Myron McCormick, Kent Smith, James Stewart, and Mildred Natwick among others.[2]

Prior to becoming a professor at Columbia University in 1946, Barnouw spent the mid-1930s writing, producing, and directing a number of radio shows for the CBS and NBC radio networks. He also taught Writing for Radio at Columbia on a part-time basis. During World War II he oversaw the Armed Forces Radio Service's education division, based in Washington, D.C. He won a Peabody Award in 1944, for a documentary series, "Words at War."[3]

In 1949, Barnouw worked with the United States Public Health Service on the V. D. Radio Project, a series of programs created to combat syphilis. The V. D. Radio Project featured a variety of programming--PSAs, interviews with doctors and patients, soap operas, and "ballad dramas"-- and enlisted the efforts a wide variety of famous men and women in producing those programs, including Alan Lomax, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Hank Williams Sr., Jinx Falkenburg, and Henry Fonda, and more.[1][4]

Barnouw was elected chairman of the Writers Guild Of America in 1957 and also served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

In 1978 he became chief of the Library of Congress's newly created Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

He is best known for his history of U.S. radio and television, a three volume series first published in 1966. Volume 1, "A Tower in Babel," covered radio until 1933; the second volume, "'The Golden Web," covered broadcasting until the 1950s; the final volume, "The Image Empire," discussed the rise and growth of television. The New York Times Book Reviews (28 November 1971, p. BR 59) praised Barnouw's work as "continually readable and sharply observant." Barnouw is also known for his history of documentary films, and for his film about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which the L.A. Times said shook the industry.

In 1971 Barnouw received a George Polk Award.

He took interest in the history of magic and was the author of the book The Magician and the Cinema (1981) which received positive reviews.[5] He was a friend to the magician John Mulholland, whilst in high school, Barnouw had catalogued Mulholland's books on magic.[6] Since 1983, the Organization of American Historians has awarded the Erik Barnouw Award for films about American history.

In 2001, Barnouw died in Fair Haven, Vermont. The New York Times quoted his former editor Sheldon Mayer, "...Barnouw had an eye for the scoundrels, and the fakes, and the dangerous people. His genius reached generations of Americans across the radio airwaves, on the television screen and in the classroom."

Selected writings

  • A Tower in Babel: A History of Broadcasting in the United States To 1933, Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • The Golden Web: A History of Broadcasting in the United States 1933–1953, Oxford University Press, 1968[7]
  • The Image Empire: A History of Broadcasting in the United States from 1953, Oxford University Press, 1970.
  • Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, Oxford University Press, 1976 (second updated edition, 1992).
  • The Sponsor: Notes on a Modern Potentate, Oxford University Press, 1978 (new edition, 2005).
  • Indian Film, Oxford University Press, 1980 (with S. Krishnaswamy).
  • The Magician and the Cinema, Oxford University Press, 1981.
  • International Encyclopedia of Communications, Oxford University Press, 1989. (editor)
  • Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film, Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Media Marathon, Duke University Press, 1996 (an autobiography).
  • Media Lost and Found, Fordham University Press, 2001.


  • Hiroshima Nagasaki August, 1945, 1970
    • this film compiles footage shot shortly after the bombing by both Japanese and American cameramen.
    • the original footage was classified as "Secret" for decades and was only released to U.S. National Archives in 1967.[8]


  1. ^ a b Media Marathon: A Twentieth-Century Memoir - author, Erik Barnouw -
  2. ^ See generally, Norris Houghton's But not forgotten: The Adventures of the University Players, William Sloan Associates, New York 1951
  3. ^ "Columbia News ::: Erik Barnouw, 93, Columbia Professor and Legendary Media Historian". Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  4. ^ "V.D. Radio Project | WNYC". 2016-09-19.
  5. ^ Desowitz, Bill. (1982). Review: The Magician and the Cinema by Erik Barnouw. Film Quarterly 35 (4): 48.
  6. ^ "The Magician and the Cinema". Kirkus Reviews.
  7. ^ Barnouw, Erik (31 December 1968). A History of Broadcasting in the United States: Volume 2: The Golden Web: 1933 to 1953. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  8. ^ Hiroshima Cover-Up Exposed by Greg Mitchell, August 1, 2005 Archived February 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine

External links

Alfred Blalock

Alfred Blalock (April 5, 1899 – September 15, 1964) was a 20th-century American surgeon most noted for his research on the medical condition of shock as well as Tetralogy of Fallot— commonly known as Blue baby syndrome. He developed the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig Shunt, a surgical procedure he developed together with surgical technician Vivien Thomas and pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig to relieve the cyanosis from Tetralogy of Fallot. This operation ushered in the modern era of cardiac surgery. Blalock worked at both Vanderbilt University and the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied both as an undergraduate and worked as chief of surgery. He is known as a medical pioneer who won various awards, including Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award. Blalock was also nominated several times for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Bill Brand (film artist)

Bill Brand (born 1949, in Rochester, New York) is an experimental film and video artist, educator, activist and film preservationist.

Dayton Duncan

Dayton Duncan (born September 3, 1949) was the writer and co-producer of The National Parks: America's Best Idea documentary produced by Ken Burns, and has also been involved for many years with other series directed by Burns including The Civil War, Horatio's Drive, Baseball and Jazz. For the 12-hour series The West about the history of the American West, broadcast in 1996, Duncan was the co-writer and consulting producer. It won the Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians.

He is the writer and producer of Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, a four-hour documentary broadcast in November 1997. The film attained the second-highest ratings (following The Civil War) in the history of PBS and won a Western Heritage award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America, and a CINE Golden Eagle, as well as many other honors. He is the co-writer and producer of Mark Twain, a four-hour film biography of the great American humorist which was broadcast on PBS in 2002. His next film with Burns was Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip, about the first transcontinental automobile trip, which he wrote and produced. It won the prestigious Christopher Award and a Telly Award.

In politics, Duncan served as Chief of Staff to New Hampshire governor Hugh Gallen; deputy national press secretary for Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984; and national press secretary for Michael Dukakis's 1988 presidential campaign. President Clinton appointed him chair of the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee and Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt appointed him as a director of the National Park Foundation. Duncan now serves on the board of the Student Conservation Association, the National Conservation System Foundation and the New Hampshire Humanities Council.

Born and raised in Indianola, Iowa, Duncan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 with a degree in German literature and was also a fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy. He holds honorary doctorates from Franklin Pierce College and Drake University.

For the last thirty years he has lived in New Hampshire, where he makes his home in the small town of Walpole with his wife, Dianne, and their two children.

Deaths in July 2001

The following is a list of notable deaths in July 2001.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship at birth, subsequent country of citizenship (if applicable), reason for notability, cause of death (if known), and reference.

East India Film Company

The East India Film Company was an Indian film production company, based in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India. It was the first Indian film company to screen a movie at an international film festival. Started in 1932 in Calcutta, by R. L. Khemka, it went on to be a pioneer in producing films across several regional film industries, including Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Telugu, and Tamil, in the decade after its founding; till then, production companies were restricted regionally.

Erik Barnouw Award

The Erik Barnouw Award—also known as the OAH Erik Barnouw Award—is named after the late Erik Barnouw, a Columbia University historian and professor who was a specialist in mass media. The OAH -- Organization of American Historians -- gives one or two awards annually to recognize excellent programs, from mass media or documentary films, that relate to American history or further its study. The award was first presented in 1983.

Freedom on My Mind

Freedom on My Mind is a 1994 feature documentary film that tells the story of the Mississippi voter registration struggles of 1961 to 1964, which was characterized by violence against the people involved, including multiple instances of murder.

The film was produced and directed by Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford. Participants interviewed include Robert Parris Moses, Victoria Gray Adams, Endesha Ida Mae Holland, and Freedom Summer volunteers Marshall Ganz, Heather Booth, and Pam Allen.

Freedom on My Mind premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, won that year's Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Herb Kaplow

Herbert Elias "Herb" Kaplow (February 2, 1927 – July 27, 2013) was an American television news correspondent. His main focus was reporting out of Washington, D.C., covering presidential campaigns and those who were elected.

Paper Tiger Television

Paper Tiger Television is an open media collective dedicated to raising media literacy and challenging corporate control over broadcast medium. Based in New York City, Paper Tiger was founded in 1981.

Paper Tiger Television (PTTV) is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers and run as a collective in response to systems of hierarchical power.

The collective celebrated its 25th anniversary on October 11, 2007 with a premiere of the video Paper Tiger Reads Paper Tiger Television at the Anthology Film Archives

S. Krishnaswamy

S. Krishnaswamy is an Indian documentary film-maker and writer who won the Padmashri award in 2009. His recent works include three documentaries on the Indian influence in Southeast Asia: Indian Imprints, A Different Pilgrimage, and Tracking Indian Footmarks. Indian Imprints was broadcast on Doordarshan in 18 episodes.

Spark Media

Spark Media is an American independent multimedia and documentary production house based in Washington, D.C., United States.

The West (miniseries)

The West, sometimes marketed as Ken Burns Presents: The West, is a 1996 television documentary miniseries about the American Old West. It was directed by Stephen Ives and featured Ken Burns as executive producer. It was first broadcast on PBS on eight consecutive nights from September 15 to 22, 1996.

University Players

The University Players was primarily a summer stock theater company located in West Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, from 1928 to 1932. It was formed in 1928 by eighteen college undergraduates. Notable among them were Eleanor Phelps of Vassar, two undergraduates at Princeton, Bretaigne Windust and Erik Barnouw, and several undergraduates at Harvard, Charles Crane Leatherbee (grandson of American diplomat and philanthropist Charles Richard Crane), Kent Smith, Kingsley Perry, Bartlett Quigley (father of American actress Jane Alexander), and John Swope (son of GE President Gerard Swope and later Hollywood and Life Magazine photographer and husband of actress Dorothy McGuire). Several others of its members who had their first professional experiences with the University Players went on to achieve fame in the theater and film industry, including Joshua Logan, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Margaret Sullavan, Mildred Natwick, Aleta Freel, Barbara O'Neil, Myron McCormick, Charles Arnt, Karl Swenson, Kent Smith, Norris Houghton, Frieda Altman, Elsie Schauffler, and Philip Faversham.

Romances born of the University Players led to four marriages: Barbara O'Neil to Joshua Logan for a few years in the 1930s; Logan's little sister Mary Lee Logan to Charles Leatherbee; and that of a few "happy" months in 1932 between actress Margaret Sullavan and actor Henry Fonda; and future author Peggy Friedlander to future English professor Roy Lamson.

V. D. Radio Project

The V. D. Radio Project was a public health campaign created by the United States Public Health Service in 1949 to combat syphilis.

In 1949, taking advantage of the recently developed treatments of the sexually transmitted disease involving penicillin, the United States Public Health Service enlisted the help of radio veteran and Columbia University professor Erik Barnouw to create a series of radio programs intended to raise awareness and to influence the millions of men and women suffering from the disease to seek help. Targeting the rural south and industrial north, the V. D. Radio Project created a variety of programming, including public service announcements from various entertainers and politicians, interviews with patients and doctors, soap operas, and what they called "ballad dramas" or "hillbilly operas." The ballad dramas were the brainchild of folklorist Alan Lomax, who enlisted country, folk, and gospel superstars to perform their music in dramatic programs tailor-made for their talents and personae. Performers in the ballad dramas included Woody Guthrie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, and Merle Travis, among others.

Vivian Kleiman

Vivian Kleiman is a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. She has received a National Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Research and Executive Produced an Academy Award nominated documentary.Also an educator, she served as Adjunct Faculty at Stanford University's Graduate Program in Documentary Film and Video Production from 1995-2004.

Kleiman was a long time collaborator with black gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs. They founded Signifyin' Works in 1991, which creates and distributes films about the experiences of African Americans. Directed by Riggs, their 1992 film Color Adjustment screened at the Sundance Film Festival and received the International Documentary Association's IDA Award, the Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians and the George Foster Peabody Award in 1993.

Wings of Defeat

Wings of Defeat is a 2007 documentary feature film in which former Kamikaze pilots reveal they were not fanatics but were ordered to die by a desperate military. Wings of Defeat, broadcast on the PBS Independent Lens series in May 2009, was awarded the 2009 Erik Barnouw Award by the Organization of American Historians.

In Japan, World War II Kamikaze are still revered as self-sacrificing heroes. Internationally, they remain a potent symbol of fanaticism. In astonishingly candid interviews, four former Kamikaze reveal that they were neither suicidal nor fanatical. The film reveals they were young men sentenced to death by a military that could not admit defeat. In heartbreaking testimony corroborated with rare archival footage, they tell us about their dramatic survival and their survivors’ guilt. This riveting, seamlessly edited film is an emotionally charged and timely exposé, probing the responsibilities that a government at war has to its people and its soldiers.

Wings of Defeat features interviews with four trained kamikaze pilots, including three who took off to attack the U.S. fleet off the coast of Okinawa in the spring of 1945 as well as exclusive interviews with surviving American Navy veterans of the USS Drexler, a destroyer sunk by two kamikaze pilots. The American veterans illustrate the enduring trauma of the suicide attacks. The film features commentary by John W. Dower, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, American historian of modern Japan, and Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, author of the books Kamikaze Diaries and Cherry Blossoms, Kamikaze and Nationalism.

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