Erik Barnouw immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1919 when he was only 11 years old. His father became one of the editors of the "Weekly Review" and later was the Queen Wilhelmina Professor of Literature at Columbia University. Erik attended the Horace Mann School in New York City and then enrolled in Princeton University where he was the editor of the Nassau Literary Magazine. There is no information on when he graduated and which degrees he earned. Since he later was a professor at Columbia University, he clearly earned at least one graduate degree and perhaps several.
In the spring of his junior year at Princeton he, together with Harvard juniors Charles C. Leatherbee and Kingsley Perry contributed $ 100 each towards the founding of University Players, a summer stock company in West Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. During the next six years 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.
Barnouw spent the mid 1930's writing, producing and directing a number of radio shows for the CBS and NBC radio networks. During the Second World War he oversaw the Armed Forces Radio Service's Education Division in Washington, DC.
In 1946, Barnouw was appointed a Professor in literature at Columbia University. Being in academia probably helped him to focus his attention more in a scholarly direction. In 1957 he was elected the Chairman of the Writers Guild of America. During that time he 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.
During his active scholarly career Barnouw won several awards. In 1944 he won a Peabody Award and in 1971 he won a George Polk Award. Also in 1983, the Organization of American Historians has awarded the Erik Barnouw Award for films about American History.
Barnouw was a prolific writer of books. His best known publications are the three volume series on the history of U.S. Radio and Television Broadcasting. The first volume, "A Tower of Babel", was published in 1966, the second, "The Golden Web" in 1968 and the third, "The Image Empire" in 1970. In addition he was involved in the publication of eight other books on the history of American Broadcasting.
Barnouw was born on June 23, 1908 in The Hague, the Netherlands. He passed away in Fair Haven, Vermont on July 19, 2001 at the advanced age of 93. His last publication, "Media, Lost and Found ", was published by Fordham University Press in 2001. So it appears he was active to the very end of his life.
Erik Barnouw, Wikipedia and other web sources
Barnouw, Erik, "Media Marathon: A Twentieth Century Memoir", Duke University Press, 1996
Houghton, Norris, "But not Forgotten: The Adventures of the University Players", New York: William Sloan Associates, 1951
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DUTCH PEGELS INVOLVED IN WARS
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THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE NETHERLANDS: MEMOIRS, 2017
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