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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Died in Washington, District of Columbia, USA  (pneumonia)
Birth NameDaniel Joseph Boorstin

Mini Bio (1)

Daniel J. Boorstin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who served as the Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987, was born on October 1, 1914 in Atlanta, Georgia but raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating summa cum laude from Harvard College and receiving his doctorate from Yale University, Boostin attended Balliol College at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. At Balliol, Boostin won a "double first" in two law degrees and was admitted to the bar as a barrister at London's Inner Temple. He also was admitted to the bar in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Boorstin taught history at the University of Chicago for 25-years, where he held the chair as the Preston and Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor of History. He also was a visiting professor at the University of Rome, the University of Geneva, the University of Kyoto and the University of Puerto Rico. At the Sorbonne, Boorstin was the first holder of a chair in American History, while at Cambridge University, he served as Pitt Professor and as a Fellow of Trinity College.

An author of over 20 books, Boorstin was best known for his trilogy on the American experience, beginning in 1959 with "The Americans: The Colonial Experience," which won Columbia University's Bancroft Prize, and continuing with "The Americans: The National Experience," which won the Society of American Historians' Parkman Prize in 1966. The third and last volume of his "Americans" trilogy, "The Americans: The Democratic Experience," won him the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1973.

Boorstin's other books include "The Mysterious Science of the Law: An Essay on Blackstone's Commentaries," "The Image: A Guide to Psuedo Events in America," and "Hidden History: Exploring Our Secret Past." "The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself," a survey of science, was a Book of the Month Club selection and a best-seller, while its companion volume, "The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination," a survey of humankind's artistic history, also was a popular success and a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. He followed these books up with "The Seekers: The Story of Man's Continuing Quest to Understand His World," a survey history of holy men, philosophers, social scientists and other seekers of truth.

He was director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology when President Gerald Ford nominated him to be Librarian of Congress. While his nomination was supported by the Authors League of America, the American Library Association opposed Boorstin as he lacked a background in library administration. Despite the ALA's opposition, the U.S. Senate confirmed Boorstin without debate.

As Librarian of Congress, Boorstin oversaw the renovation of the Thomas Jefferson Building to its original 1897 condition and established the Center for the Book (now known as the Boorstin Center for the Book) to encourage literacy. After retiring from his position, Boorstin was named Librarian of Congress Emeritus on August 4, 1987. The Boorstin Center for the Book Awards were inaugurated in 1997 and overseen by the Librarian of Congress Emeritus himself.

Boorstin was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees as well as decorations from the governments of Belgium, France, Japan, and Portugal. Other notable awards and prizes he received during his distinguished career were Phi Beta Kappa's Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award, the National Endowment for the Humanities' Charles Frankel Prize, and the National Book Foundation's National Book Award for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters.

Daniel J. Boorstin died at the age of 89 in Washington, D.C. on February 28, 2004 from pneumonia. He was survived by his widow, the former Ruth Frankel, who was the editor of his works, and their three sons.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Ruth Carolyn Frankel (April 1941 - 28 February 2004) ( his death)

Trivia (4)

Librarian of Congress, 1975-1987
Winner of 1974 Pulitzer Prize in history for "The Americans: The Democratic Experience".
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 41-43. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
Inducted into the Tulsa [Oklanoma] Hall of Fame in 1989.

Personal Quotes (34)

In fast-moving, progress-conscious America, the consumer expects to be dizzied by progress. If he could completely understand advertising jargon he would be badly disappointed. The half-intelligibility which we expect, or even hope, to find in the latest product language personally reassures each of us that progress is being made: that the pace exceeds our ability to follow.

  • "The Image: A Guide to Psuedo Events in America"

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.
The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.
Standing, standing, standing - why do I have to stand all the time? That is the main characteristic of social Washington.
Reading is like the sex act - done privately, and often in bed.
Nothing is really real unless it happens on television.
Knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary. Knowledge is never used up. It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion.
The courage to imagine the otherwise is our greatest resource, adding color and suspense to all our life.
The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.
The force of the advertising word and image dwarfs the power of other literature in the 20th century.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.
The deeper problems connected with advertising come less from the unscrupulousness of our 'deceivers' than from our pleasure in being deceived, less from the desire to seduce than from the desire to be seduced.
I've learned any fool can write a bad ad, but it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.
The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge.
I write to discover what I think. After all, the bars aren't open that early.
I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.
The most important American addition to the World Experience was the simple surprising fact of America. We have helped prepare mankind for all its later surprises.
The most important lesson of American history is the promise of the unexpected. None of our ancestors would have imagined settling way over here on this unknown continent. So we must continue to have society that is hospitable to the unexpected, which allows possibilities to develop beyond our own imaginings.
Human models are more vivid and more persuasive than explicit moral commands.
The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes 'sight-seeing.'
The world of crime is a last refuge of the authentic, uncorrupted, spontaneous event.
There was a time when the reader of an unexciting newspaper would remark, 'How dull is the world today!' Nowadays he says, 'What a dull newspaper!'
We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in their place.
We read advertisements...to discover and enlarge our desires. We are always ready - even eager - to discover, from the announcement of a new product, what we have all along wanted without really knowing it.
When they built this building they were afraid to say that beauty is truth for fear that it wouldn't be by the time it was completed.
Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.
Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.
As you make your bed, so you must lie in it.
As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.
An image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service.
A sign of celebrity is often that their name is worth more than their services.
A best-seller was a book which somehow sold well because it was selling well.
Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.
Two centuries ago, when a great man appeared, people looked for God's purpose in him; today we look for his press agent.

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