Daniel Joseph Boorstin, 1914 - 2004

portrait of Daniel J. Boorstin
Library of Congress photo (Ca. 1975)

Born: 1 October 1914, Atlanta, Georgia
Died: 28 February 2004, Washington City

Boorstin's parents were second-generation Russian-Jewish immigrants. His father successfully defended a Jew falsely charged with rape and murder, after the Ku Klux Klan lynched the defendant the Boorstin's moved to Oklahoma. Daniel graduated with honors from Harvard, won a Rhodes scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford where he completed a double first and not only qualified as a barrister but was called to the British bar. Back in the US he earned his doctorate at Yale and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar. Naturally, his next step was to become a professor of history at the University of Chicago for 25 years. He was director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History for six years and Librarian of Congress for twelve. Historians panned his work, possibly jealous that his books sold well, and the American Library Association opposed his appointment at the Library of Congress, as they generally have in cases where the candidate isn't already a library administrator. Despite the wrong education, he was brilliant in both roles, transforming the Library of Congress. He wrote over twenty books, winning the 1974 Pulitzer Prize in history.

Biography from Wikipedia and The Independent obituary

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