Dr. North Callahan died Monday, Dec. 20, 2004, at age 96. He was a noted author and educator.
He was the only graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to have received both an honorary degree and the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He wrote more nationally-published books than any other alumnus.
Dr. Callahan was born near Sweetwater, TN, on Aug. 7, 1908, and was educated at Tennessee Military Institute and the University of Chattanooga, graduating from the latter in 1930 with honors. He later received his master’s degree from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from New Yo rk University, finishing first in his class. He taught American History at NYU for almost 20 years. Dr. Callahan is author of 17 books on American history and biography, some of which have received national literary awards.
His publishers include McGraw-Hill, Little-Brown, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Bobbs- Merrill, William Morrow, Cornwall Books, as well as New York and Penn State University Presses. When he was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Chattanooga in 1964, the citation said in part, "He has found teaching and writing exciting."
In the Lupton Library of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga there is a North Callahan Collection that contains over 2,000 volumes of research materials, which includes original manuscripts of his books, valuable unpublished notes, a collection of pictures with celebrities such as Helen Hayes, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mickey Rooney, etc., and his personal research library, all donated to the university.
Dr. Callahan has been praised for outstanding scholarly attainment as an historian and critic with brilliant style to all his writings.
The New York Times credited him for "filling a gap in the annals of the American Revolution." The Chicago Tribune stated about one of his books, "This book deserves an honored place on the library shelf of every thinking American." The Wall Street Journal wrote, "This volume places Dr. Callahan in the front rank of American historians." The American Historical Review said, "This book is a valuable contribution to a neglected aspect of American history."
North Callahan established in his name an annual award for the best Honors Essay in American and European history and biography at UTC. He established the first glee club at the university, where he also founded the Great Books Club. He wrote and directed three plays based on his early acting career and served as chairman of the Folklore Division of the American Studies Association.
After educational work in Tennessee, Dr. Callahan became a newspaper writer in this state, Texas and New York correspondent of the Dallas Morning News, eventually doing a syndicated column.
Entering the Army as a reserve lieutenant, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in charge of recruiting publicity for the entire army.
He was editor of the national magazine, Army Life, and supervised the nationwide radio program, "The Voice of the Army," for which he wrote the words and which was adopted as the official song of the U.S. Army Recruiting Service.
Retiring from NYU in 1973, he had lectured at British universities, received several research grants, served as head of the Civil War Round Table of New York and founded the American Revolution Round Ta ble. He has contributed to newspapers, magazines and has been historical consultant to American Express, Twentieth-Century Fox and National Cash Register.
As for his theatrical experiences, North Callahan played the leads in dramatic and musical productions while a student at the University of Chattanooga. He organized a glee club there and appeared on the radio in musical programs, later joining a New York stock company touring the South.
Later in Little Theaters in Tennessee and Texas, he had the leading male roles in the plays, "The Valiant," "First Lady," and the part of Hildy Johnson, the reporter in "The Front Page." But after working for a time as a press representative for the Playwright Company in New York City, he left the theater and pursued his academic and writing career. He had written and directed three plays.
He was preceded in death earlier this year by his wife, Helen Pemberton Callahan.
He is survived by his children, Mary Alice Covington of Mohegan Lake, NY, and North Callahan, Jr. of Bronxville, NY.
Funeral services will be at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday,at the East Chapel with the Rev. David Burke officiating.
Interment will be in Chattanooga National Cemetery with full military honors.
The family will receive friends from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the East Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory and Florist.
Please share your thoughts and memories at www.mem.com.