Papers of the "Dean of American Radio Commentators" who introduced editorial analysis to radio news broadcasting. The bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence, scripts, and recordings, but there are also business and professional papers, book and article manuscripts, notes, and scrapbooks.
Correspondence, 1902-1964, consists mainly of fan mail. Prior to 1927 the letters reveal Kaltenborn's efforts to gain and hold listeners. After 1930 they suggest a more sophisticated audience expressing opinions on a host of national and international issues such as the Spanish Civil War, the Munich Crisis, World War II, McCarthyism, and labor-management relations. Personal correspondence from relatives and friends includes letters describing conditions in Germany after World War II and Kaltenborn's interest in Harvard University and various philanthropic organizations and civic enterprises. There is also a segregated group of over 1000 autographs from world notables. While the majority are routine in content, there are important series of letters from Norman Angell, Chester B. Bowles, Herbert Hoover, Fannie Hurst, Fiorello La Guardia, Henrik W. van Loon, Lowell Thomas, Harry S. Truman, and Henry A. Wallace.
Business correspondence, contracts, and financial statements relate to relationships with CBS, 1929-1940; NBC, 1940-1958; General Mills, Inc., 1938-1939; the Pure Oil Co., 1939-1953; and the Leo Burnett advertising agency. Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial statements, and related papers also describe his involvement with several professional organizations including the Association of Radio and Television News Analysts, Broadcast Pioneers, the Overseas Press Club, the Radio-Television Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Kaltenborn Foundation, which he established to help young people planning careers in journalism and broadcasting.
Radio scripts comprise a virtually complete record of his prepared broadcasts for "Kaltenborn Edits the News" (CBS & NBC) and for a number of other series and specials, while television material relates primarily to "It Seems Like Yesterday" (NBC). There are also scripts for "Kaltenborn Edits the News," a newsreel, and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (20th Century-Fox, 1951), a feature film in which he played himself.
Eighty notebooks, 1926-1961, in which Kaltenborn recorded on-the-spot observations and notes on interviews with prominent world figures document his research methods. The remainder of the collection consists of drafts of three books, "Europe Now, A First-Hand Report" (1945), "Fifty Fabulous Years" (1950), and "It Seems Like Yesterday" (1956); lectures and addresses, 1916-1961; articles, 1917-1961; copies of columns written for the Merrill (Wis.) "Advocate" and the General Features Syndicate, 1897-1961; publicity; scrapbooks; and memorabilia. Supplementing the papers are more than 500 sound recordings of his regularly scheduled news broadcasts, chiefly 1940-1948, and other programs in which he was a participant. There is also a film of his appearance on "Person to Person" (CBS).
The processed portion is summarized above and is described in the finding aid. Additional accessions are described below and include an unpublished autobiography by Mrs. Kaltenborn.
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