Biographical / Historical
North Callahan was Professor Emeritus of History, New York University, where he specialized in the Colonial Period of American history as well as that of the 20th century. He was the author of 15 books on American history and biography. Professor Callahan was born near Sweetwater, Tennessee in 1908 and was graduated from the University of Chattanooga with honors. He held the master’s degree in American history from Columbia University and the Ph.D. in American civilization from New York University where he was a Penfield Fellow. When he was awarded 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.”
After educational work in Tennessee schools and with the federal government, North Callahan wrote for newspapers in the states of Texas and New York, being at various times a reporter, editor, and columnist, eventually writing a syndicated column. In World War II, he was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army in charge of recruiting publicity for the entire Army, serving as editor of Army Life Magazine and as supervisor of the national radio program, “The Voice of the Army” which won an Ohio State University award.
Entering the field of higher education, Dr. Callahan became chairman of the history department at Finch College, then joined the faculty of New York University where he taught at Washington Square College and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences until his retirement in 1973. During this time, he was a visiting lecturer at several British universities and a visiting professor at the University of Tennessee. He received grants for research and writing from such scholarly organizations as The American Philosophical Society, the Huntington Library, and his alma maters. North Callahan belonged to national historical and journalistic societies, was president of the Civil War Round Table of New York, founder of The American Revolution Round Table, member of the New York City Bicentennial Commission, and appeared on national radio and television as well as spoke to many scholarly and lay audiences. He was a member of the Board of Advisors of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.
Dr. Callahan contributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Colliers, and others, and contributed articles and reviewed books for newspapers and scholarly journals. He was a historical consultant to American Express, Twentieth-Century Fox, and National Cash Register. He was included in Who’s Who in America, the Directory of American Scholars etc, and in 1983, was given the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
His books include a biography of George Washington which was adopted by a national book club, biographies of Generals Henry Knox and Daniel Morgan which were selected by the New York Times and the Herald-Tribune as outstanding biographies of their publication years, two volumes on the Tories of the American Revolution, a biography of Carl Sandburg, a history of the Tennessee Valley Authority, an historical novel, Peggy, on the wife of Benedict Arnold, an autobiographical novel, Daybreak; and he was editor of the Leaders of the American Revolution series.