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Adams, Franklin P. (15 November 1881–23 March 1960), newspaper columnist, humorist, and radio personality, was born Franklin Pierce Adams in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Moses Adams, a dry-goods merchant, and Clara Schlossberg, both German-Jewish immigrants. During his childhood he was an avid reader of the classics, history, nineteenth-century fiction, and light verse. He studied mathematics and science at the Armour Scientific Academy in Chicago, graduating in 1899. He attended the University of Michigan for less than a year, during which he studied literature and after which he began to earn his own living....

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James Agee Photograph by Walker Evans, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103100).

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Agee, James Rufus (27 November 1909–16 May 1955), writer, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Hugh James Agee, a construction company employee, and Laura Whitman Tyler. The father’s family were poorly educated mountain farmers, while the mother’s were solidly middle class. Agee was profoundly affected by his father’s death in a car accident in 1916. He idealized his absent father and struggled against his mother and her genteel and (he felt) cold values. “Agee’s mother wanted him to be clean, chaste, and sober,” the photographer ...

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Arnold, Eve (21 April 1912–04 January 2012), photojournalist, was born Eve Cohen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the seventh of nine children of the Ukrainian Jewish immigrants Vevel (William) Sklarski, a rabbi, and Bosya (Bessie) Laschiner. Although Eve’s parents were poor she received a good basic education. Eve first considered a career as a writer or a dancer, then settled on medicine, but she gave this up to move to New York City. During World War II she got a job at America’s first automated photographic film processing plant in Hoboken, New Jersey, although she knew little about photography then. It was only in 1946 when her then boyfriend gave her a forty-dollar Rolleicord camera that she took up photography as a hobby. The boyfriend did not last long, but her love of photography grew into a highly successful and fulfilling career....

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David Brinkley. January 1989. Courtesy of AP Images.

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Brinkley, David (10 July 1920–11 June 2003), broadcast journalist, was born David McClure Brinkley in Wilmington, North Carolina, the son of William Graham Brinkley, a railroad worker, and Mary MacDonald West. Brinkley's father died when the boy was eight, leaving him in the care of a dour, deeply religious mother. Brinkley, seeking escape through reading, spent hours at the Wilmington Public Library. He also enjoyed writing. Encouraged by his high school English teacher, Brinkley worked part‐time at Wilmington's afternoon newspaper, the ...

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Burnett, Alfred (02 November 1824–04 April 1884), entertainer and journalist, was born in Bungay, Suffolk, England. The names of his parents and other facts about his early life are unknown. In 1828 he was sent to live with an aunt in New York City. After four years of schooling in Utica, New York, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1836. He later became proprietor of a confectionery business and by 1860 owned three such establishments....

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William Evans Burton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-90336).

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Burton, William Evans (24 September 1802–10 February 1860), actor and editor, was born in London, England, the son of William George Burton, a printer (maiden name unknown). Hoping his child would become a clergyman, the elder Burton enrolled him at St. Paul’s School, but at the age of eighteen Burton had to withdraw and take charge of his family’s printing business when his father died....

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Boake Carter. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Carter, Boake (28 September 1898–16 November 1944), broadcast journalist, was born Harold Thomas Henry Carter in Baku, then part of Russia (now the capital of Azerbaijan), the son of Thomas Carter, an oilman and British consul in that city, and Edith Harwood-Yarred Carter. He was educated at boarding schools in England and then spent a brief interval at Cambridge University, where he wrote for a student newspaper. Carter was impatient to enter the oil business with his father, and while making preparations to do so he worked as a stringer for the ...

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Clapper, Raymond Lewis (30 May 1892–01 February 1944), journalist and radio commentator, was born near La Cygne, Kansas, the son of John William Clapper and Julia Crowe, farmers. Shortly after his birth Clapper’s family moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where his father worked in packinghouse factories. His parents, hardworking but poor, showed little interest in books, politics, or the world outside their strict, religious home life, which was supplemented only by regular attendance at the Baptist church. Through grade school Clapper avidly read newspapers, including the ...

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Collingwood, Charles Cummings (04 June 1917–03 October 1985), broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent, was born in Three Rivers, Michigan, the son of George Harris Collingwood, a professor and forester, and Jean Grinnell Cummings. In 1935 Collingwood spent two years at Deep Springs College in Death Valley, California, an experimental school modeled on the Oxford system. In 1937 Collingwood transferred to Cornell, where he graduated cum laude in 1939. The same year he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship. In 1940, while attending Oxford University, he worked for the United Press wire service. In March 1941 he was invited by ...

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Cooke, Alistair (20 November 1908–30 March 2004), journalist, was born Alfred Cooke in Salford, a suburb of Manchester, England, to Samuel Cooke, an iron fitter, insurance salesman, and Methodist lay preacher, and Mary Byrne Cooke. His lifelong interest in America began during World War I, when he became “fascinated” by seven American soldiers billeted in his family's home in Blackpool on Britain's northwest coast (Stewart, p. 5). While at Cambridge University in 1930 he took the name “Alistair,” edited ...

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Alistair Cooke in his home in New York City, 12 October 1972. Associated Press

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Cowles, Gardner, Jr. (31 January 1903–08 July 1985), publisher and media executive, was born in Algona, Iowa, the son of Gardner Cowles, a banker, and Florence Call. In 1903 the senior Cowles bought the Des Moines Register and Leader, which within a few years after his acquisition of the ...

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Cronkite, Walter Leland, Jr. (04 November 1916–17 July 2009), broadcast journalist, was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri, the son of Walter Leland Cronkite, a dentist, and Helen Fritsche Cronkite. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Kansas City. When he was ten years old his father accepted a position with a dental college in Houston, Texas....

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Walter Cronkite anchors his last CBS election night special in New York City, 4 November 1980. Associated Press

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Davis, Elmer (13 January 1890–18 May 1958), author, journalist, and radio commentator, was born Elmer Holmes Davis in Aurora, Indiana, the son of Elam H. Davis, a cashier for the First National Bank of Aurora, and Louise Severin, principal at the local high school. Described by a childhood friend as an avid reader, Davis began his long career with newspapers the summer after his freshman year in high school by obtaining a job as a printer’s devil for the ...

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Dithmar, Edward Augustus (22 May 1854–16 October 1917), journalist, was born in New York City, the son of Henry Dithmar and Anna (maiden name unknown). His father was foreman of the composing room at the New York Evening Post. Dithmar’s public school education ended at seventeen when he joined his father at the ...