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Jacques Barzun papers, 1900-1999 

Creator: 
Barzun, Jacques, 1907-2012
Phys. Desc: 
194 linear feet (194 linear feet 441 boxes; 1 drawer of oversized material; 11 file boxes CLOSED; 2 cartons CLOSED;)
Call Number: 
MS#1483
Location: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

Jacques Barzun was born in a suburb of Paris in 1907 and died in San Antonio, Texas in 2012. The son of Henri Martin Barzun, a writer and diplomat, and Anna-Rose Barzun, Barzun grew up in the a family milieu which he described as "nursery of living culture". He met many artists and writers of the modernist era, including Marcel Duchamp, Ezra Pound and Jean Cocteau. As an undergraduate, Barzun was the Columbia University Spectator's drama critic and editor of Varsity , the literary magazine. He way also president of the Philolexian Society and class valedictorian. He taught his first class at Columbia, Contemporary Civilization, after graduating from the college. He later served as a history professor and was well known for his humanities courses, teaching for almost 50 years. In the 1930s, Barzun taught the first Colloquium on Important Books class, the precursor to Literature Humanities, with Lionel Trilling, and developed the Core Curriculum's humanities focus. Barzun served as dean of graduate faculties in the 1950s and then provost from 1958 to 1967. Barzun obtained the rank of University Professor, the highest rank in the University, in 1967. Barzun was an outspoken critic of American universities and objected to the politicization of the academy. He strongly condemned both student protesters and faculty during the 1968 student riots. Barzun wrote ober 30 books. Among the notable titles are Teacher in America (1945) and From dawn to decadence : 500 years of cultural triumph and defeat, 1500 to the present (2000). After retiring from the University in 1975, he remained an advocate for Columbia and the Core Curriculum. A devoted Dodgers fan who knew the team when it still played at Ebbets Field, Barzun once remarked, 'Whoever wants to know the heart and soul of America had better learn baseball.' That quote is now inscribed on the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, and was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France's highest award. He became a U.S. citizen in 1933. In October 2007, a month before his 100th birthday, Barzun was presented with the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates. At the event, Professor Emeritus of History Henry Graff called Barzun 'the Babe Ruth of humanistic study and teaching.'

Scope and Contents

The correspondence, researach, and teaching files of Jacques Barzun (1907-2012). The professional and personal papers of Jacques Barzun.

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