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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Daniel J. Boorstin
(2012.201.B0097.0313, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).

BOORSTIN, DANIEL J. (1914–2004).

Internationally known scholar and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Daniel J. Boorstin was born October 1, 1914, in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1916 his parents, Samuel Aaron and Dora Olsan Boorstin, moved to the oil-boom town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father, a lawyer, probably had some influence on his son's education. At age fifteen Daniel Boorstin graduated from Tulsa Central High School and entered Harvard University. After graduating from Harvard, he attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and completed two law degrees. He then entered Yale University Law School, receiving a J.S.D. degree in 1940. In 1941 he married Ruth Carolyn Frankel, and they had three sons.

Boorstin briefly used his law background before entering the academic world. He taught at a number of universities before becoming the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of History and Technology and the Smithsonian's senior historian between 1969 and 1975. From November 1975 to 1987 he served as the Librarian of Congress.

Boorstin received many awards for his publications, including the Pulitzer Prize for The Americans: The Democratic Experience (1973). He held twenty honorary degrees, including an honorary doctor of law degree from the University of Tulsa. He was inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame in 1989 and received the Oklahoma Book Award for The Creators in 1993. Boorstin died of pneumonia on February 28, 2004, in Washington, D.C.

Linda D. Wilson


"Daniel J. Boorstin," Vertical File, Oklahoma Room, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma City.

"Daniel J. Boorstin," Vertical File, Tulsa City-County Public Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Vol. 71 (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1981).

Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 1 March 1986.

Clyde N. Wilson, ed., Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 17, Twentieth-Century American Historians (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1983).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Boorstin, Daniel J.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BO014.

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