Griffin, John Howard, 1920-1980

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American writer, social critic, journalist, and humanitarian.

From the description of Collection, 1952-1980. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122632950

John Howard Griffin, born June 16, 1920, in Dallas, Texas, was a writer, journalist, humanitiarian, and social critic. Griffin was educated at the Institute de Tours, the University of Poitiers, and the Conservatory of Fontainbleau, all in France. He ultimately received a certificate in piano and composition. Griffin also spent time at the Abbey of Solesmes contemplating a religious vocation. His first work, The Devil Rides Outside, is an autobiographical account of his time there and personal struggles during this period of his life. With the advent of World War II, Griffin did military service from 1942-45. While in the military, he was hit on the head and suffered a concussion, which later caused him to be struck blind while walking down a street one day in France. With this sudden disability, Griffin was forced to return to the United States. He moved in with his parents in Midland, Texas, and stayed with them until his marriage in 1952. Even after marrying and moving to his own home, Griffin still used his parents' home as a base for his writing. Griffin miraculously recovered his sight in 1957 and wrote about this experience in Scattered Shadows.

Griffin wrote a great number of books, articles, and reviews, the most famous and controversial of which was Black Like Me. In this book he examined the attitudes of whites toward African-Americans in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. In order to obtain firsthand experience, Griffin dyed his skin and lived among other African-Americans for some weeks in the fall of 1959. Griffin was also an accomplished photographer and journalist, and wrote syndicated columns for the International News Service and King Features, as well as a short series on his recovery from blindness for the Dallas Times-Herald.

A humanitarian, Griffin received many awards in his lifetime including the Pope John XIII Pacen in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in 1964, and the National Council of Negro Women Award in 1960. During the 1960s, Griffin also worked in communities throughout the South, trying to open a dialogue between the African-American and white communities.

Griffin was often ill in his later adult life and died of diabetes on September 9, 1980.

From the guide to the John Howard Griffin Collection TXRC96-A39., 1952-1980, (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)

John Howard Griffin (1920-1980) was born in Mansfield, Texas. His early training was as a musicologist in Tours, France specializing in Gregorian Chant. He studied psychology, specializing in the effects of music on the mentally disturbed. He also studied photography and became an expert portrait photography.

During WWII he help Jews in France escape the Nazis. After the fall of France, he joined the U. S. Army Air Corps and was sent to the South Pacific to work with the native islanders. Injured by a bomb blast he gradually lost his sight, becoming totally blind by 1947. During his blindness he wrote his two major novels The Devil Rides Outside and Nuni as well as numerous short stories. In 1951 he became a Roman Catholic. After recovering his sight in 1957, he wrote for Sepia magazine and in 1959 he wrote a series of articles for Sepia magazine based on his travels through the Deep South as a "black" man. This series was published as Black Like Me in 1961.

In 1969 he was appointed the Official Biographer of Thomas Merton. Throughout his life he wrote and lectured widely on race relation and social justice. He died in 1980 at the age of sixty.

From the description of John Howard Griffin papers, 1920-1980. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 299030947

BIOGHIST REQUIRED John Howard Griffin (1920-1980) was born in Mansfield, Texas. His early training was as a musicologist in Tours, France specializing in Gregorian Chant. He studied psychology, specializing in the effects of music on the mentally disturbed. He also studied photography and became an expert portrait photography.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED During WWII he help Jews in France escape the Nazis. After the fall of France, he joined the U. S. Army Air Corps and was sent to the South Pacific to work with the native islanders. Injured by a bomb blast he gradually lost his sight, becoming totally blind by 1947. During his blindness he wrote his two major novels The Devil Rides Outside and Nuni as well as numerous short stories. In 1951 he became a Roman Catholic. After recovering his sight in 1957, he wrote for Sepia magazine and in 1959 he wrote a series of articles for Sepia magazine based on his travels through the Deep South as a "black" man. This series was published as Black Like Me in 1961.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED In 1969 he was appointed the Official Biographer of Thomas Merton. Throughout his life he wrote and lectured widely on race relation and social justice. He died in 1980 at the age of sixty.

From the guide to the John Howard Griffin Papers, 1920-1980, (Columbia University. Rare book and Manuscript Library, )

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Paul Green Papers, 1880-1992 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Thomas Merton Papers, 1923-1989 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
creatorOf Griffin, John Howard, 1920-1980. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1951-1980. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Houghton Mifflin Company. Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence, 1881-1981 (inclusive), 1940-1979 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence, 1881-1981 (inclusive), 1940-1979 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Martin F. Block papers, 1935-1995, (bulk 1950-1955) ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
referencedIn Hulme, Kathryn, 1900-1981. Kathryn Hulme papers, 1846-1981 (bulk 1945-1981). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Biography -- Griffin, John Howard. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
referencedIn Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968. Thomas Merton papers, 1923-1989. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf John Howard Griffin Collection TXRC96-A39., 1952-1980 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Griffin, John Howard, 1920-1980. Collection, 1952-1980. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle papers Archives of American Art
referencedIn Green, Paul, 1894-1981. Paul Green papers, 1880-1985. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Griffin, John Howard, 1920-1980. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1953-1959. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Abraham Rattner and Esther Gentle papers Archives of American Art
referencedIn Botnick, A. I. and East, P. D. Papers. 1958-1967 and n.d. Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
referencedIn Coleman Dowell Papers, 1925-1993 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf Griffin, John Howard, 1920-1980. John Howard Griffin papers, 1920-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
referencedIn Kathryn Hulme papers, 1846-1981, 1945-1981 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Paula Eliasoph papers Archives of American Art
referencedIn Dunn, Michael, 1915-1983. Collection, 1959-1974. University of Texas at Arlington, Central Library
creatorOf John Howard Griffin Papers, 1920-1980 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbott, Berenice, 1898- person
associatedWith Anderson, Maxwell, 1888-1959. person
associatedWith Anderson, Quentin, 1912-2003. person
associatedWith Block, Martin F., 1919-1995 person
associatedWith Botnick, A. I. and East, P. D. person
associatedWith Columbia University. corporateBody
associatedWith Dunn, Michael, 1915-1983. person
associatedWith Eliasoph, Paula. person
associatedWith Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882 person
associatedWith Fremantle, Anne Jackson, 1909- person
associatedWith Geismar, Maxwell David, 1909- person
associatedWith Green, Paul, 1894-1981. person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Hulme, Kathryn, 1900-1981. person
associatedWith James, Henry, 1843-1916 person
associatedWith Kozol, Jonathan. person
associatedWith Kozol, Jonathan. person
associatedWith Lionel Trilling Seminars. corporateBody
associatedWith Lionel Trilling Seminars. corporateBody
associatedWith Lourie, Arthur, 1892-1966 person
associatedWith Maritain, Jacques, 1882-1973 person
associatedWith Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968. person
associatedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Poulenc, Francis, 1899-1963 person
associatedWith Rattner, Abraham. person
associatedWith Reverdy, Pierre, 1889-1960 person
associatedWith Trilling, Lionel, 1905-1975. person
associatedWith Turner, Decherd. person
associatedWith Turner, Decherd. person
associatedWith Vann, Gerald, 1906-1963 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Texas
United States
Texas
Southern states
Subject
American literature
Education
Education
African Americans
Afro
Authors, American
Criticism
Criticism
Literature and society
Racism
Southern States
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1920-06-16

Death 1980-09-09

Americans

English,

French

Information

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