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Alfred Balk Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: PRB
Date: 16 Nov 2010

Biographical History

Alfred Balk (1930-2010) was an American journalist, editor, and non-fiction author in several fields including radio and television history.

Born in Oskaloosa, Iowa on July 24, 1930, Alfred Balk graduated from Northwestern University with a BA and MA in journalism. He was feature editor and editor at large for the Saturday Review (1966-1969), editor of the Columbia Journalism Review (1969-1973) and founding editor of the World Press Review, where he worked from 1973 to 1986. Later in his career he served as managing editor of IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (1989-1991). In 1963 Balk and Alex Haley co-wrote "Black Merchants of Hate," an article on Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam; according to the New York Times, the article "was a major factor in Haley's future book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

In addition to his journalistic pursuits, he wrote for national magazines including the Saturday Evening Post and Harper's, was the author of several books, and taught at both Syracuse University and Columbia University.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alfred Balk Papers consists of research files, most related to Balk's book The Rise of Radio; printed material (books, catalogs, newsletters, periodicals); recordings in various media (VHS tapes, audiocassettes, record albums) of classic radio and television programs and special broadcasts relating to the topic; oral history project interviews; and radio advertising premiums from Ovaltine, Wheaties, and other products.

The collection has received minimal processing, and the inventory which follows is a simple box listing.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection has been arranged according to the groupings given above, but within the groupings little other arrangement has been done. Folders for the most part retain the donor's original titles and ordering.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

A number of published books and monographs have been transferred to Rare Books or to the general circulating collection for cataloging. For a complete listing, please refer to the finding aids files, or search the Classic Catalog for the phrase "Gift of Alfred Balk."

Special Collections Research Center has extensive holdings in journalism and in radio and television history. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Balk, Alfred, 1930-2010.

Associated Titles

Rise of radio.


Popular culture -- United States.
Radio -- History.
Radio broadcasting -- United States -- History.
Radio programs -- United States -- History.

Genres and Forms

78 rpm records.
Catalogs (documents)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Long-playing records.
Manuscripts for publication.
Oral histories (literary works)
Research notes.
Sound recordings.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alfred Balk Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Alfred Balk, 2010.

Table of Contents

Research files

Printed material


Radio advertising premiums