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Norman Corwin Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: circa 1965

Biographical History

Norman Corwin (1910-2011) was an American writer, screenwriter, producer, essayist and teacher of journalism and writing. His early radio programs included love stories, satire, biography, fantasy, mystery, Bible stories, travelogues, history, media analyses, philosophy, and current events. He has been called America's "poet laureate of radio." On May 8, 1945, his one-hour live broadcast on the occasion of the end of World War II, On A Note of Triumph, drew 60 million listeners; poet Carl Sandburg praised it as "one of the all-time great American poems."

Corwin is also the author of several books, including Holes In A Stained Glass Window (1978) and Trivializing America (1983), and his script for the movie Lust For Life (1957) was nominated for an Oscar. His television credits include his 1971 series "Norman Corwin Presents." In the 1990s he began a new series of radio program for National Public Radio, whose casts have included William Shatner, Jack Lemmon, Charles Kuralt, Martin Landau, Hume Cronyn, and Charles Durning.

As of 2008 Corwin was still very active in his field, writing a monthly column on media, chairing two award committees for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and serving as a Writer in Residence at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication.

Corwin was recognized many times over his career for his achievements; his awards include a Peabody (1941, the first year they were awarded), the One World Award (1946), a duPont-Columbia Award, and an Honorary Doctorate from Lincoln College (1990). He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993, and in 2006 a documentary film on his life ( A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin) won an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Feature).

"I have no apology to make for the affirmative tone of these scripts. I am convinced we will get where we want to go. It will be grim en route, but I think there is nothing to be said for cynicism and despair, and everything to be said for getting out and working toward a better world."
-- from the foreword to Untitled and Other Radio Dramas

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from Norman Corwin's official website and his USC Annenberg Faculty Page.]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Norman Corwin Papers includes correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, published material, photographs, and more than one hundred and forty recordings, mostly phono discs with a few reel tapes.

As originally donated, many of the packets of material were in numbered envelopes with lengthy typed notes affixed to the front (the author of the notes is unknown). This information has been incorporated into the descriptions given in the inventory below. The notes often reference other envelopes by number; for this reason the numbering has been retained in the folder titles given in the inventory below. So for example,"Guthrie, Woody (463)" indicates that the original envelope was numbered "463" by the donor. The typed descriptions have also been retained and filed in the folder, with the rest of the contents. The donor also assigned numbers to the phono disc recordings, for example LP-1, LP-2, and so on. These numbers have been retained in internal documentation, but are not included in the inventory below. During processing, each recorded item (disc, tape reel, etc.) was assigned a unique identification number (corwin_0001, corwin_0002). Please request recordings using this number.

Correspondence consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence. Much of the outgoing is in the form of carbons. Correspondents include actors and actresses who appeared in Corwin's productions (Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes, Charles Laughton), friends (Elizabeth McCausland, Dorothy Norman), other writers (Stephen Vincent Benet, Dorothy Parker), agents (Cook Brothers, Leah Salisbury), and fans/admirers of his work.

Memorabilia contains of a range of items representing Corwin's career. These include programs from Corwin productions, announcements of his appearances, clippings spanning nearly thirty years, a certificate from Pan American Airways for crossing the International Date Line during his One World Flight, a large scrapbook of Christmas cards received over several years, a few photographs, and more.

Productions of Corwin encompasses all media -- print, radio and film -- and therefore includes addresses, articles and books, operas, poetry, radio programs, stage plays, and much more. Types of material for each production may include correspondence (both internal, related to production issues, and external, such as congratulatory/admiring letters and telegrams), manuscripts, final scripts, photographs, publicity, and recordings. Not all types of material are present for every production.

Productions of others consists of scholarly or artistic output of others that is related to Corwin in some fashion. Included here are interviews of Corwin; papers, dissertations, theses and articles about Corwin and his work; productions by others of Corwin's programs; musical or choral arrangements of his work; and more.

Arrangement of the Collection

Material is divided into series, as described above. Productions by Corwin are subdivided by type and arranged alphabetically by title within each type. Material in each of the remaining series is arranged alphabetically by name or title. Tapes are boxed, discs are shelved individually by ID number. Broken or damaged discs have been rehoused in special boxes.


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

The collection originally contained more than 60 issues of 20th Century Fox Broadcasting News, a weekly newsletter in the form of a script that could be read on the air by movie news commentators or radio station announcers. and numerous issues of the Journal of the Producers Guild of America. These have been transferred to Rare Books for cataloging. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate these items

A majority of the recordings in the collection have been digitized. A few, due to condition or minor importance, have not.

Special Collections Research Center holds the papers of numerous radio and television personalities. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Corwin, Norman, 1910-2011.


Authors, American.
Dramatists, American.
Radio authorship.
Radio plays, American.
Radio producers and directors -- United States.
Screenwriters -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Phonograph records.
Radio scripts.
Scripts (documents)
Sound recordings.
Speeches (documents)
Tape reels.


Radio producers and directors.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Norman Corwin Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Norman Corwin, 1966-1970.

Tapes, gift of Barry Best 1971.

Gambill collection of photocopies, gift of Norman Gambill 1973.

Bound volumes of radio scripts, purchased 2014.

Lief correspondence, gift of Donald Lief, 2017.

Table of Contents



Productions of Corwin

Productions of others


Note on alternate formats:

A majority of the recordings in the collection have been digitized. A few, due to condition or minor importance, have not.