Early life education
Callahan played the leads in dramatic and musical productions while a student at the University of Chattanooga. He organized a glee club there and appeared on the radio in musical programs, later joining a New York stock company touring the South.
Later in little theaters in Tennessee and Texas, he had the leading male roles in the plays, "The Valiant," "First Lady," and the part of Hildy Johnson, the reporter in "The Front Page." But after working for a time as a press representative for the Playwright Company in New York City, he left the theater and pursued his academic and writing career. He had written and directed three plays.
In the post-war years, Callahan returned to academic life, earning a master's degree from Columbia University in 1950 and a Ph.D. from New York University in 1955. He served on the faculty of Finch College as a professor of history before joining the New York University faculty in 1956. He taught at New York University until 1973.
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Callahan wrote numerous articles and 17 books, some of which received awards.
In 1964, Callahan was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Chattanooga, the only graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to have received both an honorary degree and the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He wrote more nationally-published books than any other alumnus.
His publishers include McGraw-Hill, Little-Brown, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Bobbs- Merrill, William Morrow, Cornwall Books, as well as New York and Penn State University Presses. When he was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Chattanooga in 1964, the citation said in part, "He has found teaching and writing exciting."
The New York Times credited him for "filling a gap in the annals of the American Revolution." The Chicago Tribune stated about one of his books, "This book deserves an honored place on the library shelf of every thinking American." The Wall Street Journal wrote, "This volume places Dr. Callahan in the front rank of American historians." The American Historical Review said, "This book is a valuable contribution to a neglected aspect of American history."
Callahan established in his name an annual award for the best Honors Essay in American and European history and biography at UTC. He established the first glee club at the university, where he also founded the Great Books Club. He wrote and directed three plays based on his early acting career and served as chairman of the Folklore Division of the American Studies Association.
Callahan's first marriage, to Dr. Jennie Waugh Callahan, ended in divorce; she died in 1998. His second wife, Helen Pemberton Callahan, died in September 2004. He had two children, a son also named North Callahan and daughter Mary Alice Covington.
North Callahan Collection
The North Callahan Collection is a grouping of works produced by North Callahan throughout the time period 1940-1985 and maintained at the Lupton Library of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The North Callahan Collection includes manuscripts of many of his books, reviews, lecture notes, tests, and related teaching material. There are also photographs, plaques and awards, including photographs with celebrities such as Helen Hayes, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mickey Rooney. In addition, Dr. Callahan donated over 1100 volumes of books dealing with American history to the library.
- Peggy (1983)
- Daybreak (1985)
- The Army: What Soldiers and Their Families Need To Know (1941)
- The Armed Forces as a Career (1947)
- Smoky Mountain Country (1952)
- Henry Knox, His Part in the American Revolution, 1775 to 1784 (doctoral dissertation, New York University, 1956)
- Henry Knox, General Washington's General (1958)
- Daniel Morgan, Ranger of the Revolution (1961)
- Royal Raiders: The Tories of the American Revolution (1963)
- Flight From the Republic: The Tories of the American Revolution (1967)
- Carl Sandburg, Lincoln of Our Literature: A Biography (1970)
- George Washington, Soldier and Man (1972)
- Connecticut's Revolutionary War Leaders (1973)
- TVA: Bridge Over Troubled Waters (1980)
- Carl Sandburg: His Life and Works (1987)
- Thanks, Mr. President: The Trail-Blazing Second Term of George Washington (1991)
- "Obituaries: Callahan, North", The Chattanoogan, December 28, 2004.
- "North Callahan, 96, Is Dead; Historian Wrote of Revolutionary Era", New York Times, January 3, 2005.