Carl W. Ackerman
Carl William Ackerman (January 16, 1890 Richmond, Indiana –October 9, 1970 New York City) was an American journalist, author and educational administrator, the first dean of the Columbia School of Journalism. As a correspondent with the Public Ledger of Philadelphia, in 1919 he published the first excerpts in an English translation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, changing text to have it appear as an anti-Bolshevist tract. In 1931, he was appointed as the director and first dean of the newly established School of Journalism at Columbia University. He was instrumental in developing the school through its first two decades, as he served in that position until 1954.
Ackerman graduated from Earlham College and worked as a correspondent in World War I with the United Press. He first gained public attention with his book, Germany, The Next Republic? (1917), which discussed the possibility of a successful democracy in post-Kaiser Germany. At the time, during World War I, his position was considered quite radical. Ackerman became a journalist with the Philadelphia Public Ledger. In 1919, he published articles headlined as “The Red Bible”, featuring the first English edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic hoax that had been published in Europe and recounted a Jewish plan for world domination. By replacing all its references to Jews by references to Bolshevists, he made it an anti-Bolshevist hoax.
Ackerman married Mabel VanderHoof in 1914. They had one son: Robert VanderHoof Ackerman, born in 1915 when Ackerman was correspondent there for the United Press Associations during World War I.
In 1931 Ackerman was recruited to serve as the director and, later, as the first dean, of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, which was established by an estate gift of Joseph Pulitzer, a major publisher in Saint Louis and New York City. The philanthropist’s money was also used to establish the Pulitzer Prize awards in journalism, literature, drama and music.
Ackerman was a provocative figure; for instance, he accused the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt of fascism, and attempts to control journalism. Known to be reclusive, he worked to establish the school as one of the foremost schools of journalism in the nation. He served on the board of trustees for Science Service, now known as Society for Science & the Public, from 1936-1938. In 1954, after the death of his wife, Ackerman notified the university of his intention to resign. After Columbia found a replacement, he resigned. He was known to visit the university only occasionally until his death in New York, New York in 1970.
- January, 16, 1890
- Richmond, Indiana
- October, 09, 1970
- New York
Cause of Death
- Hollywood Cemetery
- Richmond, Virginia