Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He was the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and another for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. H. L. Mencken called Sandburg "indubitably an American in every pulse-beat".
Sandburg was born in the three-room cottage at 313 East Third Street in Galesburg, Illinois, to parents of Swedish ancestry. At the age of thirteen he left school and began driving a milk wagon. From the age of about fourteen until he was seventeen or eighteen, he worked as a porter at the Union Hotel barbershop in Galesburg. After that he was on the milk route again for eighteen months. He then became a bricklayer and a farm laborer on the wheat plains of Kansas. After an interval spent at Lombard College in Galesburg, he became a hotel servant in Denver, then a coal-heaver in Omaha. He began his writing career as a journalist for the Chicago Daily News. Later he wrote poetry, history, biographies, novels, children's literature, and film reviews. Sandburg also collected and edited books of ballads and folklore. He spent most of his life in the Midwest before moving to North Carolina.
Sandburg volunteered to go to the military and was stationed in Puerto Rico with the 6th Illinois Infantry during the Spanish–American War, disembarking at Guánica, Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898. Sandburg was never actually called to battle. He attended West Point for just two weeks, before failing a mathematics and grammar exam. Sandburg returned to Galesburg and entered Lombard College, but left without a degree in 1903.
Sandburg met Lilian Steichen at the Social Democratic Party office in 1907, and they married the next year. Sandburg with his wife, whom he called Paula, raised three daughters.
The Sandburgs moved to Harbert, Michigan, and then to suburban Chicago, Illinois. They lived in Evanston, Illinois, before settling at 331 S. York Street in Elmhurst, Illinois, from 1919 to 1930. Sandburg wrote three children's books in Elmhurst, Rootabaga Stories, in 1922, followed by Rootabaga Pigeons (1923), and Potato Face (1930). Sandburg also wrote Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, a two-volume biography in 1926, The American Songbag (1927), and a book of poems called Good Morning, America (1928) in Elmhurst. The family moved to Michigan in 1930. The Sandburg house at 331 W. York Street, Elmhurst was demolished and the site is now a parking lot.
Sandburg's collection, The War Years was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. His Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951.
In 1945 he moved to Connemara, a 246-acre (100 ha) rural estate in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Here he produced a little over a third of his total published work and lived with his wife, daughters, and two grandchildren.
On February 12, 1959, in commemorations of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, Congress met in joint session to hear actor Fredric March give a dramatic reading of the Gettysburg Address, followed with an address by Sandburg. As of 2013, Sandburg remains the only American poet ever invited to address a joint session of Congress.
Carl Sandburg rented a room in this house where he lived for three years while he wrote the poem "Chicago". It is now a Chicago landmark.
Much of Carl Sandburg's poetry, such as "Chicago", focused on Chicago, Illinois, where he spent time as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and theDay Book. His most famous description of the city is as "Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat/Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler,/Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders."
Sandburg is also remembered by generations of children for his Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons, a series of whimsical, sometimes melancholy stories he originally created for his own daughters. The Rootabaga Stories were born of Sandburg's desire for "American fairy tales" to match American childhood. He felt that the European stories involving royalty and knights were inappropriate, and so populated his stories with skyscrapers, trains, corn fairies and the "Five Marvelous Pretzels".
Sandburg's 1927 anthology, the American Songbag, enjoyed enormous popularity, going through many editions; and Sandburg himself was perhaps the first American urban folk singer, accompanying himself on solo guitar at lectures and poetry recitals, and in recordings, long before the first or the second folk revival movements (of the 1940s and 1960s, respectively). According to musicologist Judith Tick:
As a populist poet, Sandburg bestowed a powerful dignity on what the '20s called the "American scene" in a book he called a "ragbag of stripes and streaks of color from nearly all ends of the earth ... rich with the diversity of the United States." Reviewed widely in journals ranging from theNew Masses to Modern Music, the American Songbag influenced a number of musicians. Pete Seeger, who calls it a "landmark", saw it "almost as soon as it came out." The composer Elie Siegmeister took it to Paris with him in 1927, and he and his wife Hannah "were always singing these songs. That was home. That was where we belonged." Legacy
Carl Sandburg Village was a Chicago urban renewal project of the 1960s located in the Near North Side, Chicago. Financed by the city, it is located between Clark and LaSalle St. between Division Street and North Ave. Solomon & Cordwell, architects. In 1979, Carl Sandburg Village was converted to condominium ownership.
In 1960, Elmhurst, Illinois renamed the former Elmhurst Junior High School as "Carl Sandburg Middle School." Sandburg spoke at the dedication ceremony. He resided at 331 S. York Street in Elmhurst from 1919 to 1930. The house was demolished and the site is a parking lot. In 1954, Carl Sandburg High School was dedicated in Orland Park, Illinois. Sandburg was in attendance, and stretched what was supposed to be a one-hour event into several hours, regaling students with songs and stories. Years later, he returned to the school with no identification and, appearing to be a hobo, was thrown out by the principal. When he later returned with I.D., the embarrassed principal canceled the rest of the school day and held an assembly to honor the visit.In 1959, Carl Sandburg Junior High School was opened in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Carl Sandburg attended the dedication of the school. In 1988 the name was changed to Sandburg Middle School servicing grades 6, 7, and 8. Originally built with a capacity for 1,800 students the school now has 1,100 students enrolled. Sandburg Middle school was one of the first schools in the state of Minnesota to offer accelerated learning programs for gifted students. In December 1961, Carl Sandburg Elementary School was dedicated in San Bruno, California. Again, Sandburg came for the ceremonies and was clearly impressed with the faces of the young children, who gathered around him. The school was closed in the 1980s, due to falling enrollments in the San Bruno Park School District.
In Neshaminy School District of lower Bucks County resides the secondary institution Carl Sandburg Middle School. Located in the lobby is a finished split tree trunk with the quote engraved lengthwise horizontally: "Man is born with rainbows in his heart and you'll never read him unless you consider rainbows". Another secondary school by the same name is located south of Alexandria, Virginia, and is part of the Fairfax County Public Schools School District. Sandburg Halls is a student residence hall at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. The building consists of four high-rise towers with a total housing capacity of 2,700 students. It has an exterior plaque on Sandburg's roles as an organizer for the Social Democratic Party and as personal secretary to Emil Seidel, Milwaukee's first Socialist mayor. There are several other schools named after Sandburg in Illinois, including those in Wheaton, Orland Park, Springfield, Mundelein, and Joliet. Sandburg quotation on historical roots: in Deaf Smith County Museum inHereford, Texas
Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign possesses the Carl Sandburg collection and archives. The bulk of the collection was purchased directly from Carl Sandburg and his family, with many smaller collections having been donated by his family and purchased from outside sources.
Carl Sandburg Library first opened in Livonia, Michigan, on December 10, 1961. The name was recommended by the Library Commission as an example of an American author representing the best of literature of the Midwest. Carl Sandburg had taught at the University of Michigan for a time.
Funded by the State of Illinois, Amtrak in October 2006 added a second train on the Chicago–Quincy (via Galesburg and Macomb) route. Called the Carl Sandburg, this new train joined the "Illinois Zephyr" on the Chicago–Quincy route.
Galesburg opened Sandburg Mall in 1974, named in honor of Sandburg.
The following list is to be used as a quick reference source of the major works by Carl Sandburg. For a more complete listing of Sandburg publications, please note the annotated listing of bibliographies at the bottom of this page.
Chicago Poems (1916) [Available full text online at www.bartleby.com & Google Books] Cornhuskers (1918) [Available full text online at www.bartleby.com & Google Books] Smoke and Steel (1920) [Available full text online at www.bartleby.com & Google Books] Slabs of the Sunburst West (1922) Good Morning, America (1928) The People, Yes (1936) Poems of the Midwest (1946) The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg (1950) Harvest Poems (1960) Honey and Salt (1963) Breathing Tokens (edited by Margaret Sandburg, 1978) Billy Sunday and Other Poems (edited by George and Willene Hendrick, 1993) Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg (edited by George and Willene Hendrick, 1996)
The Chicago Race Riots of 1919 Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (two volumns, 1926) The American Songbag (1927) Steichen the Photagrapher (1929) Mary Lincoln: Wife and Widow (Part two by Paul M. Angle, 1932) Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (four volumns, 1939) Storm over the Land (1942) Home Front Memo (1943) Always the Young Strangers (1953) A Lincoln Preface (1953) Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years (one volumn edition, 1954) The Sandburg Range (1957)
Remembrance Rock (1948)
Rootabaga Stories (1922) [Available full text online at Google Books] Rootabaga Pigeons (1923) Early Moon (1930) Potato Face (1930) Abe Lincoln Grows Up Prairie-Town Boy (1955) The Wedding Procession of the Rag doll and the Broom Handle and Who Was in It Wind Song (1960) Rainbows Are Made The Sandburg Treasury Arithmetic More Rootabagas (1993)
Bibliographies of Carl Sandburg's Work
Several compilations exist of Sandburg's writings. Please consult these resources for more detailed information about specific publications:
Heise, Kenan. The Sandburg Shelf: An Annotated Bibliography and Price Guide for the Works of Carl Sandburg. 1993. 71 pgs. (limited to 100 copies) [Very imformative with regards to identifying first editions. Used primarily as a quick reference tool]. Crane, Joan. Carl Sandburg, Philip Green Wright and the Asgard Press: 1900-1910. 1975. 132 pgs. [This book deals primarily with Sandburg's years in Galesburg, Illinois. Includes letters to his friend/mentor Professor Philip Green Wright]. Canant, Ray Moschel. A Catalog of the Carl Sandburg Collection of the University of Texas at Austin. 1972. 961 pgs. (two volumns) [Compiled as part of a dissertation, this is the most impressive of the bibliographies. The University of Texas at Austin has a very impressive collection of Sandburg materials].
Van Doren, Mark. Carl Sandburg: with a bibliography of Sandburg materials in the collections of the Library of Congress. 1969. 83 pgs. [Another quick reference source. Includes an introductory discussion of Sandburg's works. Nicely divided to inlcude catagories such as "Audio" works and "Introductions and Prefaces"].
The Sandburg Range: An Exhibit of Materials from Carl Sandburg's Library. 1958. 47 pgs. [An exhibit catalog from the University of Illnois. Used as an incomplete bibliography, but includes some very important materials].
Newman, Ralph. "A Selective Checklist of Sandburg's Writings." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter, 1952. p.402-406. [Another very quick reference source. Newman was a major collector of Sandburg material, including the very earliest editions of Sandburg's poetry. This is part of a larger ISHL issue dealing with Sandburg, including many writtings about him by some of his closest friends].