MHS News


Gordon Wood receives Kennedy MedalOn May 16, the MHS honored Gordon S. Wood as the 11th recipient of the John F. Kennedy Medal.  Awarded to persons who have rendered distinguished service to the cause of history, it is the highest award given by the Society. Wood, a Corresponding Fellow of the MHS since 2002 and the Alva O. Way University Professor at Brown University, was presented the medal as part of the Society’s Annual Meeting. In remarks to MHS Fellows and Members he spoke about the way in which history writing has divided between the academics who write for one another and the growing numbers of popular non-academic historians who write for the general reading public.

Wood, a Corresponding Fellow of the MHS, is the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. Over a long career, he has authored numerous books including Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, which won the Bancroft Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize in 1970, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize in 1993, and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, which won the American Publishers Association Prize for History and Biography in 2010. As well, he writes frequently for The New York Review of Books and The New Republic. In 2010, Wood was awarded with the National Humanities Medal “for scholarship that provides insight into the founding of the nation and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.” Wood received his B.A. degree from Tufts University and his A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University under MHS Trustee Emeritus and Fellow Bernard Bailyn.

MHS President Dennis Fiori remarked, “The Society has honored ten historians with the medal since its establishment shortly after President Kennedy’s death. As a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian with a long career of distinguished scholarship, it gives us particular pleasure to add Gordon Wood’s name to the list of recipients.”

Shortly after President Kennedy’s death, the Society received several gifts designated to perpetuate his memory as an active member of the Society and a great friend of historical scholarship. The MHS determined to create a medal in President Kennedy’s name and commissioned eminent artist and MHS Fellow Rudolph Ruzicka to design the medal.

The medal is awarded to persons who have rendered distinguished service to the cause of history. It is not limited to any field of history or to any particular kind of service to history. The previous recipients of the medal are Samuel Eliot Morison (1967), Dumas Malone (1972), Thomas Boylston Adams (1976), Oscar Handlin (1991), Edmund S. Morgan (2002), Alfred DuPont Chandler, Jr. (2003), Bernard Bailyn (2004), John Hope Franklin (2005), Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (2006), and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (2009).

Photo credit: Stu Rosner

Published: Friday, 18 May, 2012, 6:25 AM