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Charles Frankel Prize

Winners of the Charles Frankel Prize

In 1988 NEH established the Charles Frankel Prize to recognize persons for outstanding contributions to the public's understanding of the humanities. The Charles Frankel Prize was awarded from 1989-1996.


Rita Dove
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, former poet laureate of the United States and an activist in poetry programs for the public.

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and a leading scholar of the American presidency known for her commentary in television news programs and historical documentaries.

Daniel Kemmis
Political philosopher, author, civic activist and director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

Arturo Madrid
Professor of Latino literature who as founding president of the Tomas Rivera Center helped develop the field of Latino studies in the U.S.

Bill Moyers
Television journalist who is nationally known for his documentary explorations of ideas and issues in contemporary American life.


William R. Ferris
Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and a prominent scholar of the American South.

Charles Kuralt
Author and long-time correspondent at CBS News who has chronicled contemporary American life for many years through his "On the Road" pieces.

David Macaulay
Author and illustrator of many prize-winning books that rank him among the nation's foremost popularizers of great ideas in architectural history.

David McCullough
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, public television host, champion of historic preservation and one of the nation's best-known public historians.

Bernice Johnson Reagon
Singer-composer, performer, museum curator and historian dedicated to recovering, preserving and interpreting African American vocal music.


Ernest L. Boyer

President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and a national leader in education reform at all levels.

William Kittredge
Writer and educator whose work has contributed to the development of regional studies of the American West.

Peggy Whitman Prenshaw
Southern literature scholar and leader in public humanities programming in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Sharon Percy Rockefeller
Public broadcasting leader dedicated to reaching wider audiences through quality programming in the arts and humanities.

Dorothy Porter Wesley
Librarian whose pioneering work as an archivist of African-Americana helped lay the foundation of African-American studies programs.


Ricardo E. Alegría
Historian of Caribbean culture and leader in public humanities programming in his native Puerto Rico.

John Hope Franklin
Historian of the American South, educator and pioneering scholar of African-American studies.

Hanna Holborn Gray
University of Chicago president emerita and longtime spokesperson for excellence in liberal arts curricula in higher education.

Andrew Heiskell
Founding chairman of the President's Commission on the Arts and Humanities and longtime benefactor of the humanities.

Laurel T. Ulrich
Pioneering historian of women in New England's past and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.


Allan Bloom
Philosopher, educator and author of the best-selling The Closing of the American Mind, an influential critique of American higher education.

Shelby Foote
Novelist, historian and principal commentator in the PBS documentary The Civil War.

Richard Rodriguez
Writer-journalist and author of Hunger of Memory, a widely read book about American cultural diversity.

Harold K. Skramstad, Jr.
President of the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich., and innovator in presenting history in museums.

Eudora Welty
Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose work has illuminated life in America.


Winton Blount
major benefactor of the humanities in Alabama, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Ken Burns
Independent filmmaker and creator of The Civil War documentary series for PBS.

Louise Cowan
Co-founder of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, where she created and leads summer academies on literature for teachers and principals.

Karl Haas
Host of public radio's Adventures in Good Music program.

John Tchen
Historian and co-founder of New York's Chinatown History Museum.


Mortimer J. Adler
Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research in Chicago and author of numerous works on education and philosophy.

Henry Hampton
Independent filmmaker and creator of PBS's Eyes on the Prize documentary series.

Bernard M.W. Knox
Director emeritus of Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies and author of several books on classical culture for the general reader.

David Van Tassel
Historian and founder of National History Day, an annual national competition recognizing high school students for excellence in historical research and analysis.

Ethyle R. Wolfe
Architect of Brooklyn College's innovative core curriculum and spokeswoman for liberal arts education.


Patricia L. Bates
Reading program specialist who developed a model for scholar-led reading and discussion groups now used in libraries across the United States.

Daniel J. Boorstin
Librarian of Congress Emeritus and author of several books on American history and culture for a general audience.

Willard L. Boyd
President of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and a leader in developing innovative museum programs for the public.

Clay S. Jenkinson
A leader in the revival of Chautauqua, a forum for public discussion about the ideas and lives of key figures in American history.

Américo Paredes
Author and creator of numerous public programs on folklore and Mexican-American culture.