United by a common love for truth and beauty, the 2009 Humanities Medalists are singular individuals who have made uncommon contributions to our cultural and intellectual life. Their achievements include bearing witness to the Holocaust and other assaults to human dignity, uncovering a family story that illuminates our founding and the American practice of slavery, history writing that accepts no less a mandate than the grant march of civilization, collecting the artifacts of our national story and ensuring their continued preservation, securing and exhibiting some of the greatest and most precious works of art for all to see, researching and revealing the underbelly of modern politics, producing the definitive biography of a seminal American intellectual, and crafting the presidential speeches that inspired a generation of Americans. Eight in all, these humanists were honored at the White House in February.
Robert A. Caro
Historian who has captured the subtle machinations of political influence in America. His biographies of Robert Moses and President Johnson have shown us how individuals accumulate and exercise power in local and national settings. Read profile.
Philippe de Montebello
Museum diurector whose vision has brought great art to an international public and whose leadership revitalized the Metropolitan Museum of Art and fostered arts appreciation among people of all ages. Read profile.
Historian who has conducted important and innovative research on Thomas Jefferson’s slaves and the life of Sally Hemings and who has brought to light a previously unrecognized chapter in the American story. Read profile.
David Levering Lewis
Historian noted for his insightful examinations of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Dreyfus Affair, and early Islamic-Christian relations in Europe, which have enriched our understanding of the figures and forces that shaped world history. Read profile.
William H. McNeill
Historian recognized for his exceptional talent as a teacher and scholar at the University of Chicago and as an author of more than twenty books, including The Rise of the West, which traces civilizations through 5,000 years of recorded history. Read profile.
Albert H. Small
Philanthropist and collector devoted to sharing early American manuscripts with our Nation’s cultural and educational institutions. His generosity has helped educate countless Americans about those who founded our country. Read profile.
Theodore C. Sorensen
Author who has advanced our understanding of modern American politics. As a speechwriter and adviser to President Kennedy, he helped craft messages and policies, and later gave us a window into the people and events that made history. Read profile.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate known for his unwavering commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and its victims. He has fostered compassion and understanding through his writing, his leadership, and his relentless advocacy for human rights. Read profile.