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Awards & Honors: National Humanities Medals

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects. Up to 12 medals can be awarded each year.

Award Year: 2015
Prison University Project

Higher Education Program, for transforming the lives of incarcerated people through higher education.  Its programs offer opportunity and inspiration to their students, providing an example for others to emulate.

Rudolfo Anaya

Author, for his pioneering stories of the American southwest.  His works of fiction and poetry celebrate the Chicano experience and reveal universal truths about the human condition—and as an educator, he has spread a love of literature to new generations. 

José Andrés

Chef & Entrepreneur, for cultivating our palates and shaping our culture. He has introduced new and vibrant ingredients to our Nation, whether through his innovative techniques in the kitchen, his work on clean cooking technology and access to education, or the inspiration he provides to new Americans.

Ron Chernow

Author, for bringing our Nation’s story to life.  Through his examination of America’s successful giants and titans, he also invites his readers to discover their failures and foibles, uncovering enduring lessons that inform our modern era. 

Louise Glück

Poet, for giving lyrical expression to our inner conflicts.  Her use of verse connects us to the myths of the ancients, the magic of the natural world, and the essence of who we are. 

Terry Gross

Radio Host & Producer, for her artful probing of the human experience.  Her patient, persistent questioning in thousands of interviews over four decades has pushed public figures to reveal personal motivations behind extraordinary lives—revealing simple truths that affirm our common humanity

Wynton Marsalis

Composer & Musician, for celebrating the traditions of jazz music from New Orleans to Lincoln Center and beyond.  As a virtuoso trumpet player, composer, and educator, he has brought jazz to a wider audience and inspired music lovers to embrace America’s quintessential sound. 

James McBride

Author, for humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America. Through writings about his own uniquely American story, and his works of fiction informed by our shared history, his moving stories of love display the character of the American family. 

Louis Menand

Author, for prose and essays that invite us to think in new ways about the forces shaping our society.  His influential works of intellectual and cultural history probe the power of ideas from one era to the next as they ripple across politics and culture. 

Elaine Pagels

Historian & Author, for her exploration of faith and its traditions. Through her study of ancient manuscripts and other scholarly work, she has generated new interest and dialogue about our contemporary search for knowledge and meaning. 

Abraham Verghese

Physician, Professor, & Author, for reminding us that the patient is the center of the medical enterprise.  His range of proficiency embodies the diversity of the humanities; from his efforts to emphasize empathy in medicine, to his imaginative renderings of the human drama. 

Isabel Wilkerson

Journalist & Author, for championing the stories of an unsung history.  Her masterful combination of intimate human narratives with broader societal trends allows us to measure the epic migration of a people by its vast impact on our Nation and on each individual life. 

Award Year: 2014
The Clemente Course in the Humanities

Institution, for improving the lives of disadvantaged adults. The Clemente Course has brought free humanities education to thousands of men and women, enriching their lives and broadening their horizons.

Annie Dillard

Author, for her profound reflections on human life and nature. In poetry and prose, Ms. Dillard has invited us to stand humbly before the stark beauty of creation.

Everett L. Fly

Architect and Preservationist, for preserving the integrity of African-American places and landmarks. A landscape architect, Mr. Fly has worked tirelessly to win historical recognition for Eatonville, Florida, Nicodemus, Kansas, and other sites central to African-American history, preserving an important part of our broader American heritage.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Philosopher and Novelist, for bringing philosophy into conversation with culture. In scholarship, Dr. Goldstein has elucidated the ideas of Spinoza and Gödel, while in fiction, she deploys wit and drama to help us understand the great human conflict between thought and feeling.

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

Historian, for illuminating the African-American journey. In her writings and edited volumes, Dr. Higginbotham has traced the course of African-American progress, and deepened our understanding of the American story.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Short Story Writer and Novelist, for enlarging the human story. In her works of fiction, Dr. Lahiri has illuminated the Indian-American experience in beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging.

Fedwa Malti-Douglas

Professor, for her studies of Arabic letters. Dr. Douglas has mapped the discourse of gender and letters in the Arab Middle East and applied her insights to American culture.

Larry McMurtry

Novelist, for his books, essays, and screenplays. Mr. McMurtry's work evokes the character and drama of the American West with stories that examine quintessentially American lives.

Vicki Lynn Ruiz

Scholar, for her contribution as a historian. In monographs and edited volumes, Dr. Ruiz has pioneered the history of twentieth-century Latinas in a distinguished career that began with collecting oral testimony from Mexican immigrants who worked in U.S. canning factories.

Alice Waters

Food writer and activist, for celebrating the bond between the ethical and the edible. As a chef, author, and advocate, Ms. Waters champions a holistic approach to eating and health and celebrates integrating gardening, cooking, and education, sparking inspiration in a new generation.

Award Year: 2013
M. H. Abrams

Literary critic, for expanding our perceptions of the Romantic tradition and broadening the study of literature. As a professor, writer, and critic, Dr. Abrams has traced the modern concept of artistic self-expression in Western culture, and his work has influenced generations of students.

American Antiquarian Society

Historical organization, for safeguarding the American story. Through more than two centuries, the Society has amassed an unparalleled collection of historic American documents, served as a research center to scholars and students alike, and connected generations of Americans to their cultural heritage.

David Brion Davis

Historian, for reshaping our understanding of history. A World War II veteran, Dr. Davis has shed light on the contradiction of a free Nation built by forced labor, and his examinations of slavery and abolitionism drive us to keep making moral progress in our time.

William Theodore de Bary

East Asian Studies scholar, for broadening our understanding of the world. Dr. de Bary’s efforts to foster a global conversation have underscored how the common values and experiences shared by Eastern and Western cultures can be used to bridge our differences and build trust.

Darlene Clark Hine

Historian, for enriching our understanding of the African American experience. Through prolific scholarship and leadership, Dr. Hine has examined race, class, and gender and shown how the struggles and successes of African American women shaped the Nation we share today.

Johnpaul Jones

Architect, for honoring the natural world and indigenous traditions in architecture. A force behind diverse and cherished institutions, Mr. Jones has fostered awareness through design and created spaces worthy of the cultures they reflect, the communities they serve, and the environments they inhabit.

Stanley Nelson

Producer and director, for documenting the story of African Americans through film. By turning a camera on both the well-known and unknown narratives of African Americans, Mr. Nelson has exposed injustice and triumph while revealing new depths of our Nation’s history.

Diane Rehm

Radio host, for illuminating the people and stories behind the headlines. In probing interviews with pundits, poets, and Presidents, Ms. Rehm’s incisive, confident, and curious voice has deepened our understanding of our communities and our culture.

Anne Firor Scott

Historian, for pioneering the study of southern women. Through groundbreaking research spanning ideology, race, and class, Dr. Scott’s uncharted exploration into the lives of southern women has established women’s history as vital to our understanding of the American South.

Krista Tippett

Radio host and author, for thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of all faiths, no faith, and every background to join the conversation.

Award Year: 2012
Edward L. Ayers

Historian, for his commitment to making our history as widely available and accessible as possible. Dr. Ayers’ innovations in digital humanities extend higher learning beyond campus boundaries and allow broad audiences to discover the past in new ways

William G. Bowen

Academic leader, for his contributions to the study of economics and his probing research on higher education in America. While his widely discussed publications have scrutinized the effects of policy, Dr. Bowen has used his leadership to put theories into practice and strive for new heights of academic excellence.

Jill Ker Conway

Author and leader in higher education, for her contributions as a historian and trailblazing academic leader. Dr. Conway has inspired generations of scholars, and her studies of exceptional and empowered women have revealed a common drive that unites women across the globe—to create, to lead, and to excel.

Natalie Zemon Davis

Historian, for her insights into the study of history and her exacting eloquence in bringing the past into focus. With vivid description and exhaustive research, her works allow us to experience life through our ancestors’ eyes and to truly engage with our history.

Frank Deford

Sports writer, for transforming how we think about sports. A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love.

Joan Didion

Novelist and essayist, for her mastery of style in writing. Exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow, Ms. Didion has produced works of startling honesty and fierce intellect, rendered personal stories individual, and illuminated the seemingly peripheral details that are central to our lives.

Robert D. Putnam

Political scientist, for deepening our understanding of community in America. Examining how patterns of engagement divide and unite, Dr. Putnam’s writing and research inspire us to improve institutions that make society worth living in, and his insights challenge us to be better citizens.

Marilynne Robinson

Novelist, for her grace and intelligence in writing. With moral strength and lyrical clarity, Dr. Robinson’s novels and nonfiction have traced our ethical connections to people in our lives, explore the world we inhabit, and defined universal truths about what it means to be human.

Kay Ryan

Poet, for her contributions as a poet and educator. A former Poet Laureate of the United States, her witty and compact verse infused with subtle wordplay reminds us of the power of language to evoke wisdom from the ordinary.

Robert B. Silvers

Editor, for offering critical perspectives on writing. As the editor and co-founder of The New York Review of Books, he has invigorated our literature with cultural and political commentary and elevated the book review to a literary art form.

Anna Deavere Smith

Actress and playwright, for her portrayal of authentic American voices. Through profound performances and plays that blend theater and journalism, she has informed our understanding of social issues and conveyed a range of disparate characters.

Camilo José Vergara

Photographer and documentarian, for his stark visual representation of American cities. By capturing images of urban settings over time, his sequences reflect the vibrant culture of our changing communities and document the enduring spirit that shines through decay.

Award Year: 2011
Kwame Anthony Appiah

Philosopher, for seeking eternal truths in the contemporary world. His books and essays within and beyond his academic discipline have shed moral and intellectual light on the individual in an era of globalization and evolving group identities.

John Ashbery

Poet, for his contributions to American letters. Since his first book was published in 1956, he has been awarded nearly every prize available for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize and the Grand Prix de Biennales Internationales de Poésie. One of the New York School poets, he has changed how we read poetry and has influenced generations of poets.

Robert Darnton

Historian and librarian, for his determination to make knowledge accessible to everyone. As an author he has illuminated the world of Enlightenment and Revolutionary France, and as a librarian he has endeavored to make his vision for a comprehensive national library of digitized books a reality

National History Day

 A program that inspires in American students a passion for history. Each year more than half a million children from across the country compete in this event, conducting research and producing websites, papers, performances, and documentaries to tell the human story.

Andrew Delbanco

Literary scholar, for his insight into the American character, past and present. He has been called “America’s best social critic” for his essays on current issues and higher education. As a professor in American studies, he reveals how classics by Melville and Emerson have shaped our history and contemporary life.

Charles Rosen

Musician and scholar, for his rare ability to join artistry to the history of culture and ideas. His writings —about Classical composers and Romantic tradition—highlight how music evolves and remains a vibrant, living art.

Teofilo Ruiz

Medieval historian, for his inspired teaching and writing. His erudite studies have deepened our understanding of medieval Spain and Europe, while his late examination of how society has coped with terror has taught important lessons about the dark side of western progress

Ramón Saldívar

Literary scholar, for his bold explorations of identity along the border separating the United States and Mexico. Through his studies of Chicano literature and the development of the novel in Europe and America, he beckons us to notice the cultural and literary markings that unite and divide us.

Amartya Sen

Economist and Nobel laureate, for his insights into the causes of poverty, famine, and injustice. By applying philosophical thinking to questions of policy, he has changed how standards of living are measured and increased our understanding of how to fight hunger.

Award Year: 2010
Daniel Aaron

Literary scholar for his contributions to American literature and culture. As the founding president of the Library of America, he helped preserve our nation’s heritage by publishing America’s most significant writing in authoritative editions.

Bernard Bailyn

Historian for illuminating the nation’s early history and pioneering the field of Atlantic history. Bailyn, who spent his career at Harvard, has won two Pulitzer Prizes, the first for The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, and the second for Voyagers to the West.

Jacques Barzun

For his distinguished career as a scholar, educator, and public intellectual. One of the founders of the field of cultural history, Barzun taught at Columbia University for five decades and has written and edited more than thirty books.

Wendell E. Berry

Author for his achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer, and conservationist. The author of more than forty books, Berry has spent his career exploring our relationship with the land and the community.

Roberto González Echevarría Literary scholar for his contributions to Spanish and Latin American literary criticism. His path-breaking Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative is the most cited scholarly work in Hispanic literature. González Echevarría teaches at Yale University.
Stanley Nider Katz

Historian for a career devoted to fostering public support for the humanities. As director of the American Council of Learned Societies for more than a decade, he expanded the organization’s programs and helped forge ties between libraries, museums, and foundations.

Joyce Carol Oates

Author for her contributions to American letters. The author of more than fifty novels, as well as short stories, poetry, and non-fiction, Oates has been honored with the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Short Story.

Arnold Rampersad

Literary scholar for his work as a biographer and literary critic. His award-winning books have profiled W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Jackie Robinson, and Ralph Ellison. He has also edited critical editions of the works of Richard Wright and Langston Hughes.

Philip Roth

Author for his contributions to American letters. Roth is the author of twenty-four novels, including Portnoy’s Complaint and American Pastoral, which won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. His criticism has appeared in American Poetry Review and The New York Times Book Review.

Gordon S. Wood

Author for scholarship that provides insight into the founding of the nation and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Wood is author and editor of eighteen books, including The Radicalism of the American Revolution, for which he earned a Pulitzer Prize.

Award Year: 2009
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.

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.

Annette Gordon-Reed

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Elie Wiesel

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.

Award Year: 2008
Gabor S. Boritt

Scholar and Civil War historian, recognized for his scholarship on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era.

Richard Brookhiser

Biographer and historian who helped reintroduce Americans to the personalities, eccentricities, and noble ideals of our nation’s founders.

Harold Holzer

Scholar and Civil War historian, whose many books on Abraham Lincoln have brought new understanding of Lincoln and his era.

John Templeton Foundation

Providing a catalyst of unprecedented work in scientific, religious, and philosophical exploration of the deepest concerns of the humanities and the human race.

Myron Magnet

Journalist and author who has combined literary and cultural history with an understanding of contemporary urban life to imagine new ways of relieving poverty and renewing civic institutions.

Albert Marrin

Children’s book author who has opened young minds to history and made the lessons of the past come alive with rich detail for a new generation.

Norman Rockwell Museum

Dedicated to honoring and studying the life, work, and ideals of Norman Rockwell, while carefully curating the archives and illustrations of this icon of American art.

Milton J. Rosenberg

Radio show host and scholar who combines a scholar’s understanding and a teacher’s openness, making a home in radio for elevated conversation and profound thought.

Thomas A. Saunders III and Jordan Horner Saunders

Philanthropists recognized for their leadership and philanthropy on behalf of higher education, the study of art, and greater understanding of American history.

Robert H. Smith

Philanthropist who has provided wise stewardship and generous support of our nation’s premiere institutions of historical, artistic, and cultural heritage.

Award Year: 2007
Stephen H. Balch

Scholar, advocate, and founder of the National Association of Scholars, which seeks to strengthen teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences.

Russell Freedman

Author of more than 50 nonfiction books for children, including the Newbery-Medal winning Lincoln: A Photobiography and others on the Wright Brothers, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Marian Anderson.

Victor Davis Hanson

Military historian and author best known as a scholar of ancient warfare and a commentator on modern warfare.

Roger Hertog

Philanthropist noted for support of work in the humanities at many cultural organizations, including the New-York Historical Society, the Manhattan Institute, and the New York Public Library.

Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art

Foundation to preserve the legacy of the “Monuments Men,” men and women who worked heroically to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II.

Cynthia Ozick

Author of fiction and literary criticism who is known as “an advocate and practitioner of moral clarity and literary excellence.”

Richard Pipes

Author and historian known as one of the nation’s leading academic experts on the history of Russia and Eastern Europe.

Pauline L. Schultz

Curator and author who founded Wyoming’s Salt Creek Oil Field Muesum to preserve the facts and artifacts of the human experience on the state’s high plains.

Henry Leonard Snyder

Scholar and innovator noted for directing the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC), a bibliographic database of books published in the British Isles or its territories from the early 1470s to 1800.

Ruth R. Wisse

Scholar and author known as a pre-eminent authority on Yiddish literature and Jewish culture in the modern world.

Award Year: 2006
Fouad Ajami

Political scientist and author of many articles and books on the modern Middle East, including The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq.

James M. Buchanan

Economist and winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in economic science best known for developing the discipline of public choice theory.

Nickolas Davatzes

Founder of The History Channel, the A&E Network, the Biography Channel, and past co-chairman of the board of directors for Cable in the Classroom.

Robert Fagles

Professor of comparative literature noted for his translations of Sophocles's Three Theban Plays, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Aeschylus's Oresteia, and Virgil's Aeneid.

Mary Lefkowitz

Classicist and author of many books, including Not Out of Africa; Heroines and Hysterics; Women in Greek Myth; The Victory Ode; and Greek Gods, Human Lives.

Bernard Lewis

Historian and author of many books on the history of the Muslim world, including The Emergence of Modern Turkey; The Political Language of Islam; and Islam and the West.

Mark Noll

Historian and author of many books on religion and culture, including A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada and The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.

Kevin Starr

Historian known for his seven-volume series on the social and cultural history of California, collectively called America and the California Dream.

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University

Public policy research center devoted to advanced study of politics, economics, and political economy—both domestic and foreign—as well as international affairs.

Award Year: 2005
Walter Berns

Political scientist and author of many books on the Constitution, including Making Patriots and Taking the Constitution Seriously.

Matthew Bogdanos

Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves responsible for recovering more than 5,000 artifacts looted from the Iraq Museum.

Eva Brann

Classicist and author of many books, among them Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the Odyssey and the Iliad.

John Lewis Gaddis

Historian and author of many books including The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947 and Surprise, Security, and the American Experience.

Richard Gilder

Philanthropist and co-founder and co-chairman of the Gilder Lehrman Collection, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale.

Mary Ann Glendon

Scholar of human rights and legal theory and author of many books, among them A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Leigh Keno

Antiques authority and writer who, along with his brother Leslie, appears on shows such as "Antiques Roadshow" that deepen understandings of American decorative arts.

Leslie Keno

Antiques authority and writer who frequently appears on television shows such as "Find!" and "Antiques Roadshow."

Alan Charles Kors

Scholar of European intellectual history, writer, and past editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment.

Lewis Lehrman

Philanthropist, trustee of the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, and chairman of The Lehrman Institute.

Judith Martin

Etiquette columnist known as "Miss Manners" and author of many books on the cultural significance of etiquette, among them Star-Spangled Manners: In Which Miss Manners Defends American Etiquette (For a Change).

The Papers of George Washington

Responsible for publishing what is forecasted to be a ninety-volume edition of the complete correspondence of America's first president.

Award Year: 2004
Marva Collins

Noted educator who has trained more than one hundred thousand teachers, principals, and administrators at Westside Preparatory School in Chicago.

Gertrude Himmelfarb

Scholar of Victorian studies and author of eleven books including Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians.

Hilton Kramer

Art critic and editor and publisher of the New Criterion.

Madeleine L'Engle Author of many children's books including A Wrinkle in Time.
Harvey C. Mansfield Political philosopher and author of thirteen books on subjects ranging from Edmund Burke to Machiavelli.
John Searle Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language at the University of California at Berkeley.
Shelby Steele Social critic, essayist, and winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award for The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America.
United States Capitol Historical Society A society founded in 1962 by Congress to educate the public on the history of the Capitol and Congress.
Award Year: 2003
Robert Ballard, Ph.D. Award-winning deep-sea explorer known for his 1985 discovery of the Titanic.
Joan Ganz Cooney One of the visionaries and the chief moving force behind the creation of the Children's Television Workshop (CTW) and its highly successful children's television show, Sesame Street.
Midge Decter Former executive editor at Harper's magazine, founder and former executive director of the Committee for the Free World, and author of five books.
Joseph Epstein Noted essayist, fiction writer, social commentator, and literary critic who is the author of thirteen books.
Elizabeth Fox-Genovese Elonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities and professor of history at Emory University, where she was the founding director of the Institute for Womens Studies.
Jean Fritz Author of many acclaimed childrens books including The Cabin Faced West (1958).
Hal Holbrook Actor known for his portrayal of Mark Twain in his production of Mark Twain Tonight!.
Edith Kurzweil Former editor of Partisan Review and author of three books.
Frank M. Snowden Jr. Professor Emeritus of Classics at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and one of the foremost scholars on blacks in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Italy.
John Updike Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, poet, and critic, known internationally for his series of novels about Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom.
Award Year: 2002
Frankie Hewitt Producing artistic director of Washington's famous Ford Theatre who formed the nonprofit Ford's Theatre Society.
Iowa Writer's Workshop First creative writing degree program offered by an American university; has produced a dozen winners of the Pulitzer Prize, four of the last five U.S. Poet Laureates, and numerous winners of the National Book Award.
Donald Kagan Professor of classics and history at Yale University; author of a celebrated four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War.
Brian Lamb

Founder and chief executive officer of C-SPAN, the private, nonprofit cable network that provides access to the proceedings of Congress and other public affairs programming and information services.

Art Linkletter Emmy-winning television personality and author of 23 books, including Kids Say the Darndest Things.
Patricia MacLachlan Author of childrens' books including Sarah Plain and Tall, Journey, and Baby.
Thomas Sowell Professor of public policy at Stanford University; his books include Inside American Education, A Conflict of Visions, and Race and Culture.
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association Oldest historic preservation organization in the United States which saved Mount Vernon from destruction and continues to maintain it as a public historic site.
Award Year: 2001
Jose Cisneros Artist renowned for depicting the people and culture of the old Southwest through his illustrations for magazines, books, and newspapers.
Robert Coles Research psychologist and professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard University; author of more than fifty books on ethics, child psychology and the humanities.
Sharon Darling President and founder of the National Center for Family Literacy in Louisville, Ky., where she has been at the forefront of efforts to place family reading and learning activities on the national agenda for social change.
William Manchester Historian, novelist, biographer, essayist and memoirist; his works include American Caesar (1978), a biography of Douglas MacArthur, and The Death of a President (1967), an account of the Kennedy assassination.
National Trust for Historic Preservation Organization that protects the built environment and works to incorporate historic places into community life.
Richard Peck Author of more than twenty-five novels and recognized as one of America's most respected writers for young adults.
Eileen Jackson Southern Musicologist who helped transform the study and understanding of American music and founding editor of the journal Black Perspectives in Music.
Tom Wolfe Author of numerous works on contemporary culture and society; his novels include A Man in Full (1998), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), The Right Stuff (1979), and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968).
Award Year: 2000
Robert N. Bellah Eminent authority on the sociology of religion; senior author of the best-selling Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (1985).
Will D. Campbell Renowned civil rights activist; author of 16 books on various aspects of the South.
Judy Crichton

Executive producer of PBS's premier historical series "The American Experience" from its inception in 1986 until her retirement in 1997; executive producer of over 100 PBS programs.

David C. Driskell

Renowned scholar of African American art; curator of pioneering African American art exhibitions.

Ernest J. Gaines

Author of award-winning novels and short stories exploring race and culture in the American South.

Herman T. Guerrero

Philanthropist, humanist, and civic proponent whose leadership has created a lasting humanities legacy on the Northern Mariana Islands.

Quincy Jones

Musician, composer, cultural preservationist and humanitarian; winner of 26 Grammys; founder of the Institute for Black American Music and the Black Arts Festival in Chicago.

Barbara Kingsolver

A leading voice for human rights, social responsibility and the environment in contemporary American fiction.

Edmund S. Morgan

Distinguished authority on Puritan and American colonial history whose many books have reached general as well as scholarly audiences.

Toni Morrison

Recipient of 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature; author of seven novels on the African-American experience, a collection of essays and dozens of articles and reviews.

Earl Shorris

Creator of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, an experimental attempt to transform the lives of the poor through education in the humanities.

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve

Author of 20 books and numerous short stories and essays about Native American life and culture.

Award Year: 1999
Patricia M. Battin Librarian who has organized and led a national campaign to save millions of disintegrating books published between 1850 and 1950; galvanized congressional support for a national program to microfilm these brittle books, thereby preserving their content as a significant part of the record of American civilization.
Taylor Branch Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist whose books have earned him the reputation as a national authority on Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.
Jacquelyn Dowd Hall One of the nation's preeminent scholars of the New South; founder and director of the Southern Oral History Project at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, which is shaping scholarship, education and public programs about the contemporary South.
Garrison Keillor Creator, writer and host of Minnesota Public Radio's weekly variety program, A Prairie Home Companion; host of The Writer's Almanac, a five-minute radio program about literature broadcast daily on stations throughout the nation; author of several bestselling books.
Jim Lehrer Journalist; editor and anchor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, public television's award-winning nightly news program; author of novels, plays, and memoirs.
John Rawls

One of the 20th century's most influential political philosophers, widely read among political scientists, economists and legal theorists for his views on justice, basic rights and equal opportunity; author of A Theory of Justice (1971) and Political Liberalism (1993).

Steven Spielberg

Acclaimed filmmaker who has brought history and literature to life for millions of Americans; producer and/or director of Academy Award-winning films Saving Private Ryan (1998), Amistad (1997) and Schindler's List (1993).

August Wilson

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (The Piano, 1990, and Fences, 1987) whose plays present an epic story of the black experience in America over the course of a century; influential promoter of the advancement and preservation of black theater and performing arts.

Award Year: 1998
Stephen Ambrose

Biographer of Eisenhower and Nixon; author of Undaunted Courage, Citizen Soldiers, and D-Day, three history books simultaneously on the New York Times bestseller list; principal commentator in the PBS documentary films Lewis and Clark and Eisenhower; chief historical advisor on the Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan.

E. L. Doctorow

Author of many popular and critically acclaimed novels about America's last 100 years, including Ragtime and Billy Bathgate; many of his novels have been adapted to film, and a musical version of Ragtime is currently running on Broadway.

Diana L. Eck

Creator and director of the Harvard-based Pluralism Project, which documents and analyzes America's religious diversity and produced an acclaimed CD-ROM that is now in wide use as a resource for studying the role of religion in American culture.

Nancye Brown Gaj

Founder and president of MOTHEREAD, Inc., a national family literacy program that enables newly literate adults to improve their reading skills while helping them encourage and guide the learning of their preschool-age children.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research; author of the best-selling Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars and Colored People: A Memoir; coeditor of the Norton Anthology of African American Literature.

Vartan Gregorian

Educator, administrator and philanthropist; former president of Brown University and of the New York Public Library; current president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Ramón Eduardo Ruiz Scholar and professor of the history of Hispanic America; author of 12 books, including in-depth studies of the Cuban and Mexican revolutions.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Prolific scholar and professor of American history; two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, for The Age of Jackson and A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House; author of The Disuniting of America.

Garry Wills

Syndicated columnist, essayist and cultural critic; Pulitzer Prize winner for Lincoln at Gettysburg; author of numerous acclaimed books on American culture and history.

Award Year: 1997
Nina M. Archabal Director of the Minnesota Historical Society and leader in developing innovative museum programs for the public.
David A. Berry Executive director of the Community College Humanities Association and leading national advocate for improved humanities education in two-year colleges.
Martin E. Marty Renowned scholar of American religious history and director of the University of Chicago's Public Religion Project.
Richard J. Franke Businessman and former investment firm CEO, creator of the annual Chicago Humanities Festival, longtime leader of national and state cultural commissions promoting the arts and humanities.
William Friday Executive director of the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, former university president, leader in promoting excellence in humanities education.
Don Henley Member of The Eagles rock group; founder and chairman of the Walden Woods Project for the preservation of historically significant land; major funder for the Thoreau Institute, the nation's premier center for Thoreau studies.
Maxine Hong Kingston Teacher and writer whose novels about the Chinese-American experience have won numerous awards.
Luis Leal Literary scholar whose life's work is a major contribution to cultural understanding of Latin America and Hispanic communities in the United States.
Paul Mellon Philanthropist who has contributed millions of dollars in support of the humanities and the arts; founder of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation's largest nonfederal funder of humanities projects.
Studs Terkel Longtime radio talk-show host, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, oral historian whose published interviews chronicle 20th-century life in the words of hundreds of ordinary Americans.