President George W. Bush today announced the recipients of the National Humanities Medal for 2002. The President will present the medals to the six individuals and two organizations at a ceremony today at the White House.
The National Humanities Medal, first awarded in 1988 as the Charles Frankel Prize, honors individuals or groups whose work had deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens' engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand American's access to important resources in the humanities.
The following individuals and groups will receive the National Humanities Medal for 2002:
Frankie Hewitt (Washington, D.C.) is producing artistic director of Washington's famous Ford's Theatre, the site of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. In 1967 she formed the non-profit Ford's Theatre Society and negotiated a contract with the U.S. Department of the Interior under which the Society would produce live theater in the building that is also a National Historic Site. "At Ford's you get a history lesson and an arts experience," says Hewitt. Under her guidance, Ford's Theatre has found new audiences and launched a series of landmark original plays and musicals that uplift and inspire audiences and illuminate the eclectic character of American life.
The Iowa Writers' Workshop (Iowa City, Iowa) at the University of Iowa was the first creative writing degree program offered by a U.S. university, and it has served as a blueprint for other university-based creative writing programs. The Workshop, established as an entity in 1936 and currently directed by author Frank Conroy, 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 and other major literary honors. The Workshop's two-year program in writing, either poetry or prose, awards participants a master of fine arts degree and gives them a chance to learn from established writers and poets. Noted graduates include Flannery O'Connor, John Irving, and Wallace Stegner.
Donald Kagan (New Haven, Conn.) is Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University. He is known for his scholarship on war in the classical world and his commentary on the challenges faced by contemporary America. As dean of Yale College from 1989-92, he was a nationally prominent advocate for a core curriculum. He is the author of a celebrated four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War. His recent books include Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy (1991), On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (1995), and, with Frederick W. Kagan, While America Sleeps: Self-Delusion, Military Weakness, and the Threat to Peace Today (2000). He also has published numerous articles and commentary for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Public Interest. Kagan earned his bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College, his master's degree in classics from Brown University, and his doctoral degree in history from Ohio State University in 1958. From 1988-93, Kagan served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities.
Brian Lamb (Washington, D.C.) is founder and chief executive officer of C-SPAN, the private, non-profit cable network that provides access to the proceedings of Congress and other public affairs programming and information services. Through C-SPAN's literary programs, Booknotes and BookTV, that he hosts, Lamb has publicized and helped build an audience for serious non-fiction books. These programs feature readings, interviews, and discussions with non-fiction writers on a wide variety of topics, such as history, biography, cultural affairs, and other humanities subjects. In 1999 he hosted C-SPAN's acclaimed American Presidents series, which each week profiled the life and times of one of the nation's 41 chief executives. This series, which included discussions with notable historians and presidential biographers, garnered a Peabody Award for excellence in television broadcasting.
Art Linkletter (Beverly Hills, Calif.) has lifted our spirits for more than 60 years. A two-time Emmy winner, Linkletter is probably best known for his performances in two of the longest running shows in broadcast history, House Party and People are Funny. He has made Americans laugh through his 23 books, including Kids Say the Darndest Things. Known also as a businessman and a philanthropist, Linkletter is a member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, which offers educational support and college scholarships to help students overcome adversity and earn a degree. He also served on the Presidential Commission to Improve Reading in the United States.
Patricia MacLachlan (Williamsburg, Mass.) has written numerous critically acclaimed books for children of all ages, including the 1986 Newberry Medal winner, Sarah Plain and Tall. Two of her other books, Journey and Baby, were named by the American Library Association as ALA Notable Books and ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Sarah Plain and Tall, published in 1985, is a simple narrative of two children and their widowed father living on the plains in the nineteenth century, waiting for the arrival of a mail-order bride from Maine. Praised for its clear-cut prose, wisdom, and gentle humor, the book was described by the ALA as "a near perfect miniature novel that fulfills the ideal of different levels of meaning for children and adults."
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (Mount Vernon, Va.) is the oldest historic preservation organization in the United States. In 1860 the MVLA purchased Mount Vernon with an eye toward restoring and preserving George Washington's estate for the citizens of the United States and the world. The Association raised the necessary funds to save Mount Vernon from destruction. Today, with chapters in more than 30 states, the MVLA continues to maintain Mount Vernon as a historical site open to the public, thereby communicating the character and leadership of our first president to millions of Americans through interpretive and educational programs. The 500-acre Mount Vernon estate includes Washington's mansion, a four-acre colonial farm site, two museums, over a dozen outbuildings, and four gardens. A state-of-the-art education center designed to deepen and broaden visitors' understanding of George Washington's life and legacy is scheduled to open in 2005.
Thomas Sowell (Stanford, Calif.) has taught at Cornell University, Rutgers University, Brandeis University, and the University of California at Los Angeles. His books and essays, which address a wide range of contemporary and historical issues, are directed at the general public. Currently Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow in Public Policy at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif. His books on social policy include Inside American Education (1993) and The Vision of the Anointed (1995). On the history of ideas he has written Marxism (1985) and A Conflict of Visions (1987). Sowell's current research focuses on cultural history in a world perspective, a subject on which he began to write a trilogy in 1982. The trilogy includes Race and Culture (1994), Migrations and Cultures (1996), and Conquests and Cultures (1998). Sowell received his bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard, his master's degree in economics from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1968.
The National Endowment for the Humanities gratefully acknowledges support for the 2002 National Humanities Medals provided by Burt and Deedee McMurtry; the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation; and the Perkins-Prothro Foundation.