Harold Holzer, a scholar of Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the American Civil War Era.
The legacy of the American Civil War lies not only in our ideas, emotions, and memories, but in our material culture as well. The objects that we inherited from the 1860s tell us much about the people who fought the War and who lived through its trials. Historian Harold Holzer guides us through an examination of these objects, and gives us a sense of what they meant to the people who used them – and what they still mean to us today.
Harold Holzer is the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York City, a post he assumed in August 2015 after 23 years as a senior vice president at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also serves as chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, official successor organization of the U. S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (which he co-chaired for nine years, appointed by President Bill Clinton). He is the author, co-author, or editor of 51 books on Lincoln and the Civil War era.
His recent Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion won both the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize from the Columbia University School of Journalism. In 2008, Holzer was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. Holzer’s 2012 book, Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America was the official young-adult companion book for the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln, for which Holzer served as script consultant. He also authored The Civil War in 50 Objects, which traces the conflict through the collections of the New-York Historical Society, where he served for three years as a Roger Hertog Fellow.
In addition, Holzer has written some 550 articles in both scholarly journals and popular magazines, published 15 monographs, and contributed chapters or prefaces to more than 50 additional volumes. Among his many other awards are a second-place Lincoln Prize in 2005 for Lincoln at Cooper Union, and book prizes from the Freedom Foundation, the Manuscript Society of America, the Civil War Round Table of New York, and the Illinois State Historical Society, along with lifetime achievement awards from the Lincoln Groups of New York, Washington, Peekskill, Kansas City, and Detroit; as well as honorary degrees from nine colleges and universities. Holzer is a member of many history boards and advisory committees, and for 20 years has served as vice chairman of the Lincoln Forum. Holzer also lectures throughout the nation. One of his programs, Lincoln Seen and Heard, with actor Sam Waterston, was staged and broadcast from such venues as the White House, the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, the Clinton Presidential Library, the Library of Congress, and Ford’s Theatre.
Holzer also appears frequently on C-SPAN and the History Channel, has served as an on-air commentator on CBS, PBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and the BBC, and has created and performed Lincoln programs onstage with such actors as Kathleen Chalfant, Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Stephen Lang, Norm Lewis, Liam Neeson, Chris Noth, Fritz Weaver, and Dianne Wiest. Before joining the Met in 1992, Holzer spent his early career as a journalist, a campaign and Congressional press secretary for Rep. Bella Abzug, an aide to New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and as spokesman for New York’s PBS station, WNET. He and his wife Edith live in Rye, New York, and have two grown daughters and a grandson.