Doris Kearns Goodwin

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Doris Kearns Goodwin
Doris Kearns Goodwin (11131).jpg
Goodwin in 2018
Doris Helen Kearns

(1943-01-04) January 4, 1943 (age 79)
New York City, U.S.
  • Historian
  • author
Years active1977–present
(m. 1975⁠–⁠2018)
AwardsNational Humanities Medal (1996)
Doris Kearns Goodwin signature.png

Doris Helen Kearns Goodwin (born January 4, 1943)[1] is an American biographer, historian, former sports journalist, and political commentator.

Goodwin has written biographies of several U.S. presidents, including Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream; The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga; Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; and The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. Goodwin's book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995.

Goodwin produced the American television miniseries Washington.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Doris Helen Kearns was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Helen Witt (née Miller) and Michael Francis Aloysius Kearns. She has a sister, Jene Kearns.[3][4] She was raised Catholic.[5] Her paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants.[6] She grew up in Rockville Centre, New York, where she graduated from South Side High School.[7] She attended Colby College in Maine, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta and Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated magna cum laude in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1964[8] to pursue doctoral studies. In 1968, she earned a PhD in government from Harvard University, with a thesis titled "Prayer and Reapportionment: An Analysis of the Relationship between the Congress and the Court."[9]

Career and awards[edit]

In 1967, Kearns went to Washington, D.C. as a White House Fellow during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.[10] Johnson initially expressed interest in hiring the young intern as his Oval Office assistant, but after an article by Kearns appeared in The New Republic laying out a scenario for Johnson's removal from office over his conduct of the war in Vietnam, she was instead assigned to the Department of Labor; Goodwin has written that she felt relieved to be able to remain in the internship program in any capacity at all. "The president discovered that I had been actively involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement and had written an article entitled, 'How to Dump Lyndon Johnson'. I thought for sure he would kick me out of the program, but instead, he said, 'Oh, bring her down here for a year and if I can't win her over, no one can'."[11] After Johnson decided not to run for reelection, he brought Kearns to the White House as a member of his staff, where she focused on domestic anti-poverty efforts.[12]

After Johnson left office in 1969, Kearns taught government at Harvard for 10 years, including a course on the American presidency. During this period, she also assisted Johnson in drafting his memoirs. Her first book Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, which drew upon her conversations with the late president, was published in 1977, becoming a New York Times bestseller and provided a launching pad for her literary career.

A sports journalist as well, Goodwin was the first female journalist to enter the Boston Red Sox locker room in 1979. She consulted on and appeared in Ken Burns'1994 documentary Baseball.

Goodwin won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for History for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front During World War II (1994).[13]

In 1996, Goodwin received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[14]

Goodwin received an honorary L.H.D. from Bates College in 1998.[15][16][17][18][19][20] She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Westfield State College in 2008.

Goodwin in 2001

Goodwin was on air talking to Tom Brokaw of NBC News during their 2000 Presidential Election Night Coverage when Brokaw announced NBC's projection that the state of Florida had voted for George W. Bush thus making him president.[21]

Goodwin won the 2005 Lincoln Prize (for the best book about the American Civil War) for Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005), a book about Abraham Lincoln's presidential cabinet. Part of the book was adapted by Tony Kushner into the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's 2012 film Lincoln. She was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission advisory board.[22][23][24][25] The book also won the inaugural American History Book Prize given by the New-York Historical Society.

Goodwin was a member of the board of directors of Northwest Airlines.

Goodwin is a frequent guest commentator on Meet the Press, having appeared many times during the tenures of hosts Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, and Chuck Todd. She was also a regular guest on Charlie Rose, appearing a total of forty-eight times beginning in 1994.

Stephen King met with Goodwin while he was writing his novel 11/22/63, since she had been an assistant to Johnson. King used some of her ideas in the novel on what a worst-case scenario would be like if history had changed.[26]

In 2014, Kearns won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction for The Bully Pulpit.[27] It was also a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist (History, 2013)[28] and was named one of the Christian Science Monitor's 15 best nonfiction books in 2013.[29]

In 2016, she appeared as herself in the fifth episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke.[30]

Plagiarism controversies[edit]

In 2002, The Weekly Standard determined that Goodwin's book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys used without attribution numerous phrases and sentences from three other books: Times to Remember by Rose Kennedy; The Lost Prince by Hank Searls; and Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times by Lynne McTaggart.[31] McTaggart remarked, "If somebody takes a third of somebody's book, which is what happened to me, they are lifting out the heart and guts of somebody else's individual expression."[32] Goodwin had previously reached a "private settlement" with McTaggart over the issue. In an article she wrote for Time magazine, she said, "Though my footnotes repeatedly cited Ms. McTaggart's work, I failed to provide quotation marks for phrases that I had taken verbatim... The larger question for those of us who write history is to understand how citation mistakes can happen."[33] In its analysis of the controversy, Slate magazine criticized Goodwin for the aggrieved tone of her explanation, and suggested Goodwin's worst offense was allowing the plagiarism to remain in future editions of the book even after it was brought to her attention.[34]

The plagiarism controversy caused Goodwin to resign from the Pulitzer Prize Board[35] and to relinquish her position as a regular guest on the PBS NewsHour program.[36]

The Los Angeles Times also reported on a passage in No Ordinary Time which appeared to use highly similar language and phrasing to one in Joseph P. Lash's 1971 book Eleanor & Franklin; Goodwin includes a citation for Lash in the bibliography, though the article questions if this is sufficient for the use of similar "framing language" between the two texts. In response, Goodwin said that she had met "the highest standards of historical scholarship" for the passage in question.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Growing up on Long Island, Goodwin was a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. She remembered that her father would have her document the events from the baseball game from the radio and replay the events of the game for him when he returned home. Goodwin stopped following baseball after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, but later became a Boston Red Sox fan while attending Harvard, and is now a season ticket holder.[38]

In 1975, Kearns married Richard N. Goodwin,[39] who had worked in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as an adviser and speechwriter. The two met in mid-1972 at Harvard's Institute of Politics.[40] Richard Goodwin was a widower who had a son, also named Richard, from his first marriage. At the time he and Kearns married, his son was nine years old.[41][42] The couple, who lived in Concord, Massachusetts, had two sons together, Michael and Joseph.[43] Richard Goodwin died on May 20, 2018, after a brief battle with cancer.[42]



  1. ^ "UPI Almanac for Friday, Jan. 4, 2019". UPI. January 4, 2019. Archived from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019. American historian/writer Doris Kearns Goodwin in 1943 (age 76)
  2. ^ Cunningham, Lillian (February 16, 2020). "Renowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin finally takes on George Washington". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 17, 2020. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Brennan, Elizabeth A.; Clarage, Elizabeth C. (1999). Who's who of Pulitzer Prize winners. p. 323. ISBN 9781573561112. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  4. ^ Drew, Bernard Alger (2008). 100 Most Popular Nonfiction Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies – Bernard Alger Drew. p. 131. ISBN 9781591584872. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  5. ^ Baldwin, Lou (March 26, 2013). "Kearns Goodwin recalls growing up Catholic in Brooklyn, with a peculiar penance: praying for the Dodgers".
  6. ^ " – Archive – News". January 5, 1998. Archived from the original on October 6, 2018. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  7. ^ D'Onfrio, Matthew (April 5, 2018). "From Rockville Centre to the White House, Presidential historian returns to Long Island". LI Herald. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  8. ^ "About Our Fellows". Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Archived from the original on July 5, 2010.
  9. ^ Kearns, Doris Helen (May 21, 1968). "Prayer and reapportionment; an analysis of the relationship between the Congress and the Court" – via Open WorldCat.
  10. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin Biography and Interview". American Academy of Achievement.
  11. ^ "Dartmouth 1998 commencement address" Archived February 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Dartmouth College. Retrieved July 27, 2007.
  12. ^ Lyndon B. Johnson and the American Dream, "Prologue"
  13. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (October 1995). No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (9780684804484): Doris Kearns Goodwin: Books. ISBN 0684804484.
  14. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  15. ^ "About the Author". Doris Kearns Goodwin. Archived from the original on October 15, 2008.
  16. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin (January 4, 1943 – ) – Biographer; Assistant to President Lyndon Johnson". Women's History.
  17. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin: History, Baseball, and the Art of the Narrative". Smithsonian Associates. October 20, 1997. Archived from the original on April 11, 2006.
  18. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (April 22, 1997). "109th Landon Lecture". Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University.
  19. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (June 14, 1998). "Commencement address at Dartmouth College". Dartmouth News. Archived from the original on February 6, 2006.
  20. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (Summer 1998). "Lessons of Presidential Leadership". Leader to Leader. Archived from the original on March 2, 2006.
  21. ^ Jim Heath (November 12, 2011). "Election 2000 Florida, Florida, Florida". Archived from the original on December 13, 2021 – via YouTube.
  22. ^ National Constitution Center talk at Google Videos November 2, 2005 (skip to 30 minute mark) Archived February 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Address Archived March 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council November 15, 2005
  24. ^ City Arts and Lectures appearance Archived February 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine November 16, 2005
  25. ^ "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln". Books of Our Time. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  26. ^ Alter, Alexandra (October 28, 2011). "Stephen King's New Monster". The Wall Street Journal.
  27. ^ Hillel Italie (June 30, 2014). "Tartt, Goodwin awarded Carnegie medals". Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  28. ^ Carolyn Kellogg (February 19, 2014). "Announcing the L. A. Times Book Prize finalists for 2013". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  29. ^ "15 best nonfiction books of 2013". The Christian Science Monitor. November 25, 2013. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  30. ^ Stephens, Emily L. (October 13, 2016). "AHS: Roanoke finds itself in a hole, keeps digging—into its past". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  31. ^ Crader, Bo (January 28, 2002). "A Historian and Her Sources". The Weekly Standard.
  32. ^ Lawless, Jill (March 23, 2002). "Author Says Doris Kearns Goodwin Took 'Heart and Guts' From Her Book". Associated Press.
  33. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (January 27, 2002). "How I Caused That Story". Time. Archived from the original on February 9, 2002.
  34. ^ Noah, Timothy (January 28, 2002). "How To Curb the Plagiarism Epidemic". Slate Magazine. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  35. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin Leaves Pulitzer Prize Board". The Wall Street Journal. May 31, 2002. Archived from the original on April 15, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  36. ^ Lewis, Mark (February 27, 2002). "Doris Kearns Goodwin And The Credibility Gap". Forbes. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  37. ^ King, Peter H. (August 4, 2002). "As History Repeats Itself, the Scholar Becomes the Story". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  38. ^ FM, Player. "Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin Looks To The Presidents Of The Past To Understand The Politics Of Today | Larry Wilmore (Ep. 54) Larry Wilmore: Black On The Air podcast".
  39. ^ Roughier, Ray (March 15, 1995). "The Natural TV producers love Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian and baseball fan, who is right at home in front of a camera. Now Mainers will have three chances to see her in person". Portland Press Herald. p. 1C. Retrieved September 6, 2009.
  40. ^ LLC, New York Media (August 18, 1975). "New York". New York Media, LLC – via Google Books.
  41. ^ Lee, Richard S. (December 15, 1975). "Doris Kearns and Richard Goodwin Marry, As Kennedy, Mailer and White Spectate".
  42. ^ a b "Richard N. Goodwin, White House speech writer, dead at 86". AP. May 21, 2018. Archived from the original on May 22, 2018. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  43. ^ "About".
  44. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin's 'Leadership' coming in September". Boston Herald. Associated Press. February 13, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.

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