Harold Holzer

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Harold Holzer in 2011.

Harold Holzer (born February 5, 1949) is a scholar of Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the American Civil War Era. He won the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize in 2015 for his book, Lincoln and the Power of the Press. Holzer served for nine years as co-chairman of the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC), appointed to the commission by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and elected co-chair by his fellow commissioners. In June 2010, he was elected chairman of the ALBC's successor organization, The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, which he has led since. In his professional career, Holzer serves as the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.[1] He retired in 2015 as Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where for 23 years he was chief spokesman and held responsibility for government relations, admissions, visitor services, and multicultural audience development at the nation's largest art institution. From 2012 to 2015 he served as well as a Roger Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. He was also a script consultant to the Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln, and wrote the official young readers' companion book to the movie.

Life and career

In his work as a historian, Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited 51 books, and contributed more than 550 articles to magazines and journals, plus chapters and forewords for 60 additional books. He is a frequent guest on television (C-SPAN, A&E, The History Channel, and PBS including on Bill Moyers Journal and bicentennial-year documentaries on a variety of networks). He also lectures throughout the country, and has curated seven museum exhibitions, including three shows of Lincoln art at the former Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He served as chief historian for the exhibition "Lincoln and New York" at the New-York Historical Society, October 2009-March 2010 and "Lincoln and The Jews," March–June 2015 at the New-York Historical Society. He also co-organized "The First Step to Freedom," a multi-city, sesquicentennial exhibition of Lincoln's original Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which debuted at the Schomburg Library in Harlem on September 22, 2012. He has performed, throughout the nation, stage programs entitled "Lincoln Seen and Heard," "The Lincoln Family Album," "Lincoln in American Memory," and "Grant Seen and Heard"—combining period pictures with authentic words—with such actors as Sam Waterston, Liam Neeson, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Lang, Holly Hunter, and Dianne Wiest. His most recent programs are "The Real Lincoln-Douglass Debates" with Norm Lewis and Stephen Lang, performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and telecast on C-SPAN; and "Lincoln's Shakespeare" with Waterston, Lang, Kathleen Chalfant, Fritz Weaver, and John Douglas Thompson and performed in 2013 and 2014 at The Century Association and The Berkshire Playhouse. These different programs have been staged at such venues as the White House, the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Lincoln Center in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, the Lincoln Association of Los Angeles, The Lincoln Forum at Gettysburg, Ford's Theatre, site of the Lincoln assassination, and the U.S. Capitol.

Before joining the Metropolitan Museum in 1992, Holzer was special counselor to the New York State economic development director in the administration of the late Governor Mario M. Cuomo (with whom he co-edited the 1990 book, Lincoln on Democracy, which has now been translated into four languages). Before that, he was director of communications at WNET/Channel 13, the flagship PBS station in New York, and in the 1970s, served as a political press secretary—first to the late Rep. Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) in Congress and in her campaigns for the U. S. Senate and Mayor of New York; and in the 1977 general election mayoral campaign of Mr. Cuomo. Holzer started his career as a reporter, later editor, for the onetime news weekly the Manhattan Tribune.

In 2008, Holzer received the National Humanities Medal from President Bush and The Lincoln Medal of Honor from the Lincoln Society of Springfield, Illinois. He also won a second-place 2005 Lincoln Prize (for Lincoln at Cooper Union).[2] For his 2008 book Lincoln President-Elect, Holzer received awards from The Lincoln Group of New York, The Civil War Round Table of New York, and The Illinois State Historical Society. His young readers' book, Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons, won the first James Robertson Jr. Award for Civil War Children's Literature from The Civil War Round Table of New York. He has also won lifetime achievement awards from The Civil War Round Tables of New York, Chicago, Kansas City, and Lincoln groups in Washington and New York. He won the DAR History Award Medal in 2012. In 2013, he wrote the Lincoln-Emancipation essay for the official program for the re-inauguration of President Barack Obama. In addition to the Lincoln Prize for Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion, the book also won the Mark Lynton History Prize from the Columbia University School of Journalism and The Hazel Dicken-Garcia Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Journalism History.


  • 1984- The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print with Mark E. Neely, Jr. and Gabor S. Boritt
  • 1985- Changing the Lincoln Image with Neely and Boritt
  • 1987- The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause with Neely and Boritt
  • 1990- Lincoln on Democracy, co-edited with Mario M. Cuomo)
  • 1990- The Lincoln Family Album with Neely
  • 1993- Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Civil War in Art with Neely
  • 1993- The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text
  • 1993- Washington and Lincoln Portrayed: National Icons in Popular Prints
  • 1993- Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President
  • 1996- Witness to War
  • 1996- The Civil War Era
  • 1998- The Lincoln Mailbag: America Writes to the President
  • 1999- The Union Preserved with Daniel Lorello
  • 1999- The Lincoln Forum: Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, and the Civil War (co-edited with John Y. Simon and William Pederson)
  • 1999- Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies
  • 2000- The Union Image: Prints of the Civil War North with Neely
  • 2000- Lincoln Seen and Heard
  • 2000- Abraham Lincoln, The Writer (named to the Children's Literature Choice List, and the Bank Street "Best Children's Books of the Year")
  • 2001- Prang's Civil War: The Complete Battle Chromos of Louis Prang
  • 2002- State of the Union: New York and the Civil War
  • 2002- The Lincoln Forum: Rediscovering Abraham Lincoln (co-edited with John Y. Simon)
  • 2004- The President is Shot! The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • 2004- Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President
  • 2005- Lincoln in the Times: The Life of Abraham Lincoln as Originally Reported in the New York Times (co-edited with David Herbert Donald, St. Martin's Press)
  • 2006- The Battle of Hampton Roads (co-edited with Tim Mulligan)
  • 2006- The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views, with Edna Greene Medford and Frank J. Williams
  • 2006- Lincoln Portrayed: In the Collections of the Indiana Historical Society
  • 2007- Abraham Lincoln Revisited (co-edited with Simon and Dawn Vogel)
  • 2007- Lincoln and Freedom (co-edited with Sarah Vaughn Gabbard)
  • 2007- Lincoln's White House Secretary: The Adventurous Life of William O. Stoddard
  • 2008- Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter, 1860-1861
  • 2009- The Lincoln Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Legacy from 1860 to Now
  • 2009- In Lincoln's Hand: His Original Manuscripts with Commentary by Distinguished Americans.
  • 2009- The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators: Their Confinement and Execution, as Recorded in the Letterbook of John Frederick Hartranft (co-edited with Edward Steers, Jr.)
  • 2009- Lincoln and New York
  • 2010- The Lincoln Assassination: Crime & Punishment, Myth & Memory (co-edited with Craig L. Symonds and Frank J. Williams)
  • 2010- The New York Times Civil War (co-edited with Craig L. Symonds with an introduction by President Bill Clinton)
  • 2011- Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons
  • 2011- Lincoln on War
  • 2011- Hearts Touched by Fire: The Best of Battles and Leaders of The Civil War
  • 2011- The Living Lincoln (co-edited with Thomas A. Horrocks and Frank J. Williams)
  • 2012- Emancipating Lincoln: The Emancipation Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory
  • 2012- Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America
  • 2013- Abraham Lincoln, Defender of Freedom
  • 2013- 1863: Lincoln's Pivotal Year (co-edited with Sara Gabbard)
  • 2013- The Civil War in 50 Objects
  • 2014- Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion
  • 2015- President Lincoln Assassinated!!
  • 2015- Exploring Lincoln (co-edited with Craig L. Symonds and Frank J. Williams)
  • 2015- 1865: America Makes War and Peace in Lincoln's Final Year
  • 2015- A Just and Generous Nation: Abraham Lincoln and the Fight for American Opportunity (with Norton Garfinkle)


  • 1984, 1990, 1993, 2005, 2009, 2015- Barondess Award of the Civil War Round Table of New York
  • 1988- Diploma of Honor from Lincoln Memorial University
  • 1988, 1993, 2004, 2009- Award of Achievement from the Lincoln Group of New York
  • 1988- George Washington Medal from the Freedom Foundation
  • 1989- Writer of Distinction Award from the International Reading Association
  • 1992- Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Lincoln College
  • 1993- Award of Superior Achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society
  • 1996- Manuscript Society of America award for Dear Mr. Lincoln
  • 2000- Newman Book Award of the American Historical Print Collectors Society for The Union Image
  • 2002- Nevins-Freeman Award of The Civil War Round Table of Chicago
  • 2006- Honorary degrees by Illinois College and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  • 2006- The Lincoln Group of The District of Columbia's annual award of achievement
  • 2008- The Bell I. Wiley Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Civil War Round Table of NY
  • 2008- The National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush
  • 2009- Honorary Degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Bard College
  • 2009- President's Medal from Queens College, CUNY
  • 2010- Lincoln Medal of Honor, Lincoln Society, Springfield, Illinois
  • 2010- Awards for Lincoln and New York exhibition from The Civil War Round Table of New York, The Lincoln Group of New York, and The Victorian Society.
  • 2010- Barondess Award, The Civil War Round Tabel of New York, for Lincoln President-Elect
  • 2011- James Robertson Jr. Award for Civil War Children's Literature, Civil War Round Table of New York
  • 2012- DAR History Award Medal
  • 2012- Honorary Degree (Doctor of Humane Letters), Centre College, Danville, KY
  • 2015- Lincoln Group of New York Achievement Award
  • 2015- Harry S. Truman Award from The Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
  • 2015- Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize
  • 2015- Hazel Dicken-Garcia Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism History
  • 2015- Mark Lynton History Prize, Columbia University School of Journalism [3]


A frequent guest on television, Holzer has appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal and its 2009 documentary special on The White House. He has also appeared on The History Channel, PBS, The Today Show, Bill Moyers Journal, CBS Sunday Morning, Morning Joe, The Lou Dobbs Show, History Detectives, and The Charlie Rose Show.[4] C-SPAN has broadcast Holzer's stage presentation "Lincoln Seen and Heard" with Sam Waterston and "Grant Seen and Heard" with Richard Dreyfuss among many others. In February 2005, President and Mrs. Bush hosted a special Lincoln's birthday-eve performance of "Lincoln Seen and Heard" with Holzer and Waterston, telecast live from the White House.[5] During the Lincoln bicentennial, he appeared on such documentaries as "Stealing Lincoln's Body," "The Lincoln Assassination," "Looking for Lincoln," and "Lincoln: American Mastermind." He's featured in the forthcoming major documentary film The Gettysburg Address.


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