Faculty News

Read Professor Widmer’s latest New York Times Opinion Piece: How Nixon Came Back

Ted WidmerEdward (Ted) Ladd Widmer, is a historian, writer, librarian, musician who served as a speechwriter in the Clinton White House and most recently a member of the Macaulay Honors College Faculty.

Ted Widmer obtained an A.B. in the history and literature of France and the United States, an A.M. in history, and a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization from Harvard University. At Harvard, he was an editor at the Harvard Lampoon. Widmer was appointed lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University from 1993 until 1997. From 1997 to 2001, he worked in the White House as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, foreign policy speech writer and Senior Advisor for Special Projects, which involved advising on history and scholarship related issues. He later conducted extensive interviews with Clinton while the former president was writing his autobiography.

He was the first director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience from 2001 to 2006 and an associate professor of history at Washington College from 2001. While there he created the George Washington Book Prize, an annual award given to the best book on the founding fathers. On July 1, 2006 he was appointed Director and Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, where he led efforts to digitize the library’s holdings, and raised funding to save Haitian libraries in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. From 2012 to 2013, Widmer was a senior advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Between 2010 and 2015, he helped to create and often contributed to the New York Times “Disunion,” a digital history of the Civil War. In October, 2016, Widmer was appointed Director of the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.


  • Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City (1999) (winner of the 2001 Washington Irving Prize)
  • Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races (2001) (co-author with Alan Brinkley)
  • Martin Van Buren (2004)
  • Ark of the Liberties: America and the World (2008) (a history of U.S. foreign policy)
  • Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy (2012) (co-author with Caroline Kennedy)
  • Brown: The History of an Idea (2015)
  • New York Times: Disunion: A History of the Civil War (2016) (co-editor with Clay Risen and George Kalogerakis)