Today the Library of Congress announced that Edward L. (Ted) Widmer will be the next director of The John W. Kluge Center.
Widmer is a historian, author, and former presidential speechwriter who most recently has served as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and as a senior fellow and adjunct professor of history at Brown University.
Widmer’s career spans the worlds of academia, politics and journalism. His newest book, just published, is “The New York Times Disunion: A History of the Civil War” edited with Clay Risen and George Kalogerakis. His other books include “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy,” a biography of Martin Van Buren, and “Ark of the Liberties: America and the World,” a 2008 publication that was featured as an “Editors’ Pick” by The New York Times.
Widmer was a lecturer in history and literature at Harvard University from 1993-1997. He left academia to serve as special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and director for speechwriting at the National Security Council, from 1997-2000, crafting foreign-policy speeches for President Bill Clinton. In his capacity as a special adviser to the president for special projects (2000-2001), he advised President Clinton on issues related to history and scholarship. Widmer continued his work with Clinton as a special assistant from 2001-2004, conducting in-depth interviews with the former president as he wrote his autobiography “My Life.” Simultaneously, Widmer returned to the academic world as the inaugural director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland (2001-2006).
From 2006-2012, he served as the Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Under his direction, the Library upgraded its digital architecture and engaged in several digital partnerships and ventures including the creation of a digital archive of Haitian historical materials and participation in the World Digital Library, which is hosted by the Library of Congress.
Widmer returned to public service in 2012, when he accepted the role of senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her last year in office. He then returned to Brown as assistant to the president of Brown University for special projects (2012-2015), in which capacity he prepared a history of the university to commemorate its 250th anniversary (“Brown: The History of an Idea”), and returned to the classroom as an adjunct professor of history. Widmer has been with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs since 2015. He has been a frequent contributor to a variety of publications, including The New York Times, the Boston Globe and Politico. He also serves on the board of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Widmer holds an A.B. in the history and literature of France and America, an A.M. in history, and a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization, all from Harvard University. He will begin at the Kluge Center in early October.