David M. Kennedy, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus, at Stanford University, is a native of Seattle and a 1963 Stanford graduate. He received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1968. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1967.

Professor Kennedy has long taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in the history of the twentieth-century United States, American political and social thought, American foreign policy, American literature, the comparative development of democracy in Europe and America, and the history of the North American West. Graduating seniors have four times elected him as Class Day speaker. In 1988 he received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, and in 2005 the Hoagland Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.  He has also received the Stanford Alumni Association’s Richard W. Lyman Award for faculty service, and the Organization of American Historian’s Distinguished Service Award. In 2008 the Yale University Graduate School presented him with its highest honor, the Wilbur Cross Medal.

Reflecting his interdisciplinary training in American Studies, which combined the fields of history, literature, and economics, Professor Kennedy’s scholarship is notable for its integration of economic and cultural analysis with social and political history, and for its engagement with the question of America’s national character. His 1970 book, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger, embraced the medical, legal, political, and religious dimensions of the subject and helped to pioneer the emerging field of women’s history.  Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980) used the history of American involvement in World War I to analyze the American political system, economy, and culture in the early twentieth century. Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (1999) recounts the history of the American people in the two great crises of the Great Depression and World War II. With Lizabeth Cohen, Kennedy is also the co-author of a textbook in American history, The American Pageant, now in its seventeenth edition.

Birth Control in America was honored with the John Gilmary Shea Prize in 1970 and the Bancroft Prize in 1971. Over Here was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1981. Freedom From Fear was a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and winner of the Pulitzer and Francis Parkman Prizes, as well as the English-Speaking Union’s Ambassador’s Prize, and the Commonwealth Club of California’s California Book Award Gold Medal, all in 2000.

In 1976-77, Professor Kennedy served as Visiting Professor at the Facoltá di Scienze Politiche (Istituto Cesare Alfieri), Universitá di Firenze, Italia, where he taught a year-long course (in Italian) on the history of American political thought.  He has lectured on American history throughout Italy, as well as in Germany, Turkey, Scandinavia, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, Russia, and China. At Stanford he has served as chair of the History Department, and as director of the Program in International Relations, as well as Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, and founding Faculty Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. He has served on the Advisory Board for the Public Broadcasting System’s “The American Experience” and for the History Channel’s “History of US,” as well as other historical documentaries. His film, “American Creed,” made jointly with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was released on PBS in 2018. He has chaired the Test Development Committee for the Educational Testing Service’s Advanced Placement Program in American History. He has also served as a director of the CORO Foundation, and as chair of the Board of Directors of the Stanford University Bookstore, and for four decades on the board of Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC), a service organization for people with disabilities. In 1995-96, he was the Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Philosophical Society. In 2002 he joined the Board of the Pulitzer Prizes (chair, 2010-2011), in 2008 the Board of the New York Historical Society, and in 2013 the Board of the California Academy of Sciences.  Since 2000, he has served as the Editor of the Oxford History of the United States. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed him in 2014 to the Advisory Council for the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.