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Doris Kearns Goodwin
Born Doris Helen Kearns
January 4, 1943 (1943-01-04) (age 67)
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality American
Education Colby College (B.A)
Harvard University (PhD)
Known for Historian, author, political commentator
Spouse(s) Richard N. Goodwin
Children Richard, Michael and Joseph Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin (born Doris Helen Kearns on January 4, 1943) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer and historian, and an oft-seen political commentator. She is the author of biographies of several U.S. Presidents, including Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream; The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga; No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995); and her most recent book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.




Early life and education

Doris Kearns was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Rockville Centre, New York. She attended Colby College in Maine where she was a member of Tri 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[1] to pursue her doctoral studies. In 1968 she earned her Ph.D. in government from Harvard University for a thesis entitled "Prayer and reapportionment: an analysis of the relationship between the congress and the court." She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Westfield State College in 2008.

Career and awards

In 1967, Kearns went to Washington, D.C., as a White House Fellow during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Johnson offered the young intern a job as his assistant, an offer which was not withdrawn even after an article by Kearns appeared in The New Republic laying out a scenario for Johnson's removal from office over his conduct of the war in Vietnam.[2]

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

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

Goodwin won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II. Goodwin received an honorary L.H.D. from Bates College in 1998.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Goodwin won the 2005 Lincoln Prize (for best book about the American Civil War) for Team of Rivals, a book about Abraham Lincoln's Presidential Cabinet. She is currently a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission advisory board.[9][10][11][12]

Since 1997 Goodwin has been a member of the Board of Directors for Northwest Airlines.[13]

Plagiarism controversy

The January 28, 2002 issue of The Weekly Standard made a case for Doris Kearns Goodwin as a plagiarist, arguing that her book, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, used without attribution numerous phrases and sentences from three other books: Time to Remember, by Rose Kennedy; The Lost Prince, by Hank Searl; and Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times, by Lynne McTaggart.

In a March 24, 2002, interview with the Associated Press, McTaggart said, "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."

Once this was made public—and questionable phrases from Goodwin’s book were placed in numerous newspaper and magazine articles side by side with the originals—Goodwin admitted that she had previously reached a large "private settlement" with McTaggart over the issue. She wrote in Time Magazine:

Fourteen years ago, not long after the publication of my book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, I received a communication from author Lynne McTaggart pointing out that material from her book on Kathleen Kennedy had not been properly attributed. I realized that she was right. Though my footnotes repeatedly cited Ms. McTaggart's work, I failed to provide quotation marks for phrases that I had taken verbatim, having assumed that these phrases, drawn from my notes, were my words, not hers. I made the corrections she requested, and the matter was completely laid to rest—until last week, when the Weekly Standard published an article reviving the issue. The larger question for those of us who write history is to understand how citation mistakes can happen.[14]

An August 2002 Los Angeles Times story by Peter King reported that there were many passages in Goodwin’s book on the Roosevelts (No Ordinary Time) that were apparently lifted directly from Joseph Lash’s Eleanor and Franklin and Hugh Gregory Gallagher’s FDR’s Splendid Deception, as well as other books.[15] The allegations of plagiarism have damaged her reputation,[16] causing her to recall the book and to take leave of various positions.[17]

Many in the academic, literary, and entertainment communities have continued to support her and her assertion of innocence. As in the case of Stephen Ambrose, the extensive use of research assistants has been identified as a possible source of this uncredited use of other writers' work.[citation needed] Her biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team Of Rivals, has been free from accusation.

Personal life

In 1975, Kearns married Richard N. Goodwin,[18] who had worked in the Johnson and Kennedy administration as an adviser and a speechwriter. They have three sons, Richard, Michael and Joseph. Joseph is heading to Iraq for a second tour of duty.[19]

As of 2007, the Goodwins live in Concord, Massachusetts.

Goodwin revealed in her contributions to Ken Burns' award-winning documentary film Baseball her life-long support of both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox.


  • Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream (1977)
  • The Fitzgeralds & The Kennedys (1987)
  • No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The American Homefront During World War II (1995)
  • Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir (1997)
  • Every four years: Presidential campaign coverage (2000) ISBN 0-9655091-7-6
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005) ISBN 0-684-82490-6


  • "I got to know this crazy character [Lyndon B. Johnson] when I was only 23 years old.... He's still the most formidable, fascinating, frustrating, irritating individual I think I've ever known in my entire life."[20]
  • "I just want them to come alive again. That's all you really ask of history."[21]


  1. ^ "About Our Fellows". Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  2. ^ "...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'." Dartmouth 1998 commencement address (accessdate=2007-07-27)
  3. ^ "About the Author". Doris Kearns Goodwin. 
  4. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin (January 4, 1943 - ) - Biographer; Assistant to President Lyndon Johnson". Women's History. Retrieved \. 
  5. ^ "Doris Kearns Goodwin: History, Baseball, and the Art of the Narrative". Smithsonian Associates. October 20, 1997. 
  6. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (April 22, 1997). "109th Landon Lecture". 109th Landon Lecture. Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University. 
  7. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (June 14, 1998). "Commencement address at Dartmouth University". Dartmouth News. 
  8. ^ Goodwin, Doris Kearns (Summer 1998). "Lessons of Presidential Leadership". Leader to Leader. Archived from the original on 2006-03-02. 
  9. ^ National Constitution Center talk at Google Video (Adobe Flash video) November 2, 2005 (skip to 30 minute mark)
  10. ^ Address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council November 15, 2005
  11. ^ City Arts and Lectures appearance November 16, 2005
  12. ^ Goodwin discusses Team of Rivals
  13. ^ Northwest Airlines- Board of Directors, Biography
  14. ^ Kearns Goodwin, Doris (January 27, 2002). "How I Caused That Story". Time.,8599,197614,00.html. 
  15. ^ Noah, Timothy (November 13, 2003). "Historians Rewrite History: The Campaign to Exonerate Doris Kearns Goodwin". Slate. 
  16. ^ New Frontiers in Cheating: Fake Credentials Encyclopædia Britannica
  17. ^ Doris Kearns Goodwin And The Credibility Gap
  18. ^ 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 2009-09-06. 
  19. ^ Clemetson, Lynette "Threats and Responses: in Uniform; To Child of Vietnam War Dissenters, Recent Call to Arms Rang True." The New York Times. February 18, 2003. January 19, 2010.
  20. ^ [1] Academy of Achievement June 1996 interview, p.1
  21. ^ [2] Academy of Achievement June 1996 interview, p.6

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