Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History – Emeritus
Stanford University

David M. Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus. Professor Kennedy received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1988. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1999 for Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War. He received an A.B. in History from Stanford University and M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

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. 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(1999) recounts the history of the United States in the two great crises of the Great Depression and World War II.


  • Pulitzer Prize
  • Francis Parkman Prize
  • Ambassador’s Prize
  • California Gold Medal for Literature, (all for Freedom from Fear), 2000
  • Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teaching, Stanford, 1988
  • George Washington Eggleston Prize (for best dissertation in History, Yale University), 1968
  • John Gilmary Shea Prize (for Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger), 1970
  • Bancroft Prize (for Birth Control in America), 1971
  • American Council of Learned Societies, Fellow, 1971-72
  • Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Peace Fellow, 1971-1972
  • Class Day Speaker, Stanford, 1974, 1982, 1998, 2004
  • John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, 1975-1976
  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist, History (for Over Here: The First World War and American Society), 1981
  • Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Fellow, 1986-1987
  • Richard W. Lyman Award for Faculty Service, 1988
  • Stanford Humanities Center, Fellow, 1989-1990
  • Doctor of Letters (Hon.), La Trobe University, 2001
  • Hoagland Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2005


  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Fellow, American Philosophical Society
  • American Historical Association
  • Organization of American Historians
  • Society of American Historians

Courses Taught

  • HISTORY 299S: Undergraduate Directed Research and Writing
  • HISTORY 399W: Graduate Directed Reading


  • Video: David M. Kennedy and Richard White Discuss Myths of the Transcontinental Railroad
  • Book: Freedom From Fear: the American People In Depression and War, 1929-1945
  • Presentation: Water in the West: An Overview
  • Article: Obama’s victory won’t transform America
  • Article: Obama’s Second Chance to Be Historic
  • Article: Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart
  • Book: The Modern American Military
  • Article: Water Talk: Can cities keep growing in the desert?

View Previous Speakers