David Kennedy

Stanford Professor of History, Emeritus: Founder, Bill Lane Center for the American West

How the West Was Won, and What it Has to Lose


David Kennedy is a native of Seattle and a 1963 Stanford graduate. In 1968 he received his Ph.D in American Studies at Yale University.

Professor Kennedy has 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 American West. In 1988 he received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, and in 2005 the Hoagland Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In 2008, the Yale University Graduate School presented him with its highest honor, the Wilbur Cross Medal.

His interdisciplinary training in American Studies 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 its continued exploration of the elusive notion of the American national character. His 1970 book, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger, embraces the medical, legal, political, and religious dimensions of the subject and helped to pioneer the emerging field of women’s history. It received the John Gilmary Shea Prize in 1970 and the Bancroft Prize in 1971.

Professor Kennedy has been a visiting professor at the University of Florence, Italy, at Oxford University, and at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He recently collaborated with his Stanford colleague and former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, on the film “American Creed,” released on PBS in 2018.