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History Professor Zelizer named to Dirksen Congressional Center board

Julian Zelizer

Scooter Libby. Monica Lewinsky. John Poindexter. Sherman Adams. What do they have in common? Each was a troubling footnote in second-term presidencies — those of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Dwight Eisenhower, respectively — and they are the kind of historic dots that Julian Zelizer loves to connect for reporters, who increasingly regard him as a go-to expert in American political history, quoting him often since last year’s presidential campaign.

Now the CAS and GRS history professor has been named to the board of the Dirksen Congressional Center, a nonprofit research and educational institution that focuses on the history of Congress. It provides grants for research into congressional history, houses historical collections, and hosts unique online programs to help secondary educators teach American government, history, and civics lessons.


“It is one of the important places where university scholarship interacts with high school classrooms and the broader public,” Zelizer says. Named for the late Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.), the 30-year-old center is located in Pekin, Ill.

“I have always been dedicated to helping all citizens — not just students and scholars — understand more about the historical roots of today’s problems and challenges in Washington,” Zelizer says. “Taking on a leadership role at Dirksen offers me the opportunity to encourage the kind of scholarly research that can offer these kinds of insights.”

Author of On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and Its Consequences, 1948–2000 and coeditor of Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America, Zelizer is now working on a history of national security politics since World War II.