National Humanities Medal

The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities. The award, given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, was established in 1988 as the Charles Frankel Prize. In 1997 it was renamed the National Humanities Medal.

National Humanities Medal Recipients

  • Bloom in suit smiling

    Allan Bloom (1930–1992)

    AB’49, AM’53, PhD’55; Professor in History, 1964–69; Chairman, Department of History, 1967–70; John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor; Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, 1979–92; John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor, 1992

    • Boorstin posing

      Daniel J. Boorstin (1914–2004)

      Professor in History, 1944–64; Preston and Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor, 1964–69

      • Shorris smiling

        Earl Shorris (1936-2012)


        • Southern looking at camera

          Eileen Jackson Southern (1920–2002)

          AB’40; AM’41

          • Himmelfarb face

            Gertrude Himmelfarb


            • Buchanan face

              James M. Buchanan Jr.


              • Dunham looking away

                Katherine Dunham


                • Leal smiling

                  Luis Leal (1907–2010)

                  AM’41, PhD’50

                  • Marty smiling

                    Martin Marty

                    PhD’56; Professor in the Divinity School, 1963–78; Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor, 1978–98; Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, 1998–present

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                      Mary Ann Glendon

                      AB’59, JD’61; Master of Comparative Law, 1963

                      • phoenix badge

                        Milton J. Rosenberg

                        Professor in Psychology and the College, 1965–96; Professor Emeritus in Psychology, 1996–present

                        • Adler posing

                          Mortimer J Adler

                          Associate Professor in Philosophy of Law, 1930–42; Professor in Philosophy of Law, 1942–52; Visiting Lecturer, 1963–68

                          • Roth face

                            Philip Roth


                            • Ellison in a suit

                              Ralph Ellison (1913–1994)

                              Humanities Faculty, 1961

                              • phoenix badge

                                Richard J. Franke

                                University Trustee

                                • Bellow in a hat smiling

                                  Saul Bellow (1915–2005)

                                  X’39; Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and in English, 1962–1993; chairman of the Committee on Social Thought, 1970–76

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                                    Studs Terkel

                                    PhB’32, JD’34

                                    • Sowell smiling

                                      Thomas Sowell


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                                        Walter Berns

                                        PhD, AM; Faculty, 1984, 1989

                                        • McNeill in a suit

                                          William H. McNeill

                                          AB’38, AM’39; Robert A. Milikan Distinguished Service Professor in History, 1947–87; Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in History, 1987–present