Famous American Historians

Howsoever you hate history you cannot deny the fact that it is interesting and exciting to know about historic events that shaped the world and people who were real icons of the past. They were the trailblazers who have directed much of our past, present and our future. While reading history is not everyone’s cup of tea, there are some who take it up professionally. Historians are people who research, study and write about the past. They are involved with continuous research of past events and study history of all times and human race. Every country has its own pool of historians who unleash the past for the mankind’s present and future. American historians have time and again explored the bygone era and brought forth unknown facts about America’s modest past and the events that led it to become a super power. They have covered every aspect of American history right from its African-America past, the Civil War, American liberalism and its global super power status. Eric Foner, Allan Nevins, Arthur M Schlesinger Jr, Francis Parkman, Bruce Catton are some of the celebrated American historians who have brought to limelight the historic past of America. Check this write-up to find in details about the famous American historians, their life and their works.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Joe Medicine Crow

Joe Medicine Crow
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: October 27, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lodge Grass, Montana, United States
Died: April 3, 2016

The last Crow war chief, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow was part of the Whistling Water clan of Native Americans. The legendary indigenous hero was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A published historian, too, he is remembered for his research on the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

 2 George McGovern

George McGovern
9
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Avon, South Dakota, United States
Died: October 21, 2012

Historian George McGovern had been the U.S. senator from South Dakota. He held important positions related to food, agriculture, and nutrition, too, and was named a World Food Prize laureate for his efforts in reducing world hunger. He had also advocated for the end of the Vietnam War.

 3 Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn
7
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: August 24, 1922
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: January 27, 2010

Born into a Jewish working-class, immigrant family in Brooklyn, Howard Zinn was initially dragged into communism. He was part of the U.S. Army during World War II and later established himself as a historian. Of his many books, the most popular has been A People's History of the United States.

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 4 Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
5
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 16, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Keyser, West Virginia

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, historian, professor, filmmaker, and public intellectual. He is currently serving as the director of the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Over the years Gates has been honored with several prestigious awards including the National Humanities Medal. In 1997, he was named in Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans list.

 5 Lola Van Wagenen

Lola Van Wagenen
4
Famous As: Historians
Birthdate: November 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Provo, Utah, United States

Lola Van Wagenen is an American historian who is credited with co-founding non-profit educational organizations like Consumer Action Now (CAN) and Clio Visualizing History, Inc. Consumer Action Now went on to establish several environmental education and consumer-oriented programs in an attempt to raise awareness about the effects of consumers' buying habits on the environment.

 6 Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA

Bestselling author and essayist Sarah Vowell is known for her expertise in American history and her books such as Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes. She is also a regular on the radio program This American Life and has voiced Violet in the animated film The Incredibles.

 7 Shelby Foote

Shelby Foote
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 17, 1916
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Greenville, Mississippi, United States
Died: June 27, 2005
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 8 Robert Osborne

Robert Osborne
6
Famous As: Actor, Television actor, Biographer, Film actor, Historian, Journalist, Screenwriter, Cinematographer, Film producer
Birthdate: May 3, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Colfax
Died: March 6, 2017

Best known for his over two-decade-long stint as a Turner Classic Movies host, Robert Osborne also gained fame for his penning The Official History of the Academy Awards and the National Film Book Award-winning 50 Golden Years of Oscar. A qualified journalist, he also wrote columns for The Hollywood Reporter.

 9 David Eisenhower

David Eisenhower
4
Famous As: Writer, Educator
Birthdate: March 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: West Point, New York, United States

Author, academic, and public policy fellow David Eisenhower teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. Best known for his Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted book Eisenhower at War: 1943-1945, he is the grandson of former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower and the son of John Eisenhower. He is also the son-in-law of Richard Nixon.

 10 Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin
9
Famous As: Historian, Writer known for her book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
Birthdate: January 4, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City, United States

Doris Kearns Goodwin is an American historian, biographer, and former sports journalist. She is best known for writing presidential biographies, including Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. In 1995, she won the Pulitzer Prize for History for her book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

 11 Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson
5
Famous As: Commentator on modern and ancient warfare
Birthdate: September 5, 1953
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fowler, California, United States

Historian and academic Victor Davis Hanson is best known for his opinions on warfare and politics in publications such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He teaches at the California State University and Stanford's Hoover Institution. His academic interests include military history and classics.

 12 Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould
4
Famous As: Paleontologist
Birthdate: September 10, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bayside, New York, United States
Died: May 20, 2002

Stephen Jay Gould was an American evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, and historian of science. One of the most widely read and influential authors of popular science, Gould was named a Living Legend in April 2000 by the US Library of Congress. He is also counted among the most frequently cited scientists, as far as evolutionary theory is concerned.

 13 Virginia Dare

Virginia Dare
4
Famous As: Colonist
Birthdate: August 18, 1587
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Roanoke Island, North Carolina, United States

Virginia Dare was born in a New World English colony and is believed to be the first English child to have taken birth in the colony. Although Virginia's disappearance along with other colonists remains a mystery, she has become a popular figure in American folklore over the last 400 years. She has also been featured as a character in films.

 14 Carter Woodson

Carter Woodson
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Canton, Virginia, United States
Died: April 3, 1950

Historian Carter Woodson was is remembered for pioneering Black studies in schools and colleges. He began the Negro History Week, which is now celebrated as the Black History Month. Poverty had pushed him to work in the coal mines initially, and he couldn’t join high school before 20.

 15 Tim Considine

Tim Considine
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 31, 1940
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

Tim Considine is an American actor, photographer, automotive historian, and writer. He is best known for his performance in films like The Shaggy Dog and Sunrise at Campobello. He is credited with writing many books, namely The Photographic Dictionary of Soccer, The Language of Sport, and American Grand Prix Racing: A Century of Drivers and Cars.

 16 Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum
7
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: July 25, 1964
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Anne Applebaum is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gulag, which described the Soviet concentration camps. The American historian and journalist has worked for The Economist and The Spectator and now writes for The Atlantic. The mother of two now lives in Poland with her politician husband, Radek Sikorski.

 17 Eric Bogosian

Eric Bogosian
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 24, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Woburn, Massachusetts, USA

Eric Bogosian is an American actor, playwright, novelist, and historian. He is credited with writing plays like Talk Radio and SubUrbia, which were adapted into films. Over the course of his career, Bogosian has won several awards including three Obie Awards. He was honored at the 1989 Berlin Film Festival with the Silver Bear for his work on Talk Radio. 

 18 Henry Cabot Lodge

Henry Cabot Lodge
4
Famous As: United States Senator from Massachusetts (1893-1924)
Birthdate: May 12, 1850
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beverly, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 9, 1924

 19 Will Durant

Will Durant
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 5, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: North Adams, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 7, 1981

Will Durant was an American writer, philosopher, and historian. He is credited with writing The Story of Philosophy which helped popularize philosophy in the USA. Will is also remembered for co-writing an 11-volume set of books titled The Story of Civilization along with his wife Ariel. Will and Ariel were awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 20 Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 14, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

An expert in Byzantine history, author Harry Turtledove is known for his historical fiction and science-fiction books, such as How Few Remain and the Opening of the World series. Regarded as the “Master of Alternate History,” he has also won awards such as the Hugo Award for the Best Novella.

 21 David McCullough

David McCullough
4
Famous As: Author, Historian
Birthdate: July 7, 1933
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.

David McCullough is an American popular historian, author, narrator, and lecturer. Over the course of his illustrious career, McCullough has received two National Book Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, and two Francis Parkman Prizes among other prestigious awards. In 2006, he was honored with America's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also received over 40 honorary degrees.

 22 Timothy D. Snyder

Timothy D. Snyder
4
Famous As: Author and historian specializing in the history of Central and Eastern Europe and the Holocaust
Birthdate: August 18, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ohio, United States

Historian and Yale professor Timothy D. Snyder has penned countless books, including bestsellers such as Bloodlands and On Tyranny. His themes include Marxism and Soviet and Nazi atrocities. A Harvard scholar and a Carnegie fellow, he is also part of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience.

 23 George Washington Williams

George Washington Williams
4
Famous As: Soldier, Historian, Diplomat, Writer, Minister, Politician, Journalist
Birthdate: October 16, 1849
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bedford
Died: August 2, 1891

A laborer’s son, George Washington Williams had been a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War, when he was barely 14. He had then been a Baptist minister, a politician, a lecturer, a lawyer, and a journalist, but is best remembered for being the first to write about Black history.

 24 Dave Meltzer

Dave Meltzer
6
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: October 24, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA

Sports journalist Dave Meltzer is best known for his coverage of wrestling and MMA events. He has also lectured on sports at the Stanford University and has been associated with The Wrestling Observer for a long time. He has authored the feature The Life & Times of Abdullah the Butcher.

 25 Murray Bookchin

Murray Bookchin
4
Famous As: Writer, Historian, Philosopher, University teacher, Anarchist, Libertarian municipalism, Social ecology
Birthdate: January 14, 1921
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City
Died: July 30, 2006

Murray Bookchin, also known by his pseudonyms M.S. Shiloh and Lewis Herber, was an anarchist, a political philosopher, and an academic, best known for his fight against capitalism. The son of Russian immigrants, he followed communism since age 9. He had also penned books such as The Ecology of Freedom.

 26 Archibald Gracie IV

Archibald Gracie IV
4
Famous As: Historian, Writer, Investor
Birthdate: January 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama, United States
Died: December 4, 1912

Best known as the author of The Truth About The Titanic (currently Titanic: A Survivor's Story), Archibald Gracie IV was one of the few who survived the sinking of RMS Titanic. Beginning his career as colonel of the 7th New York Militia, he later became a real estate agent, concurrently carrying out researches on history, particularly the Battle of Chickamauga.

 27 Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 8, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles

Michael Shermer is an American historian of science and science writer. He is credited with founding The Skeptics Society, a nonprofit organization that aims at promoting scientific skepticism. He also serves as the editor-in-chief of the organization's magazine Skeptic. From 2001 to 2019, he was a major contributor to Scientific American magazine.

 28 Max Boot

Max Boot
4
Famous As: Writer, Historian
Birthdate: September 12, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, historian, and foreign-policy analyst Max A. Boot was born in Moscow, but raised in Los Angeles. Now Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also the author of numerous articles and bestselling books.

 29 James M. McPherson

James M. McPherson
3
Famous As: Historian, University teacher, Writer
Birthdate: October 11, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Valley City

James M. McPherson is an American historian who serves as a professor at Princeton University. Well-known for his activism, McPherson spoke against the construction of a theme park near Manassas battlefield. A Civil War historian, McPherson won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his work, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, in 1989.

 30 Henry Adams

Henry Adams
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: February 16, 1838
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Died: March 27, 1918

Historian Henry Adams was part of the famous Adams political family of the U.S and a typical Boston Brahmin elite. His best-known work remains his posthumously published autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, which won a Pulitzer Prize. He also taught medieval history at Harvard.

 31 Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel
6
Famous As: Journalist, Historian, Radio personality, Writer, Poet lawyer, Music journalist
Birthdate: May 16, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Died: October 31, 2008

Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Studs Terkel is remembered for his contribution to American history and for his book The Good War. Initially aspiring to be a lawyer, he later became a radio actor. He also interviewed people for his show Studs’s Place and published bestselling oral histories such as Division Street.

 32 Stephen E. Ambrose

Stephen E. Ambrose
7
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: January 10, 1936
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Decatur, Illinois, United States
Died: October 13, 2002

Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American biographer and historian. A respected figure, Ambrose was honored with several prestigious awards during his lifetime. In 1998, he was honored with the National Humanities Medal. The same year, he also won the Golden Plate Award as well as the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize. In 2001, he received the Theodore Roosevelt Medal.

 33 Stephen F. Cohen

Stephen F. Cohen
4
Famous As: Historian, Editor
Birthdate: November 25, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Died: September 18, 2020

 34 Barbara Tuchman

Barbara Tuchman
5
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: January 30, 1912
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 6, 1989

Barbara Tuchman was an American author and historian whose best-selling book The Guns of August (1962) earned her the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Tuchman won her second Pulitzer Prize for writing a biography of General Joseph Stilwell titled Stilwell and the American Experience in China (1971).

 35 Bernard Lewis

Bernard Lewis
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: May 31, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 19, 2018

 36 Aviva Chomsky

Aviva Chomsky
6
Famous As: Historian, University teacher
Birthdate: April 20, 1957
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Boston

Born to linguists Noam and Carol Chomsky, Aviva Chomsky is equipped with degrees in Spanish and Portuguese and is an expert in labor and social movements. The author of books such as Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, she teaches history and co-ordinates Latin American Studies at the Salem State University.

 37 Michael Beschloss

Michael Beschloss
6
Famous As: American historian
Birthdate: November 30, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

American historian Michael Beschloss specializes in the U.S. presidency and has penned nine books on the subject, including the New York Times bestsellers The Conquerors and Presidential Courage. He has an Emmy and six honorary degrees in his kitty and has also worked with PBS NewsHour and NBC News.

 38 Lewis Mumford

Lewis Mumford
4
Famous As: Architect, Historian of technology, Historian, Sociologist, Screenwriter, Literary critic, Philosopher, Journalist
Birthdate: October 19, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 26, 1990

Lewis Mumford was an American sociologist, historian, literary critic, and philosopher of technology. He made significant contributions to American literary and cultural history, social philosophy, and the history of technology. His works also influenced a number of thinkers and authors like Jacques Ellul and Amory Lovins. Lewis Mumford also had a strong influence on American cellular biologist Barry Commoner.

 39 Caleb Carr

Caleb Carr
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: August 2, 1955
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, US

Born to leading Beat generation figure Lucien Carr, Caleb Carr is a renowned military historian and author, with books such as the international bestseller The Alienist, one of his Kreizler series novels, to his credit. He also contributes to MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History.

 40 Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk
4
Famous As: Political scientist, Philosopher, Literary critic, Historian, Novelist, Writer, Science fiction writer, Journalist
Birthdate: October 19, 1918
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Plymouth
Died: April 29, 1994

Russell Kirk was an American historian, moralist, political theorist, literary and social critic. He is best remembered for his strong influence on 20th-century conservatism in the United States. He is credited with writing The Conservative Mind, which shaped America's postwar conservative movement. Russell Kirk was widely regarded as the leading advocate of traditionalist conservatism.

 41 Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti
4
Famous As: Political scientist, Historian
Birthdate: September 30, 1933
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Political scientist, historian, and critic Michael Parenti is best known for being a staunch critic of capitalism and America’s foreign policy. The Yale alumnus taught political and social science at various institutes, before becoming a full-time writer and speaker. He is the father of journalist Christian Parenti.

 42 Robert Kagan

Robert Kagan
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: September 26, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Athens, Greece

Robert Kagan is an American scholar who believes in neoconservatism. A prominent critic of U.S. foreign policy, Kagan is credited with co-founding a neoconservative think tank called the Project for the New American Century. He also contributes to publications like The Washington Post for which he writes a monthly column and has been a contributing editor at The New Republic.

 43 Immanuel Wallerstein

Immanuel Wallerstein
4
Famous As: Economist, Geopolitician, Economic historian, Historian, Political scientist, Writer, Sociologist, University teacher
Birthdate: September 28, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City

Sociologist, author, and economic historian Immanuel Wallerstein is best remembered for his iconic work The Modern World System, which was the first volume of his world-system theory. He was a Yale researcher and had first been driven to understand world history when he read up about the anticolonial movement in India.

 44 David Halberstam

David Halberstam
6
Famous As: Historian, Writer, Journalist
Birthdate: April 10, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City
Died: April 23, 2007

Journalist and historian David Halberstam is known for his works in areas as diverse as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and American sports and culture. The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter had worked with The New York Times. He later died in a car crash.

 45 Allan Lichtman

Allan Lichtman
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 4, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brownsville, New York, United States

Best known for creating a key system that can be used for predicting the outcome of the US presidential elections, Allan Jay Lichtman is a celebrated historian and an influential geopolitical expert.  Also a renowned author known for works like The Keys to the White House, he has also been an expert witness in numerous civil and voting rights cases

 46 Lothrop Stoddard

Lothrop Stoddard
4
Famous As: Anthropologist, Political scientist, Historian, Author, Journalist, Opinion journalist
Birthdate: June 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brookline
Died: May 1, 1950

Twentieth-century American political scientist and historian Lothrop Stoddard was a Ku Klux Klan and believed in eugenics, a theory that promoted the superiority certain races based on genetics. His book The Revolt Against Civilization introduced neo-Nazi concepts. He also covered World War II as a journalist.

 47 Vincent Barrett Price

Vincent Barrett Price
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 An American educator, editor, poet, environmental and human rights columnist, Vincent Barrett Price is known to don many robes. A prolific writer, he has so far nineteen books to his credit and his works have been published in more than seventy national and international publications. Formerly associated with many established journals, he is also the cofounder of New Mexico Mercury.  

 48 John Henrik Clarke

John Henrik Clarke
3
Famous As: Former Historian, Educator in the creation of Pan-African and Africana studies and professional institutions in academia starting in the late 1960s
Birthdate: January 1, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Union Springs, Alabama, United States
Died: July 16, 1998

John Henrik Clarke was an American professor and historian who helped create Pan-African and Africana studies. Clarke is credited with founding the African Heritage Studies Association, a subsidiary of the African Studies Association. He was also a founding member of many other organizations created to support work in black culture.

 49 Ananda Coomaraswamy

Ananda Coomaraswamy
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 22, 1877
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Died: September 9, 1947

Ananda Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese Tamil philosopher of Indian art, metaphysician, and pioneering historian. He is credited for being one of the earliest interpreters of Indian culture to the West. He is also held responsible for introducing ancient Indian art to the West. Apart from bridging the gap between East and West, Coomaraswamy's works also aimed at rehabilitating original Buddhism.

 50 Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham
4
Famous As: Journalist, Historian, Biographer
Birthdate: May 20, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chattanooga

Jon Meacham is an American historian, writer, reviewer, and presidential biographer. Over the years Meacham has contributed to popular publications like The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek. In 2009, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his work American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. He has also received honorary doctorates from many universities including the University of Tennessee.