A Life - A Legacy
The gifts of Roger G. Kennedys many friends have created this endowed fund. This fund, designated as the Roger G. Kennedy Fund for Professional Development, is established in memory of Roger G. Kennedy, a Saint Paul, Minnesota native, born in 1926. His nearly 60 year career as an attorney, political activist, author and ardent advocate for American culture, historic and artistic heritage is honored by this fund.
Mr. Kennedy's wide-ranging career was characterized by his fundamental commitment to preservation, celebrating and expanding the understanding and appreciation of the nation's heritage. During his period in Minnesota he was a founder of the Guthrie Theater and the Library of America publishing enterprise, an undertaking designed to preserve the nation's cultural heritage by publishing America's best and most significant writing in durable and authoritative editions.
He served for many years (1979-1992) as director of the Smithsonian's American History Museum where he brought to light many untold stories of American history including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the migration of African-Americans from the South to the North, and the story of highly developed native cultures in pre-Columbian North America. As Director of the National Park Service (1993-1997), during the Clinton administration, he presided over the creation of eight parks featuring sites important to African-Americans and American Indians and is credited with making the national parks part of school curricula throughout the nation.
He excelled as a communicator. Early in his career he was a White House correspondent for NBC, appearing on his own NBC radio series and in the first NBC television documentaries. Additionally he wrote and presented half-hour documentaries for regional Public Broadcasting Systems. And in the 1980's, he wrote and presented "Roger Kennedy's Rediscovering America" and "The Smithsonian Presents Invention" for the Discovery Channel. Kennedy's lecture "The Political History of North America from 25,000 BC to 12,000 AD" can be found on You Tube.
His interest in art, architecture and history is represented in his literary achievements including When Art Worked: The New Deal, Art, and Democracy; Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery and the Louisiana Purchase; Greek Revival America; Historic Homes of Minnesota; Mission: The History and Architecture of the Missions of North America; and his 21st book, Cotton and Conquest: How the Plantation System Acquired Texas, published in 2012. Mr. Kennedy was an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.
The distribution from the Roger G. Kennedy Fund for Professional Development may be used to support a variety of activities related to the professional development of Minnesota Historical Society employees consistent with the Society's charitable purpose.