Past Events

Videos of our past events are available to view on the pages listed below, Vimeo, and YouTube.

Mapping the Gay Guides: Using Digital History to Explore LGBTQ Travel Guides, 1965-1980

November 23, 2020

Mapping the Gay Guides is a digital history project that is freely available online and uses mapping technology to transform these guidebooks into an interactive experience where users can explore historical queer geography. The site includes over 34,000 locations from all 50 states between 1965 and 1980. Join us as project directors Amanda Regan and Eric Gonzaba discuss Mapping the Gay Guides and what we can learn from using technology to study historical LGBTQ spaces…

Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team

Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team | Miller CenterNovember 12, 2020

Join the Miller Center and Southern Methodist University for a special screening of the director’s cut of the VPM/Miller Center documentary “Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team.” A discussion will immediately follow the screening featuring two experts from the film: Jeffrey A. Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History, and Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the Miller Center. The discussion will be moderated by Miller Center Director and CEO William Antholis…

The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution - Kindle edition by Chervinsky, Lindsay M.. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ 27, 2020

The US Constitution never established a presidential cabinet―the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries―Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph―for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the US Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own…

Critical American Elections

Seal of the President of the United States.svgOctober 23, 2020

Critical Elections in American History. Is 2020 One?

Politicians claim every election is ‘the most important of our lifetime,’ but 2020 feels like it just might be. Yet Americans have faced big choices before. Professor Jeffrey A. Engel will explore the politics and drama of critical votes that seemed to their era unusually important…

ELECTION SPECIAL: Historians Discuss

Seal of the President of the United States.svgOctober 19, 2020

We face the most critical election of our lifetimes.  That is often said.  This year it seems as true as ever.  Political historians Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer, both of Princeton University, join CPH’s Jeffrey Engel for a roundtable discussion of how 2020 looks to historians…

Just Like Us: The American Struggle to Understand Foreigners

October 13, 2020

Americans’ ideas of their differences from others have shaped the modern world—and how Americans have viewed foreigners is deeply revealing of their assumptions about themselves.

Just Like Us is a pathbreaking exploration of what foreignness has meant across American history. Thomas Borstelmann traces American ambivalence about non-Americans, identifying a paradoxical perception of foreigners as suspiciously different yet fundamentally sharing American values beneath the layers of culture…

Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884

Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion | Mark Wahlgren Summers | University of North Carolina PressOctober 7, 2020

The presidential election of 1884, in which Grover Cleveland ended the Democrats’ twenty-four-year presidential drought by defeating Republican challenger James G. Blaine, was one of the gaudiest in American history, remembered today less for its political significance than for the mudslinging and slander that characterized the campaign. But a closer look at the infamous election reveals far more complexity than previous stereotypes allowed, argues Mark Summers. Behind all the mud and malarkey, he says, lay a world of issues and consequences…

The Man Who Ran Washington: James A. Baker III

October 5, 2020

From two of America’s most revered political journalists comes the definitive biography of legendary White House chief of staff and secretary of state James A. Baker III: the man who ran Washington when Washington ran the world.

For a quarter-century, from the end of Watergate to the aftermath of the Cold War, no Republican won the presidency without his help or ran the White House without his advice…

JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956

September 23, 2020

A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian takes us as close as we have ever been to the real John F. Kennedy in this revelatory biography of the iconic, yet still elusive, thirty-fifth president.

By the time of his assassination in 1963, John F. Kennedy stood at the helm of the greatest power the world had ever seen, a booming American nation that he had steered through some of the most perilous diplomatic standoffs of the Cold War…

Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party

September 16, 2020

The story of how Newt Gingrich and his allies tainted American politics, launching an enduring era of brutal partisan warfare.

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, President Obama observed that Trump “is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party.” In Burning Down the House, historian Julian Zelizer pinpoints the moment when our country was set on a path toward an era of bitterly partisan and ruthless politics, an era that was ignited by Newt Gingrich and his allies…

The People’s Revolt: Texas Populists and the Roots of American Liberalism

September 2, 2020

In the years after the Civil War, the banks, railroads, and industrial corporations of Gilded-Age America, abetted by a corrupt political system, concentrated vast wealth in the hands of the few and made poverty the fate of many. In response, a group of hard-pressed farmers and laborers from Texas organized a movement for economic justice called the Texas People’s Party—the original Populists…

1918 Flu Epidemic: The Real Story & What You Need to Know

August 27, 2020

Amidst troubling times, it is always helpful to look to history for precedent, context, and even guidance. As our society navigates the COVID pandemic, perhaps the most important historical moment for us to look back to is the 1918-19 pandemic…

THIRD RAIL: Is the Electoral College Relevant or a Relic?

Image result for electoral college map 2016August 14, 2020

Jesse Wegman believes the Electoral College is “antiquated and anti-democratic,” while Tara Ross calls it “indispensable.” On March 30, presidential historian Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at SMU, will moderate a discussion with Ross and Wegman about this 216-year-old institution created by the Twelfth Amendment…

The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace

Image result for woolner the last 100 days"April 22, 2020

The first 100 days of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency are justly famous, viewed as a period of political action without equal in American history. Yet as historian David B. Woolner reveals, the end of FDR’s presidency might very well surpass it in drama and consequence…

The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory

April 6, 2020

When the Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Washington establishment felt it had prevailed in a world-historical struggle. Our side had won, a verdict that was both decisive and irreversible. For the world’s “indispensable nation,” its “sole superpower,” the future looked very bright…

Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974

Image result for fault lines kruse zelizer"March 26, 2020

How did the United States become so divided? Fault Lines offers a richly told, wide-angle history view toward an answer.

If you were asked when America became polarized, your answer would likely depend on your age: you might say during Barack Obama’s presidency, or with the post-9/11 war on terror, or the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, or the “Reagan Revolution” and the the rise of the New Right…

THIRD RAIL: Two States 101

February 25, 2020

Two States 101: Examining the Past, Present and Future of a Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict aims to help the audience better understand the complexities around a viable two-state outcome, the impact of potential annexation of all or parts of the West Bank, the current situation in Gaza, and what will happen…

Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America

February 10, 2020

Anointed with Oil places religion and oil at the center of American history. As prize-winning historian Darren Dochuk reveals, from the earliest discovery of oil in America during the Civil War, citizens saw oil as the nation’s special blessing and its peculiar burden, the source of its prophetic mission in the world…

Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk

January 22, 2020

While the Woman’s Rights convention was taking place at Seneca Falls in 1848, First Lady Sarah Childress Polk was wielding influence unprecedented for a woman in Washington, D.C. Yet, while history remembers the women of the convention, it has all but forgotten Sarah Polk…

Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order

December 10, 2019

Born from necessity, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has always seemed on the verge of collapse. At this moment of incipient strategic crisis, Timothy A. Sayle offers a sweeping history of the most critical alliance in the post-World War II era…

Chinese Exclusion and the Making of the Alien in America

December 5, 2019

Beth Lew-Williams is an associate professor of history and Philip and Beulah Rollins Bicentennial Preceptor at Princeton University. She is a historian of race and migration in the United States, specializing in Asian American history…

Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change

November 20, 2019

By 1979, we knew all that we know now about the science of climate change – what was happening, why it was happening, and how to stop it. Over the next ten years, we had the very real opportunity to stop it. Obviously, we failed…

THIRD RAIL SERIES: Does the Middle East Still Matter?

November 6, 2019

Oil tanker attacks. Invasions and civil wars. Daily headlines from the Middle East paint a picture of instability, while Middle East oil is being quickly replaced by American shale. The President has made it clear he wants out…but is it that simple?

Doing History Amidst History: An Army Historian’s Work to Document the War on Terror

October 30, 2019

A trained historian and career officer, in 2009-10, Lt. Col and Dr. Brian DeToy served as the Command Historian for the main coalition warfighting element in Iraq, overseeing the collection, preservation and dissemination of historical documents and senior command interviews to “tell” the story of America’s military in Operation Iraqi Freedom…

The Last Card in the Deck: Inside George W. Bush’s Decision to Surge in Iraq

October 22, 2019

This is the real story of how George W. Bush came to double-down on Iraq in the highest stakes gamble of his entire presidency. Drawing on extensive interviews with nearly thirty senior officials, including President Bush himself…

Alien Chinese Railroad Workers and American National History

October 3, 2019

Gordon H. Chang is a Professor of History and Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. He has written extensively on the histories of America-China relations, U.S. diplomacy, and Asian-American History…

Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War

September 26, 2019

What makes a good missionary makes a good spy. Or so thought “Wild” Bill Donovan when he launched a secret new program under the Office of Strategic Services. His recruits, in turn, believed an American victory would help them protect their foreign ministries and expand the kingdom of God…

The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty

September 11, 2019

Barbara Pierce Bush was one of the country’s most popular and powerful figures, yet her full story has never been told. The Matriarch tells the riveting tale of a woman who helped define two American presidencies and an entire political era….

Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics

April 10, 2019

Gay marriage, transgender rights, birth control–sex is at the heart of many of the most divisive political issues of our age. The origins of these conflicts, historian R. Marie Griffith argues, lie in sharp disagreements that emerged among American Christians a century ago…

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States

March 27, 2019

We are familiar with maps that outline all fifty states. And we are also familiar with the idea that the United States is an “empire,” exercising power around the world. But what about the actual territories…

LBJ’s 1968: Power, Politics, and the Presidency in America’s Year of Upheaval

March 21, 2019

1968 was an unprecedented year in terms of upheaval on numerous scales: political, military, economic, social, cultural. In the United States, perhaps no one was more undone by the events of 1968 than President Lyndon Baines Johnson…

Impeachment: An American History

February 20, 2019

Four experts on the American presidency examine the three times impeachment has been invoked—against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton—and explain what it means today…

Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

February 18, 2019

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked everything to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom…

The Improbable Wendell Willkie: The Businessman Who Saved the Republican Party and His Country, and Conceived a New World Order

January 9, 2019

In the wake of one of the most tumultuous Republican conventions ever, the party of Lincoln nominated in 1940 a prominent businessman and former Democrat who could have saved America’s sclerotic political system. Although Wendell Lewis Willkie would lose to FDR…

Power Without Victory: Woodrow Wilson and the American Internationalist Experiment

November 13, 2018

For decades, Woodrow Wilson has been remembered as either a paternalistic liberal or reactionary conservative at home and as a naïve idealist or cynical imperialist abroad. Historians’ harsh judgments of Wilson are understandable. He won two elections by promising a deliberative democratic process that would ensure justice and political empowerment for all…

Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

November 2, 2018

In The Field of Blood, Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions were often punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests…

Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 11, 2018

“Believe me” may be the most commonly used phrase in Donald Trump’s lexicon. Whether about building a wall or protecting a Christian heritage, the refrain has been constant. And to the surprise of many, a good 80 percent of white evangelicals have believed Trump—at least enough to help propel him into the White House…

The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World of the 1950s

September 20, 2018

An original and penetrating assessment of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, showing Ike’s enormous influence on modern America, the Cold War, and on the presidency itself. In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents…

God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State

September 5, 2018

God Save Texas is a journey through the most controversial state in America. It is a red state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn’t elected a Democrat to a statewide office in more than twenty years; but it is also a state in which minorities already form a majority (including the largest number of Muslims)…