Join President Lincoln’s Cottage for our virtual, members-only event, “Scholar Sessions.” In this private event, hosted via Zoom, President Lincoln’s Cottage members will learn directly from a scholar and then have an opportunity for a one-on-one Q&A. Click here to become a member, then register here.
In this Scholar Session, join moderator Harold Holzer, Edna Greene Medford, and John Avlon, three of the prominent historians featured on-screen in CNN’s six-part docuseries Lincoln: Divided We Stand as they discuss the series, which recently concluded. Holzer will moderate the conversation with participant Q&A at the end.
Full Scholar Bios:
Harold Holzer is the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York, a post he assumed in 2015 after 23 years as senior vice president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
For six years (2010-16), Holzer also served as chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation; for the previous 10 he was co-chair of the U. S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, appointed by President Clinton. In 2008, Holzer was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. In 2013, he wrote the Lincoln essay in the official program for the re-inauguration of President Obama.
Holzer is the author, co-author, or editor of 54 books on Lincoln and the Civil War. His Lincoln and the Power of the Press won the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize from the Columbia University School of Journalism, and the Goldsmith Prize from the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. His latest books are Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French (2019), and The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media, From the Founding Fathers to Fake News. Most recently he appeared on-screen and served as a historical advisor to CNN’s docuseries, Lincoln: Divided We Stand.
Holzer’s 2012 Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America was the official young-adult companion book for the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln, for which Holzer served as script consultant. He also served for three years as the Roger Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. He was awarded the NY State Archives & History Award in 2017, served that spring as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Yeshiva University, and in 2020 taught at Cardozo Law School in New York.
Holzer (www.haroldholzer.com) has written more than 600 articles in scholarly journals and popular magazines, published 15 monographs, and contributed chapters or prefaces to more than 50 additional volumes. Among his many other awards are a second-place Lincoln Prize in 2005 for Lincoln at Cooper Union and book prizes from the Freedom Foundation, the Manuscript Society of America, the Civil War Round Table of New York, and the Illinois State Historical Society, along with lifetime achievement awards from the Lincoln Groups of New York, Washington, Peekskill, Kansas City, and Detroit; as well as honorary degrees from nine colleges and universities. Holzer is a member of many history boards and advisory committees and chairman and co-founder of The Lincoln Forum. He also serves as a Trustee of The Metropolitan Museum.
Holzer lectures throughout the nation. One of his programs, “Lincoln Seen and Heard,” with actor Sam Waterston, was telecast from the White House, the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, the Clinton Presidential Library, the Library of Congress, and Ford’s Theatre. Holzer appears often on C-SPAN and the History Channel, serves as on-air commentator on CBS, PBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC, and has created and performed on-stage Lincoln programs with Stephen Lang, Richard Dreyfuss, Norm Lewis, F. Murray Abraham, Alec Baldwin, Annette Benning, Kathleen Chalfant, Holly Hunter, Neeson, Chris Noth, Fritz Weaver, Rufus Collins, and Dianne Wiest.
Before joining the Met in 1992, Holzer spent his early career as a journalist, a campaign and Congressional press secretary for Rep. Bella S. Abzug, an aide to New York Governor Mario Cuomo (with whom he co-authored two Lincoln books), and as spokesman for New York’s PBS station, WNET. He and his wife Edith live in Rye, New York, and have two daughters and two grandsons.
Edna Greene Medford is a Professor in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is also a former chair of the Department of History. She also served for several years as director of the Department of History’s graduate and undergraduate programs. Specializing in nineteenth-century African-American history, she teaches courses in the Jacksonian Era, Civil War and Reconstruction, and African-American History to 1877. Dr. Medford was educated at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia, the University of Illinois (Urbana), and the University of Maryland (College Park), where she received her Ph.D. in United States history.
Dr. Medford has served as the Director for History of New York’s African Burial Ground Project and edited the volume Historical Perspectives of the African Burial Ground: New York Blacks and the Diaspora (volume 3 of the series, The New York African Burial Ground: Unearthing the African Presence in Colonial New York). She has published numerous articles and book chapters on African Americans, especially during the era of the Civil War.
Her books include Lincoln and Emancipation (2015) as well as co-authored books The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views. She compiled and wrote the introductions to the edited two-volume work The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War – Volume I, and The Price of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War – Volume II.
Dr. Medford has served as a faculty mentor to the Ronald McNair Scholars since 1998, and she is the faculty sponsor for the campus chapter of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees of National History Day, Inc., a member of the Executive Committee of the Lincoln Forum, and chairperson of the Scholars Advisory Council at President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Armed Services Retirement Home in Washington, DC. She serves on the board of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, the Ulysses S. Grant Association, the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College (Galesburg, Illinois), and the Abraham Lincoln Institute.
Dr. Medford is the 2009 special bicentennial recipient of the Order of Lincoln, an award given by the state of Illinois, for her scholarship on the president. She lectures widely to scholarly and community-based groups and has presented to national and international audiences on topics that range from Alexis de Tocqueville’s influence on American politics to community-building among American free blacks in Civil War-era Canada, to African American responses to Abraham Lincoln’s wartime policies. Several of her lectures are featured on C-SPAN.
Currently, Dr. Medford is a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lectureship Program. Most recently she appeared on-screen and served as historical advisor to CNN’s docuseries Lincoln: Divided We Stand.
John Avlon is an author, columnist and commentator. He is a senior political analyst and fill-in anchor at CNN, appearing on New Day every morning. From 2013 to 2018, he was the editor-in-chief and managing director of The Daily Beast, during which time the site’s traffic more than doubled to over one million readers a day while winning 17 journalism awards. He is the author of the books Independent Nation, Wingnuts, and Washington’s Farewell as well as co-editor of the acclaimed Deadline Artists journalism anthologies. Avlon served as chief speechwriter to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists award for best online column in 2012.
After the attacks of September 11th, 2001, he and his team were responsible for writing the eulogies for all firefighters and police officers murdered in the destruction of the World Trade Center. Avlon’s essay on the attacks, “The Resilient City” concluded the anthology Empire City: New York through the Centuries and won acclaim as “the single best essay written in the wake of 9/11.”
His first book, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics was described by Barron’s as “a rewarding portrait of a political trend the established parties have tried to ignore” and hailed by TheModerateVoice.com as “the best political book ever on American centrist voters.”
Wingnuts: How The Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America was praised by President Bill Clinton, who said “Wingnuts offers a clear and comprehensive review of the forces on the outer edges of the political spectrum that shape and distort our political debate. Shedding more heat than light they drive frustrated alienated citizens away from the reasoned discourse that can produce real solutions to our problems.”
The two Deadline Artists anthologies, which Avlon co-edited with Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis won acclaim from the Washington Post as “one of the greatest collections of newspaper articles ever compiled” while the American Journalism Review described it as “the most addictive journalism book ever.”
Avlon has appeared on The Daily Show, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher, PBS, and C-Span. He has spoken at the Kennedy School of Government, the Citadel, the State Department’s visiting journalist program, and civic organizations around the nation.
He serves on the board of Citizens Union of New York and The Bronx Academy of Letters as well as the advisory board of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. He was appointed to the New York City Voter Assistance Advisory Committee in 2011. Avlon is also a co-founder of No Labels – a group of Democrats, Republicans and Independents dedicated to the politics of problem-solving and making government work again.
In a profile, author Stephen Marshall wrote “Avlon talks about politics the way ESPN anchors wrap up sports highlights.” Columnist Kathleen Parker wrote, “Americans who are fed up with the Ann Coulter/Michael Moore school of debate and are looking for someone to articulate a commonsense, middle path, may have found their voice in John Avlon.”
He is married to Margaret Hoover, the author of American Individualism and host of PBS’s Firing Line. The New York Times says, “Their telegenic union may be a lesson in overcoming the orthodoxies that divide us.” They live in New York City with their son, Jack and daughter, Toula Lou.