The University of Illinois at Springfield has announced that preeminent Lincoln Scholar Michael A. Burlingame has accepted the position of Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies. The appointment will be in UIS’ History Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Burlingame’s first monograph, The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln (University of Illinois Press, 1994) has been described by reviewers as “a revelation,” “a triumph,” “the most convincing portrait of Lincoln’s personality to date.” His second book, An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln (Southern Illinois University Press, 1996), was awarded the prestigious Abraham Lincoln Association Book Prize. His recently released two-volume biography of Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) is already receiving accolades and has been described as the definitive study.
A review written by James L. Swanson in the November 3, 2008 issue of Publishers Weekly, describes the biography as “the most meticulously researched Lincoln biography ever written” and one that “supercedes all other biographies.”
Acclaimed Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said of the book: “Lincoln scholars have waited anxiously for this book for decades. Its triumphant publication proves it was well worth the wait. Few scholars have written with greater insight about the psychology of Lincoln. No one in recent history has uncovered more fresh sources than Michael Burlingame. This profound and masterful portrait will be read and studied for years to come.”
“We are truly grateful to have attracted this remarkable teacher and scholar to UIS,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. “Professor Burlingame has outlined an ambitious research agenda, including a new look at Lincoln and the Civil War as well as several editorial projects. His presence at this university will strengthen our academic prowess and hasten our efforts to become one of the best small public liberal arts universities in the nation.”
Dr. Burlingame taught at a premier liberal arts institution, Connecticut College, for over 30 years, achieving the rank of full professor in the early 1990s. While there, he taught numerous courses on Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War era, and 19th century American history. He retired from the college’s History Department in 2001 as the May Buckley Sadowski Professor of History Emeritus. He took retirement at that time in order to work on his recently completed biography of Lincoln.
He received his Ph.D. in History from Johns Hopkins University in 1971.
Dr. Burlingame talks movingly of the impact upon himself when as an undergraduate student at Princeton University he worked under the mentorship of a distinguished historian at the National Archives for a summer. It set him upon a life-long path. He hopes to do the same for students at UIS through involving them in research projects at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and other Lincoln research venues.
As a psychohistorian, Dr. Burlingame tries to apply the insights of depth psychologists like Freud and Carl Jung to the study of the past. His view that history is “psychology teaching by examples” informs his writings and his teaching, especially his course on “Psychohistory and the American Presidency.”
Dr. Burlingame also has a distinguished record of service. He is on the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, and the Abraham Lincoln Institute in Washington, D.C. He makes frequent presentations to both professional and public audiences, and has been engaged in an ambitious, year-long series of speaking engagements to mark the Lincoln Bicentennial.
Recently, Dr. Burlingame was a keynote speaker and panelist for the February Lincoln Bicentennial celebrations in Springfield, and he was inducted into the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.
The distinguished chair in Lincoln Studies was established in 2000 when Dr. Richard E. Vaden and his family donated $1.25 million for that purpose to honor their longtime friendship with then-UIS Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn and her husband, Robert. Dr. Lynn retired as chancellor on March 30, 2001 after serving nearly 10 years in that capacity.
The distinguished chair was first occupied by Phillip Shaw Paludan, who served from August 2001 until his death in August 2007. He was one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Lincoln and the Civil War and recipient of the prestigious Lincoln Prize for his 1994 book The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln.