AHA Member Spotlight: Richard A. Baker, Former US Senate Historian

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

Richard A. Baker was a US Senate historian and is now an independent scholar. He lives in Kensington, Maryland, and has been a member since 1975.

Backer_picAlma maters: BA, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1962; MA, Michigan State University, 1965; MSLS, Columbia University, 1968; PhD, University of Maryland, 1982

Fields of interest: American political history and US congressional history

When did you first develop an interest in history?
As a child in Massachusetts visiting sites associated with the American Revolution.

What projects are you currently working on?
A dual biography of Daniel Webster and John Quincy Adams.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
Yes. Over the past four decades, I have learned a great deal about US congressional history and the operations of the modern-era Senate in historical context. I have also learned a bit about presenting historical narratives in a way that might appeal to a general audience.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
My favorite work of American political history is Daniel Walker Howe’s What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (Oxford, 2009).

What do you value most about the history profession?
After 50 years in the profession, I look back with great fondness on my personal association with dozens of inspiring and warm-hearted academic and public historians.

Why have you continued to be a member of the AHA?
Collegial contact with kindred spirits and access to the work product of its rising generation and its seasoned practitioners.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?
World travel and my local gym.

 

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