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Jill Lepore

Harvard University Affiliated Professor

David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History, Harvard University


Jill Lepore
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Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History and Professor of Law at Harvard University. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her many books include, These Truths: A History of the United States (2018). Her latest book is The Deadline. She directs Amend, public archive of proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution. She is currently writing a history of American constitutionalism.

Much of Lepore’s scholarship explores absences and asymmetries in the historical record, with a particular emphasis on the histories and technologies of evidence. A prize-winning professor, she teaches classes in evidence, historical methods, the humanities, and American political history. (On teaching the writing of history, see How to Write a Paper for This Class.) Her audio storytelling includes The Last Archive, Elon Musk: The Evening Rocket; the Search for Big Brown and the audiobook, Who Killed Truth? In 2024, she was the lead author of an amicus brief of American historians in the Trump disqualification case before the Supreme Court.

Lepore has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2005, writing about American history, law, literature, and politics. A complete list of Lepore’s New Yorker essays is here. Scholarly bibliographies to her New Yorker essays can be found here. Her essays and reviews have also appeared in the New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, the Journal of American History, Foreign Affairs, the Yale Law Journal, American Scholar, and the American Quarterly; have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Latvian, Swedish, French, Chinese, and Japanese; and have been widely anthologized, including in collections of the best legal writing and the best technology writing. Three of her books derive from her New Yorker essays: The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death (Knopf, 2012), a finalist for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction; The Story of America: Essays on Origins (Princeton, 2012), shortlisted for the PEN Literary Award for the Art of the Essay; and The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle for American History (Princeton, 2010), a Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her 2019 book This America: The Case for the Nation, is based on an essay written for Foreign Affairs.

Her 2020 book, IF THEN: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future, was longlisted for the National Book Award. The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Knopf, 2014) was a national bestseller and winner of the 2015 American History Book Prize. Lepore’s earlier work includes a trilogy of books that together constitute a political history of early America: The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (Knopf, 1998), winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, and the Berkshire Prize; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Knopf, 2005), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best nonfiction book on race and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf, 2013), Time magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

Lepore received a B.A. in English from Tufts University in 1987, an M.A. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 1990, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1995. She joined the Harvard History Department in 2003 and was Chair of the History and Literature Program in 2005-10, 2012, and 2014. In 2012, she was named Harvard College Professor, in recognition of distinction in undergraduate teaching.