Holzer, Harold 1949–
Holzer, Harold 1949–
PERSONAL: Born February 5, 1949, in New York, NY; son of Charles (a construction contractor) and Rose (a homemaker) Holzer; married Edith Spiegel (a writer/publicist), February 27, 1971; children: Remy, Meg. Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1969. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish.
CAREER: Writer, historian, lecturer, and exhibit organizer. Manhattan Tribune, New York, NY, editor, 1969–73; New York City Department of Civic Affairs, New York, NY, director of special projects, 1973–75; press secretary to Representative Bella S. Abzug, 1975–77; speechwriter for New York City Mayor Abraham D. Beame, 1977; press secretary to New York City mayoral candidates Bella S. Abzug and Mario M. Cuomo, 1977; free-lance public relations consultant, 1977–78; WNET-TV, New York, NY, publicity manager, 1978–79, director of promotion, 1979, director of creative services and public information, 1980–84; Jacob Javits Convention Center of New York, New York, NY, vice-president for public affairs, 1984–85; New York State Urban Development Corp., New York, NY, vice-president for public affairs and special counselor to director of state economic development, 1985–92; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, chief communications officer, 1992–96, vice president, 1996–2005, senior vice president for external affairs, 2005–. Consulting public relations advisor to National Women's Conference, 1976; commissioner of New York State Board for Historic Preservation, 1984–; director of New York State Lincoln on Democracy Project, 1989–; member of New York State Council for the Humanities, 1991–; United States Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, cochairman, 2001. Pace University, adjunct professor of history, 1992. Organizer and curator of museum exhibitions, including Lincoln From Life, 1999. Frequent guest on television programs, including the Today Show, Charlie Rose Show, News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and CBS Sunday Morning, and on networks such as the History Channel, C-SPAN, CNBC, PBS, NBC, CBS, and A&E.
MEMBER: Abraham Lincoln Association (board of directors, 1989–; newsletter editor, 1991–), Abraham Lincoln Group of New York (cofounder and previous vice-president; president, 1991–), Illinois State Historical Society, Lincoln Group of Boston (honorary member), Lincoln Group of Illinois, Lincoln Group of Florida (honorary member), Civil War Round Table of New York (Barondess Award Committee member, 1991–).
AWARDS, HONORS: New York City Bicentennial Medallion, Department of Civic Affairs, 1975, for articles on Lincoln and Lincolniana; Barondess/Lincoln Award, Civil War Round Table of New York, 1980, for studies in Lincoln iconography; Pulitzer Prize nominations, 1984, for The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print, 1993, and 2005; Lincoln Diploma of Honor, Lincoln Memorial University, 1988; Lincoln Group of New York Award of Achievement, 1988, 1993, and 2004; Freedom Foundation George Washington Medallion, 1988, for an article on the iconography of the United States Constitution; International Reading Association's Paul A. Witty Writer of Distinction Award, 1989; Abraham Lincoln Association Award of Achievement, and Barondess/Lincoln Award, both 1990, both for Lincoln on Democracy; Award of Superior Achievement, Illinois State Historical Society, 1993; Manuscript Society of America award, 1996, for use of original manuscripts in Dear Mr. Lincoln; Newman book Award, American Historical Print Collectors Society, 2000, for The Union Image; Children's Literature Choice List, 2000, and Bank Street "Best Children's Books of the Year" designation, both for Abraham Lincoln, the Writer, Nevins-Freeman Award, Civil War Round Table of Chicago, 2002; "Heroes of History" lecturer, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2004; Lincoln Prize, 2005, for Lincoln at Cooper Union; Award of Achievement, Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, 2006. Recipient of honorary degrees from Lincoln College, Illinois College, and University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
(With Gabor S. Boritt and Mark E. Neely, Jr.) The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print, Scribner (New York, NY), 1984, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2001.
(With Gabor S. Boritt and Mark E. Neely, Jr.) Changing "The Lincoln Image" (monograph), Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum (Fort Wayne, IN), 1985.
(Editor) Books at Brown: Lincoln and Lincolniana, John Hay Library, Brown University (Providence, RI), 1985.
(With Gabor S. Boritt and Mark E. Neely, Jr.) The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1987.
(With Mark E. Neely, Jr.) The Lincoln Family Album, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 2006.
(Editor and author of introduction, with Mario M. Cuomo) Lincoln on Democracy, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990, revised edition, with new preface by Mario M. Cuomo and Harold Holzer, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Mark E. Neely, Jr.) Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Civil War in Art, Orion Books (New York, NY), 1993.
(Editor and author of introduction) The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.
Washington and Lincoln Portrayed: National Icons in Popular Prints, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1993.
(Compiler and editor) Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1993.
(Editor) The Civil War Era, two volumes, Cobblestone (Peterborough, NH), 1996.
Witness to War: The Civil War, 1861–1865, Berkley (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) The Lincoln Mailbag: America Writes to the President, 1861–1865, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1998.
(Editor and author of introduction, with Hans L. Trefousse) The Union Preserved: A Guide to Civil War Records in the New York State Archives, compiled by Daniel Lorello, foreword by James M. McPherson, Fordham University Press and New York State Archives Partnership Trust (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor, with John Y. Simon and William D. Pederson) The Lincoln Forum: Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, and the Civil War, Savas Publishing Company (Mason City, IA), 1999.
(Editor) Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1999.
(With Mark E. Neely, Jr.) The Union Image: Popular Prints of the Civil War North, University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
(Compiler and editor) Abraham Lincoln, the Writer: A Treasury of His Greatest Speeches and Letters (for young people), Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2000.
Lincoln Seen and Heard, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2000.
(Editor and author of introduction) Prang's Civil War Pictures: The Complete Battle Chromos of Luis Prang with the Full "Descriptive Texts," Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor and author of introduction) State of the Union: New York and the Civil War, introduction by Jeff Shaara, Fordham University Press and New York State Archives Partnership Trust (New York, NY), 2002.
(Editor, with John Y. Simon) The Lincoln Forum: Rediscovering Abraham Lincoln, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
The President Is Shot!: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2004.
Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President, Simon & Schuster, 2004.
(Historical consultant) Mario M. Cuomo, Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
(Editor, with David Herbert Donald) Lincoln in the Times: The Life of Abraham Lincoln as Originally Reported in the New York Times, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor, with Tim Mulligan) The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor and author of introduction) Abraham Lincoln Portrayed in the Collections of the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana Historical Society Press (Indianapolis, IN), 2006.
(Editor) Lincoln's White House Secretary: The Adventurous Life of William O. Stoddard, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 2007.
Also author of pamphlets, including Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, U.S. Historical Society, 1984; "True Likenesses," "Iron Masks," and "The Animal Himself," Lincoln Memorial Shrine, 1988; and Lincoln on Democracy, Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin, 1992.
Contributor to books, including Portrait Painting in America: The Nineteenth Century, edited by Ellen Miles, Main Street/Universe Books, 1977; Prints and Photographs: Understanding, Appreciating, Collecting, edited by Mary Jean Madigan and Susan Colgan, Billboard Publications, 1983; and The Historian's Lincoln, University of Illinois Press, 1989.
Author of monthly column "The Older the Better," Antiquer, 1975–76; author of weekly column "A Picture's Worth," Antique Trader, 1977–; author of quarterly column "Print of the Edition," Lincoln Herald, 1978.
Contributor of articles to numerous periodicals, including New York, New York Times, American Art and Antiques, Lincoln Herald, Rolling Stone, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Life, Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), American History Illustrated, Blue & Gray, North & South, Civil War Times, and American Heritage.
American Heritage, contributing editor.
Democratic Leader (journal of the New York State Democratic Committee), editor, 1973–74, and Wiley Educator, 1975; Lincoln Herald, contributing editor and member of editorial advisory board, 1978–.
SIDELIGHTS: Harold Holzer's 1984 work The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print, written with Gabor S. Boritt and Mark E. Neely, Jr., as a companion to their exhibit of Lincoln engravings and lithographs, examines the influence of printed images on Abraham Lincoln's presidential career. According to Sonia W. Thomas of the Christian Science Monitor, more "than 100 black and white photos and engravings from the exhibit, some reprinted for the first time, are to be found in the book." Critics reacted favorably to The Lincoln Image, praising both the illustrations and the text.
Marcus Cunliffe, writing in the Washington Post Book World, was especially impressed by the book's "analysis at various levels of the business and art of image-making." He additionally remarked that the prime value of The Lincoln Image may lie "in the excellent documentation of a compelling mystery: what did Abraham Lincoln really look like in his years of fame? Which of the sundry different portrayals is the best?" Holzer and coauthors Boritt and Neely have written an "interesting and meticulously researched book," concluded Thomas, and anyone "who has puzzled over the oddities and inaccuracies of 19th-century prints can better understand the work of that period through this volume."
Continuing with the Lincoln theme, Holzer teamed up with Mario M. Cuomo, the Governor of New York, to produce Lincoln on Democracy, a "volume of 140 speeches, letters and fragments … [that] succeeds in highlighting most of the 16th President's ideas," described Herbert Mitgang in the New York Times. The book was written in response to demands for a Polish translation of Lincoln's work by a group of visiting educators. When he discovered that Lincoln's words had been unavailable in Poland for a number of years, Cuomo promised to rectify the situation, and work on Lincoln on Democracy was started soon after, originally written in English and then translated into Polish. The book draws together Lincoln's ideas and writings about democracy, and was favorably received by critics. Mitgang called it "a valuable addition to the long shelf of Lincolniana."
Several of Holzer's works strive to paint a portrait of Lincoln based on the reactions and interactions the president had with those around him. In The Lincoln Mailbag: America Writes to the President, 1861–1865, Holzer looks at the volume of letters and correspondence that Americans sent to the president during the years of the Civil War. Rather than focusing on letters that Lincoln was likely to have read, this collection showcases the type of day-to-day correspondence that was processed and often discarded by Lincoln's secretaries and assistants. They include requests for money and favors, death threats, invitations to speak, proposals for new weapons, and material from obscure relatives and complete unknowns seeking to somehow influence the president. The letters "make for absolutely fascinating reading," remarked Stephen G. Weisner in Library Journal. Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor concluded that "this browsable collection of epistles and replies enriches the body of Lincolniana."
Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies contains a collection of reminiscences, letters, diaries, and other recollections from associates of Lincoln's. With these materials, Holzer seeks to emphasize the personal side of Lincoln, often neglected in favor of his stature as president or in terms of his rags-to-riches success story. Holzer derives his material from a variety of sources, including personal and political friends, family members, fellow lawyers, military personnel, journalists, foreign observers, African Americans, authors, and others. Among those who provide inside glimpses of Lincoln the man are a woman who rejected his offer of courtship; famed generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman; and Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker and a former slave. The Lincoln that Holzer illuminates "emerges as a man of humor, political savvy, humility, and sometimes bad temper and ill grace," noted Randall M. Miller in Library Journal. Rebecca L. Wells, writing in School Library Journal, concluded: "Overall, this collection is a rewarding read as it introduces Lincoln at various stages of his life."
In Lincoln Seen and Heard, Holzer "succeeds in uniting Lincoln studies and the rhetoric of the image through his wide-ranging account of the role of portraits, prints, caricatures, and engravings in antebellum politics, and his exploration of the role of the 'graphic arts' in shaping 'Lincoln's public image,' observed Michael Pfau in Argumentation and Advocacy. In addition, Holzer reprints a number of Lincoln's public addresses and provides a close analysis of Lincoln's presidential speeches. Holzer suggests that contemporary prints, newspaper illustrations, and related illustrations had a profound effect on the formation of Lincoln's public image and to shaping public opinion about the presidency, the Civil War, slavery, and other topics of the day. "Holzer provides a fascinating analysis of the art of political image making in its infancy while tracing the roots of the Lincoln image as they spread through the partisan, sectional, and ideological soil of the Civil War," commented Kenenth J. Winkle in Presidential Studies Quarterly.
Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President contains Holzer's analysis of Lincoln's February, 1860 speech at Cooper Union in New York. In a speech that lasted for more than an hour, delivered to a number of Republican Party leaders, Lincoln made the speech that secured the presidency, Holzer asserts. Lincoln's speech at Cooper Union "masterfully explained" his "position against the spread of slavery," noted Ron Faucheux in Campaigns & Elections. Holzer recounts in detail the events leading up to and after the speech, including the initial speaking offer, the large honorarium Lincoln received (200 dollars, a grand sum at the time), the physical environment in which the speech was delivered, Lincoln's appearance and its effect on his audience, and his introduction by William Cullen Bryant. "Holzer's research is prodigious," commented a Kirkus Reviews, contributor, who concluded that the book is "sometimes more laudatory than analytical—but the enthusiasm is infectious." Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor called the book "an excellent contribution to Lincolnalia."
Lincoln in the Times: The Life of Abraham Lincoln as Originally Reported in the New York Times, edited by Holzer and David Herbert Donald, contains newspaper accounts, eyewitness reports, journalist's stories, and other first-hand material on Lincoln as it appeared in the New York Times of the day. The Times was then a local paper, not the country's newspaper of record, and the material contained in the book is therefore slanted toward a local interest. The articles are written in the style of the day, with copious references to Lincoln's appearance, off-the-cuff remarks, and the surroundings in which he operated. Holzer recounts how the Times initially thought Lincoln had no chance to win a presidential nomination. Though the paper was critical of Lincoln and his policies, it also printed the complete text of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address, and mourned the president's passing with dignity and grace. Holzer and Donald include many explanatory annotations to help readers interpret the material and place it in its proper context. Taylor, in another Booklist review, commented that the book "revives a contemporary, what's-next sense to the Civil War that formal histories tend to expunge." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that "Lincoln buffs will enjoy going back in time with this delightfully antiquarian anthology."
Explaining his interest in Lincoln and the Civil War era, and its relevance to today, Holzer once told CA: "I have been active in contemporary politics, specializing in the image-shaping world of media, press relations, and political advertising, in citywide and statewide contests. Using my experience in this field, I have tried to show readers how—for better or for worse—political images were shaped a century ago. In many ways, the incredible changes over the past 125 years are both fabulous and frightening. By understanding and appreciating, however, that nineteenth-century voters seemed always to demand substance of their candidates, we might yet become more demanding of our twentieth-century candidates. And by learning the elements—and limits—of image making then, we can be on guard to prevent the domination of politics by image-making now."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Antioch Review, summer, 2001, review of The Union Image: Popular Prints of the Civil War North, p. 642.
Argumentation and Advocacy, winter, 2002, Michael Pfau, review of Lincoln Seen and Heard, p. 186.
Biography, spring, 2006, Kevin Baker, review of Lincoln in the Times: The Life of Abraham Lincoln as Originally Reported in the New York Times, p. 400.
Booklist, June 1, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Lincoln Mailbag: America Writes to the President, p. 1713; March 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The President Is Shot!: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, p. 1189; April 15, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President, p. 1419; October 15, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Lincoln in the Times, p. 23; May 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Emancipation Proclamation, p. 67.
Campaigns & Elections, May, 2005, Ron Faucheux, review of Lincoln at Cooper Union, p. 46.
Christian Science Monitor, March 13, 1984, Sonia W. Thomas, review of The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print, p. 28.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of The President Is Shot!, p. 37; March 15, 2004, review of Lincoln at Cooper Union, p. 257.
Library Journal, July, 1998, Stephen G. Weisner, review of The Lincoln Mailbag, p. 109; August, 1999, Randall M. Miller, review of Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies, p. 114; April 15, 2000, Joseph C. Hewgley, review of The Union Image, p. 82; April 15, 2004, Theresa McDevitt, review of Lincoln at Cooper Union, p. 100; May 15, 2006, Randall M. Miller, review of The Emancipation Proclamation, p. 112.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2006, Jason Warrant, review of The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia.
New York Times, October 31, 1990, Herbert Mitgang, review of Lincoln on Democracy, p. B2; March 3, 2005, Chris Hedges, "A Lincoln Scholar, Pulled Out of a Hat," review of Lincoln at Cooper Union, p. B2.
People, May 16, 1994, William Henry, III, review of Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President, p. 39.
Presidential Studies, March, 2001, Kenneth J. Winkle, review of Lincoln Seen and Heard, p. 177.
Publishers Weekly, March 8, 2004, review of Lincoln at Cooper Union, p. 60; September 19, 2005, review of Lincoln in the Times, p. 53.
Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of Lincoln in the Times.
School Library Journal, June, 2000, Patricia Ann Owens, review of Abraham Lincoln, the Writer: A Treasury of His Greatest Speeches and Letters, p. 167, and Rebecca L. Wells, review of Lincoln as I Knew Him, p. 176; February, 2004, Andrew Medlar, review of The President Is Shot!, p. 164.
Washington Post Book World, February 12, 1984, Marcus Cunliffe, review of The Lincoln Image, p. 5.
Winterthur Portfolio, spring, 2001, review of The Union Image, p. 70.
Harold Holzer Home Page, http://www.haroldholzer.com (November 1, 2006).
National Endowment for the Humanities Web site, http://www.neh.gov/ (September 9, 2004), "Harold Harold to Deliver Endowment's"Heroes of History" Lecture at Ford's Theatre."