Undergraduate sections

Undergraduate Studies

Letter from the Chair

Who Knew? Famous History Majors

*or people whose study of history was essential to their success

In Politics and Public Life
Presidents of the United States

Theodore Roosevelt


Theodore Roosevelt (also president of the American Historical Association, 1912)




Woodrow Wilson (also president of the American Historical Association, 1924)

Franklin D. Roosevelt

John F. Kennedy

Richard Nixon

George W. Bush

Dwight Eisenhower (he wrote CRUSADE IN EUROPE, a full history of WWII)

Other World Leaders

W.E.B. DuBois (also one of the first Americans, and the first African-American, to earn a Ph.D. in history – from Harvard)

Henry Kissinger

Gordon Brown (Prime Minister of Great Britain)

Alexander the Great*

Winston Churchill


Winston Churchill*





American Politicians

Newt Gingrich (also holds a Ph.D. in history)

George McGovern

George Mitchell

Tim Johnson


Tim Johnson (U.S. Congress, Illinois 15th District)






Joe Biden (Vice President of the USA, who majored in history at the University of Delaware)

In the Law

Eric Holder (U.S. Attorney General)

Elena Kagan


Elena Kagan (first female dean of Harvard Law School, U.S. Supreme Court Justice)





Antonin Scalia (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)

Anthony M. Kennedy (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)

In the Media

Seymour Hersh

Charles Kuralt


Charles Kuralt




Charlie Rose

Samantha Power

Chris “Boomer” Berman

Wolf Blitzer

Bill O’Reilly

David Brancaccio

John Schwarz

Ray Suarez

Andrés Martinez

In Business

Martha Stewart





Martha Stewart






Chelsea Clinton (hedge fund manager)

Chris Hughes (co-founder of Facebook)

Donna Dubinsky (CEO of Palm, Inc.;developed the Personal Digital Assistant [PDA])

Samuel Palmisano (CEO of the  IBM Corporation)

Carly Fiorina (president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard)

Howard Stringer (chairman and CEO of the Sony Corporation)

Richard B. Fisher (chairman of Morgan Stanley)

Lee Iacocca



Lee Iacocca (CEO of Chrysler)





Charles Sennott (co-founder and vice president of Global News)

Ben Silverman (co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio)

Robert Johnson (CEO of BET TV)

James Kilts (CEO of the Gillette Corporation)

Charles L. Hill (CEO of Veritas et Lux, president of the Boston Society of Security Analysts)

Clemson Smith Muñiz (founder and president of Smith Muñiz Productions, a Spanish-language sports media company)

Samuel J. Palmisano (Chief Executive Officer of IBM)

Jim Rogers (founder of the Quantum Fund, creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index)

In Entertainment

Steve Carell

Sacha Baron Cohen

Conan O'Brien


Conan O’Brien




Edward Norton

Sean Astin

Michael Palin (in fact, his fellow Monty Python founder, Terry Jones, has published extensively on medieval history and hosted a History Channel series on the Middle Ages)

Jimmy Buffett

Julia Child

Larry David

Brian Dennehy

Janeane Garofalo

Ellen Barkin

Katharine Hepburn


Katharine Hepburn





Errol Morris


In Sports

Kareem Abdul Jabar


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar





Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Bill Bradley  

Andrew DeClercq

Ken Dryden

Grant Hill

On Your Bookshelf (Next to All Those Histories)

Ayn Rand

Annie Proulx

Malcolm Gladwell

Gail Z. Martin

Sharon Kay Penman

Magali García Ramis

Tony Horwitz

H. G. Wells (science fiction writer who also authored the widly popular OUTLINE OF HISTORY)

Carl Sandburg (poet and critic who also wrote the best-selling multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln)

David Hume (philosopher who also wrote a HISTORY OF ENGLAND)

Machiavelli (political philosopher who also wrote a history of Florence)

G.W.F. Hegel (philosopher who also wrote LECTURES ON HISTORY the last decade of his life)

Karl Marx (political philosopher who wrote historical analyses of various European events)

In the Arts, Sciences, and Education (in Fields Other than History)

Michael Hogan (President of the University of Illinois)

J. Carter Brown (Director, National Gallery of Art)

Louis R. Caplan (neurologist, physician, professor)  

Robert Fogel (winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences)

Josh Sawyer (designer of role-playing video games)

Kevin Fagan (cartoonist and creator of the syndicated strip “Drabble”)

Franklin S. Odo (Director, Smithsonian Institution’s Asia Pacific American Program)

Flo Steinberg (pioneer publisher of underground comic books)

Frank Stella (painter and printmaker)

Andrew Dickson White (co-founder and first President of Cornell University)

John Milton Gregory (first President of the University of Illinois)

Drew Gilpin Faust (current President of Harvard)

Compiled by

Carol Symes, Department of History, University of Illinois


Catherine M. Burns, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Department of History, Bethel University