As senior fellow and resident historian of the Roosevelt Institute, David B. Woolner helps keep the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt alive for future generations by reminding us that there is much we can learn from the past. Given the strong parallels between the struggle for social and economic justice that characterized the twin crises of the Great Depression and World War II, and today’s quest for a new—and green—New Deal, Woolner teaches us that the lessons of history have much to offer today’s leaders as we work to build a more just, progressive, and democratic America.
To reinforce this message, Woolner often serves as a commentator on the important links between the past and the present in the media, where his appearances include interviews with CNN, the BBC, Al Jazeera, CBS, the History Channel, NPR, CBC Radio, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. His reviews and op-ed pieces have appeared in the Washington Post, The Nation, the Huffington Post, Salon, the Irish Times, The Next New Deal, Truthout.org, Business Insider, and other publications.
Woolner is also a professor of history at Marist College and senior fellow of the Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College. He is the author of The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace (Basic Books, 2017), and is editor/co-editor of five books, including Progressivism in America: Past Present and Future (Oxford University Press, 2016), FDR’s World: War, Peace and Legacies (Palgrave, 2008), and FDR and the Environment (Palgrave, 2005). He served as historical advisor to the Ken Burns film The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; the HBO/BBC production, Into the Storm: Churchill at War; and for numerous special exhibitions at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. He sits on the editorial board of the International History Review, is a member of the advisory group to the Churchill Archives Project, has been visiting professor at Bard College, and has remained a member of the faculty of the Bard Prison Initiative since 2011. He has also been a visiting professor at Ghent University, the University of Prince Edward Island, and University College, Roosevelt. His numerous academic awards include the Mary Ball Washington Chair in American History, at University College Dublin (2016–2017); the Roosevelt Fellowship at University College Roosevelt, in Middelburg, the Netherlands (Spring 2016); the Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair at the Roosevelt Study Center, also in Middelburg (2010); and an Archives Bi-Fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge (2007).
From 2000 to 2010, Woolner served as the Roosevelt Institute’s executive director, overseeing a significant expansion of the organization’s budget, programmatic dimension, and staff. He earned his PhD and MA in history from McGill University and a BA summa cum laude in English literature and history from the University of Minnesota.