James H. Billington

James H. Billington

James H. Billington

The Honorable James Hadley Billington was sworn in as The Librarian of Congress on 14 September 1987. He is the 13th incumbent of that position since the Library was established in 1800. An author and historian, as well as educator and administrator, Dr. Billington came to the Library from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., where he had served as director since 1973. | A native of Pennsylvania, Dr. Billington was educated in the public schools of the Philadelphia area. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1950. Three years later, he earned his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College. Following service with the U.S. Army, he became a history instructor at Harvard University in 1957 and an assistant professor of history and research fellow at the Russian Research Center the next year. He moved to the faculty of Princeton University in 1962 and was professor of history at Princeton from 1964 to 1974. | From 1973 to 1987, Dr. Billington was the director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the national memorial to the 28th President. Under his directorship, eight new programs were established at the Center, beginning with the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian studies in 1974. Two of the projects Dr. Billington initiated at the Center were the Wilson Quarterly, founded in 1976, and the publication of detailed scholars' guides to educational resources in Washington. | Dr. Billington is the author of The Icon and the Axe (1966), Fire in the Minds of Men (1980), and, Russia Transformed: Breakthrough to Hope (1992). He has also participated as a host, commentator, or consultant on numerous educational and network television programs, and he has accompanied several congressional delegations, as well as a library and a church delegation, to the U.S.S.R. In June 1988, he accompanied President and Mrs. Reagan to the Soviet Summit in Moscow, and in April 1993, he joined a bipartisan delegation of the House leadership on a trip to the Ukraine and Russia. | Concurrently, with other positions he held, Dr. Billington was a longtime member of the editorial advisory board of Foreign Affairs, a former member of the editorial advisory board of Theology Today, and a member of the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1971-76 (chairman, 1971-1973), which has executive responsibility for academic exchanges worldwide under the Fulbright-Hays Act. He was a visiting lecturer or research professor at numerous universities and research centers in America and overseas. | Dr. Billington holds a number of honorary degrees, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of France and a recipient of the Gwanghwa Medal of the Republic of Korea.

More Information

  • Rank

    Honorable

  • Highest Award

    Unavailable

  • Year Inducted

    1994

  • HF ID #

    HF_01644