Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1926, Roger Kennedy received his BA from Yale University and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School, served in the 1950s as Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General, to the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and to the U.S. Secretary of Labor. He was also a White House correspondent for NBC, appearing on his own NBC radio series and in the first NBC television documentaries.
In the 1960s, Kennedy became a banker, and was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Northwestern Bank of St. Paul, Minnesota, before at the end of the decade becomimg Vice President, Investments, the University of Minnesota, and in 1970 became Vice President, Finance, the Ford Foundation. In 1978 he was made Vice President, the Arts, as well. From 1979 to 1992 he was Director (now Director Emeritus) of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. From 1993 through 1997 he was Director of the National Park Service.
He was an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects, won the Silver Medal of the NY Film Critics, and a variety of scholarly prizes and honorary degrees. Roger Kennedy passed away on September 30, 2011. His final book, Cotton and Conquest will be published in 2012 by the University of Oklahoma Press.