Growing Up Catholic
David M. Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachian Professor of History at Stanford University. His scholarship is notable for its integration of economic analysis with social history and political history. Kennedy has written over ten books; his first, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger (1970), won the John Gilmary Shea Prize in 1970 and the Bancroft Prize in 1971. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1980) and won the Pulitzer in 2000 for his 1999 book Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Other awards include the Francis Parkman Prize, the Ambassador's Prize and the California Gold Medal for Literature, all of which he received in the year 2000. Kennedy was educated at Stanford and Yale. The author of many articles, he has also penned a textbook, The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, now in its thirteenth edition. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
David Kennedy: I also grew up in a very intensely Catholic environment. I went to a Catholic school in both grade school and high school. I went to a Catholic Boy Scout troupe and played on Catholic sports teams. The environment was quite rigorously Catholic. And there was a deep sense in that community of being different from everybody else. There were virtually no other Catholic families in the neighborhood where I lived. It was quite a trip to the school I went to and so on. There was a sense of separateness that came with that. There were certainly events in my childhood that had downstream consequences of a sort that I couldn’t really understand at the time or foresee at the time. One was a decision I made mostly on my own as quite a young kid about 14 years old not to go to the local diocesan high school, but instead to go to a Jesuit high school which was about seven or eight miles away. So it was logistically quite complicated. My family resisted it, but I insisted. And I got a really first-rate education at that school, and I think that set me on a pathway to kind of . . . it nurtured in me a kind of intellectual curiosity that I don’t think I would have got elsewhere in Seattle at that time. And it led eventually to my applying to Stanford as an undergraduate, and going on to graduate school at Yale and becoming a professor. I don’t think that would have happened if, at age 13 or 14, I hadn’t gone to that high school.
Recorded on: 7/4/07
The only Catholic boy around.
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