Achievement and Heritage Awards

2015 Honoree: Taylor Branch

BranchTaylor_pixThe National Archives Foundation presented American author and Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch its 2015 Records of Achievement Award on October 28, 2015. The honor recognizes Branch’s lifelong work to chronicle the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the history of the Civil Rights movement in his landmark series America in the King Years.

The Records of Achievement Award is a tribute to an individual whose work has fostered a broader national awareness of the history and identity of the United States through the use of original records.

Mr. Branch received the award at the Foundation’s annual Gala, held at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Congressman John Lewis served as an honorary co-chair of the event. The program included an on-stage interview by former Attorney General Eric H. Holder.

Mr. Branch’s efforts to preserve the legacy of one of the most influential periods in American history emphasizes the essential value that the National Archives, with facilities throughout the country, continues to provide in recording and protecting American history. National Archives holdings include original records of the Civil Rights movement including the landmark legislation outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin: The Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Gala and Records of Achievement Award Ceremony is made possible with the leadership support of AT&T. Major support provided by Governor Jim Blanchard and Janet Blanchard, and the Maris S. Cuneo Foundation. Additional event support from Marvin F. Weissberg.

In July 2015, Mr. Branch participated in a Writers and Scholars Roundtable on Civil Rights at the National Archives, presented in partnership with the March on Washington Film Festival. Watch the full program:

About Taylor Branch

Branch_King-Years_cover-imageMr. Branch has dedicated more than four decades to chronicling American history, including the civil rights movement, the presidency of Bill Clinton, and the legacy of college sports. Mr. Branch’s research into Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement lead to the publishing of the first book in his landmark series about the time, America in the King Years, and a Pulitzer Prize. The 2,912-page trilogy required more than 24 years of extensive research, and has been compared to other epic history collections such as Shelby Foote’s The Civil War and Robert Caro’s multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson. In 2009, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President was published, revealing former President Bill Clinton up close and unguarded thanks to their 20-year friendship and both parties dedication to the preservation of this raw, in the moment historical account. The collaboration between Mr. Branch and President Clinton resulted in an unprecedented eight-year project to gather a sitting president’s comprehensive oral history on tape, at the initiative of President Clinton. In October 2011, he published his first work on the legacy of college sports in America, a piece in The Atlantic entitled, “The Shame of College Sports,” which author and NPR commentator Frank Delford declared “may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.” The article was followed up by with his 2011 book The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA, which inspired the documentary film “Schooled: The Price of College Sports,” which Mr. Branch co-produced.

Mr. Branch began his career in 1970 as a staff journalist for The Washington Monthly, Harper’s, and Esquire. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from ten colleges and universities. Other citations include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and the National Humanities Medal in 1999, awarded to him by President Clinton at the D.A.R. Constitution Hall. Sample of book reviews, lectures, media appearances, blogs, printed commentary, and musical tracks are available on the website,

Past Recipients of the Records of Achievement Award:
  • Robert Edsel (2014)
  • Steven Spielberg (2013)
  • David M. Rubenstein (2011)
  • Ken Burns (2010)
  • Annette Gordon-Reed (2009)
  • James McPherson (2008)
  • John Hope Franklin (2007)
  • Brian P. Lamb and C-SPAN (2006)
  • Tom Brokaw (2005)
  • David McCullough (2004)

Heritage Award

The Heritage Award takes its name from the “Heritage” sculpture outside the National Archives Building and recognizes individuals, corporations, and organizations whose deeds are consistent with the Foundation’s mission of educating, enriching, and inspiring a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage. The Foundation’s Heritage Award was presented in 2012 to philanthropist Jacqueline Badger Mars.