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Bruce Watson

Bruce Watson is a Senior Editor of American Heritage and the author of the critically-acclaimed books Freedom Summer, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and The Judgment of Mankind, and Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream. He has also written biographies of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Watson writes a popular history blog at Visit

He received a master's degree in American history from the University of Massachusetts, and worked as a journalist, elementary school teacher, and Peace Corps volunteer. He lives in Western Massachusetts. 

Photo: Julie Kumble / New York Times (2007)

Articles by this Author

Alice in Autoland, May 2023 | Vol. 68, No. 3
Few roads were even paved when Alice Ramsey and three friends became the first women to drive coast to coast in 1909.
One hundred years ago this month, the “House That Ruth Built” became the first true baseball stadium.
The surprise U.S. victory over England in 1950 proved that Americans could also play the beautiful game.
Fighting for labor rights in California's Central Valley, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta took up la causa in the name of children.
Born during Jim Crow, Belle da Costa Greene perfected the art of "passing" while working for one of the most powerful men in America.
Written while he was jailed for leading nonviolent demonstrations, King's open letter defined the Civil Rights movement.
It's one of the oldest folk ballads in our national songbook, but where did it come from? The answer is complex, multi-layered, American.
The Museum of Appalachia celebrates simple, honest life in late 19th Century Tennessee.
A founder of the Algonquin Round Table and frequent writer for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, Benchley influenced generations of humorists from James Thurber to Dave Barry
J.D. Salinger carried a draft of his later-to-be-famous novel with him when he landed on the beach at Normandy.
The answer is complex, confusing, American.
FDR's Secretary of Labor — the first female Cabinet member — also helped create the minimum wage, 40-hour work week, and first tough child labor laws.
“There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law,” said Abraham Lincoln.
Every country has mail, but only in America is the daily mail part ritual, part Constitutional mandate.
The force behind the early education and social movement—American curiosity—still lives on today. 
What the future president learned during a coast-to-coast military motor expedition would later transform America. 
Juneteenth!, June 2020 | Vol. 65, No. 3
As Gen. Granger read the announcement that slavery had ended, the celebration began. The date would go down in history — June nineteenth, soon shortened to Juneteenth.
Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith was the first in Congress to stand up to the bullying of Joe McCarthy.
The annual Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, is a week-long binge of festive dress, radical inclusion and pyrotechnic display that has become a spiritual phenomenon.
In what many consider the greatest anti-slavery oration ever given, Frederick Douglass called for “the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake”
In history’s long parade of military heroes, few can rival Sergeant Alvin C. York
After assassinating President Garfield, a lunatic gunman mounted an insanity defense, which the jury--and the nation--rejected despite compelling evidence to the contrary
Although marred by the grisly murders of three young activists, the Freedom Summer of 1964 brought revolutionary changes to Mississippi and the nation.


Editor's Note: Bruce Watson is a writer, historian, and contributing editor at American Heritage. You can read more of his work on his blog, The Attic. Eliza (left) and Hamilton (right).  BROADWAY 2015 — As the musical winds down, the full cast returns. History, they sing, hinges on “who lives, who…
GALVESTON, TEXAS, June 19, 1865 — A balding, brush-bearded officer in Union blue steps onto the balcony of the finest villa in this coastal town. On the plaza below, hundreds of Texans, black and white, wonder what this is all about. Major General Gordon Granger holds out a parched paper and begins…
Bruce Watson is a Contributing Editor of American Heritage and has authored several critically-acclaimed books. He writes a history blog at The Attic. Youth, hope, and fresh arms have a way of making things happen, but with all the amazin’ catches, the shoe polish ball, and the home runs by banjo…
Bruce Watson, a Contributing Editor of American Heritage, writes blogs for our website and his own at Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress. The drums of war were sounding when, in March 1917, Jeannette Rankin arrived in Washington DC.  As the first woman to serve…
Bruce Watson is a historian and biographer, and author of seven books and an online magazine, The Attic. With this post, Bruce begins a featured blog for American Heritage. In his inaugural essay, he profiles humorist Robert Benchley (1889-1945), a frequent writer for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair…