Executive Director, Organization of American Historians
“As an American historian, I have the opportunity to tell some of the greatest stories and to pass on to my listeners and readers a deeper awareness of how we came to be who we are at the dawn of the twenty-first century. All historians—from the pre-collegiate level to the university, from the museum curator to the National Park Service interpreter—have an important contribution to make in passing on a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the American past."
Lee Formwalt, the executive director of the OAH, received his Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America in 1977. He spent the next twenty years teaching history at Albany State University in rural Georgia. Through the use of local courthouse records in his teaching, he became involved in doing local history and became strongly connected to the community. This subsequently led to his writing for the local newspaper, helping to establish a civil rights museum, and coordinating a state humanities council conference on the history of the civil rights movement.
In 1997 he became the dean of the Graduate School at Albany State. While he was somewhat reluctant to leave the teaching and research that he had found so satisfying, he discovered that administrative work offered the opportunity to make decisions that could bring about needed changes. In 1999 he became the executive director of the OAH. One of his goals at the OAH is to welcome all who practice American history, whether inside or outside the academy, and to reach out to those isolated historians who haven’t felt a part of the broad national historical community.