Lynne Cheney

Lynne Cheney

Director of National Endowment for the Humanities

Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, has loved history for as long as she can remember, and she has spent much of her professional life writing and speaking about the importance of knowing history and teaching it well.

As chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1986 to 1993, she published American Memory, a report that warned about the failure of schools to transmit knowledge of the past to upcoming generations. "A system of education that fails to nurture memory of the past denies its students a great deal," Mrs. Cheney wrote: "the satisfactions of mature thought, an attachment to abiding concerns, a perspective on human existence." Currently, as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, she particularly emphasizes the value of knowing our nation's history. "One of the important lessons we can learn is that freedom isn't inevitable," she says. "This realization should make the liberty we enjoy all the more important to us, all the more worth defending."

Mrs. Cheney announced a new initiative to encourage historical knowledge in April 2003. She launched the James Madison Book Award Fund, which presents a yearly award of $10,000 to the book that best represents excellence in bringing knowledge and understanding of American history to young people. The 2003 book award winner was First to Fly: How Wilbur & Orville Wright Invented the Airplane. The 2004 winner will be announced in July.

Mrs. Cheney has written articles about history for numerous publications on topics ranging from woman suffrage in the West and the way Americans celebrated the country's centennial. She was a member of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution and served on Texas Governor George W. Bush's education team. She was part of a group that revised Texas standards for the study of history.

She is author or co-author of seven books, including Kings of the Hill (second edition, 1996), a book about figures from Henry Clay to Sam Rayburn who played powerful roles in the House of Representatives. She wrote this book with her husband, who was a Congressman from Wyoming from 1979 to 1989. Mrs. Cheney's 1995, Telling the Truth (Simon & Schuster, paperback, 1996), analyzed the effect of postmodernism on study in the humanities.

Two of Mrs. Cheney's works are books on American history for children. The first, America: A Patriotic Primer, released in May 2002, is an alphabet book for children of all ages and their families that celebrates the ideas and ideals that are the foundations of our country. Her second children's book, A Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, published September 16, 2003, tells the story of women's contributions to American history. Mrs. Cheney's net proceeds from both best-selling books are being donated to charity.

Mrs. Cheney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors from Colorado College, her Master of Arts from the University of Colorado, and her Ph.D. with a specialization in 19th century British literature from the University of Wisconsin. She is the recipient of awards and honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities.

Vice President and Mrs. Cheney were married in 1964. They have two grown daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, and three granddaughters.

Lynne Cheney
Landon Lecture
Oct. 30, 1992