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Kevin Starr

Kevin Starr

Kevin Starr (born September 3, 1940) is an American historian, best known for his multi-volume series on the history of California, collectively called "Americans and the California Dream."


  • Life 1
  • Works 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Kevin Starr was born in San Francisco, California. Starr received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of San Francisco in 1962. From 1962 to 1964 he served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in the 68th Armored Brigade in then-West Germany. He then earned an MA degree in 1965 and PhD from Harvard University in 1969 in American Literature.[1] He taught American Literature until 1973, and then moved to California where he has lived since 1974. He received an M.L.S. degree from the School of Librarianship, University of California, Berkeley, in 1974 while he was San Francisco City Librarian. From 1974 to 1989 he was professor or visiting lecturer at numerous California universities, including UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside, Santa Clara University, the University of San Francisco, and Stanford University. In 1989 Starr became Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Southern California, and was promoted to University Professor of History in 1998.[2] Starr sometimes teaches at the USC State Capital Center in Sacramento, California.[3]

Starr served as California State Librarian from 1994 to April 1, 2004, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger named him State Librarian Emeritus.[1] Starr is the author of the ongoing multi-volume history of California collectively entitled "Americans and the California Dream". The first volume in the series, "Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915" was published in 1973. His most recent volume, which covers the period from 1950 to 1963, entitled "Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance" won the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for history.[4]

In 2006, Starr was made a member of the College of Fellows of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. In November 2006 he was awarded a National Humanities Medal.[5] On July 7, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that Starr would be a 2010 inductee of the California Hall of Fame; the induction ceremony was held on December 14, 2010 at The California Museum. He was presented with The Robert Kirsch Award by the Los Angeles Times as part of the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.[6]

Composer John Adams was inspired by the "Dream" series of books to write the piece City Noir in 2009.[7]


  • Americans and the California Dream, 1850–1915. (1973 and 1986)New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 494. ISBN 978-0195016444 (1986) OCLC 641725018 and 254930084
  • Land's End (a novel) (1979) ISBN 0-07-060880-6
  • Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (1985) ISBN 0-19-503489-9
  • "Sunset Magazine and the Phenomenon of the Far West". Sunset magazine: a century of Western living, 1898-1998. Stanford University Libraries. 1998.  
  • Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s (1990) ISBN 0-19-504487-8
  • Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California (1996) ISBN 0-19-510080-8
  • The Dream Endures: California Enters the 1940s (1997) ISBN 0-19-510079-4
  • Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950 (2002) ISBN 0-19-512437-5
  • Coast Of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2002 (2004) ISBN 0-679-41288-3
  • California: a history. Random House. 2005.  
  • Golden dreams: California in an age of abundance, 1950-1963. Oxford University Press US. July 2009.  


  1. ^ a b "Biographical Sketch:Kevin Starr State Librarian Emeritus". California State Library web site. 2007. Retrieved May 26, 2010.  (Full CV in PDF format from October 2003)
  2. ^ "Kevin Owen Starr: University Professor and Professor of History". Faculty profiles.  
  3. ^ "SPPD Affiliated Faculty". USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development web site. Retrieved May 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ "2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists".  
  5. ^ "Winners of the National Humanities Medal and the Charles Frankel Prize".  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ John Adams (2009). "City Noir". Adams' web site. Retrieved May 26, 2010. 

External links

  • Daniel B. Wood (October 27, 2004). "'"A historian's view of the changing 'California dream.  
  • "Kevin Starr". interviewed on  
  • Herbert Gold (July 9, 2009). "Resplendent in the American Sun".  
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