SAHF Inductees

Clay Jenkinson
Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame

2004 Inductee

 

Whether portraying historical figures as Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt or Meriwether Lewis-or simply being himself-humanities scholar and author Clay Jenkinson is proving himself as one of the great thinkers of his generation. The lecturer, humorist, essayist, and social commentator routinely addresses corporate leaders, Supreme Court justices, state and national legislators and school children, both in character and out-and presented the first public program in the humanities featured in a White House event when he appeared as Thomas Jefferson for President Clinton on the 250th anniversary of the third president's birth.

 

It was as a Chautauquan for the North Dakota Humanities Council in the early 1980s that Jenkinson began honing his talent for bringing to life historical figures-and it was the portrayal of the multi-faceted Jefferson that crystallized for the scholar the potential of the format for bringing the humanities to citizens of all ages. The mediums for Jenkinson's message vary-but one of his most rewarding has been his nationally syndicated radio program The Thomas Jefferson Hour, heard on National Public Radio. His reputation as a Jefferson expert was confirmed when award-winning writer and filmmaker Ken Burns invited to him to be a consultant and on-air expert on his acclaimed PBS production Thomas Jefferson in 1997.

 

Clay Straus Jenkinson was born February 4, 1955 in Dickinson ND. The Norwegian-American studied at Vanderbilt University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Colorado and Oxford University, where he was a 1976 Rhodes scholar in English Renaissance Literature and Theology. He is currently a Humanities Scholar-in-Residence at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon. Jenkinson's literary works include The Character of Meriwether Lewis: 'Completely Metamorphosed' in the American West; Message on the Wind; A Spiritual Odyssey on the Northern Plains; and Thomas Jefferson: The Man of Light.