The Society is pleased to award the 2022 Trask Award to Edward C. Keefer in recognition of his distinguished career in federal history and decades of service to the profession. A longtime member of SHFG, Keefer has worked tirelessly to document the history of U.S. foreign relations and national security policy, both at the Department of State and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Along the way, he has mentored generations of historians and imparted to them his passion for doing historical work in the public interest.
Edward C. Keefer Biography
Edward Keefer retired in 2008 as the General Editor of the Department of State’s documentary series Foreign Relations of the United States. In 2009 he joined the Historical Office of the Secretary of Defense as a contract historian. During his 34 years at State he edited or co-edited 25 FRUS volumes, many on the war in Southeast Asia. His volume on Indonesia 1964-1968 was translated into Indonesian and became academic best seller there. Working on FRUS and Secretaries of Defense Historical Series gave him the opportunity to do research at every Presidential Library from Truman to George H.W. Bush. Each library has its own distinctive style and orientation, but the LBJ library in Austin remains his favorite. One of the challenges that he and FRUS faced was integrating the Johnson and Nixon tapes into the series. While the response to the use of Nixon tapes was positive and appreciative, Henry Kissinger complained to him about including Oval Office “chit chat” in FRUS. Edward Keefer was part of a team that negotiated an official process to acknowledge and document significant cover operations in the FRUS series with the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council Staff. At the Pentagon he researched and wrote Harold Brown: Offsetting the Soviet Military Challenge, 1977-1981, published in 2017 as part of Department of Defense’s Secretaries of Defense Historical Series. His second authorized history in the series, Caspar Weinberger and the Military Buildup, 1981-1985, is forthcoming. He is currently researching a third volume on Dick Cheney’s tenure as Secretary of Defense.
Edward Keefer earned a B.A. from McGill University in Montreal (1967) and a PhD in history from Michigan State University (1974). He is married, has three grown children, and two grandchildren, and lives in Washington, D.C.