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  2023 Roger Trask Award Winner    

   William "Bill" Barry    

The Society is pleased to honor Dr. William Barry as the 2023 Trask Awardee, in recognition of his innumerable contributions to federal history as NASA's Chief Historian. As detailed in his award nomination, Dr. Barry brought NASA's history program "fully into the 21st century" and exhibited an "open and inviting leadership style." His innovative efforts to forge creative partnerships within NASA and with international and private entities to broadly share "the remarkable saga of space exploration" provide an excellent example of a successful federal history program. 

Vibrant federal history programs are essential if agencies are to fully understand where they have been and facilitate the application of the lessons of the past to future operations. With the Trask Award, the Society honors Dr. Bill Barry's demonstrated commitment to these principles and service to the federal history community.

Bill Barry Biography

Bill Barry retired as NASA’s sixth Chief Historian in July 2020 and is now an independent historian and glider flight instructor. He is continuing his research and writing on space history, with a particular interest in U.S.-Soviet space cooperation and competition. 

Bill served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years, largely alternating between pilot duties in the KC-135 air refueling tanker and teaching on the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy. His final Air Force assignment was to the Headquarters Policy and Plans Directorate of U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where he was involved in work preparing Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for NATO membership. He retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2001.

Bill’s second career in government began with getting a “dream job” at NASA’s international relations office in Washington, D.C.  As a Senior International Programs Specialist, he served as head of the Russia Team; coordinating policy and plans across the spectrum of U.S.-Russian space cooperation.  In 2007, he was selected to serve as the NASA European Representative at the United States Embassy in Paris. In this post he was responsible for representing and advancing NASA and U.S. Government civil space interests throughout Europe.

Upon returning to NASA Headquarters in 2010, he was appointed Chief Historian; overseeing the history and archival programs at NASA. Over the next decade he led a number of significant historical projects – including the marking of the centennial of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA’s predecessor organization) and the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. In addition, he served as a historical consultant on several major films, including “Hidden Figures” and the 2019 IMAX documentary “Apollo 11.”

A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy (1979), Bill also holds a Masters Degree from Stanford University (1987) and a Doctorate from Oxford University (1996). His doctoral dissertation, “The Missile Design Bureaux and Soviet Manned Space Policy 1953–1970” won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics History Manuscript Award in 2000. 


Society for History in the Federal Government
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