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Bruce Watson

Bruce Watson is a Senior Editor of American Heritage and the author of the critically-acclaimed books Freedom Summer, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and The Judgment of Mankind, and Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream. He has also written biographies of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Watson writes a popular history blog at

He received a master's degree in American history from the University of Massachusetts, and worked as a journalist, elementary school teacher, and Peace Corps volunteer. He lives in Western Massachusetts. 

Photo: Julie Kumble / New York Times (2007)

Articles by this Contributor

“There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law,” said Abraham Lincoln. Read >>
The answer is complex, confusing, American. Read >>
FDR's Secretary of Labor — the first female Cabinet member — also helped create the minimum wage, 40-hour work week, and first tough child labor laws. Read >>
J.D. Salinger carried a draft of his later-to-be-famous novel with him when he landed on the beach at Normandy. Read >>
Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith was the first in Congress to stand up to the bullying of Joe McCarthy. Read >>
As Gen. Granger read the announcement that slavery had ended, the celebration began. The date would go down in history — June nineteenth, soon shortened to Juneteenth. Read >>
The force behind the early education and social movement—American curiosity—still lives on today.  Read >>
Every country has mail, but only in America is the daily mail part ritual, part Constitutional mandate. Read >>
What the future president learned during a coast-to-coast military motor expedition would later transform America.  Read >>
In what many consider the greatest anti-slavery oration ever given, Frederick Douglass called for “the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake” Read >>
The annual Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, is a week-long binge of festive dress, radical inclusion and pyrotechnic display that has become a spiritual phenomenon. Read >>
In history’s long parade of military heroes, few can rival Sergeant Alvin C. York Read >>
After assassinating President Garfield, a lunatic gunman mounted an insanity defense, which the jury--and the nation--rejected despite compelling evidence to the contrary Read >>
Although marred by the grisly murders of three young activists, the Freedom Summer of 1964 brought revolutionary changes to Mississippi and the nation Read >>

"Web only stories" by this contributor

Editor's Note: Bruce Watson is a writer, historian, and contributing editor at American Heritage. You can read more of his work on his blog, The Attic. Eliza (left) and Hamilton (right).  BROADWAY 2015 — As the musical winds down, the full cast returns. History, they sing, hinges on “who lives, who… Read more >>
GALVESTON, TEXAS, June 19, 1865 — A balding, brush-bearded officer in Union blue steps onto the balcony of the finest villa in this coastal town. On the plaza below, hundreds of Texans, black and white, wonder what this is all about. Major General Gordon Granger holds out a parched paper and begins… Read more >>
Bruce Watson is a Contributing Editor of American Heritage and has authored several critically-acclaimed books. He writes a history blog at The Attic. Youth, hope, and fresh arms have a way of making things happen, but with all the amazin’ catches, the shoe polish ball, and the home runs by banjo… Read more >>
Bruce Watson, a Contributing Editor of American Heritage, writes blogs for our website and his own at WOODSTOCK, NY — Thirty miles down the road, on a slope so green and sweeping that it looked like God’s own amphitheater, the crowds poured in a half century ago. But the human… Read more >>
Bruce Watson, a Contributing Editor of American Heritage, writes blogs for our website and his own at Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress. The drums of war were sounding when, in March 1917, Jeannette Rankin arrived in Washington DC.  As the first woman to serve… Read more >>
Bruce Watson is a historian and biographer, and author of seven books and an online magazine, The Attic. With this post, Bruce begins a featured blog for American Heritage. In his inaugural essay, he profiles humorist Robert Benchley (1889-1945), a frequent writer for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair… Read more >>