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Kevin Starr Edit Profile

educator , librarian

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


Kevin Starr was born in San Francisco, California, and attended the University of San Francisco, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1962.


Bachelor, University San Francisco, 1962. Master of Arts, Harvard University, 1965. Doctor of Philosophy, Harvard University, 1969.

Master of Library Science, University California, Berkeley, 1974. Postgraduate, Church Division School Pacific, Berkeley, 1984.


After graduation he served for two years as a lieutenant in a tank battalion in Germany (the 68th Armored Brigade of the US Army, in what was then West Germany). He taught American Literature until 1973, and then moved to California where he has lived since 1974. He received a Masters in Library Science from the 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. Starr sometimes teaches at the USC State Capital Center in Sacramento, California.

Starr served as California State Librarian from 1994 to April 1, 2004, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger named him State Librarian Emeritus. 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.

In November 2006 he was awarded a National Humanities Medal. 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. Composer John Adams was inspired by the "Dream" series of books to write the piece City Noir in 2009.


  • 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.



Executive aide to mayor San Francisco, 1973. Board trustees American Issues Forum, 1975-1976, California History Society, since 1992. Co-chairman sister city committee, San Francisco and Sydney, Australia, 1981-1986.

Advisor Junior League San Francisco, 1982-1984. Canidate San Francisco Board Supervisors, 1984. Councilor American Antiquarian Society, since 1996.

Member California Council Humanities, since 1996. Regent Cathedral St. Mary Assumption, San Francisco, since 1996. Lieutenant German Army, 1962-1964.

Member of California Historical Society, California Council Humanities, American Antiquarian Society.


Married Sheila Gordon, June 10, 1963. Children: Marian, Jessica.

Sheila Gordon

Marian Starr

Jessica Starr