Richard A. Baker (historian)


Richard Allan Baker (born March 18, 1940) was the first Historian of the United States Senate, serving through August 2009. He directed the United States Senate Historical Office from the time of its creation in 1975.

Richard A. Baker
Byrd baker book 1 (cropped 2).jpg
1st Historian of the United States Senate
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byDonald A. Ritchie
Personal details
Born (1940-03-18) March 18, 1940 (age 82)
United States
EducationUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst
Alma materColumbia University
OccupationHistorian, writer
Known forThe American Senate: An Insider's History
AwardsD.B. Hardeman Prize

He wrote a weekly column on Senate history for a Washington newspaper (The Hill) and is the co-author (with Neil MacNeil) of the D.B. Hardeman Prize-winning The American Senate: An Insider's History, published in 2013, a history of Senate rules and customs.


Baker graduated in 1962 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and received master's degrees from Columbia University in 1968 and Michigan State University in 1965. He also obtained a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1982.

Historical MinutesEdit

Beginning in 1997, at the request of Senate Democratic Leader Thomas Daschle, Baker routinely opened the weekly luncheon meetings of the Democratic Caucus of the United States Senate with a brief historical anecdote or minute. These short essays were wide-ranging in topic and highlight recurring themes in the Senate's institutional development. In 2009, at the time of Baker's retirement, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell initiated a similar program for his party's members. Both Democratic and Republican programs are currently active, relying on presentations by the Senate's Historian and Associate Historian.


  • "Conservation Politics: The Senate Career of Clinton P. Anderson" (University of New Mexico Press, 1985)
  • "The Senate of the United States: A Bicentennial History" (Krieger, 1988)
  • "First Among Equals: Outstanding Senate Leaders of the Twentieth Century" (Congressional Quarterly, 1991) (coeditor)
  • "200 Notable Days: Senate Stories 1787 to 2002" (Government Printing Office, 2006) [1]
  • "The American Senate: An Insider's History" co-authored with Neil MacNeil (Oxford University Press, 2013)

External linksEdit

  • Saving Senate History, via November 25, 2002
  • Senate Historian Reflects on 34 Years of Unusual Queries, via New York Times August 8, 2009
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • C-SPAN Q&A interview with Baker, June 12, 2005
    • C-SPAN Q&A interview with Baker, September 27, 2009
    • C-SPAN "Q&A" interview with Baker, July 7, 2013
  • Senate Historical Office oral history interviews
  • Senate briefs
Government offices
New office 1st Historian of the United States Senate
1975 – 2009
Succeeded by