The Jefferson Lecture FAQ

What is the Jefferson Lecture?
Established by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 1972, the lectureship is the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for contributions to the humanities. NEH awards this honor annually to an individual whose career exemplifies the utmost level of achievement in American intellectual and cultural life.

Who will give the 2019 Jefferson Lecture?
It will be given by Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, D. Phil., executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML). Fr. Columba is a professor in the School of Theology at Saint John’s University, and a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. The title of the lecture is “Cultural Heritage Present and Future: A Benedictine Monk’s Long View.”

Why was Fr. Columba Stewart selected?
In announcing Fr. Columba Stewart’s selection, NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede said: “A ‘Monument Man’ of our time, Father Columba Stewart has dauntlessly rescued centuries’ worth of irreplaceable cultural heritage under threat from around the world. In doing so, he and his colleagues have helped preserve the records of the religion, art, literature, culture, and knowledge of distant eras of human history so that we may celebrate and learn from those that came before us.”

How are Jefferson lecturers selected?
The NEH, a federal agency created in 1965, uses a formal review process that includes nominations from the general public.

Who has received this honor in the past?
Previous Jefferson lecturers include John Hope Franklin, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Donald Kagan, Martin Scorsese, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Anna Deavere Smith, and Ken Burns.

When and where is the Jefferson Lecture?
It will take place at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Monday, October 7, at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW, Washington, D.C. The event will be livestreamed at and archived by the NEH.

Who will attend the Jefferson Lecture?
The signature event for the NEH, the lecture annually attracts an in-person audience of more than 1,300, often including members of Congress, national cultural and educational leaders, and the public.

How can the public get tickets to the Jefferson Lecture?
Tickets are free of charge and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets will be available starting on September 4, at or 202-606-8340.