Experts

Barbara Perry

Fast Facts

  • Gerald L. Baliles Professor and Director of Presidential Studies 
  • Former Judicial Fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Researcher for Chief Justice William Rehnquist
  • Expertise on Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Edward KennedyRose Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, First Ladies

Areas Of Expertise

  • Domestic Affairs
  • Law and Justice
  • Social Issues
  • Elections
  • Founding and Shaping of the Nation
  • Leadership
  • Political Parties and Movements
  • Politics
  • The Presidency
  • Supreme Court

Barbara A. Perry is the Gerald L. Baliles Professor and Director of Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, where she co-directs the Presidential Oral History Program. She has authored or edited 12 books on presidents, First Ladies, the Kennedy family, the Supreme Court, and civil rights and civil liberties. Professor Perry has conducted more than 100 interviews for the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush Oral History Projects; researched the Bill Clinton Oral History Project interviews, and directed the Edward Kennedy Oral History Project. She served as a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow and has worked for both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.

Her books include 42: Inside the Presidency of Bill Clinton (edited with Michael Nelson and Russell Riley); 41: Inside the Presidency of George H.W. Bush (edited with Michael Nelson); Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch; Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier; Edward Kennedy: An Oral History (forthcoming), and The Priestly Tribe: The Supreme Court's Image in the American Mind.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Professor Perry earned a Ph.D. in government from the University of Virginia; an M.A. in politics, philosophy, and economics from Oxford University; and a B.A. in political science, with highest honors, from the University of Louisville.

Professor Perry is a frequent media commentator for national and international news sources. She is prepared to discuss American presidents, especially FDR through Obama, with particular expertise on JFK and the Kennedy family. Professor Perry has taught all aspects of American government/politics and can respond to media questions on most topics related to presidential campaigns and elections, public policy, and presidential communications. In addition to the American presidency (including First Ladies), her research, writing, and commentary have covered the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly presidential appointments, as well as civil rights and civil liberties. 

Professor Perry has been a commentator for such outlets as CBS, PBS, CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, NPR, PRI, Fox News, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Swiss TV, HuffPost LiveThe Morning RundownThe Andrea Mitchell ReportThe NewsHour1A, The Diane Rehm Show, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Sunday Times of London, USA TodayBloomberg NewsPOLITICO, the Daily Beast, and the Associated Press. She regularly contributes to UVA’s blog, Thoughts from the Lawn.

Previously, Professor Perry was the Carter Glass Professor of Government and founding director of the Center for Civic Renewal at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. In 1994-95, she received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award as the outstanding Supreme Court Fellow that year. In addition to providing research for Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s speeches, she briefed more than 3,000 visitors to the court from 70 different countries. She was the Senior Fellow for Civics Education at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center in 2006-07, where she is currently a Non-Resident Fellow. From 1996 through 2008, she taught in the Supreme Court Summer Institute, co-sponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society and Street Law. In 2012, Perry received the Virginia Social Science Association’s Scholar Award in Political Science. The Sons of the American Revolution, Virginia Society, awarded her their 2013 Silver Good Citizenship Medal for “her outstanding achievements in the study, writing, and teaching of American history.” The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences named her the 2014 Alumna Fellow of the Year.

Professor Perry has participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs and lectures for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, for which she taught a 2015 online graduate course on the Kennedy presidency and offers a teacher institute on JFK. From 2010-14, she served as an adjunct faculty member at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, providing seminars to senior federal executives on the Kennedy presidency, the U.S. Supreme Court, and leadership.

Barbara Perry News Feed

When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he was friendly with Roger Porter, who had worked for President Ronald Reagan when George H.W. Bush was vice president and then went on to work in the Bush White House, says Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
Porter, Perry says, called Clinton in 1991 and peppered him with questions about whether he would challenge Bush in 1992. Clinton hedged, and "Porter said, 'Cut the crap – if you do [run], we will pull out all the stops against you,'" Perry says.
Barbara Perry US News & World Report
President George H.W. Bush is today laid to rest, after passing away November 30th at the age of 94. For Americans, presidential funerals hold a special significance: “Funerals for presidents are not only our way of saying goodbye... but they're our way of healing the nation,” said Professor Barbara Perry, Presidential Studies Director at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
Barbara Perry WNYC The Takeaway
This morning in Washington D.C., family, friends and the nation gathered for a memorial service for President George H.W. Bush at the National Cathedral. President Trump was in attendance, and President George W. Bush was among some of the speakers delivering eulogies. Tomorrow, a separate service will be held in Houston, Texas at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. We recap the service and discuss the history and legacy of the 41st president of the United States with the Miller Center's Barbara Perry.
Barbara Perry KPCC
Coming up this weekend on The Score, I have a conversation with Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. Dr. Perry was previously a guest on The Score at the time of the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush, and later to look back on the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, fifty years ago this past June. In this brief excerpt from our interview, Dr. Perry answers my question about what role Ronald Reagan wanted George Bush to play as his vice president from 1981 to 1989.
Barbara Perry The Score
“George H.W. Bush knew Congress. He was a congressman. He did congressional briefings as the CIA director. Bush was the rare combination of politician and statesman,” said Barbara Perry, who studies the U.S. presidency at the University of Virginia.
Barbara Perry Roll Call
In this week's Political Tuesday, Barbara Perry from the University of Virginia's Miller Center spoke about how perceptions of President George H.W. Bush have changed since he left the presidency in 1992.Perry, who wrote a book about Bush titled "41: Inside the Presidency of George H.W. Bush," also shared an anecdote about what practical joke Bush liked to pull on his wife, Barbara.
Barbara Perry CBS19