Guian McKee

Fast Facts

  • Works on the Presidential Recordings Project
  • Expertise on Health Care Policy, Medicare, Medicaid, Urban Policy, the War on Poverty, the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy


Areas Of Expertise

  • Health
  • Law and Justice
  • Race and Racism
  • Social Issues

Guian McKee is an associate professor in presidential studies at the Miller Center. He received a Ph.D. in American history at the University of California, Berkeley in May 2002, and he is the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia, published in November 2008 by the University of Chicago Press. At the Miller Center, McKee works extensively with the Presidential Recordings Program.

McKee’s research focuses on how federal policy, especially in the executive branch, plays out at the local level in American communities. He has written extensively about urban policy, including a book that explored the connections between local and federal economic, urban renewal, and antipoverty policies in Philadelphia between the 1950s and the 1980s. This project led to his extensive work on the Lyndon Johnson White House recordings focused on the War on Poverty, as well as on the wider development of the Great Society.

He is currently working on a book project that examines the rise of the health care economy in American cities after World War II, focusing on the development of hospitals and academic medical centers as critical but problematic urban economic anchors as well as drivers of cost in the larger health care system. This project builds on his earlier work by connecting social, political, and economic developments in specific places (Baltimore provides a core case study for the book) with larger policy choices, especially those made by presidents (drawing in particular on the Center’s Presidential Oral Histories). His work offers an alternative narrative of health care policy history – and of health care reform – by focusing on the consequences of health care spending.

McKee has written about health care in a variety of venues, including an essay on the connections between health care employment and the upheavals in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, as well as an op-ed on how both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s health care policy proposals in the 2016 Democratic primary ignored key parts of the health care cost problem. McKee’s work on health care also led to an essay on Lyndon Johnson and the passage of Medicare and Medicaid for the Miller Center’s First Year Project, for which he served as a co-editor of Volume 3 on Fiscal Policy and Volume 6 on Opportunity and Mobility.

As part of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program, McKee edited Volumes 6 and 7 of The Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson. These volumes cover the period from mid-April to mid-June 1964, during which the Johnson administration lobbied for passage of the Civil Rights and Economic Opportunity Acts and struggled with increasing difficulties in Southeast Asia. He is also the editor of a thematic volume that includes all of Johnson’s recorded conversations about the War on Poverty. This project is currently being published digitally by the University of Virginia Press through its Rotunda electronic imprint.

He has published articles in the Journal of Urban HistoryJournal of Policy HistoryJournal of Planning History, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Community Development Investment Center, the Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog, the Boston Globe, and U.S. News and World Report. In 2007, he delivered the keynote address at the conference "In the Shadow of the Great Society: American Politics, Culture and Society Since 1964," hosted by the Rothermere American Institute and the American History Research Seminar, University of Oxford, U.K. 

Guian McKee News Feed

Among white parents, last year’s rallies have fostered more frank discussions of racial inequality, said one of the parents, Guian McKee, an associate professor at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. “There’s been a lot more openness to some of those challenging conversations,” he said.
Guian McKee New York Times
While GOP is banking on their base being energized by Kavanaugh, Democrats eye women: Midterms now looking more and more like a ‘national’ election, experts say.
Guian McKee Haaretz
I went to the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia to speak to two historians about the significance of the last week of August in 1968. Marc Selverstone and Guian McKee answered my questions, beginning with this: What was the atmosphere like? What were Americans thinking? What were Democrats and Republicans thinking? Guian McKee answers first.
Guian McKee The Score
Fifty years ago, at about 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while standing on the second-floor balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. About an hour later, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was just wrapping up a White House meeting with the governor of Georgia and the president of Coca-Cola, learned that the iconic civil rights leader had been killed. Tapes at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center can help the public piece together exactly what Johnson did in the ensuing days.
Guian McKee UVA Today
Secret White House recordings as President Johnson faces an America rocked by the April 4 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Miller Center's Guian McKee said people demonstrate because they feel their representatives in government are not perceiving their concerns or taking action to address the issues, as well as “to build support for their cause and to make people feel that they are not alone in having these concerns in feeling alienated.” He said the anti-gun violence student protests are deeply rooted.
Guian McKee UVA Today