Goodwin discusses lessons from plagiarism admission

By Renee Ruble

Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said being the target of criticism after she admitted plagiarism will make her less judgmental in the future.

In one of her first speeches since she admitted in January that some portions of her 1987 book about the Kennedys were copied from other sources, Goodwin said she had dealt fairly and openly with the mistake.

"In the long run, my own passion for history and the integrity that I have shown will win out," she said during a speech at the College of St. Catherine Thursday night.


Goodwin had planned to speak about democracy at the college's "Women of Substance" lecture series, but she changed her address to "The Writing of History: Problems and Pleasures."

She said the "media storm" that followed her admission will affect her work as commentator on current events. She appears regularly on PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" and NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I hope I will be more empathetic and less quick to judge," Goodwin said.

In January, Goodwin acknowledged that "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys," released in 1987, contained passages that closely resembled prose from three other book. She settled privately with one of the authors soon after publication.

Since then, her research assistants have found uncredited passages copied from other books, according to The New York Times. She has declined to specify how many or which books, saying her researchers were still at work.

In her speech, Goodwin said the mistakes came when she reviewed notes written in longhand and mistakenly assumed her notes were already paraphrased. "There were sentences that should have been in quotes," she said.

Goodwin has withdrawn as a judge of the Pulitzer Prizes next month, citing the distraction of the controversy.

She has been on the board since March 1999 and won a Pulitzer of her own for her 1995 book "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II."


Goodwin is not the only well-known author recently found to have misused the work of others. Best-selling historian Stephen Ambrose was accused of using other writers' material for his books, and Joseph Ellis acknowledged lying to his Mount Holyoke students about serving in Vietnam.

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