DR. WILLIAM CONRAD GIBBONS

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William Conrad Gibbons was born in 1926 in Harrisonburg, Virginia to Howard and Jessie Gibbons. He entered the University of Virginia in 1945. His studies were interrupted in order to serve in World War II but he returned to finish his college education at Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Virginia and was graduated in 1949. Dr. Gibbons went on to earn his Masters and Ph.D. in Government from Princeton University in 1957 and was in the 1954-55 class of the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship Program. He worked in Capitol Hill for both Senator Wayne Morse and

Howard and Jessie Gibbons

Senator Mike Mansfield and also served as an advance man for presidential contender Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960. He was a professional staff member of the Democratic Policy Committee and Assistant to the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate (Lyndon Johnson followed by Mike Mansfeld) from 1960-63.

Dr. Gibbons ran for Congress from the Western District of Virginia, which covered his hometown of Harrisonburg but was defeated. He then returned to Washington to work as legislative program staff (62-63); Deputy Director (1963-65) and Director (1965-68) of Congressional Liaison for the Agency for International Development, Department of State.

At the beginning of the Nixon Administration, William Gibbons left Washington to set up and head the political science department at Texas A&M University. He went on to be a visiting professor at Wellesley College and worked briefly as the Senior Program Officer in charge of all historical activities for the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. In 1972, Dr. Gibbons became a senior analyst for the Foreign Affairs Division (“FAND”) of the Library of Congress, where he stayed for twenty years. It was as a senior analyst at FAND that he authored the definitive five-volume set entitled “The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War.”  In 1980 he became a visiting professor at George Mason University where he continued work on the series.

The series has been described by historians and journalists as: “By far the best books on the subject” (William Bundy), “The master of Vietnam research” (David Maraniss), “Magisterial” (Brian VanDeMark), “Bill is an overlooked hero…for people like myself, well, just watch how much his name comes up in the footnotes” (Paul Hendrickson), “One of the most valuable studies of the formulation of Vietnam policy during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations” (Stanley Karnow). This series was also a major resource for Robert S. McNamara’s book “In Retrospect” and for Stanley Karnow’s book, “Vietnam, A History” and his 26-part PBS series of the same name. “Senator Mansfield” and “TET”, both written by Don Oberdorfer, were also greatly aided by the research from the Vietnam series by Gibbons.

Bill and Pat Gibbons

Bill Gibbons has been a friend to many scholars and historians in that he shares his knowledge and research willingly to anyone who asks.  He and his wife Patricia live on 150 acres on High Peak Farm in the gently rolling hills of Monroe, VA.  He has six children (Rob, Frances, Stephen, Gayle, Ashley, Justin) and five grandchildren (Peter, Ben, Alex, Stephanie, Emma) who live in California, Switzerland, North Carolina, New York and Virginia.