Herbert S. Klein, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and curator of the Latin America Collection in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives (L&A), is the 2015 recipient of the Conference on Latin American History’s Distinguished Service Award. The award marks Klein’s long engagement in the field of Latin American studies across a career during which he has published twenty-six books and 165 articles. Before taking his position as curator of the Latin America Collection at Hoover Library &Archives, Klein was professor of history and the director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University. His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.
Earning all three of his degrees at the University of Chicago, Professor Klein began his career there, rising to the rank of associate professor in 1967, four years after receiving his PhD. That same year, Klein won the Conference for Latin American History’s prize for an article on Bolivian militarism and left Chicago for his birthplace—New York City—and Columbia University. He spent the next three decades at Columbia as a professor, retiring as the Governeur Morris Emeritus Professor of History in 2003 and an international authority on Bolivia and the Atlantic slave trade. After retiring from Columbia, he took a position as professor of history at Stanford University, where he also served as director of its Center for Latin American Studies and curator of the Latin America Collection at the Hoover Institution. In those positions he trained several generations of Latin American historians, directing more than fifty doctoral students. Almost three dozen of those students are today full professors at distinguished universities in the United States and Latin America. Professor Klein, noted for his ongoing support of students, has a special commitment to historians from Latin America, many of whom returned to teach and publish in Peru, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, meaning that uncountable numbers of students and scholars throughout the Americas can trace part of their intellectual genealogies to Professor Klein.
Throughout his career, Professor Klein has distinguished himself by drawing from and contributing to other disciplines in the social sciences, including economics, demographics, and environmental studies. That research has been recognized and supported by a vast array of grants and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Social Science Research Council grant, National Science Foundation awards, and various Fulbright awards; he is currently the editor of the Cambridge University Press Latin American Studies series. His scholarship and service work make him one of the most engaged and prolific historians working today, one who is— as a former student said—a “citizen of Latin America in the best sense.”