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It’s Nobel Prize season again and again the winners of the prestigious awardS will be largely unknown outside their fields.  But America has had several famous winners.  Did you know that Nobel Prize went to:


Theodore Roosevelt (Peace) — Roosevelt was the first American president to win a Nobel, taking the honor in 1906 for leading peace negotiations ending the Russo-Japanese War.  Other American presidents who won Nobels for peace include Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama.  One former vice-president, Al Gore, also won in 2007.

Jane Addams (Peace) — The founder of Hull House, the settlement home in Chicago dedicated to helping poor immigrant families, Addams also founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919.  This latter effort won her the Nobel in 1931.

The American Friends Service Committee — (Peace) — For 300 years of peace making, and particularly for relief work following World War II, the AFSC accepted the award in 1947 on behalf of all Quakers. 


John Steinbeck (Literature) — The author of The Grapes of Wrath was at the end of his career when he won the Nobel in 1962.  “In my heart there may be some doubt that I deserve the award,” Steinbeck said in his acceptance speech.  Other American Nobelists in literature include Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O’Neill, Pearl S. Buck, Faulkner, Hemingway, Saul Bellow, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joseph Brodsky, Toni Morrison, and yes, Bob Dylan.

Martin Luther King (Peace) — A year after his March on Washington, King won the Nobel for his non-violent campaign for civil rights.  In his Nobel speech, King said, “I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice.”


Richard Feynman (Physics) — Little-known outside the world of physics when he won in 1965, Feynman went on to become a legendary character known for his antics as much as his physics.  Asked by a reporter to explain his winning work in a few minutes, Feynman said, “If I could explain it in a few minutes I wouldn’t have won the Nobel.”

Paul Krugman (Economics) — Before he became a columnist for The New York Times, Krugman did pioneering research in international trade theory.  He won the prize in 2008.  Other American nobelists in economics are too numerous to mention but the list includes the only woman to win an economics Nobel, Elinor Ostrom.




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