Faculty & Staff

Michael David Cohen serves as editor and project director of the Correspondence of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore. A historian of nineteenth-century America, he holds appointments as a research professor in the Department of Government and as a faculty fellow in the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. In 2019, as the final editor of the James K. Polk Project at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, he completed a decades-long endeavor to publish the eleventh president’s letters. Earlier he worked at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, on the Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. He holds a PhD in history from Harvard University.

In addition to three volumes of the Correspondence of James K. Polk, Dr. Cohen has published articles on the history of U.S. politics, education, and society and on the editing of historical documents in journals including The New England Quarterly and The Good Society. His book Reconstructing the Campus: Higher Education and the American Civil War won the Critics’ Choice Book Award from the American Educational Studies Association and the Linda Eisenmann Prize from the History of Education Society. He appeared in a radio documentary about Sarah Childress Polk, the president’s wife, on the Voice of America; delivered the 2016 Annual Presidential Lecture at Northwestern Oklahoma State University; and, in 2019, organized the conference James K. Polk and His Time. From 2017 to 2020 he served as a councilor-at-large for the Association for Documentary Editing.

Dr. Cohen can be contacted at mdcohen@american.edu. His full cv can be found here.


David C. Barker, executive director of the Correspondence of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, is a professor of government and director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. He was previously director of the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at California State University, Sacramento (2012–2017), and associate/assistant professor of political science and religious studies at University of Pittsburgh (1999–2012). He studies political psychology, voting behavior, political communication, legislative behavior and social welfare policy. He has served as principal investigator on over 60 externally funded research projects (totaling more than $16 million). He has authored/coauthored over 80 publications, including three books (Rushed to Judgment [2002; Columbia University Press], Representing Red and Blue [2012; Oxford University Press] and One Nation, Two Realities [2019; Oxford University Press]), and dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles (in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, and many others). His current research program seeks to identify the sources of productive political negotiation and compromise. While directing the ISR, he founded CALSPEAKS Opinion Research, the first set of state/local survey panels online to use random probability sampling in California, and co-founded the Public Health Survey Research Program, which collects the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for the state of California and the US Centers for Disease Control. He has served on 25 doctoral dissertation committees, chairing 10 of them, and has received multiple teaching awards. He has held visiting appointments at Science Po, Glasgow University, and University of Sydney.

Dr. Barker can be contacted at dbarker@american.edu. His full cv can be found here.


Alyssa Moore is an intern for the Taylor-Fillmore project. She is currently a senior at St. Olaf College, in Minnesota, where she is pursuing a double major in history and English with a concentration in women’s and gender studies. During her time at St. Olaf, Alyssa has interned for multiple archives and historical societies, including the Norwegian American Historical Association, one of the largest collections of Norwegian local histories in America. She has extensive experience with nineteenth-century documents, acquired from a CURI fellowship transcribing letters in the Pickens Family Papers. These experiences have guided her to pursue a master’s degree in public history. She plans to matriculate in fall of 2021.


Alexander Pando Kiprof is an intern for the Taylor-Fillmore project. A senior at St. Olaf College, he is earning his BA in classics and history with a concentration in linguistic studies. After graduating in the spring of 2021, he plans to go to graduate school for classics.






Former Staff

Gabriella A. Siegfried, editorial assistant, 2020

Zoe Golden, intern, 2020

Gretchen Ohlmacher, intern, 2020