Russell Kirk was born on October 19, 1918 in Plymouth, Michigan. Renowned as the father of modern American conservatism, he was a historian of ideas, biographer, literary scholar, editor of serious periodicals, columnist, social critic, and frequent speaker on college campuses. For a concise biography of Dr. Kirk, comments on his legacy, and a featured essay, visit the about Russell Kirk page.

This year, the Center celebrates the centennial of his birth with a number of events and publications focused on Dr. Kirk’s life and work.

Michigan Centennial Events

By Mayoral Proclamation, the date of October 19 was declared “Russell Kirk Day in the City of Plymouth.” The Plymouth District Library hosted a capacity audience for a presentation on “Russell Kirk: Son of Plymouth and Mecosta” by James Person, editor of Imaginative Conservatism: The Letters of Russell Kirk (University of Kentucky Press, 2018). The presentation included several rarely-seen photographs of Russell as a boy in the old town section of the city in the 1920’s. Following the lecture, the audience enjoyed a delectable cake designed to resemble Kirk’s four most popular books. 

On November 15, the second annual “Kirk on Campus” evening conversation panel was held at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. “The Challenge of Contemporary Conservatism: Russell Kirk and the Populist Moment” proved an important and lively topic for John O’Sullivan, editor-at-large of National Review, the Reverend Robert Sirico, president of Acton Institute, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Senior Fellow at National Review Institute, and Dr. Jeff Polet, professor at Hope College. This year, the event was co-sponsored by the Hope College Political Science Department, National Review Institute, and the Acton Institute.  Please watch the video here.

Centennial Events Around the Country

October 3 | “Liberalism, Conservatism, & the American Founding,” a symposium on Dr. Kirk’s book The Roots of American Order. Moderator: Ryan Streeter, Director of Policy Studies, AEI. Panelists: Ted McAllister, Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Samuel Gregg, Director of Research, Acton Institute; Daniel McCarthy, editor, Modern Age. The American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC. Watch the video here.

October 12 | “Conservative Confusion: Why We should Read Russell Kirk in 2018,” lecture by Bradley Birzer, professor of history and the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies at Hillsdale College. This event is part of the McConnell Center’s “American Political Culture” lecture series inspired by Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. The University of Louisville, Kentucky.

November 13 | “Kirk, Conservatism, and the Next Century,” panel discussion with John O’Sullivan, editor-at-large of National Review, Gerald Russello, editor of The University Bookman, and Daniel McCarthy, editor of Modern Age. As an historical note, Dr. Kirk wrote a column on education for 25 years for National Review, and founded both The University Bookman and Modern Age, journals which continue to flourish today.  Co-sponsored by the National Review Institute. New York City Union League Club. The event was filmed by C-SPAN and can be viewed here.

November 17 | The Edmund Burke Society met to consider the topic “Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk and Revolution in the Modern Mind” at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. Wilfred McClay, Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, gave the keynote address entitled “A ‘Generous Loyalty’: The Vindication of a Forgotten Virtue.” Between talks, participants gathered with faculty, students, and Burke scholars to discuss shared historical interests. Belmont Abbey College President William Thierfelder opened the conference and kindly hosted a closing dinner. Video of the conference will be available soon.

Articles Examining Russell Kirk's Legacy

For easy reference, we have listed some articles related to the Russell Kirk Centenary in other journals, podcasts, or sites in 2018 – 2019 below.

“Permanent Things: Russell Kirk’s Centenary: a symposium.” The New Criterion. January,  2019.

Birzer, Bradley. “When Russell Kirk Was Really Scary.” The American Conservative. October 19, 2018.

Blake, Nathanael. “Right by Nature: Russell Kirk, Contemporary Conservatism and Natural Law.” Catholic World Report. September 21, 2018.

Collits, Paul. “Russell Kirk: American Cicero.” Quadrant. October 18, 2018.

Continetti, Matthew. “The Ghost of Russell Kirk.” The Washington Free Beacon. October 19, 2018.

Continetti, Matthew. “The Forgotten Father of American Conservatism.” The Atlantic. October 19, 2018.

Continetti, Matthew. “Russell Kirk at 100.” National Review. October 22, 2018.

Curtis, Tyler. “Russell Kirk saw Tradition as a Bulwark of Liberty.” Foundation for Economic Education. December 8, 2018.

Edwards, Lee. “Our Cultural Crisis: A Kirkian Response.” National Review. April 21, 2018. 

Edwards, Lee.  “This Man Helped Bring Conservatism Back to Life.” The Daily Signal. November 9, 2018.

Gingerich, Barton. “Russell Kirk: Where does Virtue come from?” Acton Institute Blog.  October 3, 2018.

Gizzi, John. “Russell Kirk at 100: For the Young, Still a Mighty Voice of Conservatism.” Newsmax. October 19, 2018.

Gregg, Gary. “Revisiting the Foundations of Conservatism: The Writings of Russell Kirk.” The Epoch Times. November 29, 2018.

Gregg, Samuel. “Was Wilhelm Röpke the First Fusionist?” Law and Liberty. August 11, 2018.

Hunter, Jack. “Why the Right still needs Russell Kirk.” Modern Age. Summer 2018.

Jayabalan, Kishore. “Letter from Rome: The Politics of Love and Hate.” Acton Institute. July 3, 2018.

Kengor, Paul.  “Russell Kirk Expounds on Being Catholic.” National Catholic Register.  November 3, 2018.

Krason, Stephen. “Honoring Two Intellectual Giants of the 20th Century.” Crisis Magazine. December 11, 2018.

Lockerd, Ben. “Russell Kirk’s Horror Fiction.” Radio Free Acton podcast (interview begins at 20:20). October 31, 2018.

McAlister, Jeff. “Recalling Kirk’s contribution to American conservatism.” Longview News Journal. October 13, 2018.

McCarthy, Daniel. “Conservatism isn’t Dead.” Spectator, U.S. July 23, 2018.

Miller, John. Episode 53: “The Conservative Mind.” National Review The Great Books Podcast. October 2, 2018.

Miller, John. Episode 198: “Imaginative Conservatism: the Letters of Russell Kirk.” National Review The Bookmonger Podcast. July 11, 2018. 

Miller, John. “Russell and Annette.” National Review. October 11, 2018.

Person, James. “The Mecosta Misson: Russell Kirk at 100.” The Detroit News. October 17, 2018.

Russello, Gerald. “Little Money but Good Canoeing.” National Review.  May 28, 2018.

Sirico, Robert. “Acton’s Russell Kirk Connection.” Religion and Liberty. November 29, 2018.

Sunde, Joseph.  “From ideology to imagination: How Russell Kirk brought me back to conservatism.” Acton Institute blog. October 10, 2018.

Walker, Bruce Edward. “Today Is Conservative Luminary Russell Kirk’s 100th Birthday.” The Federalist. October 19, 2018.

Wallner, James. “Russell Kirk and the Republican Predicament.” Washington Examiner. October 19, 2018.

Warner, Liam. “Russell Kirk’s Reminder: Virtue Matters.” National Review. July 21, 2018.

Wilson, James Matthew.  “Letters from Piety Hill.” Law and Liberty.  October 16, 2018.