Honors College Alumnus Explores Lincoln’s Influence on Music

Distinguished Honors alumnus and musicologist Thomas Kernan was featured in the Chicago Tribune for his doctoral exploration of former president Abraham Lincoln’s influence on music and evolution as a political symbol and hero over time.

Kernan graduated from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance with a Bachelor of Music in 2005. White attending UMKC, Kernan was also an active member of the Honors Program. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 2008. Today, he serves as Assistant Professor of Music History at Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL.

Kernan has unearthed upwards of one thousand pieces of music that emphasize Lincoln’s influence throughout five generations – a period longer than previous research had suggested. These pieces illustrate Lincoln as everything from a classic American success story to a commander-in-chief rallying for victory. Kernan’s examination was exhaustive; he combed the Lincoln Presidential Library tirelessly for two weeks and made visits to various universities nationwide with his wife, Sarah Peters Kernan, a fellow UMKC and Honors Program alumna.

Kernan’s work earned him the $1,000 Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize from the Lincoln Library in February 2015. His goal is to have completed a searchable online database from his findings by April 2017.

Read more about Kernan’s scholarship on the Chicago Tribune.