Those who fail to learn from the past, are bound to repeat it. Such is the succinct explanation of the importance of history to the advancement of human society. Before history became a standardized profession, it has always been a part of our lives as human beings. As each generation learns from the mistakes of their past and shapes their behavior in response to their previous experiences, the knowledge is passed down to their children and siblings. While the information necessary for survival was limited thousands of years ago, that is no longer the case today. The complex nature of human society and the hundreds of thousands of events in its history has made the need for a group of people who are dedicated to sifting through the junk and providing us the important bits of knowledge needed in moving our society forward. One of those who has dedicated to this higher task is Lola Van Wagenen. Who is Lola Van Wagenen? Learn about the American historian below.
Lola Van Wagenen Bio
Lola Van Wagenen is known for her promotion of history education, consumer activism and as the co-founder of Consumer Action Now and Clip Visualizing History, a documentary production company.
The historian was born in Provo, Utah to Mormon parents. In an ironic twist, there is no available information about the historian’s family history. We do, however, know she was born in December 1938 and to a Dutch father, if her name is anything to go by.
Although she was raised as a follower of the Mormon religion, Lola since becoming an adult has explored and consulted other forms of religious and philosophical knowledge.
With nothing known of her high school and childhood days, our knowledge of her education history starts from the undergraduate days. She earned a Bachelor’s degree at Vermont College, graduating in 1982 and later earned a master’s degree at New York University in 1984. She earned her master’s in Public History. After 10 years of research and academic work, she got a Ph.D. in American History at New York University.
The excellence of her doctoral dissertation was later made into a book that was published in 2003. The book was titled “Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Polygamy and the Politics of Woman Suffrage 1870-1896”.
Her academic career has lasted decades, during which she was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni/Alumnae Achievement Award from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University.
Lola Van Wagenen Career
She has served on various scholarship boards, including the Robertson Scholars selection committee for Duke University and the University of North Carolina. She has served as part of the task force on Appropriate Technology with the U.S Office of Technology Assessment and was a member of the National Commission on the International Year of the Child.
In her professional career outside academics, Lola Van Wagenen first gained national prominence as the wife of veteran actor, Robert Redford. Lola’s professional career has however not been defined by the short marriage. She has gone on to serve as executive producer for several documentaries and films.
She has a company alongside Jeanne Houck, another historian called Clio Visualizing History Inc. The documentary production company has produced several documentaries and short films both for its clients and its own internal projects.
Lola Van Wagenen is also a known consumer activist who has established Consumer Action Now, a nonprofit organization. Since the organization’s establishment, it has recorded several achievements including the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Among her other achievements includes an Honorary doctorate from the Pratt Institute.
Lola Van Wagenen has two companies that have been modestly successful. Her documentary production company, Clio Visualizing History, Inc has produced several short films and documentaries and as such, along with earnings from her academic career, Lola has been able to build a net worth of $2 million.
Husband, Children, Grandchildren
Before Lola Van Wagenen began her life as an overachieving historian and documentarian, she was married to Robert Redford in 1957. The marriage lasted 18 years and the two had four children namely – Amy Redford, James Redford, Shauna Redford, Scott Anthony Redford.
After their divorce in 1985, however, Lola went many years without getting married until 2002 when she married her current spouse, George Burrill, an entrepreneur who runs an international development firm.
Lola Van Wagenen has five grandchildren from the relationships of her two daughters, Shauna Redford, Amy Redford, and her son, James Redford.