Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (BOLLI)

The Presidency of Harry S. Truman: The Lore, the Leadership, the Legacy

Course Number


Study Group Leader (SGL)

Fran Feldman


This course will take place in a BOLLI classroom (22-person capacity) with a maximum enrollment of 15 to allow for some social distancing. The classroom will be equipped with a HEPA air purifier.

10-Week Course

April 1 - May 6. No Class April 22.


“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Surely, a cliché, you are thinking. Yet it’s significant how much of today’s news so closely resonates with events 70+ years ago during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Talk of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine harkens back to the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945, which gave birth to the nuclear age. Russia’s aggression today reflects the lowering of the Iron Curtain in 1946. NATO, which figures so prominently in the news currently, was an achievement of the Truman years. Current efforts to ensure true racial equality and diversity, to understand and undermine racism, and to shore up the middle class at the expense of the very wealthy echo much of what was Truman’s Fair Deal. The Iraq and Vietnam wars closely parallel the Korean War of the Truman years. Rather than being a survey, the course will focus on major events of Truman’s presidency, including the atomic bomb, the development of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, and the tragedy of the Korean War, with just a brief mention of Truman’s early years and government experience prior to 1945. Learning in the classroom is collaborative, with no lectures, lots of discussion, and, importantly, research and reports by participants on the significant achievements of the Truman presidency. The book Truman will be a constant guide during the course.

Group Leadership Style

More facilitated discussion than lecture.

Course Materials

Truman by David McCullough (optional) or other readings.  

Preparation Time

2-3 hours per week.


Passionate about the study of government and history, Fran Feldman majored in government at Smith College, received a Master of Arts in Teaching (in history) from Yale, and taught social studies. Later, in California, she embarked on a second career editing books for Sunset Books. After returning to the Boston area, she worked as an administrator/financial trainer in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. Her avocations include golf, traveling, and volunteer work. Previously at BOLLI she taught “The Remarkable Roosevelts,” “Allies and Adversaries,” “The Reluctant Ally,”  “Four Portraits of Leadership,” and “A Life of Purpose in 20th-Century Moscow.”