Dr. Walter B. Edgar was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1943. He received his undergraduate education from Davidson College in 1965 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of South Carolina in 1967 and 1969, respectively. Dr. Edgar served in the U.S. Army from 1969-71, including a year as an advisor in Vietnam. He has been a professor of history at the University of South Carolina since 1972, has served as graduate director of the Department of History, and has directed many graduate students in their studies for the M.A. and the Ph.D.
Dr. Edgar was the founder and first director of the Applied History Program (now the Public History Program), offering graduate training in historic preservation, museum studies, and archival theory. He has also been the director of the Institute of Southern Studies since 1990, and has been the Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies since 1995.
Chief among Dr. Edgar's many publications is his acclaimed South Carolina: A History, the first comprehensive history of the state published in the last fifty years, described as "a bold and sweeping reassessment and the history of South Carolina for this generation." He is also the editor of several books, such as A Southern Renascence Man: Views of Robert Penn Warren and South Carolina: The WPA Guide to the Palmetto State. Dr. Edgar's most recent major work was a multi-year project planning, supervising, and editing the South Carolina Encyclopedia, with articles by almost 600 contributors, published by the University of South Carolina Press in 2006.
An enthusiastic interpreter of South Carolina and Southern history, culture, and life, he does so in a public forum in his weekly radio series on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgars Journal, and as a frequent speaker to many historical, civic, and other organizations in South Carolina, across the United States, and abroad.