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Frederick H. Burkhardt received a scholarship to study at Columbia University and earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1933. With a fellowship at Oxford University, he earned another bachelor's degree in 1935. Returning to Columbia, he completed a Ph.D. in philosophy 1940. His first teaching position was in philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During World War II, he was recruited to work for the Office of Strategic Services. Burkhardt served as president of Bennington College in Vermont from 1947 to 1957. He then served as president of the American Council of Learned Societies (A.C.L.S.), from 1859 to 1874; during this time the organization expanded from 30 to 69 societies, and achieved financial stability. Burkhardt was also influential in the establishment of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He sat on the Board of the Alfred Harcourt Foundation from 1962 to 2004. From 1966 to 1973 he was a member of the New York Board of Higher Education, serving as chairman from 1969 to 1971. In 1986, Burkhardt edited a 19 volume edition of the complete writings of Henry James. Upon retirement from the A.C.L.S., he founded the Darwin Correspondence Project with Professor Sydney Smith. The Project, based in Cambridge, England, gathered letters to and from Charles Darwin for publication, and began with the publication of The Calendar of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Burkhardt directed the project for many years, and remained active in its editing until his death, contributing to the first 17 of the projected 32 volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin (Cambridge University Press).