A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Taylor teaches the history and practice of democracy at Roger Williams University, is Visiting Curator of Public History at the Newport Historical Society, a collaborator with Disney Citizenship on a new civics education project, and the author of Colonial Williamsburg: The Official Guide (2014) and the forthcoming Public History: A Field Guide (2017). Formerly Instructor of Public History and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Visiting Fellow at Harvard University, chief historian for Colonial Williamsburg, and Invited Research Scholar at Brown University, Taylor is an alumnus of Harvard, the Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Virginia, where he earned his Ph.D. in History with a focus on Revolutionary America and the British Atlantic World. He is also an adviser to C-SPAN television networks, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, Plimoth Plantation, and the United Empire Loyalists of Canada, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Roger Williams Park Conservancy.
Taylor is currently writing Public History: A Field Guide (to be published by Rowman & Littlefield for the American Association of State & Local History), a comprehensive college and post-graduate level textbook on the practice of public history, for students and practitioners alike. He is also at work on a book about the history of loyalists in the era of the American Revolution entitled Dangerous Persuasions: The Loyalist Experience in Revolutionary America. More of his recent work can be found in an essay on Virginia loyalists in the soon-to-be published Loyalty & Revolution: Essays in Honor of Robert M. Calhoon, co-edited by Rebecca Brannon and Joseph Moore (University of South Carolina Press, 2017), commentary on the Tylers and Clevelands in C-SPAN’s First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women, edited by Susan Swain (2015), his Colonial Williamsburg: The Official Guide, and a chapter on George Washington’s political education in A Companion to George Washington, edited by Ed Lengel (2012).
Since leaving a career in national politics to become an historian, Taylor has taught at Roger Williams, Harvard, the University of Virginia, Brown, and the College of William & Mary. Among his television projects, Taylor is currently at work on a documentary with the Newport Historical Society (“Lafayette’s Sword”), and has appeared as an expert on the transatlantic economy on the BBC’s “Addicted to Pleasure” series and as an on-air contextualist for C-SPAN’s “First Ladies: Image and Impact” series, particularly for the episodes on Martha Washington, Letitia and Julia Tyler, and Frances Cleveland. Taylor has been a Fellow at the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, the Huntington Library in California, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Virginia Historical Society, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, and at the John Carter Brown Library (JCB) at Brown. Moreover, he has participated in the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World at Harvard, was a visiting scholar at Trinity Hall of Cambridge University, and has directed the Seminar on Transatlantic History with Oxford University, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Virginia. For a summer he even picked up a trowel and volunteered as a member of the archaeology team at Mount Vernon, excavating George Washington’s whiskey distillery.
Before becoming an historian, Taylor attended law school at Tulane University and then worked in politics as a policy adviser, speechwriter, spokesperson, and senior campaign and legislative aide to U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, and then for the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Taylor also managed a congressional campaign in the 2000 election cycle, after which he was the national Communications Director for the League of Conservation Voters. He appeared regularly on CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, NPR, Fox News, and other outlets as a political commentator. And, in the off-the-beaten-path department, Taylor also spent two summers in college as a Performing Arts Cast Member at Disneyland, understudying “Gaston” in the first Disney stage production of Beauty and the Beast.
In his spare time, Taylor is an avid fan of the Baltimore Orioles, lacrosse, professional tennis, and equestrian sports, especially field and show jumping (he was the university adviser for the Harvard Equestrian Team from 2015 to 2017). He and his wife–an artist, writer, and award-winning journalist–live in Providence, Rhode Island.
Taylor can be reached by e-mail at rstoermer[at]rwu.edu, tstoermer[at]newporthistorical.org, or by phone at (401) 484-1720.