Alumni Updates

Every year we look forward to sharing the progress of our alumni!

Katherine Aiken earns Idaho’s top history award

Congratulations to University of Idaho professor emeritus and History alulmnus Katherine Aiken for receiving the Idaho State Historical Society’s prestigious Esto Perpetua Award of 2020. Professor Aiken’s research has long focused on social and cultural history as well as topics in women’s history and labor history. According to the Idaho State Historical Society, the Esto Perpetua Award “takes its name from the state’s motto, ‘let it be perpetual,’ and for the past 22 years, the Idaho State Historical Society has recognized people and organizations who have preserved and promoted Idaho’s history through professional accomplishments, public service or volunteerism, and philanthropy.”

Aiken recently spoke with WSU History Professor Raymond Sun and said, “I enjoyed every history course I took at WSU and was privileged to have such talented professors as David Coon, Richard Hume, Howard Payne, Edward Bennett, and Susan Armitage. My advisor, mentor, and friend LeRoy Ashby taught courses that informed my entire career, especially his recent America courses. I taught history for almost four decades and the foundation that Washington State University faculty provided stood me in good stead. I thought of my professors often when I prepared lectures and assignments.”

Read more from Professor Aiken’s alumni interview in our Alumni Highlights.

Aiken and her family have made a positive and enduring impact on the Department of History and its students through a fellowship they created in their father’s name. The William D. Aiken Memorial Scholarship is generally given to undergraduate or graduate students in support of scholarly activities and travel relevant to the study of history.

Last year, she became interested in the Fallen Cougars Project, which was founded by Sun to commemorate WSU’s war dead. She visited one of Sun’s classes and then decided with her siblings to redirect some of the fellowship monies to help fund research in the Fallen Cougars Project. “Those students are doing great work,” Aiken said, in “a really nice, hands-on history project.”

Learn more about Aiken and her connection to the Fallen Cougars Project.

If you are interested in making a gift to the Department of History, please click “I want to give” at left or contact the CAS Development office at or 509-335-1096.

Laura Arata publishes Race and the Wild West

Laura Arata’s (PhD 2014) book, Race and the Wild West, was recently published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Arata is currently an assistant professor of history and director of the Public History program at Oklahoma State University.

Born a slave in eastern Tennessee, Sarah Blair Bickford (1852–1931) made her way while still a teenager to Montana Territory, where she settled in the mining boomtown of Virginia City. Race and the Wild West is the first full-length biography of this remarkable woman, whose life story affords new insight into race and belonging in the American West around the turn of the 20th century.

Learn more about Race and the Wild West.

Mandy Link presents at National WWI Museum

Mandy Link (PhD 2015) presented “Ireland and the complexities of remembering World War I” for the National WWI Museum and Memorial on Nov. 12, 2020. The presentation has been made available on the museum’s Youtube channel. We have embedded it below for easy viewing!