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History | Humanities

Guide to Graduate Fields of Study & Major Professors


Preferred Fields of Study forms

The following information is designed to help applicants complete the Preferred Fields of Study Form (for M.A. and for Ph.D.), which must be submitted with the application materials. Please use the form to advise the Graduate Studies Committee as to your preference(s) regarding primary fields, secondary fields, and major professors.

Primary Fields

An individual professor will serve as a major professor of a Ph.D. student in a primary field. The professor will be responsible for the student’s preliminary examination in the primary field and will mentor the student’s doctoral dissertation.

Field of StudyFaculty Member(s)
Colonial and Early Republic Lawrence B.A. Hatter
19th Century U.S.Peter Boag
L Heidenreich
Jennifer Thigpen
Modern U.S.Robert Bauman (TC)
Peter Boag
L Heidenreich
Rob McCoy
Laurie Mercier (V)
Jeff Sanders
Matt Sutton
U.S. Foreign RelationsNoriko Kawamura
U.S. Women and GenderPeter Boag
L Heidenreich
Laurie Mercier (V)
Jennifer Thigpen
U.S. EnvironmentPeter Boag
Jeff Sanders
U.S. West / BorderlandsRobert Bauman (TC)
Peter Boag
Lawrence Hatter
L Heidenreich
Rob McCoy
Laurie Mercier (V)
Jeff Sanders
U.S. Race and EthnicityRobert Bauman (TC)
L Heidenreich
Rob McCoy
Laurie Mercier (V)
Atlantic WorldLawrence Hatter
Alan Malfavon
Sue Peabody (V)
Reformation EuropeJesse Spohnholz
18th Century EuropeSue Peabody (V)
Modern BritainAshley Wright
Modern FranceSteven Kale
Modern GermanyRay Sun
Modern JapanW. Puck Brecher
Modern Russia/Soviet Union/Post-SovietBrigit Farley (TC)
Modern ChinaXiuyu Wang (V)
Colonial Latin AmericaAlan Malfavon
Modern Latin AmericaAndra Chastain (V)
Alan Malfavon

(V) = Vancouver Campus
(TC) = Tri Cities Campus

General Fields

Each field will have a coordinator, who will be responsible for coordinating 1) the field’s preliminary examination and 2) the initial mentor screening of graduate applications (M.A. and Ph.D.) for the field. The coordinator will also serve on the Graduate Studies Committee.

Field of StudyFaculty Member(s)
U.S.Robert Bauman (TC)
Peter Boag
Lawrence Hatter
Noriko Kawamura
Rob McCoy
Laurie Mercier (V)
Jeff Sanders
Matt Sutton
Jennifer Thigpen
Early Modern EuropeSue Peabody (V)
Jesse Spohnholz
Modern EuropeBrigit Farley (TC)
Steven Kale
Ray Sun
Ashley Wright
PublicRobert Bauman (TC)
Rob McCoy
Laurie Mercier (V)
East AsiaWilliam Puck Brecher
Xiuyu Wang (V)
WorldAndra Chastain (V)
Alan Malfavon
Sue Peabody (V)
Xiuyu Wang (V)
Ashley Wright

(V) = Vancouver Campus
(TC) = Tri-Cities Campus

World/Comparative Field (Ph.D. students only)

All Ph.D. students must take 9 credits of graduate courses to fulfill the requirements of World/Comparative Field. The World/Comparative Field will have dual purposes of (1) providing opportunities that allow students to learn and explore global and comparative perspectives of students’ research subjects, and (2) offering credible training in world history as a teaching field.  No preliminary examination is required for the World/Comparative Field. Students must pass all three courses with a minimum grade of B+.   All students (except those who take World History as their General field*) are required to take 570, 571, and one more field course (either 571, a graduate field course outside their General Field, or a 400- or 500-level course outside History.

*Students who pursue World History as their General Field must define a comparative field in consultation with their major professor, and take at least 9 credits of graduate field courses that will focus on specific geographic areas outside their Primary Field, or 6 credits of those courses and one course outside the discipline of history.

Public History Track


This supplement is to be used in conjunction with the Department of History’s Graduate Guidelines and the Graduate School Policies and Procedures. Only additions to and exceptions from the traditional graduate program in history are included below.

In the fall of 1979 the department first offered M.A. and Ph.D. tracks in public history. The public history track augments traditional graduate curricula by introducing students to areas outside the academic setting where they can apply their training. The track prepares students to adapt and apply skills in history to private and public audiences on the local, state, and national levels. Three (3) specific graduate courses offer introductory background and general training in public history. Internships, additional course work (including workshops, seminars, short courses, and courses outside the department), and the thesis/dissertation offer further specialization. Specific areas of public history activity include archives, business and corporate history, cultural resource management, historic preservation, litigation support, museums, and public policy.

Public history has numerous defining qualities that distinguish it from traditional academic history endeavors. It is frequently multidisciplinary in that public historians must often incorporate aspects of other disciplines into a work product. Completing a historic/architectural survey, for example, requires a basic knowledge of architectural style. Public history often employs a team approach for a project that is too large or unwieldy for one historian and complicated by specific, non-negotiable completion dates. Public historians often collaborate not only with other historians but with archaeologists, anthropologists, sociologists, economists, architects, public officials, scientists, and attorneys.

Career opportunities for public historians include traditional academic positions, but more often employment can be found in local and state historical societies, state historical agencies, public and private libraries and archives, and numerous federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. Historians also find work with private research firms that undertake contracted research and historical report preparation, or they may contract independently for such work.

Public History at WSU

The public history program at Washington State University was established in 1979 and offers both an M.A. and Ph.D. WSU’s mission is to train graduate students to work on historical projects with a broad range of audiences and institutions, as well as prepare them for positions in museums, archives, and historic preservation.

Affiliations

A WICHE Program

The graduate program in history is a participant in the Western Regional Graduate Program of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). This makes high-quality graduate programs available to WICHE-state students at a reasonable cost. Through this program, residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible to enroll at resident rates of tuition.

Degree Requirements


Master of Arts in History (Thesis Option)

Checklist: M.A. in History

Foreign Language

Knowledge of a foreign language is not required for admission to the master’s program, although all applicants are asked to give evidence of experience in at least one (1) foreign language. A student’s major professor may require a departmentally administered written translation examination in one (1) or more languages for completion of the M.A. degree. The stipulated language requirement must be fulfilled prior to registration for the Master’s Thesis, Research, and/or Examination (History 700), or by the beginning of the student’s third semester in the program. If a student has English as a second language and if it is appropriate to his or her program, the student may count the native language as the foreign language. Students are encouraged to satisfy this requirement as soon as possible.

Program Requirements

The program consists of 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree; 6 of the 30 credit hours must be Master’s Research, Thesis, and/or Examination (History 700). At least 21 hours must be in courses and seminar work at the 400 and 500 level taken for traditional letter grades (A–F). Of these 21 hours of course work, up to 6 credits of non-graduate credit may be used. Six (6) of these credit hours may be taken outside the Department of History from courses listed in the Graduate School Bulletin. At least 15 hours must be taken in the Department of History; these must include Historiography (History 580), one (1) 3-credit research seminar that is linked with three (3) credits of History 700: Master’s Research (taken with student’s major professor), one (1) field course in the general or primary field and one (1) field course in an area outside the primary and general fields. Course work outside of these core requirements at the 400 or 500 level should be taken in the student’s fields of study. All M.A. students are expected to take at least 3 graduate-level, 3-credit, letter-graded courses in their primary or general field, and at least 2 additional graduate-level, 3-credit, letter-graded courses. If required courses are not available during the student’s tenure in the program, appropriate substitutes may be taken (History 597, independent readings, etc.) with the approval of the major professor and the director of graduate studies.

Primary Fields of Study

The Primary Field is embedded in the General Field.  The Primary Field provides expertise for student’s research focus as expressed in the master’s thesis.

  • Colonial and Early Republic
  • 19th Century U.S.
  • Modern U.S.
  • U.S. Foreign Relations
  • U.S. Women and Gender
  • U.S. Environment
  • U.S. West
  • U.S. Race and Ethnicity
  • Atlantic World
  • Reformation Europe
  • 18th Century Europe
  • Modern France
  • Modern Germany
  • Modern Britain
  • Modern Russia/Soviet Union/Post-Soviet
  • Modern China
  • Modern Japan
  • West Africa
  • Colonial Africa

List of Field of Study Faculty

General Fields

The General Field provides a broader geographical, chronological, and historiographical framework for the primary field.

  • U.S.
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Modern Europe
  • Public
  • East Asia
  • World

List of Field of Study Faculty

Note: For students looking to study with a General Field in World History, the additional course requirements of History 570 (World History Theory and Methods) and History 571 (Topics in World History). Checklist: M.A. in History, World History. History 570 and History 571 will serve as the field course requirements. The student must secure approval for the thesis topic from the major professor and the coordinator of world history.

The Master’s Thesis

Students taking the thesis option in the M.A. program must complete a master’s thesis for the purpose of demonstrating advanced research skills in preparation for the pursuit of the doctoral degree. The student must file a program of study with the Chair of the Department of History by March 1 of the second semester of enrollment in the masters program. The program of study establishes the student’s committee (with the major professor as chair), outlines a course of study, and proposes a thesis topic. M.A. students in the thesis track are expected to hold a T-1 meeting by the end of the second semester of enrollment. At the T-1 meeting, the student will present the committee with a thesis proposal for the committee’s approval. If necessary, meetings with the thesis committee will continue until such approval is achieved. The major professor will place a memo in the student’s file when agreement has been reached and will provide a copy to the student and other members of the committee.

Oral Examination

When the master’s thesis has been accepted by the thesis committee, the student will present him- or herself for an oral examination. The oral examination must be scheduled in advance by the student in consultation with the major professor and should ordinarily be attended by members of the student’s thesis committee. It will be conducted in accordance with the Policies and Procedures of the Graduate School and will center primarily on the thesis and only secondarily on course work. The student is required to provide the Department of History with a hardbound copy of his/her thesis once the degree is completed. Any departmental expenses incurred in submitting the completed thesis (office printing, xeroxing, and thesis binding) will be charged to the student’s account.

Master of Arts in History (Non-Thesis Option)

A non-thesis M.A. degree is normally understood to be a terminal degree.

Foreign Language

Knowledge of a foreign language is not required for admission to the master’s program, although all applicants are asked to give evidence of experience in at least one (1) foreign language. A student’s major professor may require a departmentally administered written translation examination in one (1) or more languages for completion of the M.A. degree. The stipulated language requirement must be fulfilled prior to registration for the Special Problems, Directed Study, and/or Examination (History 702). If a student has English as a second language and if it is appropriate to his or her program, the student may count the native language as the foreign language. Students are encouraged to satisfy this requirement as soon as possible.

Program Requirements

The program consists of 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree; at least 26 credit hours must be in course and seminar work at the 400 and 500 level, taken for traditional letter grades (A–F). Of these 26 hours of course work, up to 9 credits of non-graduate (300- or 400-level) courses may be used. Six (6) of these credit hours may be taken outside the Department of History from courses listed in the Graduate School Bulletin. At least 21 credit hours must be taken in the Department of History and must include Historiography (History 580), at least 2 field courses from 2 different fields of study and at least 2 seminars in which research papers are prepared. Four (4) credit hours of Master’s Special Problems, Directed Study, and/or Examination (History 702) must be taken and should be devoted to the preparation of scholarly work approved and directed by the student’s major professor and by an advisory committee made up of professors from the student’s 2 fields of study. The major professor will preside as chair. If required courses are not available during the student’s tenure in the program, appropriate substitutes may be taken (History 597, independent readings, etc.) with the approval of the major professor and the director of graduate studies.

The student must file a program of study with the Chair of the Department of History by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the masters program. The program establishes the student’s committee and outlines a course of study.

Note: For students looking to study with a General Field in World History, the additional course requirements of History 570 (World History Theory and Methods) and History 571 (Topics in World History). Checklist: M.A. in History, World History. History 570 and History 571 will serve as the field course requirements. The student must secure approval for the thesis topic from the major professor and the coordinator of world history.

Oral Examination

A final oral examination will be scheduled and conducted in accordance with the Policies and Procedures of the Graduate School. The examination will concern the areas and periods covered in the seminars and field courses taken in the master’s program. The student must submit to each member of the advisory committee, at least 2 weeks prior to the date of the examination, a copy of the work prepared in History 702, as well as polished copies of the research papers prepared in the 2 seminars. (If more than 2 seminars were taken, the student and the major professor shall stipulate which 2 papers shall be submitted.) After gaining the approval of the advisory committee for each of the seminar papers, the student must pass the final oral examination. The papers must be deposited in the student’s departmental file for permanent retention.

Academic Standards

The academic standards set forth in the Policies and Procedures of the Graduate School will be strictly observed. M.A. students who fall below a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in any 2 semesters will be permanently barred from further enrollment. The director of graduate studies will send a letter informing the dean of the Graduate School that the student will be barred from further enrollment in graduate study in history and stating the reasons for the decision. A copy will be sent to the student. Only grades of B or better will be accepted for program credit.

Doctor of Philosophy in History

Checklist: Ph.D. in History

The PhD program in History at WSU trains professional researchers who are competent in historical theory and methods.  Our program prepares students for careers in historical research, public history, and teaching at colleges and universities.

PhD students must satisfy the requirements in three fields (Primary, General, and World/Comparative), and pass preliminary examinations in Primary and General Fields.

Primary Fields

(eight-hour Preliminary Exam)

The Primary Field is embedded in the General Field.  The Primary Field provides expertise for student’s research focus as expressed in the doctoral dissertation.

  • Colonial and Early Republic
  • 19th Century U.S.
  • Modern U.S.
  • U.S. Foreign Relations
  • U.S. Women and Gender
  • U.S. Environment
  • U.S. West
  • U.S. Race and Ethnicity
  • Atlantic World
  • Reformation Europe
  • 18th Century Europe
  • Medieval Islamic History
  • Modern France
  • Modern Germany
  • Modern Britain
  • Modern Russia/Soviet Union/Post-Soviet
  • Modern China
  • Modern Japan
  • West Africa
  • Colonial Africa

List of Field of Study Faculty

Please note:
All students must consult with their major professors to select appropriate General and Comparative Fields. A Public History student has the option of choosing the U.S. General Field as his/her Primary Field (8-hour exam) with approval of his/her major professor.

General Fields

(six-hour Preliminary Exam)

The General Field provides a broader geographical, chronological, and historiographical framework for the primary field.

  • U.S.
  • Middle East
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Modern Europe
  • Public
  • East Asia
  • World

List of Field of Study Faculty

World/Comparative Field

The World/Comparative Field provides spatial and temporal context to complement Primary and General Fields and to provide research and teaching breadth. The World/Comparative field must be different from the Primary and General Fields.

All PhD students must take 9 credits of graduate courses to fulfill the requirements of World/Comparative Field. The World/Comparative Field will have dual purposes of (1) providing opportunities that allow students to learn and explore global and comparative perspectives of students’ research subjects, and (2) offering credible training in world history as a teaching field. No preliminary examination is required for the World/Comparative Field.  Students must pass all three courses with the minimum grade of B+. All students (except those who take World History as their General field*) are required to take a World field, consisting of: 570, 571, and one more field course (either 571, a graduate field course outside their General Field, or a 400 or 500-level course outside History).

List of Field of Study Faculty

*Students who pursue World History as their General Field must define a comparative field in consultation with their major professor, and take at least 9 credits of graduate field courses that will focus on specific geographic areas outside their Primary Field, or 6 credits of those courses and one course outside the discipline of history.

General Program Requirements

The program consists of 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. A minimum of 36 of those credits must be from graded courses and the remainder from dissertation research.  The student’s program of study will be formulated in close consultation with his/her faculty advisor subject to approval by the Graduate Studies Committee.  The student must file a program of study with the Chair of the Department of History by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the doctoral program. The program establishes the student’s committee, outlines a course of study, and proposes a dissertation topic. The Program of Study Form should be submitted to the Chair of the Department of History. If students are seeking the transfer of graduate credits from another institution, they must list those courses when filing their program of study. See the Graduate School policy on transferring graduate credits for specifics.

Preliminary Examinations: Students will be examined in two fields: Primary and General.  The PhD program is designed to achieve depth and breadth of training.  Toward these ends, students are strongly encouraged to work in close consultation with their major advisor in selecting their examination fields.

Seminar Requirements: Six (6) credits in research seminars.  Seminars are research workshops taken in conjunction with the primary field.  Each 3-credit seminar is linked with three (3) credits of History 800: Dissertation Research (taken with student’s major professor).  All six credits of seminar must be taken prior to Preliminary Examination (i.e., before fifth semester of study). Research seminars taken during master’s programs may not be transferred in or subtitled for this requirement.

Field Course Requirements

Nine (9) credits in the General and World/Comparative fields.

Other Requirements

  • History 580: Historiography (3 credits)
  • History 595: Teaching History in College (3 credits)
  • 400/500 Elective (15 credits)
  • History 800: Dissertation Research (36 credits)

Pertinent courses taken for the master’s degree may be included in the core program. Nine (9) credit hours may be taken outside the Department of History.  Students transferring hours from another school may use up to a maximum of ½ of the graded credits for the master’s and doctoral degrees. If required courses are not available during the student’s tenure in the program, appropriate substitutes may be taken (History 597, independent readings, etc.) with the approval of the major professor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Foreign Language

The language requirement for the Ph.D. shall consist of the language(s) stipulated by the major professor, with the understanding that a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language will be required. Continued funding is contingent upon passing the language examination by the end of the third semester of the doctoral program. If a student has English as a second language and if it is appropriate to his or her program, the student may count the native language as the foreign language. All language requirements must be fulfilled prior to the scheduling of preliminary examinations (see Language Examination Guidelines).

Preliminary Examinations

Upon satisfying the core program and foreign language requirements, students will be eligible to take their preliminary examinations. Candidates are required to present themselves for examinations in two fields of study. Students should select their preliminary examination fields in consultation with their major professor during their first semester of study. Examinations in the two fields will be both written and oral. Student’s work in their World/Comparative Field may be evaluated in their preliminary examinations (either written or oral).  Students are expected to take their preliminary examinations no later than their fifth semester of full-time enrollment in the doctoral program. Examinations will be given during the fourth and fifth weeks of the fall semester. The Director of Graduate Studies will coordinate the development of both the written and oral stages of the preliminary examination and will be responsible for scheduling them. Continued funding is contingent upon passing the preliminary examinations by the end of the fifth semester of the doctoral program.

The Written Examination

The professor or professors responsible for composing the written examinations will determine their nature and scope. The Primary Field ordinarily provides the intellectual basis for the dissertation and the student’s later emphasis in teaching and research. The student is expected to achieve depth and breadth of scholarly sophistication and mastery in this field. In the General and Comparative fields, the student is ordinarily expected to show broad and comprehensive knowledge to place his/her research into a broader spatial, temporal, and comparative context, and to support the ability to teach undergraduate courses.

The two portions of the written examination must be passed before the student may proceed to the oral preliminary examination. The examination in the two fields will be judged separately by the examiner(s) in each field. After all written examinations have been completed and evaluated, the examiners will report results of each field to the committee chair who will then report overall results to the Director of Graduate Studies.  The Director of Graduate Studies will then report exam results to the student.  Prior to this notification, each examiner is strictly enjoined to maintain absolute confidentiality with respect to the student’s performance on the examination.

Students who fail part of their examinations will be required to retake only the part failed before proceeding to the oral examination. Second examinations are a final opportunity and may not ordinarily be scheduled sooner than 3 months after the date of the first written examination.

The Oral Examination

The oral preliminary examination will be conducted in accordance with the Policies and Procedures of the Graduate School and will be approximately 2 hours in length.  At least three faculty must be present at the oral examination, including one from each preliminary examination field.

The oral examination must be held during the same academic term in which the written examination is passed, except in the case of a reexamination. The Department of History will not approve and forward to the Graduate School requests to schedule the oral preliminary examination until the director of graduate studies has confirmed that the student has passed all portions of the written examination. Because the Graduate School requires two weeks advance notice to schedule the oral preliminary examination, there will be an interval of at least two weeks between such notification and the taking of the oral examination.

The Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation must be an original work of historical research in the candidate’s primary field.  The committee will advise the student on all aspects of the preparation and presentation of the dissertation in accordance with the Policies and Procedures of the Graduate School. Students must hold a D‑1 meeting with the committee within four months of passing the oral exams at which time the student will present a dissertation proposal for the committee’s approval. If necessary such meetings will continue until such approval is achieved. The major professor (chair of the committee) will at that point file a report on the proposal for the student’s file and provide the student with a copy.

When the dissertation is written and approved by the committee, the candidate must schedule an oral dissertation defense. The dissertation defense will be conducted in accordance with the Policies and Procedures of the Graduate School. The student must enroll for the minimum hours as specified by the Graduate School during the semester in which the final examination is held. After passing the final examination, the student must provide a hardbound copy of the dissertation to the Department of History. Any departmental expenses incurred in submitting the completed dissertation (office printing, xeroxing, and thesis binding) will be charged to the student’s account.

Dissertations & Theses


Ph.D. Dissertations in Progress

  • David Bolingbroke, “Atomic Restoration: An Environmental History of the Hanford Nuclear Site.”
  • Brian Stack,  “‘In Certain Western Areas of the United States’: Bestiality, Sexuality, and Animals at the turn of the Twentieth Century”
Washington State University home economics lab, early 1900s. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Washington State University home economics lab, early 1900s. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image

Recent Dissertations

  • Gregory James Atkins, “America’s Theopolis: Boosters, Businesses, and Christian Nonprofits in Colorado Springs, 1871-2000.” (2019)
  • Hans-Petter Grav, “Vesterheim in Red, White, and Blue: The Hyphenated Norwegian-American and Regional Identity in the Pacific Northwest, 1890 – 1950.” (2017)
  • Trevor James Bond, “Why should we have to buy our own things back?”  The Struggle over the Spalding-Allen Collection.” (2017)
  • Jacki Hedlund Tyler, “The Power of Political Chatter: Settler Colonialism and the Construction of Race, Gender, and Citizenship in Oregon” (2015)
  • Laura Arata, “Building Freedom in the Territorial West: Sarah Bickford and Virginia City’s African American Community, 1870-1930” (2014)
  • Beth Erdey, “Wildly Contentious: The Battle for North Central Idaho’s Roads, Rivers, and Wilderness” (2013)
  • Lee Ann Powell, “Culture, Cold War, Conservatism, and the End of the Atomic Age: Richland, Washington, 1943-1989” (2013)
  • Jennifer Brown, “Trout Culture: An Environmental History of Fishing in the Rocky Mountain West, 1860-1975” (2012)
  • Kathleen Fry, “Farming the Water: Japanese Oyster Laborers in Washington State and the Creation of a Trans-Pacific Industry” (2011)
  • Marc Entze, “Deconsruction the Countryside: Agriculture and Railroad Abandonment in the Pacific Northwest Wheat Belt, 1900-1990” (2010)
  • Chris Allan, “Locked Up! Fear and Loathing and the Creation of National Parks in Alaska” (2010)
  • Amanda Van Lanen, “‘We have grown fine fruit whether we would or not’: The History of the Washington State Apple Industry, 1880–1930” (2009)
  • Steven E. Shay, “Here Once the Embattled Farmer Stood: The Rise and Fall of the Montana Freeman” (2008)
  • Cynthia Kaag, “The Science of Wine: Washington State University Scientists and the Development of the Washington Wine Industry, 1937–1992” (2008)
  • Amy Canfield, “The ‘Annoying Question of Water’: Trust-Fund Violations and Federal Mismanagement on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, 1891–1916” (2008)
  • Katherine Johnson Ringsmuth, “The Living World of Aniakchak: How Fire, Furs, and Fish Shaped History on the Central Alaska Peninsula” (2005)
  • William Johnson, “Amerada Hess O Alaska: Alaska Litigates for Royalties: 1977-1992” (2005)
  • Diane Krahe, “Last Refuge: The Uneasy Embrace of Indian Lands by the National Wilderness Movement, 1937–1965” (2005)
  • Janet Creighton, “Cultural Resources in Conflict: Historic Preservation and Private Property at Northwest Landing, Dupont, Washington” (2004)
  • Michelle Tabit, “Remaining Relevant: Home Economics at the University of Idaho, 1902–1980” (2004)
  • Carli Schiffner, “Continuing to ‘Do Everything’ in Oregon: The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1900–1945 and Beyond” (2004)
  • Jeffrey Johnson, “Socialist Party Politics and Activism in the Northwest, 1895–1925” (2004)
  • Jeffrey Crane, “Finding the River: The Destruction and Restoration of the Kennebec and Elwha Rivers” (2004)
  • Andrew Duffin, “Fill the Earth and Subdue It: The Environmental Consequences of Intensive Agriculture in the Palouse” (2003)
  • Kevin Marsh, “Drawing Lines in the Woods: Debating Wilderness Boundaries on National Forest Lands in the Cascade Mountains, 1950–1984” (2002)
  • Dwayne Mack, “Triumphing through Adversity: African Americans in Spokane, Washington, 1945–1965—A Social History” (2002)
  • Brenda Jackson, “Finding Solace after the Storm: Thomas and Elizabeth Tannatt and the Post–Civil War Inland Empire” (2002)

Recent Master’s Theses

  • Laura Briere, “More Than Meets the Eye: The Shoshone-Bannock Response to Education at Fort Hall, Idaho 1904-1946” (2018)
  • Sarah Beth Gumm, “Tis the Best Joy that Anyone Can Ask: Progressive Era Women’s Clubs in Tacoma, Washington” (2018)
  • Jason Hogstad, “Splitting Hares: Eastern Oregon Pest Control and the Urban/Rural Divide, 1900-1925” (2016)
  • James Anderson, “Seeing America’s Alps: Visual Media and the Creation of North Cascades National Park” (2016)
  • Joni Ford, “Lowered Expectations: Mary Walker and the Disappointments of Mission Life, 1839-1848” (2015)
  • Michael Dennis, “An ‘Un-American’ Objection: Mennonite Conscientious Objectors and American Antagonism in Kansas During World War I” (2015)
  • Brian Stack, “Sodomists and Citizens: The Washington State Sodomy Law at the Turn of the Twentieth Century” (2015)
  • April Grube, “’From Honeymoon to Massacre: Memory and Remembrance of Marcus Whitman, 1847-1962” (2014)
  • Robert Franklin, “‘Matanuska? Mister, She’s Tough’: New Deal Agricultural Settlement in Alaska, 1933-1940” (2014)
  • Dulce Kersting, “’In all Truthfullness as I Remember it’: Deciphering Myth and Memory in Cowboy Memoirs” (2013)
  • Kristopher Skelton, “Trapped in the Fur Trade: Debt Bondage in the Rocky Mountains, 1822-1827(2013)
  • Shari Condit, “The Women of Home and Equality: Constructing Their Own Utopias in the Pacific Northwest” (2013)
  • Kelly Ann Krench, “Transportation and the Transformation of a Small Town: Wagon Roads, Trains, Pavement and the Development of Colton, Washington” (2011)
  • Paul Warden, “Reorganize or Perish: William Edgar Borah and the Republican Civil War, 1930-1936” (2011)
  • Todd M. Sulloway, “Repatriation, NAGPRA, and Cultural Resource Management: A Case Study of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation” (2011)
  • Rachel Johnson, “The Navajo Special Program in the Pacific Northwest: Educating Navajo Students at Cehmawa Indian Boarding School, 1946-57” (2010)
  • Michael Stewarts, “Carpet Bagger Trailblazers in the Pacific Northwest: The Lives of Simon Barclay Conover and William F. Prosser” (2010)
  • Jeannine Schneider, “Colliding Cultures: The Changing Landscapes of Mission San Francisco Solano, 1823-1846” (2010)
  • Benjamin Smith, “Public Participation and the Northwest Power Act of 1980” (2008)
  • Laura Arata, “Embers of the Social City: Business, Consumption, and Material Culture in Virginia City, Montana, 1863–1945” (2007)
  • Lindsay Thompson, “From the Rocky Mountains to the Ho Chi Minh Trail: Montana’s Reaction to the Vietnam War” (2006)
  • Lynette Scriver, “Lemhi Shoshone of Idaho Territory: Mormons, Gold, Treaties, and an Executive Order, 1855 to 1875” (2008)
  • Patrick M. King, “Labor and Mechanization: The Hop Industry in Yakima Valley, 1866–1950” (2008)
  • Melissa Williams, “Those Who Desire Very Much to Stay: African Americans and Housing in Vancouver, Washington, 1940 to 1960” (2007)
  • Cara Lynn Kaser, “A Narrative and Survey Report of Historic Church Buildings in Latah County, Idaho” (2007)
  • Lee Ann Hall, “Making Plutonium, Re-Making Richland: Atomic Heritage and Community Identity, Richland, Washington, 1943–1963” (2007)
  • Matthew Hansbury, “The Three Trials of the Nisqually Chief Leschi, Governor Isaac I. Stevens, and the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1855” (2006)
  • Rachel Lois Uthmann, “Finding Stability: Post-Soviet Russian Immigrants in Portland, Oregon” (2005)
  • Jon Flashnick, “The Unasked Oregon Question: A Re-Examination of the British Role in the Oregon Boundary Negotiations, 1827-1846” (2005)
  • Summer Hahn, “A Professor’s Neighborhood: College Hill, Pullman, Washington, 1893-Present” (2005)
  • Mark Moreno, “Mexican American Gangs, Migration, and Ethnic Identity in Eastern Washington, 1944–2004” (2004)
  • Salina Davis-Pavlovick, “Camp Rimini, Montana, 1939–1944: A History” (2004)
  • Amanda Van Lanen, “It Was a Time When the Promoter Promoted: Irrigation in Wenatchee, Washington, 1890–1908” (2004)
  • Robin Payne, “Reel Disillusion: The New Hollywood of the Late 1960s and 1970s and Its Reflection of Social Discontent” (2004)
  • Any Canfield, “The Pocatello Land Rush of 1902 and the Fort Hall Indian Reservation: A Study of Allotment, Surplus Lands, and Trust-Fund Violations, 1867–1907” (2004)
  • Ben Baughman, “William Craig in Nez Perce Country: Mountain Man, Interpreter, and Indian Agent, 1807–1869” (2003)
  • Tim Zacharias, “Lest We Forget: A Prospographic Analysis of Oregon’s Constitutional Convention of 1857” (2003)
  • Norman Turnipseed, “Based on a True Story: Lewis and Clark and the Search for a Useful Past” (2003)
  • Spencer Bryce, “Canyonlands National Park: A Cultural Resource Assessment”
  • Jon Middaugh, “Limiting Mobility: Migrant Farm Workers in the Yakima Valley, Washington, 1965–1975” (2002)

Resources


Cement placement, Grand Coulee Dam. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Cement placement, Grand Coulee Dam. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image
Northern Pacific Railway map, 1896. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Northern Pacific Railway map, 1896. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image

Greater Columbia Plateau Initiative


The Greater Columbia Plateau Initiative

The Columbia Plateau is a significant geologic, geographic, and social region encompassing large portions of eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and Idaho. One of its defining features, the Columbia River drainage system, further connects the region to southwestern Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. Through its history, the Greater Columbia Plateau has experienced dramatic environmental, social, and cultural transformations.

The Department of History at Washington State University is sponsoring a multidisciplinary initiative that explores and promotes work on two fundamental issues in the history of the Columbia Plateau: the nature of human interactions and the relationship between humans and the environment.

Under human interactions we include migrations, the treatment of indigenous peoples, militarization, transnational relations, the struggle between labor and capital, and the politics of inclusion and exclusion.

Among the human–environmental relations we focus on are environmental degradation and rehabilitation, the perception and construction of (sometimes contending) cultural landscapes and senses of place, industrial agriculture, tourism, and water development.

Nez Perce. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Nez Perce. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image

Washington State University’s Greater Columbia Plateau Initiative, directed by members of the Department of History, has as its goal the creation of an enduring, multidisciplinary, and collaborative learning community both inside and outside the university and dedicated to the study and interpretation of the Greater Columbia Plateau region.

With funding and support from WSU’s Berry Family CLA Faculty Excellence program, the Columbia Chair in the History of the American West endowment, the WSU Department of History’s Pettyjohn Fund, and WSU’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), we begin our initiative with (1) a two-year hybrid seminar for graduate and undergraduate students that explores the history and the environment of the Greater Plateau, (2) the sponsorship of a two-year speaker series to run in conjunction with our seminar, and (3) the establishment of a multi-tiered digital archive that includes the processing of Columbia Plateau–related collections within MASC and the creation of a Web site that highlights these collections as well as the work that WSU faculty and students are doing and which is related to the Columbia Plateau.

Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, 1928. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, 1928. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image

Grand Coulee Dam construction. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Grand Coulee Dam construction. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image
Grand Coulee Dam construction. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Grand Coulee Dam construction. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image

Past Programming


Dr. Thomas Fuchs and Christian Kulosa – “The Rebirth of East Germany since 1990”

September 26, 2018

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of Germany that followed a year later, life in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) has undergone considerable upheaval. Economic integration with the former West Germany, environmental clean-up, and the alteration of historical memory are but a few of the many changes there. Some of these have also led to considerable social discontent across the provinces of the former East Germany. Such discontent has recently coalesced into the new populist, far-right political party “Alternative for Germany” (AFD), founded in 2013. Currently the third largest political party in Germany, the AFD holds 94 seats in the German national parliament. Students interested in opportunities to study abroad in Germany are especially encouraged to attend as Dr. Fuchs will also discuss study abroad opportunities at Otto-von-Guericke Universität Magdeburg and the Hochschule Magdeburg/ Stendal, both in the city of Magdeburg, which was once part of the former East Germany and dates to the year 805 A.D. Dr. Thomas Fuchs teaches English at the Hochschule Magdeburg/Stendal and is an alumnus of the German Academic Exchange Service (D.A.A.D.). His colleague, Christian Kulosa, is a member of the General German Cyclist Club that promotes green-transportation and environmental causes across German.

Professor Dee Garceau – ”Narrative and Counter -Narrative in Commemorative Performance: Native American Powwow Dancing and African-American Stepping”

March 27, 2018

Historian and filmmaker Dee Garceau discussed and presented clips from her two documentaries “We Sing” and “Stepping: Beyond the Line,” exploring powwow dances and songs of Blackfeet and Salish people in Montana, an intertribal drum in Idaho Falls, and African-American stepping, a percussive dance invented in the twentieth century by black fraternities and sororities. Both African-American and Native American dances and songs commemorate historic identities in ways that differ from conventional historical narratives about each group. In the process, they broaden audience perceptions about their cultures in the American West. In discussing her work, Prof. Garceau also looks introspectively, commenting on the challenges of her role as a white filmmaker who examines cultures to which she is an outsider.

Professor Darren Dochuk – ”Crude Awakenings: A Sacred History of Oil in the Early 20th Century American West”

 

 September 20, 2017

Oil has long inspired Americans to think about their future in sacred terms. Extracted from the earth in mysterious ways, often with the help of spiritualists, oil was at its origins imagined as the divinely sanctioned lifeblood of a modernizing nation. America’s powerbrokers and rank-and-file both ascribed a special status to this resource, and in turn used its wealth to construct and legitimate imposing corporate and church institutions, missionary organizations, and an expansive petro-state. This lecture explores how religion and oil together shaped existence for modern Americans, paying special attention to oil patches west of the Mississippi, 1890s-1940s, when, amid petroleum’s most violent boom-bust cycles, wildcatters and residents theologized their encounter with soil and its subsurface wealth and constructed a distinctive life geared to new logics of capitalism, technology, time, energy, environment, and political power.

Co-Sponsor Casey Cater – ”Public Dams, Private Power: The Fight for Clarks Hill, 1946-1957”

April 5, 2016

In the decade following the end of World War II, public and private forces collided over plans to construct a massive federal dam on the Snake River at Hells Canyon. The battle sparked national debates about nature, energy, economic development, and political power, as private interests successfully “unplugged” the New Deal in the US Northwest and ushered in an energy regime of private dams and public power. At the same time, Southerners too engaged in battles over whether the private or public sector should control their rivers. Clarks Hill dam on the Savannah River assumed a central position in regional and national questions about the fate of the New Deal. Casey Cater offers a comparative regional analysis for WSU’s Northwest audience. Despite important similarities between the Northwest and South, Cater argues that what Southerners got at Clarks Hill was the reverse of the outcome at Hells Canyon: public dams but private power. Private utilities “unplugged” the New Deal in the South, but plugged its machinery of hydropower into its increasingly coal-based network, reaffirming a Southern political economy based on state-sanctioned, federally subsidized private monopoly over nature.

Western History Association’s 55th Annual Conference

October 21-24, 2015

October 21-24, 2015, the Columbia Chair in the History of the American West and the Washington State University Department of History were sponsors of the Western History Association’s 55th Annual Conference, “Thresholds, Walls, & Bridges,” in Portland, Oregon. The event was the largest annual meeting of historians of the American West; it boasted dozens of academic sessions, book displays from publishers of western history titles, five local history tours and parallel exhibits, as well as an opening reception at the Oregon Historical Society, and a banquet honoring recipients of several awards bestowed on western historians. Several faculty and graduate students from WSU’s Department of History gave papers, lead tours, chaired committees, and otherwise participated in the conference. Download the official conference program

Co-Sponsor, Visiting Writer Series

October 6, 2015

Tthe Columbia Chair in the History of the American West helped to sponsor the participation of Terry Tempest Williams and Brooke Williams in the Department of English’s Visiting Writer Series.

Professor Renée Laegreid – ”The Legacy of the American West in Contemporary Italy”

March 25, 2015

In popular culture, connections between the American West and Italy rarely extend beyond consideration of America’s western films that invaded Italy in the post-World War II period and the rise of the so-called Italian Spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s. Professor Laegreid’s research, however, expands and deepens our understanding of the reciprocal influences between the U.S. and Italy, focusing on the idea of the American frontier in Italy from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. Based on research for her current book project, Professor Laegreid will speak on three waves of western American influences on Italy, and how Italians have used western American mythology for their own personal, political, and financial purposes.

Prof. Laegreid is the author of Riding Pretty: Rodeo Royalty in the American West (2006), and co-editor of Women on the North American Plains (2011) and “Finding the American West in Twenty-First-Century Italy,” Western Historical Quarterly (Autumn 2014).

Professor Coll Thrush – ”Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire”

 March 03, 2014

Urban and Indigenous histories have usually been treated as though they are mutually exclusive. Prof. Thrush’s work, however, has argued that the two kinds of history are in fact mutually constitutive. In this presentation, Prof. Thrush will present material from his current book project, a history of London framed through the experiences of Indigenous people who travelled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Stories of Inuit captives in the 1570s, Cherokee delegations in the 1760s, Hawaiian royals in the 1820s, and more—as well as the memory of these travellers in present-day communities—show the ways in which London is the ground of Indigenous history and settler colonialism.

Prof. Thrush is the author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (2007), which won the Washington State Book Award for History/Biography, and co-editor of Phantom Past, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American History & Culture (2011).

Chairman Michael O. Finley – ”Contemporary Pathways in Indian Country”

February 01, 2012

Michael O. Finley, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and co-author of Finding Chief Kamiakin: A Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 2008), will be speaking on issues confronting Native Americans in the United States, in particular from the perspective of Native Americans whose ancestral homes are in eastern Washington state.

Professor Kathleen Brosnan – ”Old Vines, Global Wines: ”

November 09, 2011

Kathleen Brosnan is an environmental historian whose first book is Uniting Mountain and Plain: Cities, Law, and Environmental Change along the Front Range (2002). She will be speaking at WSU on her projected three-book series that deals with the history of the wine industry. The first projected book focuses on how industry and consumerism shaped the environment of the Napa Valley. The second examines European viticulture as a form of ecological imperialism around the world. The third investigates how U.S. land grant institutions’ roles in the development of food products, including wine, have shaped environments.

Professor Andrew Kirk – ”Doom Towns of the West”

September 21,  2011

Andy Kirk’s research and teaching focus on the intersections of cultural and environmental history in the modern U.S. with a special interest in the American West and public history. His recent publications include Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (rev. ed., 2011) and “From Wilderness Prophets to Tool Freaks: Post WWII Environmentalism” in The Blackwell Companion to American Environmental History. His current work includes “The Art of Testing and the Culture of Secrecy at the Nevada Test Site.” His talk at WSU, “Doom Towns of the West,” concerns the nuclear industry and western places.

Professor Kate Brown – ”A Tale of Two Nuclear Cities,”

November 04, 2010

Kate Brown earned her Ph.D at the University of Washington. An expert in Russian and Eastern European history, Professor Brown’s publications have included Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Border to Soviet Heartland (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005). It won the George Louis Beer Prize from the American Historical Society given in recognition of outstanding contributions to modern European international history. Her current project is “A Tale of Two Nuclear Cities,” which explores and compares the histories of Chernobyl in the former U.S.S.R. and Hanford in Washington state.

Professor Andrew H. Fisher

October 11, 2010

Andrew Fisher received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University. His research and teaching interests focus on modern Native American history, environmental history, and the American West. His recently completed book is Shadow Tribe: The Making of Columbia River Indian Identity (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010). It examines off-reservation communities and processes of tribal ethnogenesis in the Columbia River Basin of the Pacific Northwest. You can find more on this important work at www.washington.edu/uwpress/search/books/FISSHA.html.

Heartsong of Charging Elk, Spring 2010

March 27, 2010  

World-renowned Seattle composer Wayne Horvitz presented his oratorio “Heartsong of Charging Elk” at Pullman.

Horvitz’s oratorio for four voices and ten chamber instruments is based on James Welch’s novel The Heartsong of Charging Elk (New York: Doubleday, 2000). Welch (1940–2003) was one of the best-known Native American writers of his time. Of Blackfeet and Gros Ventre ancestry, Welch studied writing under Richard Hugo at the University of Montana. His early works include Winter in the Blood (1974) and Fools Crow (1986).

Heartsong, which is inspired by actual historical events, tells the story of Oglala Sioux Charging Elk who, while touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, was hospitalized for broken ribs and influenza in 1889 Marseilles, France. The Wild West Show moved on, leaving Charging Elk, now recovered from his illness and injuries, stranded and speaking neither French nor English.

“Using that historical predicament for his springboard,” Horvitz has written, “James Welch conjures a poetic narrative of Charging Elk’s displaced existence following his abandonment in The Heartsong of Charging Elk.”

Wayne Horvitz is a native of New York and now resides in Seattle. He is an internationally known keyboardist, composer, and producer. Perhaps best known as a jazz musician, nevertheless, Horvitz works in many musical genres. He has had commissioning grants from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Arts Council, the Mary Flagler Carey Trust, the Seattle Arts Commission, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, the Fund for U.S. Artists, and a Rockefeller MAP grant. He has composed and produced music for PBS programming and even for film director Gus Van Sant.

In addition to this performance and Horvitz’s discussion of his music, the event will also bring to campus two speakers, Professors Kathryn Shanley and Raymond J. Demallie, who are experts on James Welch and on Black Elk, a real Sioux man who did travel with the Wild West Show and actually was stranded in France, eventually making his way to England and then back to his home on the Great Plains.

Professor Kathryn Shanley earned her Ph.D. in English and Native American literature at the University of Michigan. A member of the Assiniboine Tribe, Shanley is now a professor of Native American studies and assistant to the president and provost of the University of Montana. She has edited Native American Literature: Boundaries and Sovereignties (2001) and is working on a book on James Welch.

Professor Raymond J. Demaille is chancellor’s professor of anthropology and adjunct professor of folklore, director of the American Indian Studies Research Institute, and curator of North American ethnology at the Mathers Museum at Indiana University. Demaille has researched and written extensively on Great Plains tribes. In 2008 he annotated a new edition of John G. Neihardt’s famous Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, first published in 1932.

 

Programming


Thomas Fuchs and Christian Kulosa – “The Rebirth of East Germany since 1990”

Co-sponsor with the School of Languages, Cultures, and Race:

Thomas Fuchs and Christian Kulosa – “The Rebirth of East Germany since 1990”

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

4:30 to 5:45 p.m., CUB 210 Jr. Ballroom East

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of Germany that followed a year later, life in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) has undergone considerable upheaval. Economic integration with the former West Germany, environmental clean-up, and the alteration of historical memory are but a few of the many changes there. Some of these have also led to considerable social discontent across the provinces of the former East Germany. Such discontent has recently coalesced into the new populist, far-right political party “Alternative for Germany” (AFD), founded in 2013. Currently the third largest political party in Germany, the AFD holds 94 seats in the German national parliament. Students interested in opportunities to study abroad in Germany are especially encouraged to attend as Dr. Fuchs will also discuss study abroad opportunities at Otto-von-Guericke Universität Magdeburg and the Hochschule Magdeburg/ Stendal, both in the city of Magdeburg, which was once part of the former East Germany and dates to the year 805 A.D.

Dr. Thomas Fuchs teaches English at the Hochschule Magdeburg/Stendal and is an alumnus of the German Academic Exchange Service (D.A.A.D.). His colleague, Christian Kulosa, is a member of the General German Cyclist Club that promotes green-transportation and environmental causes across German.

AWPN Faculty


Pullman Chinese family, c. 1897. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Pullman Chinese family, c. 1897. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image
Palouse Falls, 1932. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC.
Palouse Falls, 1932. Courtesy of WSU Libraries, MASC. Learn more about this image