WHA 2019 Election

Article VI of the WHA Constitution and Bylaws explains the function and process of the Nominating Committee for the organization's annual election. Electronic ballots will arrive in your email inbox from OpaVote on July 1, 2019. If you do not receive an email on July 1, or prefer a paper ballot, please contact the WHA Office (402-554-5999 or email us at westernhistoryassociation@gmail.com).

Your vote matters! Last year the voter turnout rate was 46%. The WHA Nominating Committee would like to see this increase to over 50% in 2019. 

Please plan to attend the 2019 WHA Business Meeting at the annual conference in Las Vegas (it is scheduled on Friday, October 18, 2019, 3:30-4:30 P.M. in Ballroom D). This year the membership will vote to approve updates to the WHA Constitution and Bylaws. To review these updates, which the WHA Council proposed at the spring Council meeting, visit the document with track changes here. The process for updating the Constitution and Bylaws is provided in Section 4 of Article VII: Conducting Association Business in the WHA Constitution: "Changes or additions to Bylaws may be proposed by Council or by motion at an annual meeting. They must be approved by a majority vote at an annual business meeting." 


Maria Montoya, New York University

Maria E. Montoya is the Dean of Arts and Sciences at NYU Shanghai and an Associate Professor of History at NYU New York. She teaches History of the American West, the U.S. History survey, Labor History in the United States, and the History of Water. Maria was born in Albuquerque, NM and grew up in Arvada, CO, a suburb of Denver. She earned her BA, MA and PhD degrees at Yale University, and in between spent a couple of years at the University of New Mexico working on a master’s degree. Prior to teaching at NYU, Maria taught for twelve years at the University of Michigan, where she was the Director of the Latina/o Studies Program, and at the University of Colorado.

She has authored articles on the History of the American West, Environmental, Labor and Latina/o history and of the book, Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Conflict over Land in the American West, 1840-1900.  She is the lead author on the U.S. History textbook, Global Americans: A Social and Global History of the United States (Cengage, 2018). She is finishing up a manuscript, Rockefeller and Roache: Progressives Managing Workers, 1900-1940, which focuses on John D. Rockefeller and Josephine Roche, and their roles in defining the spheres of work and home life during the early twentieth century. She is also working on two other manuscripts: A Chicana in China, which is a memoir inspired by an earlier work of Rudolfo Anaya, and a book project about the scarcity of water in the American Southwest, and the Rio Grande in particular. She is currently the PI for Zaanheh: A Natural History of Shanghai, an interdisciplinary team based research project at NYU Shanghai, which works in collaboration with Eric Sanderson’s Mannahatta Project.

Maria attended her first WHA meeting in 1988 in Wichita, KS and has rarely missed a meeting since then. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the John and Laree Caughey Foundation. Her service to the WHA includes: Chair of the Membership Committee, the Board of Editors of the Western Historical Quarterly, the Steering Committee for the Coalition of Western Women’s History (CWWH), Chair of the first Jensen Miller Prize, member of the Hal Rothman Prize, and the WHA Council.  She was also one of the founding members of the Committee on Race in the American West (CRAW). Maria writes: “From the first moment I stepped into Howard Lamar’s class as an undergraduate and found out that I could spend my time learning about the place I came from, I was hooked on the History of the American West. Since then, my intellectual journey and my relationship with this organization has led me on a most rewarding career of writing, teaching, and speaking about the place I call home, the American West. This organization has fostered a deep relationship with scholars and life-long friends who share the same passion. I am deeply honored to be chosen as the President-elect of the WHA and I look forward to serving the organization with pride, dedication, and passion for an organization that has been my intellectual home for decades.”

Council Position A

Vote for one person to fill a position on the WHA Council.

B. Erin Cole, Minnesota Historical Society

I have been involved with the WHA for twelve years and I thank the Nominating Committee for for selecting me to run for office and serve on the Council. I am a frequent panelist and presenter at the WHA, and I currently serve as chair of the Louise Pubols Public History Prize Committee. I am an active member of the Public History Committee and participate in sessions and workshops that aim to increase diversity in the field of public history. I also served the WHA as a member of the Local Arrangements Committee (2016) and Program Committee (2018).

I am a public historian and museum professional who creates immersive, community-engaged and visitor-centered exhibits that connect the past with contemporary stories and issues. I currently work as an exhibit developer at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Before that, I was the assistant state historian at History Colorado. During my decade in the museum field, I’ve researched, written, developed, or managed exhibits on the Minneapolis music scene, the history of Minnesota’s Asian Indian community, the Chicano movement in Colorado, the Ludlow Massacre, tourism in Rocky Mountain National Park, and the environmental history of Colorado. I am also affiliate faculty in the Heritage Studies and Public History program at the University of Minnesota.

I earned my B.A. from Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University), and my M.A. and Ph.D. in Western history from the University of New Mexico. I am a historian of the urban West, specializing in the intersection of race, sexuality, planning, and urban space in contemporary Western cities. I am currently working on turning my research on the gender and racial context of zoning codes into a graphic narrative for a popular audience. Over the past few years I have created several comics illustrating the public history profession, including one in Contingent Magazine titled “I Am A Historian I Make Exhibits” (2018).  Using both my academic training and public engagement experience, I see the value of producing historical work that is accessible for a larger and diverse general audience.

The WHA means a lot to me. I have always felt at home at the conference, even when I shifted away from traditional academic circles to embrace museum and public history work. But the organization could do more to support and promote the work of a broader historical profession. If elected to the Council I would work to represent the interests of practicing public historians and encourage the WHA to be more ambitious in reaching these individuals. My goal in running for WHA Council is to be a strong advocate for public historians and intellectuals who work outside the academy, whether they’re artists, writers, community organizers, or activists who do important public-facing work rooted in history.

Tamsen Hert, University of Wyoming Library 

As for so many of you, the WHA is my intellectual home – the place where my professional responsibilities and personal research interests come together – and I am thrilled to be nominated. I became a member in 1994, and I have attended each annual meeting since 2002. I am a core member of an ad-hoc committee of active and influential librarians, archivists, and curators who gather at every annual meeting. I hold the rank of Librarian, the equivalent to Professor, at the University of Wyoming, where I am head of the Emmett Chisum Special Collections. Born in Colorado, I earned my BA in American History from Colorado State University and my MA and MLS from Emporia State University. I have been the UW’s library liaison to History for three decades. Having served three terms, I am the immediate past-president of the Wyoming State Historical Society. My research on the cultural history of national parks has appeared in Annals of Wyoming, Yellowstone Science, and Yellowstone History Journal. A chapter entitled “Rustic Roosevelt Lodge: Essence of the Old West” will appear in the forthcoming Designs Upon Nature: The Cultural Landscape of Yellowstone National Park.

As a librarian, I connect people to the information and knowledge they need to learn, grow, and share insights. As a member of Council, I would do the same. Many of us seek to diversify our organization. As a public historian, I would like to deepen connections to the rural West and create and promote opportunities for members to meet the public in the places and instances where they learn about the past. All of us must ensure the WHA is a place to network, to mix, to mentor and be mentored, and to promote a deeper understanding of the past. It has been especially rewarding to mentor graduate students I have met through the WHA Graduate Student Workshop. I helped to establish the Public History Committee and promote its interests, and I have successfully arranged financial support for the Public History Reception. Last year, I chaired the Louise Pubols Public History Prize and concluded my term on the Dwight L. Smith (ABC-CLIO) Award Committee. Serving WHA as a Council member would be an honor and an opportunity to extend my support of all that we do to promote Western history.

Council Position B

Vote for one person to fill a position on the WHA Council.

Ari Kelman, University of California, Davis

Ari Kelman is a Chancellor’s Leadership Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. He is the author, most recently, of Battle Lines: A Graphic History of the Civil War (Hill and Wang, 2015), as well as A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013),recipient of several national awards and honors, including the Bancroft Prize, and A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans (University of California Press, 2003), which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize. Kelman’s essays and articles have appeared in Slate, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, the Journal of Urban History, The Journal of American History, and many others.

Kelman has also contributed to outreach endeavors aimed at K-12 educators, and to a variety of public history projects, including documentary films for the History Channel and PBS’s American Experience series. He has received numerous grants and fellowships, most notably from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Huntington Library. He is now working on a book tentatively titled, For Liberty and Empire: How the Civil War Bled into the Indian Wars, editing the journal Reviews in American History, and serving as Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Planning in the College of Letters and Science at UC Davis

Kelman has been a member of the Western Historical Association for almost two decades. He considers the WHA his professional home and hopes to continue to serve the organization as a member of the Council. In that role, he would help with the WHA's ongoing efforts to become a more inclusive and equitable organization, particularly when it comes to welcoming graduate students, scholars from underrepresented backgrounds, and public scholars. 

Pablo Mitchell, Oberlin College

I am a Professor of History and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College, where I teach courses on the U.S. West, Latina/o History, US-Mexico Borderlands, and Mixed Heritage in U.S. History. I am the author of Coyote Nation: Sexuality, Race, and Conquest in Modernizing New Mexico, 1880–1920 (2005) and West of Sex: Making of Mexican America, 1900–1930 (2012). A paperback edition of my Latina/o History textbook, Understanding Latino History: Excavating the Past, Examining the Present, was released by ABC/CLIO in 2017. I am also the co-editor with Katrina Jagodinsky of Beyond the Borders of the Law: Critical Legal Histories of the North American West (Kansas University Press, 2018). I have been a member of the Western History Association for over twenty-five years and have served on numerous prize committees, as co-chair of the program committee, and been actively involved on the Committee on Race in the American West.  I was recently a member of the search committee for the new WHA director.

If elected to the WHA council, I would seek to maintain the vibrancy, enthusiasm, and collegiality of an organization which I consider my first, and in many ways my primary, professional home. Western history continues to have a strong hold on the imagination and attention of a wide expanse of students and scholars, and I am confident that our membership still has significant room to grow, especially among K-12 and international educators. In addition, I hope to maintain the WHA's longstanding commitment to inclusion, opening the door to dissent and difference, welcoming the contrary among us, as well as the cusses and critical theorists. 

Council Position C

Vote for one person to fill a position on the WHA Council.

Erika Bsumek, University of Texas, Austin

I am an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas as Austin where I teach and write about Native American history, environmental history/studies, the history of the built environment, and the history of the U.S. West. I attended the University of Utah as an undergrad and earned my Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Ive been coming to WHA since I was a grad student and proudly served on the 2018 program committee and am currently a member of ABC-Clio Book Prize committee. Over the years, I have seen how the organization has changed as the field of Western history has evolved. I've learned from my peers and colleagues in the profession through annual meetings, committee work, and mentorship. I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the WHA Council and be part of the organizations continuing evolution. 

My scholarly interests are reflected in my first book, Indian-made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace, 1848-1940 (University Press of Kansas, 2008) and a collection of essays on global environmental history titled Nation States and the Global Environment: New Approaches to Environmental History (Oxford University Press, 2013). My current research explores the social and environmental history of the area surrounding Glen Canyon on the Utah/Arizona border from the 1840s to the present. The working title of the book is "Damming Zion: Mormons, American Indians, and the Fight for Resources on the Colorado Plateau, 1800 to the Present” (under contract, University of Texas Press).  I am also working on a larger project that examines the impact that large construction projects (dams, highways, cities and suburbs) had on the American West which is tentatively titled "The Concrete West: Engineering Society and Culture in the Arid West, 1900-1970.” Recently, I’ve been more engaged in the digital history and havecreated digital timeline software, called ClioVis, that enables students and researchers to create time aligned network maps of their class/research projects. 

Academia is changing, I think it is worth considering what we, as an organization, can do to set policies reflective of those changes and while also working to expand the reach and breadth of the organization. I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the WHA Council. 

Kathryn Morse, Middlebury College

I am a Professor of History and the John C. Elder Professor in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College. I am the author of The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush (University of Washington Press, 2003) and “‘There Will Be Birds’: Images of Oil Disasters in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” Journal of American History 99:1 (June 2012), 124-134. Most recently, I oversaw a collaborative digital history and pedagogical project called "Fifty Years of Green: An Environmental History of Middlebury College Since 1965" and have published short pieces in Environmental History, and Reviews in American History. I am currently working on a history of race and land in Farm Security Administration rural rehabilitation programs in the South and West. My work has been supported by the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, the Mellon Foundation, and the American Antiquarian Society.

I seek election to the WHA Council in order to serve this vibrant intellectual community, which has been as an intellectual home since my first conference in 1989. I have a deep appreciation for the ways in which the WHA fosters and promotes teaching and scholarship about the American West. From 1988-1990 I served as an Editorial Fellow at the Western Historical Quarterly (then at Utah State), and then after finishing my doctorate at the University of Washington (1997) I served as a member of the WHA nominating committee in 2007-2008, and as a member of the Hal K. Rothman Book Prize Committee from 2011-2013. I regularly teach courses in the History of the U.S. West and U.S. Environmental History. I also bring interests and commitment to digital innovation in teaching, research, and publication, as well as a long-standing commitment to the WHQ as a vibrant outlet for peer-reviewed scholarship related to the West. As a member of the Council, I plan to continue the work of past and current Council and committee members in supporting a WHA that is diverse, equitable, inclusive, and welcoming to all scholars, teachers, students, and interested members and conference attendees, including museum professionals, public servants, independent researchers, and all those interested in the West and its history.

Nominating Committee Position A

Vote for one person to fill a position on the Nominating Committee.

Julian Lim, Arizona State University

I am an assistant professor of history at Arizona State University (Tempe). Trained in history and law, I focus on immigration, borders, and race, and teach courses on modern U.S. history, comparative race and law, borderlands, and migration. My first book, Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), examined the migrations of diverse groups through the U.S.-Mexico border region from 1880 to the 1930s, and the development of immigration law from both sides of the border. The book received the WHA’s David J. Weber-Clements Center Prize in 2018, as well as the Best Book in History from the Association for Asian American Studies and an Honorable Mention for the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.  I am currently working on two separate book projects: the first is a book about marriage priorities in U.S. immigration law, and the second is an exploration of migration, law, and American empire from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands to the post-1898 U.S. territories.  In 2019-20, I will be a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center.

The WHA has been critical to my development as a scholar, providing a valuable and welcoming space for intellectual exchange, professional development, and building friendships.  In recent years, I have had the privilege of participating in a variety of WHA activities – as a member of multiple conferences panels, on the program committee, and on the Bolton-Cutter Award committee. I seek to support the organization further by serving on the Nominating Committee, working with others to ensure that the leadership reflects the inviting diversity of its growing membership. Having focused on matters of diversity and increasing the visibility of historically marginalized communities in my own research and teaching, I am eager to work on these matters in the profession and the WHA more broadly. In addition, I believe there are ways to strengthen the organization’s engagement with various publics. The study of the American West and borderlands speaks to many pressing contemporary issues related to borders, migration, the environment, and the role of the state, to name a few topics. I have helped to organize a session at the upcoming WHA conference that brings immigration lawyers into conversation with historians. If elected to the Nominating Committee, I will support colleagues who are attentive to public outreach, and to connecting historians and their scholarship to a broader audience, including those working in law, policy, K-12 education, and community organizing.  A diverse leadership can recruit a diverse membership, and as additional members join from wide-ranging academic fields and professions, they will help to continue pushing the study and scholarship of western history in exciting and important new directions.

Melody M. Miyamoto Walters, Collins College

Melody M. Miyamoto Walters is Professor of History at Collin College in McKinney, Texas.  Her work spans the American West, ranging from the nineteenth-century overland migrations to present-day Hawaii.  She has published a number of articles on documentary editing and the Overland Trails, as well as co-authored a bibliography on Asian Americans in the West. Her articles in The Journal of the West and Overland Journal are direct results of her experiences collaborating with other members of the Western History Association. In 2015, the University of Oklahoma Press published her book, In Love and War: The World War II Courtship Letters of a Nisei Couple. It dissects class and gender and also reexamines racial identity for Japanese Americans in Hawaii.

Melody began attending Western History Association Conferences when she was a graduate school at Arizona State University. She has also participated in the WHA as part of Westerners International and the Community College cohort. She was instrumental in establishing the Trennert-Iverson Graduate Student Award and has been a member of the Steering Committee for the Coalition for Western Women’s History.  She currently serves on the Western History Association Membership Committee. 

She has seen great changes to the association in the past two decades, and she would like to see it continue to make forward progress. Miyamoto Walters writes, “For me, the WHA has been my academic home. I attend the conferences each year to catch up with friends, learn from scholars, and share in their triumphs and accomplishments. It’s always disappointing to hear when others stop coming to the conference either because of age, funding, or inability to find a space that fits them. I’m so glad the organization has pushed not just for diversity, but for inclusivity and equity as well. I can’t wait to see where we’ll go in the next twenty years. I’m honored and thankful for the nomination. I look forward to contributing in the years to come.”

Nominating Committee Position B

Vote for one person to fill a position on the Nominating Committee.

Michael Childers, Colorado State University

I attended my first Western History Association conference as a graduate student in 2004 and became a member immediately afterwards. In the years since, the WHA has become my intellectual community. This community that has not only inspired my own work but has introduced me to an incredible diversity of scholarly thought, topics, and approaches. I have served as both a Program Committee member and Graduate Student staffer for the registration desk, and I have presented and chaired numerous panels in previous meetings. I am currently an assistant professor at Colorado State University, where I teach environmental history and the American West and serve as a member of the Public Lands History Center faculty council. Prior arriving at CSU, I worked as an assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa, and as a visiting lecturer at Northern Arizona University.

My scholarship focuses broadly on tourism, public lands, and the environment. My first book, Colorado Powder Keg: The Ski Resorts and the Environmental Movement traced the history of the ski industry in Colorado, and its role in broader regional debates over growth, national forests, and the environment. With Colorado Powder Keg I was awarded the International Ski History Association’s Ullur Award for best book on the history of skiing, was runner up for the Spur Award in contemporary non-fiction and was supported by the inaugural Grey Towers Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship. I am currently working on a manuscript on the history of visitors in Yosemite National Park, and how the national park ideal has led to visitation becoming Yosemite’s primary environmental threat. In 2015, I was awarded the Huntington Library E. Peter Mauk, Jr. and Doyce B. Nunis Jr. Fellowship for research on early visitors to the park.

Beyond my own scholarship, I am the co-editor of the University of Oklahoma Press book series Environment in Modern North America. Focused primarily, but not exclusively, on the 20th century, this new series looks to publish accessible works of environmental history by providing historical context for contemporary issues. Along with my previous work as co-book review editor for the journal Environmental History, the series has allowed me the amazing opportunity to work with other historians and writers in furthering their own work. I am honored to be nominated to serve the WHA and look forward to continuing to help our organization expand, diversify, and reimagine the region and its history.

Andy Kirk, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

I am a Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, specializing in western, environmental, and public history. My research, teaching, and field work focus on the intersections of cultural and environmental history in the American West. My book, Counterculture Green, explained the distinctly western environmentalism of the Whole Earth Catalog and the global appropriate technology movement. More recently I explored the lived and environmental history of nuclear testing in my graphic history, Doom Towns. I’ve completed over thirty western National Register Nominations, and with my students, a wide range of western public lands resource studies, administrative histories and cultural landscape studies using insights from environmental and western history to help preserve hybrid landscapes once dismissed. These efforts were the subject of an article in the WHQ, “When Nature Becomes Culture.” (37:4 2006) I was co-Principal Investigator on the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project and a member of the Department of the Interior, Manhattan Project National Historical Park Advisory Committee. I’m co-Editor, with David Wrobel, of The Modern American West series (University of Arizona Press), and co-author of the US history textbook, American Horizons (Oxford).

I first attended the WHA in Austin, TX in 1991 and I’ve only missed one since (mountain bike crash). I’ve always considered the WHA my intellectual home and primary academic community. Over the years I’ve served on prize committees and a program committee. I’m currently serving as local arrangements co-chair for the 2019 meeting in Las Vegas. If I had the opportunity to serve on the nominating committee, I’d advocate for the inclusion of candidates who can foster the ongoing effort to expand and broaden the WHA membership. More than ever, the disciplinary inclusiveness of the WHA offers an example of collaboration and union of the theoretical and the applied that many other professional history organizations are only now striving for. I greatly appreciate the remarkable convergence of varied topics and methods at our annual meetings, know that the WHA is now known as an innovative and important organization far beyond the western region, and will work to recruit members who will enhance the creative evolution of our field and our organization.  The WHA is a leader in support of public historians, western public history organizations, and public history careers and if elected I will work to foster that important aspect of our organization’s mission.

The WHA is hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and benefits from the generous support of the College of Arts and Sciences.

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