The Gordon Bakken Award of Merit

This award will be given for outstanding service to the field of western history and to the Western History Association. To nominate a WHA member, send a letter to the Award of Merit Committee explaining why the individual deserves to be recognized. Please submit materials to each of the committee members listed below to be considered.

All submission materials must be received by April 1, 2017.


"History can teach society to make more rational decisions about actions to be taken or policies to be pursued.

History helps us to find patterns and repetitions, but also to protect cultural values against the materialism of an acquisitive society. History displays patterns of beliefs, ideals, loyalties and aspirations capable of transforming a random aggregation of human beings into a coherent society. History is part of objective reality and the human mind has an innate desire to explore and understand that reality.

History is a part of cultural heritage and teaches wisdom and fosters virtue to make us better human beings. For each of us, history helps us to understand change and determine self-identity. In studying history, we attempt to realize our human potential, to break out of the constricting circle of the present. We affirm our humanity as well as our nationality. We ask age-old questions about our duty to country, others and self."  -- Gordon Bakken

Courtesy of California State University Fullerton Making History, Inside online publication (California State University Fullerton, October 2009). Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Corral of Westerners

2017 Committee

Katherine Morrissey - Chair

Department of History

1145 E. South Campus Drive
Social Sciences Room 215
Tucson, AZ 85721-0027

George Miles
27 Fir Tree Drive N.
Branford, CT 06405-3200

David Rich Lewis

Executive Editor of
Western Historical Quarterly

220 West Center Street

Logan, UT 84321-4523

2016 Recipients Rich Lewis, long-time Western Historical Quarterly  editor, has been at the intellectual heart of the Western History Association. His WHA roots run deep. Lewis began his affiliation when he first worked in the WHQ offices as a Utah State University undergraduate. After earning his PhD at University of Wisconsin-Madison, he returned to USU and, beginning in 1993, took on sequential roles of assistant editor, associate editor, co-editor, editor and executive editor. Many of us have benefited from his judicious eye, editorial pen, and generous spirit in this central role. He has especially fostered and sustained the scholarship of younger scholars in the field and he has effectively shepherded the journal into the digital age. His leadership has extended to other aspects of the organization as well; he has been a regular participant in Council and Business meetings where his wise, and often witty, commentaries have helped shape and sustain the WHA. As an active and seasoned veteran of the conference, his hallway conversations, panel participations and intellectual contributions model the best of the profession. His scholarly contributions, in addition to his role as Editor, include two influential co-edited volumes: Major Problems in the History of the American West and Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian. The latter reflects his deep intellectual engagement in both environmental and American Indian history, also marked by his book, Neither Wolf Nor Dog: American Indians, Environment, and Agrarian Change.

Image result for sandra schackelSandra K. Schackel has spent a thirty-year career researching, writing, and teaching about women in the American West. Active in the Coalition for Western Women’s History (CWWH), her expertise and collegiality have been valued assets to the profession. Between 1992 and 2011 she authored three major works on western women including Social Housekeepers: Women Shaping Policy in New Mexico: 1920-1940 (1992), Western Women’s Lives: Continuity and Change in the Twentieth Century (2003), and Working the Land: The Stories of Ranch and Farm Women in the Modern American West (2011). Schackel, who received her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1988, spent her teaching career at Boise State University. Over the decades she has taught hundreds of eager  undergraduate students, ensuring a long intellectual legacy. In 2010 she moved to Santa Fe to begin her retirement but has remained active in academic circles. A stalwart supporter of the Western  History Association, Schackel’s work for the Association, in addition to her engagement with the CWWH, has included serving on four committees including the Council from 2010 to 2013, chairing sessions, and serving as a panelist or commentator. The WHA is pleased to honor her intellectual contributions to western women’s history and her loyalty and dedication to the WHA and CWWH.

 Ron Tyler has written nearly two dozen books and organized thirteen major exhibitions that explore the artistic, social, economic, and political history of visual culture in the North American West. In twenty years of service to the Amon Carter Museum, Ron introduced multiple young historians to the world of museums and guided them to successful careers as curators, directors, and authors. Ron conceived and directed the Amon Carter’s superb publication program which preserved and distributed the too often ephemeral scholarship that underlies every successful exhibition. For twenty years, as Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, Ron directed the Center for Studies in Texas History and revitalized the Texas State Historical Association which published more than six dozen major works under his guidance. As editor of The Southwestern Historical Quarterly and The New Handbook of Texas , Ron championed a broad view of Texas, borderlands, and Western history. A member of the Western History Association since the late 1960s, Ron has served on the Council, on two program committees, two local arrangement committees, and numerous award committees. A long-time colleague has observed that while Ron rarely seems to attend sessions at the annual meeting, you can usually find him chatting in the exhibit hall where he effortlessly brings together the many groups active in the WHA: journalists and publishers, collectors and dealers, curators and scholars, librarians and archivists. For nearly five decades Ron Tyler has modeled a capacious way of thinking about the North American West that embodies the aspirations of the Western Historical Association. Ron Tyler pictured with WHA 2016 President John Mack Faragher. Photo Credit: Henry Stamm.

Past  Recipients


Paula Petrik
George Miles


Brian Collier

Linda Sargent Wood

Roger Nichols


Kathleen A. Brosnan


Clyde Milner

Anne M. Butler

Tom Noel


Darlis Miller


Joan Jensen


Gordon Bakken


Paul Andrew Hutton


L. George Moses


Julidta Tarver

Melody Webb


Robert A. Trennert


Marvin Kaiser


Margot Liberty


John Drayton


Iris H. Wilson Engstrand

Frederick Luebke

Ben Proctor

Malcolm Rohrbough


William D. Rowley


Thomas G. Alexander

Judith Austin


Harwood P. Hinton

Ken Owens


Wilbur Jacobs



Robert Hine



Claus-M. Naske



S. George Ellsworth


Floyd A. O‘Neil

Dwight Smith


Robert Burke

Richard Lowitt


Charles S. Peterson


W. Turrentine Jackson

Duane A. Smith


Samuel P. Arnold


John Alexander Carroll


William S. Greever

Merle Wells


Jack D. Haley


Sara Dunlap Jackson


Wayne Gard

Chester B. Kerr


C. Gregory Crampton

Russell R. Elliott


Lucile M. Kane

A. Russell Mortensen


Lewis E. Atherton

Angie Debo

Grace Lee Nute


Oliver W. Holmes

Bruce H. Nicolle


Donald Jackson

Alice E. Smith


W. H. Hutchison

Walker Wyman, Sr.


Archibald Hanna

Myra Ellen Jenkins


Vernon Carstensen

Earl H. Ellis

Michael Harrison

John Francis McDermott

Abraham P. Nasatir

Rupert N. Richardson

A. Bower Sageser

C. L. Sonnichsen


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