2018 Walter Rundell Award Committee
Serving in the military, Rundell discovered his interest in historical research, abandoned his planned future, and undertook graduate studies at The American University in Washington, D.C. On completion of his doctoral degree, he returned to Texas to teach at Del Mar College and Texas Woman’s University.
At this time, Rundell, who emerged as the leading authority on the renowned Texas historian Walter Prescott Webb, launched his vigorous campaign to elevate western history within the larger canon. Each career appointment–executive assistant secretary of the American Historical Association, faculty at the University of Oklahoma, chair of the history departments at Iowa State University and the University of Maryland–gave him an ever-expanding academic platform from which to promote scholarship in western history. He believed in replacing the shopworn fanciful West of popular imagination with an intellectual discipline, fueled by provocative ideas, thoughtful analysis, and fresh insights into race, class, and gender. Rundell, who published on several regional topics, including the Texas oil industry, channeled his growing influence among historians, archivists, and administrators toward that goal.
In 1961, Rundell joined a small committee intent on designing a western history conference. Rundell outlined logistics and finances, working to turn a one-time Santa Fe gathering into an annual event for scholars of the West. Further stabilized when Walter Rundell, the “James Madison of the WHA,” drafted the initial constitution, the organization, known as the Western History Association, quickly claimed a respected place within the academy. For the next two decades, Rundell involved himself as council member, program chair, session organizer, graduate mentor, and advocate for the Western Historical Quarterly, the constitutionally mandated journal of the WHA.
Rundell was elected as the twenty-first president of the Western History Association. He began his presidency in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 22, 1982. Three days later, at his home in College Park,Maryland, Rundell died in his sleep, a week short of his 54th birthday. Walter Rundell, Jr., left a singular imprint on this association; his untimely passing robbed the WHA of an articulate scholar and dedicated educator, a personal and professional role model.
Authored by Anne M. Butler, Trustee Professor of History, Utah State University, Emeritus. Sources: Walter Rundell, Jr. Papers, The Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University Archives; Anne M. Butler, Trustee Professor of History, Utah State University, Emeritus “Walter Rundell Jr.” in John R. Wunder, Historians of the American Frontier (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1988), 558-74.
2016 | Holly Miowak Guise, Yale University
2015 | Meggan Bilotte, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2014 | Monika Bilka, Arizona State University
2013 | Brianna Theobald, Arizona State University
2012 | Heather Sinclair, University of Texas, El Paso
2011 | Saara Kekki, University of Finland
2010 | Max Krochmal, Duke University
2009 | Brenden Rensink, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2008 | Anna Banhegyi, Southern Methodist University
2007 | Ryan Dearinger, University of Utah
2006 | Lincoln Bramwell, University of New Mexico
2005 | Robin Courtney Henry, Indiana University
2004 | Christine G. Bye, University of Calgary
2003 | Jennifer Seltz, University of Washington
2002 | Raymond Rast, University of Washington
2001 | Katherine Benton, University of Wisconsin, Madison
2000 | Cathleen D. Cahill, University of Chicago
1999 | Connie Y. Chiang, University of Washington
1998 | Jeff Roche, University of New Mexico
1997 | Matthew Klingle, University of Washington
1996 | Bradley J. Birzer, Indiana University
1995 | Marsha Weisiger, University of Wisconsin, Madison
1994 | Colleen O’Neill, Rutgers University
1993 | Deborah Lamb, Northern Arizona University
1992 | Louis Warren, Yale University
1991 | David Peterson, University of Oregon
1990 | Mary Beth Ladow, Brandeis University
1989 | Brian Q. Cannon, University of Wisconsin, Madison
1988 | Charles E. Rankin, University of New Mexico
1987 | Ross Loomis, University of California, Berkeley
1986 | Sandra K. Schackel, University of New Mexico
1985 | Joseph B. Herring, Texas Christian University
Sponsors and Partners