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In recognition of the late Walter Rundell, Jr.’s commitment to graduate education in the field of Western History, the Western History Association offers a $1500 award for graduate student research. The applicant should be a doctoral candidate who has completed comprehensive examinations for their dissertation subject on the North American West. 

Applicants should send the following in *one pdf file* to each member of the committee (please use your last name in the title of the pdf file and put "Rundell Award Application" in the email subject line):

  1. a cover letter of application
  2. current cv
  3. a statement summarizing the project and the particular library or collection in which research under the award would be conducted. 
  4. faculty advisor letter of support (faculty advisors should send this directly to the award committee)

The 2024 Rundell Award Committee requests that the cover letter and research statement be no more than three pages (around 750-1000 words).

-2024 Awards Cycle opens January 15, 2024

-2024 Award Submission (Postmark) Deadline: June 15, 2024

The WHA office sends notifications to selected award recipients at the end of August. 


Miroslava Chávez-García, Chair
University of California, Santa Barbara

Peter Blodgett

Independent Historian

Joseph Stuart 

Brigham Young University



2023 | Catherine ʻĪmaikalani Ulep, “Makaʻāinana Wāhine: Clothing, Power, and the Sex-for-Goods Trade in Nineteenth-Century Hawai‘i”

2022 | Mary Ludwig, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, "Incarcerated Nations: Removal and Confinement on Indigenous Lands"

2021 | Adrian Chavana, University of Minnesota, "Reclaiming Tribal Identity in the Land of the Spirit Waters: The Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation"

2020 | Andy Rafael Aguilera, University of Michigan, "Negotiating Mexicanidad: Race and Nationalism in Mexican Los Angeles during the Mexican Revolution, 1880-1940"

2019 | Mark Boxell, University of Oklahoma

2018 | George Rozsa, University of Iowa

2017 | Neama Alamri, University of California, Merced

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, "The Simplest Rules of Motherhood: Settler Colonialism and the Regulation of American Indian Reproduction: 1910-1976"

2012 | Heather Sinclair, University of Texas, El Paso, "History of Midwifery, Childbirth, and Race in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1907-1976"

2011 | Saara Kekki, University of Finland

2010 | Max Krochmal, Duke University, "Black and Brown at Work: Labor, Civil Rights, and the Struggle for Democracy in Texas, 1935-1975"

2009 | Brenden Rensink, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, "Defining Refugees and Creating Illegals: North American Indigenous Migration, Federal Policy, and Local Realities in the U.S.-Canadian and U.S-Mexican Borderlands, 1880-Present"

2008 | Anna Banhegyi, Southern Methodist University

2007 | Ryan Dearinger, University of Utah, "Frontiers of Progress and Paradox: Building Canals, Railroads, and Manhood in the American West"

2006 | Lincoln Bramwell, University of New Mexico

2005 | Robin Courtney Henry, Indiana University, "Criminalizing Sex, Defining Sexuality: Sodomy Laws, Manhood, and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Colorado"

2004 | Christine G. Bye, University of Calgary, "Grassroots Connections: A Cross-Border Study of Northern Great Plains Families during the Great Depression"

2003 | Jennifer Seltz, University of Washington, "Embodying Nature: Health, Place, and Identity in 19th-Century America"

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



Walter Rundell, Jr., (1928-1982) a native of Texas, cultivated a life informed by literature, music, and the arts. Known for dignity and graciousness, Rundell impressed associates with his unflagging work ethic, impeccable integrity, and subtle wit. Born November 2, 1928, Rundell graduated from Lee Junior College in Baytown, Texas. He matriculated at the University of Texas, Austin, where he majored in music and journalism, preparing for a career as a critic of symphonic and operatic performance.

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.

Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

1445 Jayhawk Blvd. | 3650 Wescoe Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860 

The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas. The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!