Walter Rundell Graduate Student Award

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 graduate student award for $1500. The applicant should be a doctoral candidate who has completed comprehensive examinations for their dissertation subject on the North American West. View a list of past recipients.

Applicants should send a letter of application, cv, a letter of support from their faculty advisor, and a statement summarizing the project and the particular library or collection in which research under the award would be conducted to each member of the committee listed below. 

Award Application Deadline: June 15, 2019

The award recipient will be notified by September 15.

2019 Walter Rundell Award Committee

 Flannery Burke, Chair
Saint Louis University

Department of History
 Saint Louis University
3800 Lindell Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63108

Gregory Smithers
Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University
Box 842001
811 S. Cathedral Place
Richmond, VA 23284-2001

Fay Yarbrough
Rice University

Department of History - MS 42
Rice University
PO Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892
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.

Past Recipients

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

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

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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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