The Western History Association announces the competition for the W. Turrentine Jackson Award. The award will be presented to a beginning professional historian for a first book on any aspect of the history of the American West. Presses may submit more than one book. The winner of the $1,000 award will be announced during the Western History Association's annual conference.
-2021 Awards Cycle opens January 25, 2021
-2021 Award Submission (Postmark) Deadline: April 15, 2021
The WHA office sends award notifications in August. View past recipients.
Megan Kate Nelson
Historian and Writer
Please email for mailing address:
William Turrentine “Turpie” Jackson (1915-2000) was the fifteenth President of the Western History Association. Jackson, a highly respected social, economic, and policy historian, served the WHA as president from 1976 to 1977. Jackson was born in Ruston, Louisiana but was reared in El Paso,Texas. He earned a B.A. at Texas Western College in 1935, and a Ph.D. in history, under the supervision of eminent historian Walter Prescott Webb, at the University of Texas at Austin in 1940. After completing his Ph.D., Jackson taught at eight different universities in eleven years. In 1951 he took a position at the University of California, Davis, where he would remain until his retirement in 1985.
Jackson distinguished himself as a scholar of American Western history and California history. His primary contribution to American history was his paradigm-shifting assertion that the West hosted unique advances that helped shape modern America. He argued that the region was not established by so-called rugged individuals, but by government assessors, beneficiaries of federal subsidies, and venture capitalists.
Jackson was also an innovator in public history. He worked with Pacific Gas & Electric, the city of Sacramento, the state of California, and Wells Fargo Bank, for whom he served as a consultant for 20 years. In 1982, Jackson established JRP Historical Consultants, a public history firm that continues to flourish. He wrote three award-wining books, including Wagon Roads West (1952), Treasure Hill: Portrait of a Silver Mining Camp (1963), and The Enterprising Scot: Investors in the American West after 1873 (1968). Not only was he a highly decorated scholar, he was a visionary. In “A Brief Message for the Young and/or Ambitious: Comparative Frontiers as a Field for Investigation,” his 1977 WHA presidential address, Jackson called for the study of the borderlands in an effort to connect the West with Latin America and more generally with global history. W. Turrentine Jackson redefined what it meant to be a historian, and helped inspire future generations of scholars to view history through increasingly diverse and comparative lenses. W. Turrentine Jackson died on May 28, 2000 in Davis, California. Annual awards in his honor are given by both the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and the Western History Association.
(Authored by: Matthew C. Whitaker, Arizona State University) Sources: “W. Turrentine ‘Turpie’ Jackson; History Professor,” Los Angeles Times (June 1, 2000), “William Turrentine Jackson, History: Davis,” Calisphere, University of California Libraries, California Digital Library.
2021 | Jennifer Holland, Tiny You: A Western History of the Anti-Abortion Movement (University of California Press, 2020)
2019 | Megan Black, The Global Interior: Mineral Frontiers and American Power (Harvard University Press, 2018)
2018 | S. Deborah Kang for The INS on the Line: Making Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954 (Oxford University Press, 2017)
2017 | Tyina Steptoe for Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City (University of California Press, 2015)
2015 | Bethel Saler for The Settlers' Empire, Colonialism and State Formation in America's Old Northwest (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015)
2013 | Paul W. Mapp for The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763 (University of North Carolina Press, 2013)
2011 | John Troutman for Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2009)
2009 | Brian DeLay for War of a Thousand Deserts: Indian Raids and the U.S.-Mexican War (Yale University Press, 2008)
2007 | Steven W. Hackel for Children of Coyote, Missionaries of St. Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769-1785 (University of North Carolina Press, 2005)
2005 | John T. Coleman for Vicious: Wolves and Men in America (Yale University Press, 2004)
2003 | James F. Brooks for Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2002)
2001 | Susan Lee Johnson for Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (W.W. Norton & Co., 2000)
1999 | Charlene Porsild for Gamblers and Dreamers: Women, Men and Community in the Klondike (University of British Columbia Press, 1998)
1997 | David Gutierrez for Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants and the Politics of Ethnicity (University of California Press, 1995)
1995 | Dana Frank for Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle Labor Movement, 1919-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 1994)
1993 | Peter Coates for The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Controversy: Technology, Conservation and the Frontier (Lehigh University Press, 1991)
1991 | Anne Farrar Hyde for An American Vision: Far Western Landscape and National Culture, 1820-1920 (New York University Press, 1990)
1989 | Joseph E. Stevens for Hoover Dam: An American Adventure (University of Oklahoma Press, 1988)
1987 | Paula M. Nelson for After the West Was Won: Homesteaders and Town-Builders in Western South Dakota, 1900- 1917 (University of Iowa Press, 1986)