The Western History Association Council established the Oscar O. Winther Award for the best article to appear in the Western Historical Quarterly each academic year. Award recipients are selected by the WHQ Board of Editors. For more information, visit the Western Historical Quarterly website. View a list of past recipients.
Oscar O. Winther (1903-1970) was a scholar of western transportation and the second President of the Western History Association, from 1963 to 1964. After several years as a curator at the Wells Fargo collection and visiting positions at Stanford and the San Jose Adult Education Center, Winther served on the faculty of Indiana University. He was a dean at Indiana’s graduate school for a decade and in 1965 was named a University Professor. Later in his career he was also a visiting professor at New Mexico, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford. Winther was also active beyond the WHA, serving as president of the Oral History Association and as the managing editor of the Mississippi Valley Historical Review when it became the Journal of American History.
Born outside of Weeping Water, Nebraska to Danish immigrants, as a young man Winther moved to Oregon with his family. He received his B.A. from the University of Oregon and worked in canneries and taught high school for a few years in order to save money for graduate school. He received his M.A. from Harvard in 1926 and his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1934. Winther’s dozen books, seventy articles, and more than one hundred book reviews covered a wide swathe of historical terrain. His core interest, as represented by Express and Stagecoach Days in California (1936) and The Transportation Frontier: Trans-Mississippi West, 1865-1890 (1964), was nineteenth-century western transportation, particularly the ways in which stagecoaches, wagon trails, railroads, and steamships shaped the economy and society of the U.S. West. He also published on the Pacific Northwest, especially in The Great Northwest (1947), and on Danish agricultural and political history. Winther prided himself not only on his scholarship, but also on writing for the general public, as in Via Western Express and Stagecoach (1945), and on the extensive bibliographic work that resulted in the publication of three bibliographies of periodical literature pertaining to the West.
Authored by: Benjamin H. Johnson, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Sources: Bonny O. Van Orman and Richard A. Van Orman, “Oscar O. Winther,” in Historians of the American Frontier: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, ed. John R. Wunder (New York: GreenwoodPress, 1988): 736-744.
2017 | Fredy González for "Chinese Braceros? Chinese Mexican Workers in the United States during World War II," Western Historical Quarterly (Summer 2017).
2016 | David Wrobel for "Considering Frontiers and Empires: George Kennan's Siberia and the U.S. West," WHQ (Autumn 2015).
2015 | Louis S. Warren for "Wage Work in the Sacred Circle: The Ghost Dance as Modern Religion," WHQ Summer 2015, 141-168
2014 | James David Nichols for "The Line of Liberty: Runaway Slaves and Fugitive Peons in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands" (Winter 2013)
2013 | Susan Schulten for “The Civil War and the Origins of the Colorado Territory” (Spring 2013)
2012 | Grace Peña Delgato for “Border Patrol and Sexual Policing: White Slavery and Prostitution along the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1903-1910” (Summer 2012)
2011 | Alexandra Koelle for “Pedaling on the Periphery: The African American Twenty-fifth Infantry Bicycle Corps and the Roads of American Expansion”(Autumn, 2010)
2010 | Kent Curtis for “Producing a Gold Rush: National Ambitions and the Northern Rocky Mountains, 1853-1863” (Autumn 2009)
2009 | Benjamin Madley for “California's Yuki Indians: Defining Genocide in Native American History” (Autumn 2008)
2008 | Marsha Weisiger for “Gendered Injustice: Navajo Livestock Reduction in the New Deal Era” (Winter 2007)
2007 | Kelly Lytle Hernandez for “The Crimes and Consequences of Illegal Immigration: A Cross-border Examination of Operation Wetback, 1943-1954” (Winter 2006)
2006 | Peter Boag for “Go West Young Man, Go East Young Woman: Searching for the Trans in Western Gender History” (Winter 2005)
2005 | Mark Fiege for “The Weedy West: Mobile Nature, Boundaries, and Common Space in the Montana Landscape” (Spring 2005)
2004 | Eric V. Meeks for “The Tohono O'odham, Wage Labor, and Resistant Adaptation, 1900-1930” (Winter 2003)2003 | Louis S. Warren for “Cody‘s Last Stand: Masculine Anxiety, the Custer Myth, and the Frontier of Domesticity in Buffalo Bill‘s Wild West” (Spring 2003)
2002 | Daniel Belgrad for “’Power‘s Larger Meaning‘: The Johnson County War as Political Violence in an Environmental Context” (Summer 2002)
2001 | Michael Lansing for “Plains Indian Women and Interracial Marriage in the Upper Missouri Trade, 1804-1868”(Winter 2000)
2000 | Brian Q. Cannon for “Power Relations: Western Rural Electric Cooperatives and the New Deal” (Summer 2000)
1999 | Joseph E. Taylor III for “El Niño and Vanishing Salmon: Culture, Nature, History, and the Politics of Blame" (Winter 1998)
1998 | Catherine Anne Cavanaugh for “No Place for a Woman‘: Engendering Western Canadian Settlement” (Winter 1997)
1997 | Andrew H. Fisher for “The 1932 Handshake Agreement: Yakama Indian Treaty Rights and Forest Service Policy in the Pacific Northwest” (Summer 1997)
1996 | Alexandra Harmon for “Lines in Sand: Shifting Boundaries Between Indians and Non-Indians in the Puget Sound Region” (Winter 1995)
1995 | Donald J. Pisani for “Squatter Law in California, 1850-1856”(Autumn 1994)
1994 | Michael L. Goldberg for “Non-Partisan and All-Partisan: Rethinking Woman Suffrage and Party Politics in Gilded Age Kansas” (Spring 1994)
1993 | Carl Abbot for “Regional City and Network City: Portland and Seattle in the Twentieth Century” (August 1992)
1992 | John M. Findlay for “Far Western Cityscapes and American Culture Since 1940” (February 1991)
1991 | Gerald L. McKevitt for “Jesuit Missionary Lingusitics in the Pacific Northwest: A Comparative Study” (August 1990)
1990 | Michael P. Malone for “Beyond the Last Frontier: Toward a New Approach to Western American History”(November 1989)
1989 | Kenneth R. Philip for “Dillon S. Meyer and the Advent of Termination: 1950-1953” (January 1988)
1988 | Paula Petrik for “If She Be Content: The Development of Montana Divorce Law, 1865-1907” (July 1987)
1987 | David H. Dinwoodie for “Indians, Hispanos, and Land Reform: A New Deal Struggle in New Mexico”(July 1986)
1986 | William G. Robbins for “The Social Context of Forestry: The Pacific Northwest in the Twentieth Century” (October 1985)
1985 | Paul W. Gates and Lillian F. Gates for “Canadian and American Land Policy Decisions, 1930” (October 1984)
1984 | Douglas Monroy for “Like Swallows at the Old Mission: Mexicans and the Racial Politics of Growth in Los Angeles in the Interwar Period” (October 1983)
1983 | John J. Culley for “World War II and a Western Town: The Internment of the Japanese Railroad Workers of Clovis, New Mexico” (January 1982).
1982 | John L. Kessell for “General Sherman and the Navajo Treaty of 1868: A Basic and Expedient Misunderstanding” (July 1981)
1981 | Richard Jensen for “On Modernizing Frederick Jackson Turner: The Historiography of Regionalism” (July 1980)
1980 | Michael C. Steiner for “The Significance of Turner‘s Sectional Thesis” (October 1979)
1979 | John Alexander Williams for “A New Look at an Old Field” (July 1978)
1979 | Norris Hundley, Jr. for “The Dark and Bloody Ground of Indian Water Rights: Confusion Elevated to Principle” (October 1978)
1978 | Clyde D. Dollar for “The High Plains Smallpox Epidemic of 1837-38” (January 1977)
1977 | Jackson K. Putnam for “The Turner Thesis and the Westward Movement: A Reappraisal” (October 1976)
1976 | John C. Ewers for “Intertribal Warfare as the Precursor of Indian-White Warfare on the Northern Great Plains” (October 1975)
1975 | Mark Wyman for “Industrial Revolution in the West: Hard-Rock Miners and the New Technology” (January 1974)
1974 | Llerena Friend for “Walter Prescott Webb and Book Reviewing”(October 1973)
1973 | Norris Hundley, Jr. for “Clio Nods: Arizona v. California and the Boulder Canyon Act - A Reassessment”(January 1972)
1972 | W. N. Davis, Jr. for “The Sutler at Fort Bridge” (January 1971)
1971 | Charles S. Peterson for “’A Mighty Man Was Brother Lot’: A Portrait of Lot Smith - Mormon Frontiersman”(October 1970)