Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women's Legacy Archive: Western History Association oral history project, ACCN 0814
Western History Association Oral History Project, ACCN 0814
The Western History Association oral history project is part of the Everett L. Cooley oral history collection.
- Jo Tice Bloom
Bloom talks about the history of and her involvement in the Western History Association (WHA), particularly the role and acceptance of women in the organization. She discusses the key people who were involved in the WHA and how their activities contribution to the development of the organization. She relates how her husband’s involvement in WHA leadership positions impacted her own involvement. Ms. Bloom notes changes in the WHA over the years and the impact of those changes on the association.
Emeritus professor of history at Utah State University, Anne Butler, remembers her academic career with emphasis on her membership in the Western Historical Association and her time as editor of the WHA´s organ the Western Historical Quarterly. Raised in Massachusetts, Dr. Butler discovered her love of the West and Western history in childhood, and, as a single mother of two in the 1960s, embarked on a college career that started at Towson State University and led her to a PhD at the University of Maryland. She worked closely with Walter Rundell and Richard Farrell at Maryland, and throughout the interview discusses Rundell´s scholarship, his manner with students, and his work in the WHA. Dr. Rundell was responsible for Dr. Butler´s own entry into the WHA, and she gave her first paper at the San Diego conference in 1979. She replaced Chaz Peterson at Utah State University in 1988 with Clyde MilnerÃ´s encouragement, and indeed credits him with making her academic experience and her entire time in Logan until his departure wonderful. Dr. Butler retired from USU to give David Lewis room to grow as editor, but also because Dr. Milner had already left. Her work for the WHQ spanned fourteen years, and she professionalized the establishment as well as gearing the journal up for online access and publication. She remembers the WHQ being the only small journal to join History Co-op at first, alongside the bigger names. Dr. Butler also made a concerted effort at the WHQ to reach out to Hispanic and women scholars. She mentions the journal´s emphasis on cutting-edge research and notes the rise of graduate students´ work in the publication. She mentions a number of fine graduate students the WHQ sponsored with fellowships, and discusses the process. In 2012 Dr. Butler received the WHA´s Award of Merit.
- Iris Engstrand
Engstrand discusses her involvement with the Western History Association. As a graduate student, she was involved in the conception of the organization. She talks about the many people she worked with at that time. Iris was one of the very few women working to develop the organization. She talks about her experiences as a woman historian and the other women she’s worked with throughout her career. She discusses the many roles she’s taken on as a part of the Western History Association, specifically her time as president of the organization.
- Janet Fireman
Fireman, past president of the Western History Association and California public historian, talks about how and why she became a historian and how and why she chose to study the American West. She describes her relationship with her father, who was a journalist interested in Western history and also taught at Arizona State University. Dr. Fireman talks about her education and the traveling she has done for school and for research. She talks about the jobs she has had throughout her career, from teaching at Fresno State University to editing the journal California History. She discusses her experiences with the Western History Association throughout the years, her participation in the Association, and her time as president. Dr. Fireman describes the changes she has seen in the WHA, including the development of public history as a field of study, and the changes she has been a part of. She also discusses creating the Bert M. Fireman Award for graduate students in honor of her father.
- Elizabeth Jameson
Jameson, past president and longtime member of the Western History Association, discusses her professional life, her role in and thoughts on the organization. Raised in Galveston, Texas, Dr. Jameson received her PhD from the University of Michigan and taught for several organizations, most prominently the University of New Mexico and the University of Calgary. She has spent much of her career working to advance Western women’s and labor history on both sides of the US/Canadian border.
Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Illinois and first woman president of the Western History Association, Mary Lee Spence, discusses her role in the WHA and shares her thoughts on the organization. A physics major at the University of Texas, she soon switched to history and later became interested in Western history, particularly influenced by her advisor at the University of Minnesota, Ernest Osgood. She joined the WHA in 1962 with her husband Clark C. Spence, but did not attend for perhaps ten years due to her children. She mentions a number of prominent historians involved in the WHA early on, including Martin Ridge, Vernon Carstenson, and Francis Paul Prucha. Having served several leadership roles in the WHA, Dr. Spence became president in 1981. She remembers the organization early on being almost entirely white, and notes its growing diversity over the decades. She also mentions that non-white professional historians’ numbers have increased and that they are more welcome at the WHA now than in the past. Dr. Spence also discusses the role of women in the organization and notes their increasing roles over the years. She feels the WHA’s mission is the same as it was in the early years—to explore the history of all facets of the West.