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Department of History

Department Invades Oregon!

The department had an excellent showing at the recent joint meeting of the American Society for Environmental History and the National Council on Public History in Portland, Oregon.

On Thursday, March 11, in the session titled “Environmental Change on North America’s Borders,” Kent LaCombe, a graduate student working under the direction of environmental and Kansas history Professor Jim Sherow, presented “Freshwater Follies: The 20th Century Race for Resources in the Lake Huron Ecosystem.” Later in that afternoon, in the “Iron Horse in the Garden: Railroads and the American West” session, Professor Sherow presented “Ecological Transitions and the Kansas Pacific Railway: Alexander Gardner and his Camera,” a study of a leading photographer of the nineteenth-century West.

On Friday, David Vail, a PhD candidate also working under the direction of Professor Sherow, presented “Poison Winds over Chemical Lands: A Toxic History of Postwar Kansas, 1950–1980,” in the session titled “Poisons, Pollutants, and Professionals: Toxic Bodies and Environments.” Vail was awarded a highly coveted graduate student travel grant to attend the conference by the ASEH. On Saturday, Professor Heather McCrea spoke on “Gulf of Disease: Environment, Health, and the Tropical Menace of Disease in Latin America,” in the session titled, “Latin American Currents: Iberian Transformation, Agrarian Reform, and Tropical Disease.”

Also on Friday, recent MA graduate Janet Timmerman presented “Hospice for Small Towns,” in which she combined her experiences in Kansas with the history department’s Chapman Center for Rural Studies and Marshall County’s Pony Express Museum with her current position as a community health coordinator. Janet received her MA in 2008 under the direction of Professor Bonnie Lynn-Sherow. Sandra Reddish, a PhD student in the department working with Professor Sue Zschoche, gave a talk about her experiences in three small Kansas towns.

All of these sessions were very well attended, and the papers received excellent responses. Not surprisingly, we can look for several of them to appear in professional journals. Overall, “This was an unprecedented level of representation for our department at the ASEH,” said Professor Sherow, who has been attending the conference for twenty years. “The ASEH is the flagship meeting for environmental historians and having so many K-Staters there sends a clear message that our program is prospering and a leader in the field of environmental history.”