Our Ph.D. program is a leader in new global approaches to the History of the North American West. We specialize in studying the West as an empire in transnational and comparative context. Our faculty are particularly expert in Indigenous histories in the Americas, and their studies of the 19th- and 20th-century North American West focus on women and gender, race and ethnicity, and the role of law in American expansion.
Several institutions at the University help to facilitate the study of the American West:
Additionally, several prominent American West archives are within a day’s drive from campus, including:
Margaret Huettl: Assistant Professor in History and Ethnic Studies, scholar of Native American history and North American Wests, her research examines Indigenous sovereignty and settler colonialism in a transnational context. Her current project, “Ojibwe Peoplehood in the North American West, 1854-1954,” explores Ojibwe or Anishinaabe sovereignty in the United States and Canada during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, centering her research on Anishinaabe ways of knowing. Her research and teaching interests focus on Indigenous histories in North America, with a special interest in ethnohistorical methods and public history.
Margaret Jacobs: Chancellor’s Professor of History, specializes in transnational and comparative studies of the American West with a focus on women and gender as well as children and family. Through comparisons with Australia and Canada, she conceptualizes the American West as a site of settler colonialism and examines the complex historical processes and interactions that develop from this enterprise.
Katrina Jagodinsky: Assistant Professor of History, specializes in borderlands and legal history. She is interested in the complex intersections of race, gender, and the law in the North American West. She focuses primarily on the periods of transition from colonial, to territorial, to early statehood legal regimes. Her scholarship examines the efforts of marginalized people to exercise rights within expansionist contests of power.
Victoria Smith: Associate Professor of History and Native American Studies, concentrates on the 19th-century Native American West, with a specialization in Arizona and Apache history. She teaches about the evolution of federal Indian policy in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is a Cherokee, Delaware and Lumbee descendant through the Harmon/ Anderson/Oxendine/Smith line.
Placement of graduate students in Western History
We enjoy a high rate of placement of our American West students into tenure-track jobs. Over the last 10 years, we have placed 19 of our Ph.D. students in such positions. Many of our students also find work in documentary editing, community college teaching, and political consulting. To learn more about our graduates, see information on our Ph.D. placement page.