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Margaret Byrne Professor of American History
Richard White is a Pulitzer-Prize nominated historian specializing in the history of the American west, environmental history and Native American history. He is the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University, a faculty co-director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the former President of the Organization of American Historians. He received a MacArthur fellowship was awarded a Mellon Distinguished Professor grant in 2007.
White is the principal investigator for the "Shaping the West", a project in the Spatial History Lab at Stanford University, which explores the construction of space by transcontinental railroads during the late nineteenth-century. By connecting data analysis and complex visualization graphical algorithms with traditional historical sources, Professor White's team is examining historic perceptions of space in the newly settled American West.
He is a member of the Spatial History Project, a collaborative community of scholars who utilize visual analysis and digital technology to identify patterns and anomalies in their research.
White previously taught at the University of Washington, University of Utah, and Michigan State University. His areas of expertise include corruption in the Gilded Age, dependency and social change among Native Americans and the history of the environment, including railroads, rivers and lakes.
He studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Washington. He has been at Stanford since 1998 where he took a Sophomore class to Washington D.C. to explore imagery and mythmaking in the American West.
His book, The Middle Ground: Indians Empires and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, was a Pulitzer Prize nominated finalist. It also won the Francis Parkman Prize for the best book on American History, the Albert B. Corey Prize for U.S.-Canadian History, the James A. Rawley Prize for the history of race relations, and the Albert J. Beveridge Award for best English-language book on American History.
His latest book, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America won the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America. W.W. Norton & Co, 2011.
"Corporations, Corruption, and the Modern Lobby: A Gilded Age Story of the West and the South in Washington, D.C.", Southern Spaces, 16 April 2009
Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories. New York: Hill and Wang, 1998.
The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996.
"It's Your Misfortune and None of my Own": A History of the American West. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge University Press, 1991.
The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change Among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos. University of Nebraska Press, 1983.
Land Use, Environment, and Social Change: The Shaping of Island County, Washington. University of Washington Press, 1979.
Professor White in the News
Railroad Historian says California is on the wrong track
San Francisco Chronicle, February 12, 2012
Railroad hyperbole echoes all the way down to the dot-com frenzy
Stanford Report, January 13, 2012
As the High-Speed Rail Debate Rages On, Stanford Historian Becomes Big Critic
KQED News, December 7, 2011
Railroaded: Transcontinental rails and robber barons
The Cutting Edge, November 27, 2011
Chicago Tribune, November 18, 2011
Trains in Vain: On Richard White
The Nation, September 19, 2011
Interview explores the myth of the transcontinental railroads
Sacramento Bee, June 27, 2011
Book review: The transcontinental travesty
Slate, June 6, 2011
Book review: Too big to fail
Boston Globe, June 5, 2011
Fast Train to Nowhere
The New York Times Op-Ed, April 23, 2011
What history tells us about high-speed rail
Palo Alto Patch, May 9, 2011
Richard White writes an op-ed for The Nation: 'Changing the metaphor'
The Nation, October 14, 2009
'Can the West lead us to a better place?'
Stanford Magazine, May/June, 2008
Professor White comments on the Spatial History Lab
Stanford Magazine, December, 2007
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