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Lives and Landscapes Across Many Wests


William Deverell is Professor of History at the University of Southern California and Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. He received his undergraduate degree in American Studies from Stanford, where was mentored by Albert Camarillo, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton, where he was a student of James M. McPherson. Prior to coming to USC in 2004, Deverell taught at Caltech and the University of California, San Diego. His teaching has ranged across western and U.S. history, including classes in western environmental history; California history; the history of Los Angeles; the Civil War; and the history of American childhood. He has held residential fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, The Getty, and the Beinecke Library.

Throughout his career, he has published books and articles on western and California history. He is the author of Railroad Crossing: Californians and the Railroad, 1850-1910; Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past; and Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy That Transfixed the Nation. As a co-author or co-editor, he has been fortunate to work with David Igler, Greg Hise, Darryl Holter, Tom Sitton, and Anne Hyde. Current work includes team-based projects on western wildfire and the history of Los Angeles Chinatown. A decade ago, he co-founded the Los Angeles Service Academy, a program that introduces high school students to the infrastructural workings of metropolitan Los Angeles.

Raised in Colorado, Professor Deverell spends chunks of any given year in the Rockies, either in his home state or in northern Wyoming. “Although I went to college expecting to become a surgeon,” he writes, “I quickly discovered my life’s work. I credit that to growing up in a household filled with books and to the cadre of brilliant and kind scholars who taught me.” Deverell especially enjoys teaching graduate students. “As a graduate student mentor and teacher,” he writes, “I work hard to listen to my students, to encourage their creativity and their voices, and to be accessible and responsive. Teaching graduate students has been fundamental to my work as a scholar, and I have loved it.”

“I am thrilled almost beyond words by my selection as President-Elect of an organization I cherish,” he writes. “I cut my teeth at the WHA as a graduate student, I gave my first paper there, and I have made life-long friends through the organization.” Professor Deverell has served the WHA in many ways: program committee co-chair, editorial board member for the journal, council member, prize committee member, and others. “I am deeply committed to the ways in which the WHA has embraced change in recent years,” he writes. “It is exciting to see the evolution first-hand and to think about how our work together as students of the West builds community within and beyond the academy. I would not have my career without mentors, without people whose empathy and devotion to ideas inspired me. It is important to me to try to reciprocate that."


Dear Colleagues,

I want to thank you for submitting your work or otherwise committing to be part of our annual Western History Association meeting in October in downtown Los Angeles. All of us who are working to make this meeting a great success realize, at the end of the day, that it is the strength and vitality of the program that makes all the difference. I know I speak for the entire organization in saying just how excited we are to welcome everyone to Los Angeles.

As you may know, we haven’t met in L.A. for decades. All the more reason why I – and so many others – are so looking forward to our time together across October 25th to the 28th.


On the one hand, this message is designed to encourage you all to follow through on your program commitment, lest the organization take any fiscal hits for tech fees or hotel attrition. But what’s even more important is to note that your participation, in whatever form, adds to the vitality of our organization and our shared community. Each and every participant makes an impact on the organization and our collective commitment to furthering knowledge about the history and culture of the American West.


I look forward to welcoming you and your ideas to the City of Angels.


With all best wishes,

Bill Deverell

Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

1445 Jayhawk Blvd. | 3650 Wescoe Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860 

The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas. The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!