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First announced as the Bert M. Firemen Award by the Western History Association Council at the 1982 WHA Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, and renamed the Bert M. Fireman and Janet Fireman Award in 2015, this award recognizes the best student article published in the Western Historical Quarterly each year. The $1000 award is generously supported by the Fireman family. Award recipients are selected annually by the WHQ Board of Editors. 

The WHA office sends award notifications in August. 

-2024 Awards Cycle opens January 15, 2024

The WHA office sends notifications to selected award recipients at the end of August. 



2023 | Donna Rae Devlin, A ‘Hired Girl’ Testifies Against the ‘Son of a Prominent Family’: Bastardy and Rape on the Nineteenth-Century Nebraska Plains, Western Historical Quarterly (Spring 2022)

2022 | Laura Dominguez, "Courtyard Sisters: Settler Fantasy and Experiment at the International Institute of Los Angeles, 1914-1940," Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2021)

2021 | Brigida Blasi, "Rediscovering Dana: The Forgotten Black Coal Miners of Southern Wyoming," Western Historical Quarterly (Autumn 2020)

2020 Mariel Aquino, "'It Has a Way of Getting In Your Blood When You're Basque': Basque Sheepherders, Race, and Labor, 1880-1959,” Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2019)

2019 Michael A. Hill, “The Myth of Seward’s Folly,” Western Historical Quarterly (Spring 2019)

2018 | Jessica Leslie Arnett for "Unsettled Rights in Territorial Alaska: Native Land, Sovereignty, and Citizenship from the Indian Reorganization Act to Termination" (Autumn 2017)

2017 | Reetta Humalajoki for "'What is it to Withdraw?': Klamath and Navajo Tribal Councils' Tactics in Negotiating Termination Policy, 1949-1964," (Winter 2017)

2016 | Lauren Brand for "'Great Conceptions of Their Own Power': Native and U.S. Diplomacy in the Old Southwest" (Summer 2016)

2015 | Benjamin Lindquist for “Testimony of the Senses: Latter-day Saints and the Civilized Soundscape," (Spring 2015)

2014 | Andrew Offenburger for "When the West Turned South: Making Home Lands in Revolutionary Sonora," (Autumn 2014)

2013 | Fredy González for “Chinese Dragon and the Eagle of Anáhuac: The Local, National, and International Implications of the Ensenada Anti-Chinese Campaign of 1934,” (Spring 2013)

2012 | Miles A. Powell for “Divided Waters: Heiltsuk Spatial Management of Herring Fisheries and the Politics of Native Sovereignty” (Winter 2012)

2011 | Bob Reinhardt for “Drowned Towns in the Cold War West: Small Communities and Federal Water Projects” (Summer 2011)

2010 | Todd Holmes for “The Economic Roots of Reaganism: Corporate Conservatives, Political Economy, and the United Farm Workers Movement, 1965-1970” (Spring 2010)

2009| Alexander I. Olson for “Heritage Schemes: The Curtis Brothers and the Indian Moment of Northwest Boosterism” (Summer 2009)

2008 | Janne Lahti for “Colonized Labor: Apaches and Pawnees as Army Workers” (Autumn 2008)

2007 | Gretchen Heefner for “Missiles and Memory: Dismantling South Dakota‘s Cold War” (Summer 2007)

2006 | Roxanne Willis for “A New Game in the North: Alaska Native Reindeer Herding, 1890-1940,” (Autumn 2006)

2005 | Nicolas G. Rosenthal for “Representing Indians: Native American Actor on Hollywood's Frontier” (Autumn 2005)

2004 | James Feldman for “The View from Sand Island: Reconsidering the Perhipheral Economy, 1880-1940” (Autumn)

2003 | Matthew C. Whitaker for “’Creative Conflict‘: Lincoln and Eleanor Ragsdale, Collaboration, and Community Activism in Phoenix, 1953-1965” (Summer 2003)

2002 | Daniel M. Cobb for “’Us Indians Understand the Basics‘: Oklahoma Indians and the Politics of Community Action, 1964-1970” (Spring 2002)

2001 | Helen McLure for “The Wild, Wild Web: The Mythic American West and the Electronic Frontier” (Winter 2000)

2000 | Adam M. Sowards for “Administrative Trials, Environmental Consequences, and the Use of History in Arizona‘s Tonto National Forest, 1926-1996” (Summer 2000)

1999 | Pekka Hämäläinen for “The Western Comanche Trade Center: Rethinking the Plains Indian Trade System” (Winter 1998)

1998 | Elliott Young for “Red Men, Princess Pocohontas, and George Washington: Harmonizing Race Relations in Laredo at the Turn of the Century” (Spring 1998)

1997 | Andrew H. Fisher for “The 1932 Handshake Agreement: Yakama Indian Treaty Rights and Forest Service Policy in the Pacific Northwest” (Summer 1997)

1996 | Brad Asher for “Their Own Domestic Difficulties‘: Intra-Indian Crime and White Law in Western Washington Territory, 1873-1889” (Summer 1996)

1995 | Alexandra Harmon for “Lines in the Sand: Shifting Boundaries between Indians and Non-Indians in the Puget Sound Region” (Winter 1995)

1994 | Christina Klein for “’Everything of interest in the late Pine Ridge War are held by us for sale‘: Popular Culture and Wounded Knee” (Spring 1994)

1993 | Gunther Peck for “Padrones and Protest: ‘Old‘ Radicals and ‘New‘ Immigrants in Bingham, Utah, 1905-1912” (May 1993)

1992 | David W. Stowe for “Jazz in the West: Cultural Frontier and Region During the Swing Era” (February 1992)

1991 | Robert R. Treviño for “Prensa y Patria: The Spanish-Language Press and the Biculturation of the Tejano Middle Class, 1920-1940” (November 1991)

1990 | Kevin Allen Leonard for “’Is That What We Fought For?‘ Japanese Americans and Racism in California, The Impact of World War II” (November 1990)

1989 | Charles E. Rankin for “Teaching Opportunity and Limitation for Wyoming Women” (May 1990)

1988 | William F. Deverell for “To Loosen the Safety Valve: Eastern Workers and Western Lands”(August 1988)

1987 | No Award Given

1986 | Kenneth J. Bindas for “Western Mystic: Bob Nolan and His Songs”(October 1986)

1985 | Joseph B. Herring for “Tragedy on the Osage” (April 1986)

1984 | David Rich Lewis for “Argonauts and the Overland Trail Experience: Method and Theory” (July 1985)

1983 | Douglas R. Littlefield for “Water Rights During the California Gold Rush: Conflicts Over Economic Points of View” (October 1983)



Bert M. Fireman (1913–1980) was, by choice and vocation, an Arizonan. Fireman worked as an AP and UP journalist after finishing his BA at Arizona State University in 1936. For thirteen years he wrote a daily column for the Phoenix Gazette titled “Under the Sun.” In the 1950s he narrated a local radio program “Arizona Crossroads” on the state’s history, and organized the Arizona Historical Foundation. Fireman was one of the moving forces in exploring and promoting Arizona history and western history. He traveled extensively and wrote for both popular and scholarly audiences in venues like Arizona Highways, Arizona and the West, The Historian, and The American West. He believed in accessible, readable history that would involve the broader public. With Madeline Paré, he authored two Arizona history texts, and was completing a third “informal history,” published posthumously in 1982 as Arizona: Historic Land.

“My father, whose struggles, energies, and dedication to and absolute delight in learning, inspired us,” writes his daughter Janet R. Fireman, Editor of California History and a member of the History Department at Loyola Marymount University. "Our thinking was to continue, in some way, one of my father's enormous pleasures: imparting keen interest and sharing his devotion to intellectual honesty with his students, with researchers and others—or perhaps infecting them with his avid curiosity and biting hunger for history. During the last thirteen years of his life at ASU, he held forth in large classes as a lecturer in Arizona history and as curator of the Arizona Collection in Hayden Library, as well as executive vice president of the Arizona Historical Foundation. After his death, we thought that supporting an award that might stimulate student research, writing, and achievement in Western history would honor his memory by perpetuating his passion,” (email correspondence, 1 July 2004).

Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

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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!