From: Lisa Mighetto <>
Subject: ASEH News Spring 2014
aseh news
spring 2014                         volume 25, issue 1
in this issue
president's column: san francisco conference highlights
the profession: dispatch from devils hole - part II
member news
announcements: award recipients, award submissions, call for papers, and more
for graduate students
in memoriam

our next conference

Turning Protest into Policy: Environmental Values and Governance in Changing Societies
March 18-22, 2015 (Georgetown area near Rock Creek Park)
Click here for Call for Papers
Deadline for submitting proposals: July 20, 2014
Our 2015 conference will include the following special events:
  • workshop on environmental history records at the National Archives
  • workshop on environmental films and filmmaking
  • walking tours exploring murals and monuments
  • boat seminar on Potomac River
  • tour of Civil War battlefield
  • field trip exploring C&O Canal
  • trip to National Arboretum
  • large book exhibit with opportunities to interact with publishers
  • career seminars and networking opportunities for students


Historic row houses along C&O Canal.


The April issue of Environmental History includes a forum on climate change and environmental history - and much more. Click here for more info.

photos from san francisco conference last month
Fog and bridge: attendees pose en route to the Preston Vineyards tour.

Group shot, birding trip.

Beach stop on Point Reyes trip.

Ranch stop on Point Reyes trip.

Save the Bay boat tour.

Plenary session on environmental poetry.
Opening reception.

Forest History Sociey lunch and talk (Steve Anderson pictured left; Richard White pictured right).
The book exhibit was ASEH's largest to date.
Reception at California Historical Society.
Carolyn Merchant, local arrangements co-chair (pictured left), with Anthea Hartig, CHS director (pictured right).
Balinese music trio on Saturday evening.

Hal Rothman Fun(d) Run in San Francisco
James Pritchard and Char Miller co-hosted this year's Hal Rothman Fellowship Fun(d) Run when race coordinator Jamie Lewis couldn't make the conference. Many thanks to Jamie, Char, and James for organizing this event!

Once again, the run raised  $500 for the Rothman Fund.

James Pritchard provided this summary of the event: The 5th annual Hal Rothman Fun(d) Run departed the conference hotel at 6:30 AM, with about 23 runners and walkers joining this casual-paced outing. We jogged through the urban environment following Market Street, busy even at an early hour. We ran down to the ferry terminal on San Francisco Bay, beautiful in the early morning light. We detoured onto a pedestrian spit, pausing to admire the Oakland Bay Bridge, illuminated with LED lights displaying moving patterns.
Our crew continued chatting and jogging along the Embarcadero, turning about at AT&T Park for our return to the conference. It's great fun, so plan to join us next year in DC!
Couldn't make the run this year? You can still donate to the Hal Rothman Fellowship by clicking here and selecting the initiative to fund grad students.                       
The San Francisco conference was ASEH's largest to date, with 716 attendees. We thank everyone who registered and we are especially 
grateful to the local arragements committee, program committee, and all the student volunteers who made this conference possible.
Conference photos in this newsletter courtesy Lisa Mighetto, Laura Watt, and Jerry Williams.
future conferences
Guimarães, Portugal
July 7-14, 2014

Washington, DC
March 18-22, 2015

March 30-April 3, 2016
reminder: sign up for aseh member directory
ASEH's Digital Communications Committee announces the launching of an online directory of members. Any member can register on this new site, which is publicly available to anyone searching for contact info. on environmental historians and their research. The site is now open for registration and viewing.
We encourage all ASEH members to register. If you have questions or comments, contact
Click here to register. Thank you for your participation!
aseh news
Published quarterly by the American Society for Environmental History. If you have an article, announcement, or an item for the "member news" section of our next newsletter, send to 
by June 13, 2014. 

president's column: san francisco conference highlights


Seven hundred and sixteen registrants from five continents. More than $60,000 raised for conference sponsorships. Two pre-conference workshops filled to capacity. One hundred sessions and 10 field trips, many overflowing with attendees. A graduate student reception and writings workshops.   Another attendance record broken. The largest book exhibit ever. By all accounts, the 2014 ASEH meeting in San Francisco was a resounding success. We owe a special thanks to the program committee and its chair, David Biggs; to the local arrangements committee and co-chairs, Carolyn Merchant, John Perkins, and Laura Watt; and to the conference volunteers, all of whom contributed much of their time and energy in helping make the San Francisco gathering an intellectually rewarding experience, where old friendships were renewed and new ones were made.


Of all the professional meetings I attend, none match the ASEH for its openness, camaraderie, and communal spirit, which together create an intellectually supportive atmosphere for scholars across generations. When you join the ASEH, you are doing much more than subscribing to the journal, Environmental History. You are also joining a community that extends across the globe. It is a community, united in an intellectual commitment to deepen historical understanding of the changing relationships between humans and the natural world, and sharing a passion to bring that understanding to bear on some of the most pressing issues facing people and the planet.


On Saturday afternoon, while many of you were intently listening to presentations or soaking up the sun and sights of San Francisco, the ASEH executive committee was hard at work in a four-hour marathon session that resulted in important decisions to help ensure the long-term financial stability and operations management of ASEH. The ASEH voted unanimously to renew our contract with Oxford University Press for the publication of the journal Environmental History, contingent upon approval by the Forest History Society Board. The new contract, which extends the journal's publication with Oxford through 2021, establishes a minimum guaranteed revenue stream for ASEH and FHS; substantially increases support for the editorial office of Environmental History; and increases individual subscription benefits, including the addition of a downloadable e-reader version of the journal to all ASEH and FHS members. I am also pleased to report that the ASEH Executive Committee approved renewal of a four-year contract for Lisa Mighetto as executive director of ASEH through 2018. The extent and reach of Lisa's work on behalf of ASEH, from the organization of our annual meeting, to the securing of grants and donations, to the maintenance of the ASEH website and coordination of the many ASEH committees, is notable. We are grateful that ASEH will continue to benefit from her impressive organizational talents and leadership in the years to come.


After a long cold winter, the signs of spring in Wisconsin are beginning to appear. But the season is short on the 45th parallel north. Already thoughts are of summer, and of the 2nd World Congress of Environmental History, which will take place in July in the historic city of Guimarães, Portugal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a member of the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations, ASEH is proud to be a sponsor of the meeting where scholars from across the globe will gather to further ongoing international conversations and the growth of environmental history world-wide. I hope to see many of you there!


-Gregg Mitman, ASEH President

the profession: dispatch from devils hole - part II

by Kevin Brown, researcher-writer NPS-ASEH Devils Hole pupfish environmental history project (


In the summer of 1950, at the request of the National Park Service leadership, Death Valley National Monument's naturalist travelled east through the Funeral Mountains to Ash Meadows, in Nevada. His charge was to evaluate whether Devils Hole - a small opening to a vast water-filled cave system and home to the Devils Hole pupfish - would be a suitable addition to the National Park system. He reported back that though it "contain[s] points of interest to the scientist" Devils Hole lacked "those qualifications and accessories which combined, constitute national significance to meet the National Park Service standard."

In response to this evaluation, a prominent ichthyologist named Carl Hubbs wrote to National Park Service Director Newton Drury vehemently disagreeing with the naturalist's reasoning and called for adding Devils Hole to Death Valley National Monument. He ended his letter with a stinging jab: "Perhaps I have been naïve in assuming that preservation of nature was among the basic reasons for and functions of the National Park Service. I would hate to think of your department as only a National Playground Service."


This exchange was discovered while combing through the archives at Death Valley National Park, as part of the National Park Service and ASEH history of the Devils Hole pupfish recovery effort I am writing (along with senior historian James Pritchard). After six weeks of archival research across the West, what I am realizing I like best about this project - and the above exchange - is how intimately this small pool (and its even smaller fish) has been connected to larger questions that have confronted Americans in the management of public lands and endangered species. In responding to these letters one can't help but ask, "What are the National Parks actually for? Who do they serve?"

I reflected on how answers to these questions have changed over time as I sat last week by the water of Devils Hole, watching some of the fewer than 100 individuals of this pupfish species swim across a shallow water covered shelf. To get down to the hole today, one must pass a hi-tech security system (to prevent "unauthorized access") and be accompanied by a scientist ... wearing a National Park Service uniform.

"Points of interest to the scientist" apparently did meet "the National Park Service standard," as the 40 acres around Devils Hole was added to Death Valley National Monument less than 18 months after the naturalist recommended against it. That development, however, has only raised a trickier - and still unresolved - question for Devils Hole, the pupfish, and the Park Service: How should ecosystems be managed, in Hubbs' words, for the "preservation of nature"?

I'll get back to you on that.


See winter issue 2013 for Part I of this article. Photos courtesy Kevin Brown.



member news


Jim Clifford (University of Saskatchewan), Colin Coates (York University), and Andrew Watson (York University) have launched "Trading Consequences," a database allowing researchers to explore the history of 19th-century commodities and commodity trading. Drawing from over 170,000 documents, "Trading Consequences" pulls geographic and date information related to nearly 2,000 commodities and displays them in a variety of novel, interactive and complementary ways, including time series, word clouds and geospatial maps. You can begin to explore Trading Consequences by clicking here and scrolling down to select one of the four search engines. Let us know what you think!


Bill Conlogue recently published Here and There: Reading Pennsylvania's Working Landscapes (Penn University State Press).



ASEH Award Recipients


The following individuals received awards on March 15 at our conference in San Francisco:


George Perkins Marsh Prize for best book

Kate Brown, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, Oxford University Press.


Alice Hamilton Prize for best article outside Environmental History

Alan Mikhail, Unleashing the Beast: Animals, Energy, and the Economy of Labor in Ottoman Egypt," American Historical Review (April 2013).


Leopold-Hidy Prize for best article in Environmental History (with Forest History Society)

Natalia Milanesio, "The Liberating Flame: Natural Gas Production in Peronist Argentina" (July 2013 issue).


Rachel Carson Prize for best dissertation

Andrew Stuhl, "Empires on Ice: Science, Nature, and the Making of the Arctic," University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Distinguished Scholar Award

James McCann


Distinguished Service Award

Paul Hirt


Public Outreach Project Award

Char Miller for his blog Golden Green  


Kate Brown received best book award from Fritz Davis, chair of George Perkins Marsh Prize Committee.
Alan Mikhail received a best article award.


Paul Hirt (pictured above with his wife Linda) received the Distinguished Service award.
First Call for ASEH Award Submissions 2014
ASEH presents awards for scholarship, service, and achievement. The deadline for this year's award submissions is November 14, 2014. For a list of awards and instructions on how to submit, click here.

Call for Papers

ASEH invites proposals for its 2015 conference in Washington, DC (Georgetown area). Click here for more info. Deadline: July 20, 2014.

American National Biography


The American National Biography, published by Oxford University Press under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies, is seeking nominations of significant figures in US history for inclusion in the online edition of the reference work. We look to bolster the coverage of recently deceased figures as well as add people who were not included in the print volumes or recent online updates. We are particularly interested in including subjects who would increase the overall diversity of the ANB.


To express interest in writing an entry or to nominate subjects for potential inclusion in the ANB, please send an email to In addition, if you have a field of expertise and are interested in writing an entry, let us know and we will try to find a suitable subject for you. If you do not have access to the ANB, you may search here to find out who is already included:  

for graduate students


Attending the World Congress in Portugal?

Margot Higgins and Adam Sundberg have volunteered to co-organize an informal student get-together in Portugal this July. Please contact them if you're interested in participating: and 

Update on Grad Student Caucus


The ASEH Graduate Student Caucus, founded it 2011, has grown to over 60 members, and organized several activities at the 2014 San Francisco conference. In addition to the Graduate Student Reception, which hosted around 60 graduate students, the Caucus convened for our annual in-person meeting where the 18 members in attendance discussed future initiatives. Ideas ranged from expanding the number of graduate students on ASEH committees to organizing more mentoring opportunities at future conferences and expanding internet-based networking for graduate students and early-career scholars. The Caucus also formed a sub-committee to research possible on-line publishing options that could be hosted by the ASEH website.

The Caucus, led by outgoing Graduate Student Liaison Gregory Rosenthal, also organized two graduate-student focused panels at the conference. The Graduate Student Writing Workshop, back for a second year due to popular demand, grouped five faculty mentors with sixteen graduate students to work closely on the craft of writing. Graduate student participants applied in advance, and workshopped material ranging from dissertation chapters to articles.  "Meet the Presses," our second event, combined a round-table focused on de-mystifying academic publishing with a speed-networking session, where graduate students had three minutes to pitch an article or book to our two academic press editors and two journal editors. Both events were well attended and received excellent feedback from faculty, editors and graduate students alike, and the caucus looks forward to planning similarly useful events for the DC conference in 2015.

For questions about the Caucus, please email current ASEH Graduate Student Liaison Bathsheba Demuth,


in memoriam

Joseph Sax, environmental law scholar, died last month. His books included Mountains Without Handrails: Reflections on the National Parks and his 2011 talk at the University of Michigan can be accessed at: 


If you would like to send a message to his daughters Kathy, Val, and Amber, they can be reached at 


Susan Schrepfer, early ASEH member and environmental historian, lost her battle with cancer last month. Her books included The Fight to Save the Redwoods: A History of Environmental Reform, 1917-1978.

For more information, please visit: 




aseh news is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History


Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, President 
Kathleen Brosnan, University of Oklahoma, Vice President/President Elect
Mark Madison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Treasurer
Jay Taylor, Simon Fraser University, Secretary

Executive Committee:

Sarah Elkind, San Diego State University 
Sterling Evans, University of Oklahoma
Sara Gregg, University of Kansas
Ellen Stroud, Bryn Mawr College 
Paul Sutter, University of Colorado
Louis Warren, University of California-Davis
Graeme Wynn, University of British Columbia
Bathsheba Demuth, University of California-Berkeley, grad student liaison
Ex Officio, Past Presidents:

Nancy Langston, University of Wisconsin-Madison
John McNeill, Georgetown University
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ex Officio, Editor, Environmental History
Lisa Brady, Boise State University

Ex Officio, Executive Director and Editor, aseh news:
Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington-Tacoma
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