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aseh news
spring 2018                         volume 29, issue 1
in this issue
breaking news: meet aseh's new executive director
in memoriam: alfred w. crosby

our next conference

hal rothman fun(d) run in riverside

The 9th annual Hal Rothman Fun(d) Run was held, as always, on Saturday morning at the annual conference. The weather and company both proved ideal for the 5K distance, with temperatures in the upper 40s and dry. While only 12 devoted folks ran or walked to and up nearby Mount Rubidoux, a total of 17 people paid the suggested $20 contribution and the event raised nearly $340. 
We plan to mark the 10th annual run next year in Columbus in a special way. So be sure to start training now!

Above: Hal Rothman Fun(d) Runners in Riverside.

Above: The path up Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside.

ASEH is grateful to Jamie Lewis for organizing this annual event, which raises funds for the Hal Rothman Dissertation Fellowship.

Couldn't make the run this year? You can still donate to the Hal Rothman Dissertation Fellowship by clicking here and selecting the initiative to fund grad students.
photos from Riverside conference
future conferences
aseh news
stay connected
president's column: conference reflections

Riverside, California, was this year's host of "March Madness," as Lisa Mighetto is rumoured to describe our annual conference. I now understand that one's view of the event depends upon where one stands in the long and important chain of responsibility for it. In Riverside, that responsibility was shared, in some way, by all of the 602 people who registered for the conference, presented a remarkable range of good and interesting work and, again, made clear the value of people coming together in a spirit of comity and goodwill to exchange ideas, renew friendships, and build links. I hope that recollections of these things loom larger than any sense of craziness in participants' memories of Riverside.

If so, part of the responsibility lies with the 2018 Program Committee. Ably chaired by Diana Davis, this small group of colleagues devoted many hours to defining a theme for the meeting, evaluating proposals, and shaping the intellectual framework of the conference. Among welcome innovations in the program were a very successful Lightning Session (ten presentations of 5 minutes each) and a Thesis Slam (proposed and organized by Kathy Brosnan) giving doctoral students 3 minutes to present compelling orations on their dissertation topics. Equally inventive and compelling was the plenary session focused on "landscapes of imperialism" and the border wall with Mexico, topics deeply intertwined with environment, power, and justice. Thank you Diana Davis, Dawn Biehler, Mark Carey, Michael Egan, Karen Oslund and John Sandlos for an important job well done.
Responsibility of a very different, but no less important, kind fell to the Local Arrangements Committee, co-chaired by David Biggs and Char Miller and including Catherine Gudis, Dan Lewis, Todd Luce, Carrie Marsh and Brinda Sarathy. These good folks took care of much of the "backstage" work, organizing receptions and meeting spaces, as well as terrific field trips, and banishing fears of chaos to make sure that things happened when and where they should.

Without doubt, though, the person most accountable for the success of this meeting (as with so much else in ASEH) was our devoted and seemingly tireless Executive Director, Lisa Mighetto. Only this year, working closely with her through the months of build up to the conference, have I truly understood the absolutely inescapable importance of her contribution to the event. Year after year she has taken on a thousand things, rendering her days whirlwinds, to prevent madness enveloping the rest of us. Thank you, Lisa.
As we move forward through 2018, our Society faces significant transitions, and members of the Executive Committee and others have done and are doing important work for the future. Nancy Jacobs has chaired a committee (Adam Rome, Sara Gregg, Ellen Stroud Chris Boyer, with Steven Anderson and myself ex-officio) to appoint a new editor for Environmental History, to assume office in 2019. I am leading a Strategic Planning exercise (with a committee of Mark Madison, Lynne Heasley. Emily Greenwald and Zach Nowak) about which there is more elsewhere in this Newsletter. As you will see, there are challenges ahead, but ASEH is well-placed to address them, so long as members continue, and extend, their efforts to support the Society. We welcome, indeed encourage, your feedback on the draft plan. Third, Nancy Langston has chaired a committee (comprised of Sarah Elkind, Tina Loo, Mary Mendoza, Paul Hirt, and myself) charged with the exacting task of finding a successor to (there can be no replacement of) Lisa Mighetto. We interviewed outstanding candidates for both the editor and executive director positions, and details about the appointments will be posted in due time on our website. 

To mark Lisa's splendid, truly remarkable, service to ASEH over a 25-year period, first as Secretary and then as Executive Director, we extended thanks to her at the Awards Ceremony at the end of the Riverside Meeting (which was her last in an official capacity as she steps down later in 2018). Lisa received a farewell gift as well as a little booklet containing thanks from two dozen colleagues who had worked closely with her over the years as ASEH Presidents, or Local Arrangements or Program Committee chairs; each offered recollections, warm memories, and much gratitude. We also announced that the society's annual award for distinguished service would hitherto be known as The Lisa Mighetto Award for Distinguished Service to the American Society for Environmental History, in reflection and memory of Lisa's sterling contributions. None of this can truly repay Lisa Mighetto for her magnificent commitment to and work for ASEH. As the outpouring of sentiment on the occasion of this farewell indicated, we will miss you deeply. 

-Graeme Wynn, ASEH President
the profession: audience matters
by Char Miller, Pomona College

Grading papers can be trying. Yet it is also true that through that oft-grueling process my students have taught me how to put words on a page. After decades of reading countless drafts of their essays, and working with them on language, tone, and tempo, narrative, voice, and ethos, whatever lessons I might have imparted to them have seeped into my choices as a writer.
The origins of one of those to write for a larger public - owed less to those with whom I have studied than to my mother. She read all of my early scholarship and often critiqued it, not for its arguments but how it argued. Remind me, she once asked, "Who's reading this?" I'm pretty sure I did not get a word in edgewise before she then wondered why they were reading it and whether there might be different ways of writing for a different set of readers, like herself. "It's all so academic."
That her son was an academic did not seem to faze her. Or me, it turns out. After all, I was encouraging my students to open up their prose. Why shouldn't their teacher do the same? The timing of that query could not have been more propitious. In the early 1980s, newspapers across the country started publishing op-eds and commentaries, among them the then-two dailies in San Antonio where I was living. Emboldened, I submitted a number of columns to the San Antonio Express News and the San Antonio Light that set some of the contemporary environmental challenges the Alamo City was facing within their larger, historical context. The community, I offered, could not solve its legendary housing problems without acknowledging the degree to which this situation is predicated on longstanding racial and ethnic disparities; its troubling flood-control issues could not be addressed either if we failed to examine why people lived within local floodplains. Environmental history matters.
That editors are intrigued by how historians probe the interplay between the natural and built environments, or can call out the injustices that are scored into the landscape - urban and rural - is good news for those in ASEH who are interested in speaking to a wider audience. Just be prepared to get edited, and heavily so. However thrilled I was when editors accepted my initial pieces, I was also startled when those same kind souls hacked through my prose. Cut down for length, restructured to conform to journalism's beloved inverted pyramid formula, and revised in accordance with in-house stylistic demands, the resulting copy proved more powerful and focused than the original submission. Writing for the public was not the same thing as writing for my professional peers. Lesson learned.
Alas, it is a lesson I have had to learn repeatedly as editors at the Texas Observer, alternative weeklies, regional and national publications, and online venues have raked through my prose, queried my arguments, and challenged my suppositions. An October 2017 piece for the Los Angeles Times, for example, went through more than nine different drafts over the course of three days, a rapid fire back-and-forth that was as exhausting as it was exhilarating.
I suspect my students may not feel the same rush whenever they read my comments on their work. That's why I offer them the consolation I give myself whenever edited copy pops up in my inbox: an essay, the French tell us, is an attempt. We're all trying.

Char Miller is the W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College. Not So Golden State: Sustainability vs. the California Dream is his most recent collection of essays; he is also editor of the just-released Where There's Smoke: The Environmental Science, Public Policy, and Politics of Marijuana.

ASEH Award Recipients

The following individuals received awards on March 17 at our conference in Riverside:

George Perkins Marsh Prize for Best Book:
Brian McCammack, Landscapes of Hope: Nature and the Great Migration in Chicago (Harvard University Press).

Alice Hamilton Prize for Best Article outside Environmental History:
Caroline Peyton, "Kentucky's 'Atomic Graveyard': Maxey Flats and Environmental Ineqity in Rural America," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society (spring 2017).
Leopold-Hidy Prize for Best Article in Environmental History:
Kate Wersan, "The Early Melon and the Mechanical Gardener: Toward an Environmental History of Timekeeping in the Long Eighteenth Century," which appeared in the April 2017 issue.

Rachel Carson Prize for Best Dissertation:
Milica Prokić, "Barren Island (Goli otok): A Trans-Corporeal History of the Former Yugoslav Political Prison Camp and Its Inmates, from the Cominform Period (1949-1956) to the Present," University of Bristol.

Public Outreach Project Award:
Los Angeles Urban Rangers

Distinguished Service Award:
Nancy Langston

Distinguished Scholar Award:
Jane Carruthers

Click here for the comments from the award evaluation committees. Click here to read Jane Carruthers' comments on her award.

Above: ASEH President Graeme Wynn presents the Distinguished Scholar Award to Jane Carruthers.
Above: ASEH President Graeme Wynn presents the Distinguished Service Award to Nancy Langston, who dedicates it to her mother, Joann Langston.

Above: Cindy Ott (pictured right) joins Graeme Wynn in presenting the Public Outreach Project Award to the LA Urban Rangers.
Above: journal editor Lisa Brady (pictured right) joins Graeme Wynn in presenting the best article award to Kate Wersan.

Above: Sandra Swart (pictured right) joins Graeme Wynn in presenting the best article prize to Caroline Peyton.

Above: Adam Sowards (pictured in the center) joins Graeme Wynn in presenting the best book award to Brian McCammack (pictured left).

Earlier this year, ASEH awarded the following fellowships:

Sam Hays Fellowship: Jamie Miller, "Energy Dependence: Electricity, Modernity, and Development in Twentieth Century South Africa"
Hal Rothman Dissertation Fellowship: Trish Kahle, "The Graveyard Shift: Mining Democracy in an Age of Energy Crisis, 1963-1981"
Equity Fellowship: Isacar Bola├▒as, "Conquering Nature in Ottoman Iraq, 1831-1917"

First Call for ASEH Award and Fellowship Submissions 2018
ASEH presents awards for scholarship, service, and achievement. The deadline for this year's award submissions is November 16, 2018. For a list of awards and instructions on how to submit, click here

For general information on fellowships, click here. If you have questions, contact

Call for Proposals for ASEH's Next Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio

ASEH invites proposals for its 2019 conference in Columbus, Ohio. Click here for more information. Deadline: July 13, 2018.
member news
ASEH member Kate Christen has recently relocated within the Smithsonian, where she's now Senior Manager with the new Smithsonian Conservation Commons, a pan-Smithsonian endeavor focused on fomenting and facilitating biodiversity conservation research and practice throughout Smithsonian and well beyond. Within her role as lead developer of the Commons' Biodiversity Friendly Food Systems initiative, Kate is co-managing the upcoming June 2018 Virginia Food Systems Leadership Institute (VFSLI) training course, which fosters rising leaders in the area of sustainable food systems by combining content knowledge in food systems, competency development in leadership, and direct case-study experience gained in projects focused on helping re-localize Virginia's food systems. Applicable to food systems anywhere, VFSLI is open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students (4 credits), and to food system practitioners seeking professional development opportunities. VFSLI's course application deadline is coming up - for more VFSLI information/registration:
Historical Research Associates, Inc., is pleased to announce that Emily Greenwald is the company's new President/CEO. Emily received her PhD in History from Yale University. She joined HRA in 2002 and became manager of the company's History Division in 2010. Emily's work includes consulting and expert witness testimony for litigation involving Native American or environmental Issues, as well as administrative histories and historical studies for the National Park Service and other organizations.
Andy Kirk's book, Doom Towns: The People and Landscapes of Atomic Testing, a Graphic History
(Oxford University Press 2017) won the 2018 National Council on Public History Book Award. This unique three-part graphic, documentary, and narrative history of the Nevada nuclear test site draws on oral histories, agency documentation, and environmental history to tell the complex and controversial global story of atmospheric atomic testing. The book brings together the research results from a twelve-year series of public/environmental history projects funded by the Departments of Energy and Education and the U.S. State Department.

Heavy Ground: William Mulholland the St. Francis Dam Disaster, by Donald C. Jackson and the late Norris Hundley, Jr., was awarded the 2017 Sally Hacker Prize by the Society for the History of Technology; this prize was established "to honor exceptional scholarship that reaches beyond the academy toward a broad audience." 
In June of 2018 Carolyn Merchant, University of California-Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), will be retiring after almost 40 years of teaching and research. Merchant's landmark book, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution, has shaped the fields of women's studies, environmental history, and the history of science ever since its publication in 1980. Today she stands as one of the most influential scholars in environmental studies, ecofeminism, and environmental philosophy and has been especially recognized for over a dozen books - with two new ones just out - and over 100 articles. ASEH members are invited to register for a symposium in her honor on Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4. 
For more information, see:
The sign-up form also provides opportunities to contribute.

Christopher Sellers, Leif Fredrickson, Michelle Murphy, and Marianne Sullivan played instrumental roles in the start-up of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI). On a volunteer basis, these historians joined with other environmental scholars, technologists, and scientists, applying their historical skills and sensibilities to track, interpret, and contest recent threats to the federal environmental state.

Marsha Weisiger and Stephanie LeMenager were recently awarded a Collaborative Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies for the project To Speak of Common Places: A People's History of Oregon's Public Lands.
aseh strategic plan

As we transition to a new Executive Director, ASEH is formulating a new Strategic Plan. The Executive Committee approved dissemination of a draft version of the plan to members of the Society. Your engagement with this process is important. Please take time to review the plan and provide feedback, as you see fit, to President Graeme Wynn ( by May 1, 2018. The Executive Committee aims to consider a revised version of the plan in late summer, with a view to approval in the Fall, as the new Executive Director takes office. Click here for a summary version of the plan. Click here for a full version of the draft strategic plan. 
women's environmental history network update

At its annual meeting in Chicago in 2017, the ASEH Executive Committee agreed to seek responses from the membership on the Report of the Women's Environmental History Network. Click here for this report, which was provided to the ASEH membership earlier. Through the fall and early spring leaders of WEHN and the President of ASEH engaged in extensive discussions of the original Report, the responses received and the steps that could and should be taken to address concerns and make ASEH more inclusive, welcoming, and rewarding for all scholars. In March 2018 the Executive Committee received and approved the report on this process, entitled Engaging the WEHN Report. Click here for this latest report.
aseh news is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History


Graeme Wynn, University of British Columbia, President
Edmund Russell, Boston University, Vice President/President Elect
Mark Madison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Treasurer
Sarah Elkind, San Diego State University, Secretary

Executive Committee:

Emily Greenwald, Historical Research Associates, Inc.-Missoula
Lynne Heasley, Western Michigan University
Kieko Matteson, Univeristy of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa
Christof Mauch, Rachel Carson Center-Munich
Kathryn Morse, Middlebury College
Cindy Ott, University of Delaware
Conevery Valencius, Boston College

Camden Burd, University of Rochester, President, Graduate Student Caucus
Zach Nowak, Harvard University, Outgoing President, Graduate Student Caucus
Ex Officio, Past Presidents:
Kathleen Brosnan, University of Oklahoma
Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ex Officio, Editor, Environmental History
Lisa Brady, Boise State University

Ex Officio, Executive Director and Editor, aseh news:
Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington-Tacoma
ASEH, UW Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program, 1900 Commerce Street, Tacoma, WA 98402
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