From: Lisa Mighetto <>
Subject: ASEH News Winter 2013
aseh news
winter 2013                         volume 24, issue 4
in this issue
president's column: 40th anniversary campaign
the profession: the pupfish, the park service, and the aseh
member news
announcements: public outreach award available, digital history workshhop enrollment, Newberry fellowship available, and more
film reviews
for graduate students
sign the letter to President Obama on 50th anniversary of the wilderness act

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act in 1964.

Bill Cronon, Mark Harvey, Paul Sutter, and Jay Turner are seeking historians of conservation and wilderness history of the United States to add their names to a letter to President Obama regarding the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964.

The aim of the letter is to encourage the president to consider delivering a major speech that celebrates America's history of protecting our nation's unique heritage of parks, monuments, and wilderness areas. More than 70 scholars have signed on to the letter to date.

The letter, the current list of signers, and instructions for adding your name are available on this Google doc:

Deadline: December 23, 2013.

update on san francisco conference 2014


Our 2014 conference will include the following events:
  • plenary session on global environmental history
  • plenary session featuring an evening with California poets Gary Snyder  and Robert Hass 
  • lunch and discussion on "Environmental Justice and Sustainability: From Slavery to Fossil Fuels" with  Michel Gelobter 
  • lunch and discussion on "California Time:  The Past in the Present" - an exploration into using modern photographs as a visual text to see the history embedded in landscapes with Richard White 
  • workshops on digital environmental history and oral history
  • field trips to Muir Woods, Point Reyes National Seashore, a local winery, and more

Click here to register.


Click here for general info. on the conference, including hotel reservations and a list of fees.  



future conferences
San Francisco
March 12-16, 2014

Guimarães, Portugal
July 7-14, 2014

Washington, DC
March 18-22, 2015

March 30-April 3, 2016

Our 2014 conference hotel (Parc 55 Wyndham) is located in downtown San Francisco, near Union Square.
Coit Tower, downtown San Francisco.
Our 2014 conference will include a fire history field trip to the Oakland hills (pictured above).
Our 2014 conference will include a field trip to Muir Woods.
Our 2014 conference will include a field trip to Preston Vineyards - a sustainable winery recently featured in Time Magazine.
Our 2014 conference will include a field trip to Point Reyes National Seashore.
Our 2014 conference will include a boat tour that cruises from bridge to bridge.
The January issue of Environmental History includes articles on how skiing transformed the Alps, Nature in the Rust Belt, environmental politics in San Diego, the environmental history of work, and more. Click here for more info.

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 March 21, 2014. 

president's column: 40th anniversary campaign


ASEH announces its 4 for 40 campaign, which will build over the next four years and culminate in the Society's 40th anniversary in 2017.


The 4 for 40 goal is to increase members' donations to ensure that excellence in scholarship is rewarded; that our intellectual legacy is maintained through the next generation of scholars; that we remain connected to each other and the larger environmental community in this global, digital age; and that the Society is strengthened so it can meet the many needs of its members.


We are pleased to announce that past, present, and future presidents of ASEH have either made a commitment to donate $500/year for four years as part of the 4 for 40 campaign or have made lasting legacy gifts that go above and beyond this four-year pledge.


However, members should know that donations of any amount are welcome and appreciated. If 40 members committed to $25 a year, for example, it would cover the Rothman fellowship that helps a deserving graduate student finish an important dissertation. Think about it! Skipping one cup of coffee a month could help a student realize his or her dreams.


You also might donate one honorarium from your annual speaking engagements. Doing so may ease your tax burden, particularly for talks given in states such as California that require speakers to pay state income taxes on such honoraria.


We encourage members to consider different ways in which they might make monetary contributions.  In a 2008 survey of the members, for example, more than 50 percent of the respondents indicated that ASEH is their primary affiliation. Yet the number of members who make financial contributions to ASEH number 10 or fewer in most years, and the amount of donations rarely total more than $3,500.


ASEH President Gregg Mitman recently formed a new Fundraising and Development Committee, charging it to oversee a development strategy to secure additional revenues for the Society beyond membership fees and conference registration. ASEH and the new fundraising committee continue to work on broadening ASEH's donor base among non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and the private sector. To enhance ASEH's profile in these efforts, it is important that we strengthen the culture of giving within our own membership.


As the Fundraising and Development Committee works to identify potential donors from the private sector, it welcomes any suggestions from members on potential donors. Please contact Kathy Brosnan, chair of this committee, at


Click here for more info. on donating to ASEH.


Finally, we recognize that there are many ways that ASEH members contribute to the organization and serve the profession - and we thank all the volunteers who have donated their time during the last year. We could not function without you!


Gregg Mitman, ASEH President

Kathy Brosnan, ASEH Vice President

the professional: the pupfish, the park service, and the aseh

by Kevin Brown


Sixty-five. According to the most recent survey conducted by federal conservation agencies, this is the total number of Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) individuals currently living in their only habitat: the top 100 feet of Devils Hole, a water filled cave system in southwest Nevada managed by the National Park Service (NPS) as an unattached part of Death Valley National Park.


Seeking perspective on the forty-plus years of conservation efforts aimed at the pupfish (a history that includes its listing as an endangered species, a landmark water rights U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1976, the establishment in 1984 of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge around Devils Hole, and, since the mid-1990s, again declining population levels), the National Park Service contracted with ASEH this fall to produce an environmental history of the pupfish. As the ASEH's chosen researchers, senior historian James Pritchard (Iowa State University) and I will be investigating and writing this history.


We are seeking to both describe the development, successes, and failures of pupfish management and recovery, and connect this story to larger environmental history themes. Our goal is to produce a document for the Park Service that will be useful to scientists, park rangers, historians, and the public.


This is my first foray in working both as a contract historian and for the federal government. In contrast to my dissertation (completed in 2012 at Carnegie Mellon University), where the project focus gradually developed, starting on this project is more akin to being handed someone else's partially written dissertation prospectus-half the fun so far has been getting "up to speed" on the topic while also raising new questions. It should also be said, in our era of government austerity, that there have already been setbacks - both sequestration and the October government shutdown delayed the project's start.


James and I are now currently developing our research plan, which will include archival trips to western archives, a visit to Devils Hole, as well as oral history interviews and reviews of scientific and government publications. We look forward to digging into the archives as well as providing updates on our work in the ASEH newsletter later this winter. Wish us luck!


member news


Marco Armiero's book Le montagne della patria. Natura e nazione nella storia d'Italia (the Italian translation of his A Rugged Nation:  Mountains and the Making of Modern Italy - Whitehorse Press, 2012) is a finalist for Italy's prestigious Acqui Storia Prize. Marco's book has already won the Mazzotti Prize for the best book on mountains, alpinism, and exploration.

Greg Dehler recently published The Most Defiant Devil: William Temple Hornaday & His Controversial Crusade to Save American Wildlife (University of Virginia Press, 2013).



Final Notice - ASEH award submission

ASEH is offering a new public outreach award in 2014.
This award, which comes with $1,000, will recognize environmental history projects and programs that engage the public beyond the academy; help the public appreciate the role of the environment in the shaping of broader social, political, economic, and cultural issues; and/or have measureable impact on communities.

Eligible nominees include films, exhibitions, historic preservation, archaeology, community programs, and other similar work. Scholarly articles and books are excluded. The project should have been presented or initiated (if it is ongoing, such as a website or blog) between January 2012 and December 2013.

Nominations may be made by anyone, including those associated with the project. Nominations may be made for projects within and outside of the historical community and are not confined to work involving ASEH members.

How to Apply: E-mail a description of no more than 500 words, explaining how the project engages the public and advances understanding of environmental history. The description can include links to the project or links that further explain the project. Submissions from around the world are welcome, but the applications must appear in English.

E-mail to with the subject line "ASEH Public Outreach Project Award Submission" by December 31, 2013.

The recipient will be notified in early 2014 and the award will be announced at ASEH's annual conference in San Francisco in March 2014.

Digital History Workshop at Stanford University

ASEH's 2014 conference will include a digital history workshop on Wednesday, March 12, hosted by the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), Stanford University. This workshop will explore state-of-the-art digital environmental history research, teaching, and public outreach. It is free for conference attendees, but sign-up ahead of time is required. Click here for info. on how to apply. Deadline: January 12, 2014.

Newberry Fellowship in Environmental History Available

We are pleased to announce a new partnership between the Newberry Library and ASEH, which is offering a residential fellowship in environmental history.

The Newberry is an internationally renowned independent research library, which offers an extensive collection of rare books, maps, music, manuscripts, and other printed materials spanning six centuries. The maps, published texts, manuscripts, art and photography, and ephemera could be particularly useful to topics in environmental history. Newberry fellowships provide assistance to researchers who wish to use our collection.

This fellowship is for PhD candidates or post-doctoral scholars and supports one month in residency at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Applicants from outside of the Chicago area who have a specific need for research in the Newberry collection are eligible. Applicants must be members of the ASEH in good standing at the time of application and through the period of the fellowship. The monthly stipend for this fellowship is $2,500.

Click here for more info. Application deadline: January 15, 2014.

Call for Papers

Perugia Food Studies Conference

The Umbra Institute is pleased to announce the second Perugia Food Studies Conference, to be held June 5-8, 2014, at The Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy. The conference theme is "Of Places and Tastes: Terroir, Locality, and the Negotiation of Gastro-cultural Boundaries." Keynote speakers include Rachel Black (Boston University), Kolleen Guy (University of Texas at San Antonio), and Amy Trubek (University of Vermont). This conference seeks to explore the multifaceted connections between a place and its food, as it is represented, produced or consumed in relation to the identity of people and the spaces they inhabit. For proposal guidelines, a provisional schedule, and further details, please visit the conference's website at Deadline: January 17, 2014.



The Global Environmental History of World War I in Perspective

Dates: August 4-5, 2014

Location: Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA

This workshop will mark the centennial of the outbreak of the 1914-1918 cataclysm that extended industrial warfare to a global scale; it will examine the complex environmental dimensions of the war.


This workshop can make a major contribution to our understanding of warfare, including the natural world as well as human societies.It will discuss the environmental dynamics of the war across not only the regions of intensive conflict in Europe, Mesopotamia, Africa, and the Pacific, but also the wide regions that provided critical resources for combatant militaries. It will bring together researchers from many disciplines and diverse subject matter, with the goal of generating an integrated understanding of the war's impact on environments and natural resources around the world. 


Themes may include:

  • The uses of nature: damage to landscapes and water resources; exploitation of critical natural resources; food and agriculture; new uses of natural products, forests as refuge
  • Short-term vs. long-term consequences; post-war recovery and reconstruction
  • Ways the war changed the course of industrialization, including new weapons, escalating materials and energy use, and mass consumption
  • Perceptions of nature; the ways military strategy changed how we perceive nature; cultural constructions of the natural world

Proposed titles and abstracts for papers (400-600 words) and a short (2-3pp maximum) CV should be submitted by email, no later than January 1, 2013, to:


The workshop is organized jointly by the Rachel Carson Center in Munich and Georgetown University.  Travel and local costs for participants will be covered.

If you have any further questions, contact:


John McNeill

Martin Schmid

Richard Tucker


Mapping Nature Across the Americas

The Newberry Library will host "Mapping Nature Across the Americas," a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Faculty, from July 14-August 15, 2014. Led by James Akerman (director of the Newberry's Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography) and Kathleen Brosnan (Travis Chair of Modern American History at University of Oklahoma), the institute will examine in a Pan-American context the complicated, contradictory, and contested ways in which humans mapped and conceived their place in nature through history. Guest faculty include specialists in the history of cartography, environmental history, geography, US history, and Latin American history.  


The institute program of lectures, workshops, and discussions encourages 20 participants to cross disciplinary boundaries and move beyond regional and chronological specialties to explore the relationship between nature and mapping in the Americas. Participants will also develop their own research projects and explore unfamiliar primary materials, including the Newberry's rich holdings of cartography, geography, art, history, literature, and the history of printing from the 15th to the 21st centuries. The deadline for applications is March 4, 2014. For more information, please visit

Annual World History Association Conference

July 15-18, 2014
San Jose, Costa Rica
This year's conference themes are "Environment in World History" and "Latin America in World History"

WHA invites ASEH member dedicated panel submissions and will offer WHA member rates to all ASEH members for the conference. Please indicate on the submission notes that you are an ASEH member.

John McNeill, Immediate Past President of ASEH and Lifetime Member of WHA, will serve as keynote speaker.

Each proposal should include: a maximum 250-word abstract for each paper, a one page curriculum vitae for each participant, and a biographical details for use in the introduction by the chair.  Proposals must be submitted using the forms and guidelines available at Deadline: February 15, 2014.

green screen: environmental films with a San Francisco theme

by Mark Madison, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Finding appropriate films for environmental history classes can be a challenge. Eleven years ago I helped start the American Conservation Film Festival - and approximately 2,200 films later, I have some film recommendations with a connection to California, the location of our 2014 conference.


Butterflies and Bulldozers: David Schooley, Fred Smith and the Fight for San Bruno Mountain (2010, 62 mins.) is a film by Steve and Ann Dunsky, who tell a compelling story with a tentative happy ending. San Bruno Mountain was a natural oasis surrounded by San Francisco sprawl; this locale was the inspiration for the anti-development song "Little Boxes." A ragtag group of activists eventually used some endangered butterflies to help protect the area utilizing a new tool called Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). HCPs make a Solomonic trade-off between development and preservation and the tentative nature of this protection at every stage provides the tension in this film. A lucid explanation of the complexities of the Endangered Species Act tethered to a compelling case study, this film is a good choice for any environmental history or policy class.


A Fierce Green Fire (2012, 101 mins.) is an expansive look at American environmental politics since 1900. San Francisco filmmaker Mark Kitchell does not ignore his native city, ranging from the revisited Hetch Hetchy debate to the critical role of the Sierra Club in 20th-century environmental debates, to the role of the countercultural Whole Earth Catalog. Even so, this documentary is thinking globally not locally. Rachel Carson, Love Canal, Greenpeace, Chico Mendes and the fight for the Amazon, and the various ineffectual   climate change conferences all provide a 20th-century greatest hits look at the evolution of American environmentalism from an early focus on wildlife and wilderness to more current concerns about toxins, developing world environments, environmental justice, and climate change. A cinematic survey course on 20th-century environmental history and politics, this film is probably the most useful of the three for an introduction to our discipline.


Rebels With a Cause (2013, 74 mins.) is the most recent film and focuses on the San Francisco landscape. A nice counterpart to Bulldozers and Butterflies, this film examines the politicians and activists who worked hard to create Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The hero of this saga was Congressman, Clemm Miller. Miller along with Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall and conservationist/physician Edgar Wayburn banded together in an unlikely coalition to create this 80-mile long park with open spaces, ranches, and recreation areas. The resulting park was as unique as the coalition that lobbied to create it. Rebels with a Cause deals with Washington politics and institutional inertia in a sophisticated way making this a useful tool in both courses on public lands and political science courses.


All three of these films use tools common to environmental historians: archival footage, oral histories, and larger historical themes embedded in natural case studies. Environmental films like these remind us that nature itself is a visual medium and, as both educators and scholars, we can broaden our perspectives through a projector lens.


Note: excerpts from these films will be shown in the exhibit area at our 2014 conference in San Francisco.  

For graduate students


Workshops at 2014 Conference


ASEH's Graduate Student Caucus has organized two workshops on writing and publishing for our 2014 conference. These are free for conference attendees, but application ahead of time is required. Click here for more info.


Free Registration at 2014 Conference


Graduate students can get free registration in exchange for volunteering at the conference. Click here for more info.


Mark Your Calendars: Student Reception and Meeting in San Francisco


There will be a reception for students at ASEH's 2014 conference on Thursday, March 13, 9:00 - 10:00 p.m., Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel, Embarcadero Room.

Brief welcome from 2014 graduate student liaison  Bathsheba Demuth, and update on ASEH graduate student activities. Free book raffle, light appetizers, and cash bar.


Sponsored by The Nelson Institute Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) and The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison


The graduate student caucus will meet in San Francisco on Friday, March 14, 6:45 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel, Balboa Room.


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
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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