Tahlequah Daily Press

Community Briefs

March 5, 2014

Pro historians to meet; Moulton to speak

TAHLEQUAH — The 66th annual conference of the Oklahoma Association of Professional Historians meeting with Phi Alpha Theta, a national history honor society, will open at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 6, in the University Center on Northeastern State University’s Tahlequah campus.

College history professors, professional historians working for the Oklahoma Historical Society and other museums and sites in Oklahoma, and students majoring in history at the graduate and undergraduate level will participate in the two-day conference.

Following a reception at 6 p.m., the group’s annual dinner in the UC ballroom will feature Dr. Gary Moulton, University of Nebraska Thomas C. Sorensen emeritus professor of American history. He will discuss the evolution of his career as an editor of historic documents.

Moulton, a 1968 history graduate of what was then Northeastern State College, earned a Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University in 1973, and obtained a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant to edit the papers of Cherokee Chief John Ross. With federal funds, he secured a position at Southwestern State College in Weatherford until the completion of the multi-year editing project, which resulted in the two-volume publication of “The Papers of Chief John Ross.” He then was selected to edit the Journals of Lewis and Clark at the University of Nebraska, an undertaking that occupied much of the rest of his career as a professional historian.

The result of Moulton’s effort was the 13-volume edition of the journals, published by the University of Nebraska Press between 1983 and 2001. The work has been described as “the most accurate and inclusive edition ever published,” and as “one of the major scholarly achievements of the late twentieth century.”

Moulton’s editorial skill has been recognized by his selection for the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Wrangler Award for the Atlas of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as the Best Western Nonfiction Book of 1984, the J. Franklin Jameson Prize for Outstanding Editorial Achievement from the American Historical Association in 1990, and the University of Nebraska’s Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award in 2001, the institution’s highest research award. He has been a consultant for several Lewis and Clark projects, including Ken Burns’ film, “Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery,” the United States Mint’s design of the one-dollar Sacagawea coin, National Geographic’s Lewis and Clark IMAX film, and Maya Lin’s Confluence Project on the Columbia River.

Moulton was elected to the Oklahoma Historians’ Hall of Fame by the Oklahoma Historical Society; was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; was presented the Medal of Honor by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution; and received the Nebraska Humanities Council’s Sower Award honoring his contributions to Nebraska humanities 2005. In 2007, he received the Julian P. Boyd Award from the Association for Documentary Editing, the association’s highest award.

To inaugurate the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, President and Mrs. George W. Bush invited him to give a presentation at the White House in July 2002.

“More than any other alumnus that I know, Dr. Moulton symbolizes the NSU motto: ‘Gather Here, Go Far,’” said Brad Agnew, chair of NSU’s history department.

The OAPH/PAT dinner, which begins at 7 p.m., is by reservation only, but anyone who would like to attend can make reservations by contacting Agnew at (918) 444-3519 or at agnew@ nsuok.edu. The public is invited to attend Moulton’s presentation after dinner, which should begin at about 7:45 in the U.C. ballroom. His presentation is free.

Before the Moulton presentation, the career of Dr. Thomas Lee Ballenger, who joined the faculty of Northeastern State Normal School in March of 1914, will be reviewed in a brief video tribute. In 1983, at the 35th annual conference of the Oklahoma Historians, Ballenger, then 100 years old presented a paper on the Cherokee Keetoowahs.

Friday morning, undergraduate and graduate history students will present research papers in 20 different sessions in the University Center. Students with outstanding papers in four categories, undergraduate American and World history and graduate American and world history, will be recognized at an awards luncheon that begins at 1 p.m.

The luncheon speaker is Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. He will discuss the history of the society’s collection and its digitization, which makes it available online to the public.

The presentation of Moulton is funded in part by a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this conference do not necessarily represent those of OHC or NEH.

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