OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Paula Petrik

Portrait of Paula Petrik
Image Credit: Walter Sylva

A professor emerita of history at George Mason University, Paula Petrik is the author of No Step Backward: Women and Family on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier (1990) and a coeditor, with Elliott West, of Small Worlds: Children and Adolescents in America, 1850-1950 (1992). A recipient of Fulbright, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Smithsonian fellowships as well as an Apple Computer Faculty Internship, among others, she has published articles on women in the American West, the U.S. toy industry, and new media. She is currently working on a history of the Helena, Montana, banks and the Panic of 1893.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

Using the experience of Erastus D. Edgerton, a western banker who managed three banks during the Panic of 1893 and subsequent depression, this lecture explores Gilded Age corruption and business ethics.
Although the federal government subcontracted many of its services in the trans-Mississippi West, it reserved bank regulation unto itself. This lecture explores the E. T. Wilson's experience as an examiner and receiver at the turn of the century to ascertain how regulation and regulators operated.
Capitalists with Rooms examines the institution of prostitution in the trans-Mississippi West via a case study of the women who worked in Helena, Montana. The lecture, moreover, is the distillation of twenty years of research that challenges contemporary interpretations of the one of the West's most durable stereotypes.
Based on twelve disparate documents and images, this lecture demonstrates how various documents can be used to reconstruct a biography and how the reconstruction fits into the secondary literature. (This presentation is particularly suitable for undergraduate and graduate research classes as well as a general public audience.)