"Human Events:" Seeing American Revolutions from the West

Endorsed by the Western History Association

Thursday, March 30, 2023, 12:45 PM - 2:15 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Museums; Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples; West


This roundtable brings together colleagues from fields including history, archaeology, museum curation and theater, representing the Autry Museum of the American West and the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. We are currently collaborating on an initiative to consider the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in light of a much longer, multidirectional timeline, taking a distinctive and potentially disruptive viewpoint from Los Angeles and the southwest. The initiative will encompass the opening of a new core gallery at the Autry, a series of public and scholarly programs and symposia organized chiefly by EMSI, and an array of publications.

Session Participants

Chair: Stephen A. Aron, Autry Museum of the American West/UCLA
Stephen Aron is President and CEO of the Autry Museum of the American West and Professor of History, Emeritus at UCLA. A past president of the Western History Association, his most recent book is Peace and Friendship: An Alternative History of the American West (Oxford University Press, 2022).

Panelist: Alice Lucile Baumgartner, University of Southern California
Alice Baumgartner is an assistant professor of history at the University of Southern California. She holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and an M.Phil in Latin American Studies from the University of Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She has published articles in the Journal of American History, the Journal of Southern History, and the Western Historical Quarterly, among others. Her first book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to Civil War, was selected as an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review and a finalist for the Lincoln Prize and the LA Times Book Prize in History.

Panelist: Carolyn Brucken, Autry Museum of the American West
Carolyn Brucken joined the Autry Museum of the American West in 2003, and currently holds the position of Chief Curator. She holds a MA from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture and a PhD in American Civilization from George Washington University. In addition to curatorial work, Brucken is a Visiting Senior Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. As curator at the Autry her major exhibition projects include: Dress Codes, Investigating Griffith Park, Play!, Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West, and Home Lands: How Women Made the West.

Panelist: William Francis Deverell, University of Southern California
William Deverell is Director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and Professor of History at USC. He received his A.B. in American Studies from Stanford and his M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from Princeton. He is the author of numerous studies of the 19th and 20th century American West, exploring racial, ethnic, political, and environmental history. Current projects include an augmented reality project exploring the social history of the residents of the first Chinatown of Los Angeles and a multi-year, multi-disciplinary study of wildfire across the American West.

Panelist: Steven William Hackel UC Riverside, University of California, Riverside
Born and raised in California, Hackel earned his B.A. at Stanford University and Ph.D. in American History from Cornell University with specializations in early America and the American West. From 1994 to 1996 he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, Virginia. He taught at Oregon State University from 1996 to 2007 and joined the faculty at UCR in the fall of 2007. Within the larger field of American history, his research specializes on the Spanish Borderlands and the California Missions. He is especially interested in Native responses to colonialism, the effects of disease on colonial encounters, and new ways of visualizing these processes through digital history. His publications include Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769-1850 (OIEAHC, 2005), Father Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father (Hill and Wang/FSG, 2013), numerous essays on Native California, an American History textbook, and two edited volumes on early California. He is the General Editor of the Early California Population Project and the Director of both the Early California Cultural Atlas and The Pobladores Project: A Database of Early California Families and Communities. He is co-chair of the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute’s Seminar on the Spanish Borderlands. He is writing a population history of early California to 1850 with an emphasis on immigration to the region during the colonial period and the simultaneous collapse of the Native population and the rapid growth of Californio families, developments that cannot be disentangled from one another.

Panelist: Nicole Martinez, Autry Museum of the American West
Nicole Martinez is the Education Curator at the Autry Museum of the American West. Over the past seven years at the Autry, Nicole has collaborated on various projects and exhibitions including the Student Visual Arts Exhibition, the Citizen Journalism Project, and many Autry Classroom Curators exhibitions. Currently, she sits on exhibition teams that include, Human Events, Imagined Wests, Dress Codes, Human Nature and Cooking Up a New West. She is passionate about creating memorable experiences and making museums accessible spaces for visitors both at the museum and in the classroom. Nicole currently holds a Bachelor’s in History from California State University, Northridge, and received her Master’s in History in 2019.

Panelist: Virginia J. Scharff, University of New Mexico
VIRGINIA SCHARFF is Distinguished Professor of History Emerita at the University of New Mexico. Her books include Taking the Wheel: Women and the Coming of the Motor Age (1991); Twenty Thousand Roads: Women, Movement, and the West (2003); Seeing Nature Through Gender (2003); Home Lands: How Women Made the West (coauthored with Carolyn Brucken, 2010); The Women Jefferson Loved (2010); and Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West (2015). Scharff’s books have been widely reviewed, and several, including The Women Jefferson Loved have been named as New York Times “Editor’s Choices.”
Scharff has served as Women of the West Chair, Senior Scholar and Chair of Western History at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles from 2003 to the present. She is a Fellow and former Executive Board member of the Society of American Historians (elected 2004), was President of the Western History Association (2008), and served on the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians. She is a member of the Scholarly Advisory Board of the Gilder Lehrman Institute.
Under the name of Virginia Swift, Scharff is also author of four “Mustang Sally” mystery suspense novels, published by HarperCollins.