PhD Students

History

Dale F. Topham

PhD Program


Educational Background

  • Ph.D. candidate in American history at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas 
  • M.A. in U.S. History, Brigham Young University, August 2004. Thesis: “The Role of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the American Rendezvous System, 1825-1840.” Advisor: Fred R. Gowans. Readers: Brian Q. Cannon, V. Robert Westover
  • B.A. in U.S. History with an English Minor, Brigham Young University, August 1999  
 

Advisor: Benjamin H. Johnson (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). 

Readers: Sherry Smith, Andrew Graybill, Karl Jacoby (Brown University).

Exam fields: World History, U.S. History to 1877, U.S. History from 1877, American West, and Environmental History

Dissertation

“Resistance, Compromise, and Acceptance: State Conservation, Environmentalism, and Anti-Environmental Politics in Parowan, Utah, 1851-2000”

Topham’s dissertation studies several key episodes in conservation and environmental politics as they played out in Parowan, Utah – a small Mormon community located in southwestern Utah’s Iron County – to illuminate the processes of resistance, acceptance, and compromise over federal public lands policy. It examines the arrival of state conservation in the form of federal agencies, particularly the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Grazing Service; the rise of post-World War II environmentalism and the wilderness movement; and the rise of anti-environmentalism in the form of the Sagebrush Rebellion and opposition to the creation of Wilderness Areas. 

Responding to recent scholarship that often depicts state conservation as a monolithic force that steamrolled over locals and their interests, and emphasizes its costs, Topham argues that the relationship between locals and state conservation was often much more complicated and tangled than this scholarship suggests. His study shows that the coming of state conservation often pitted federal land management agencies against each other, and produced the same dynamic among the locals. Some residents fought the implementation of government land-use restrictions, while others welcomed them openly, recognizing the value of conservation measures in the preservation of their livelihoods. 

Taking a longue durée approach, Topham further seeks to account for how environmental politics in the West has changed over time. His dissertation illustrates that, though townspeople generally came to accept materialist conservation measures, they balked at the post-World War II romantic, preservationist form of state conservation. Over time, a strong anti-environmental movement formed in the region. 

Topham also addresses the role of religion in environmental practices and politics. Residents of southwestern Utah, most of whom were members of the Mormon Church, dealt not only with the federal government’s hierarchical structure but also that of their church and its leaders, who, in the decades following settlement in what became Utah, were heavily involved in land and resource management. By taking into account the multiple nodes of power from which ecological policy emanated, his study offers a more complex, layered analysis than have other scholars.

Publications

  • Review of The Nature Study Movement: The Forgotten Popularizer of America’s Conservation Ethic, by Kevin C. Armitage, in Montana: The Magazine of Western History 60 no. 3 (Autumn 2010): 79, 81.
  • “Rocky Mountain Rivalry: The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Involvement in the American Fur Trade Rendezvous System.” Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal 1 (2007): 1-24.
  • “The Rivals.” In Fred R. Gowans and Brenda D. Francis, eds., The Mountain Men, 5-10. Special issue of Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly 42 no. 2 (Summer 2006).
  •  “The Fair of the Wilderness,” in Brenda D. Francis and Fred R. Gowans, eds., The Fur Trade and Rendezvous of the Green River Valley (Pinedale, WY: Museum of the Mountain Man, 2005): 36-53.
  • Review of Fool’s Gold: Lives, Loves, and Misadventures in the Four Corners Country, by Rob Schultheis, in Journal of the West 43 no. 1 (Winter 2004): 92.
  • “Corporate and International Rivalry in the Rocky Mountains: The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Involvement in the American Fur Trade Rendezvous System.” The Thetean: A Student Journal for Scholarly Historical Writing 32 (Spring 2003):1-18.

Presentations

  • “Corporate and International Rivalry in the Rocky Mountains: The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Involvement in the American Fur Trade Rendezvous System.”
  • American History Association – Pacific Coast Branch Annual Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 2003
  • “Corporate and International Rivalry in the Rocky Mountains: The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Involvement in the American Fur Trade Rendezvous System.”
  • Phi Alpha Theta Utah Regional Conference held at Utah State University, Logan, Utah, March 2003
  • “Antidote for Difficult Circumstances: Humor in the Southern States Mission, 1878-1899.” Phi Alpha Theta Annual Statewide Meeting held at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, April 1997

Professional Experience

Instructor, Southern Methodist University Department of History, summer 2010. Course: U.S. History since 1877
Teaching Assistant, Southern Methodist University Department of History, spring 2010. Course: U.S. History from FDR to Obama
Assistant to the University Archivist, Special Collections, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, summer 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Researcher and Writer for “Education in Zion,” a historical exhibition at Brigham Young University, February 2005 – July 2006
Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant, History Department, Brigham Young  University, 2000-2004. Courses: U.S. History to 1877, U.S. History from 1877,Nineteenth-Century U.S. West, Twentieth-Century U.S. West, Utah History, and U.S. History, 1890-1945.
Teaching and Research Assistant, History Department, Brigham Young University, 1996  1999. Courses: U.S. History to 1877, U.S. History from 1877, Historian’s Craft, Utah History

Other Activities              

Peer reviewer for The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal (published annually by the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, Wyoming), 2007 to present.

A research paper written for a graduate course in environmental history – “Barge Canal versus River: A Nascent Environmental Vision Challenges the Decades-Long Efforts of Dallas Business and Civic Leaders to Transform the Trinity River into a Navigable Waterway” -- became the backbone of “Living with the Trinity” a documentary directed by Rob Tranchin which aired on KERA TV in Dallas, Texas on November 23, 2009. (In the end credits, I am credited with having conducted the “original research” for the documentary.)

Grants and Awards

  • Bill Clements Dissertation Fellow, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University (2011-2012).
  • Clements Center Advisory Panel Research Travel Grant, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University (Spring-Summer 2010)
  • Brigham Young University Travel and Conference Grant, summer 2003.
  • The graduate-level William J. Snow Award for best paper written on Western or Mormon History at Brigham Young University, 2003, for “Corporate and International Rivalry in the Rocky Mountains: The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Involvement in the American Fur Trade Rendezvous System.”
  • The Best Graduate Student Paper Award at the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference held at Utah State University March 2003, for “Corporate and International Rivalry in the Rocky Mountains: The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Involvement in the American Fur Trade Rendezvous System.”
  • Helen Carter Warr Award for Excellence, Brigham Young University, 2001-2002
  • The William J. Snow Award for best paper written on Western or Mormon History at Brigham Young University, 1999, for “Antidote for Difficult Circumstances: Humor in the Southern States Mission, 1878-1899.”
  • Listed on the 1998-1999 National Dean’s List

Professional Affiliations

Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society
Golden Key International Honor Society
Western History Association
Utah State Historical Society

Last updated 10/11