Southwest history

Three Roads to Magdalena author David Wallace Adams receives Weber-Clements Book Prize Nov. 15, 2017

Three Roads to Magdalena coverAcclaimed as a unique and enduring window into borderlands history, David Wallace Adams’ 2016 book, Three Roads to Magdalena: Coming of Age in a Southwest Borderland, 1890-1990, received this year’s Weber-Clements Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. The public event was hosted by the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

Three Roads to Magdalena is a unique blend of oral, social and childhood history about a region of New Mexico that Adams fell in love with while serving as curriculum director at a Navajo Reservation school in Alamo, New Mexico. Thirty miles to the northwest was Magdalena, a once-booming frontier town where Navajo, Anglo and Hispanic people have lived in shifting, sometimes separate, sometimes overlapping worlds for well over a century.

Adams’ time as a Clements Center Fellow from 2005-06 afforded him the opportunity to hone several thousand pages of multi-faceted, highly personal research he had collected into what would become this 454-page book, published by University Press of Kansas.

David Wallace Adams, kroberts@abqjournal.com

David Wallace Adams

Now professor emeritus of history and education at Cleveland State University in Ohio, Adams teaches courses about the American West and Native American history. He also is the author of the acclaimed 1995 book, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928.

The Weber-Clements Award, overseen by the Western History Association (WHA), honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book on Southwestern life published in the year prior to its selection. The winning author receives $2,500.

Three Roads to Magdalena “draws upon a precious trove of interviews to explain what it was like growing up in this multicultural borderland during the late 19th and 20th centuries,” WHA judges noted. “From the hazy, tactile memories of early childhood through the hot and precise recollections of adolescent adventures, people across the region shared moving and intimate stories of the kind historians are seldom privileged enough to hear. Balancing critical distance with insight, humor and compassion, Adams has woven these recollections together into a book that is wise, challenging, absorbing, ingeniously researched and beautifully written.”

SMU history professor Neil Foley recently made the book required reading in his graduate-level class, “Citizenship and Transnational Identity.” When Foley learned that two of his assigned books had been considered for the Weber-Clements Prize, “I decided to ask the students, ‘If you were on the prize committee, which one of these two finalists do you think should win?’ After a straw poll, the students unanimously agreed Three Roads to Magdalena should take the prize. And to everyone’s delight, Foley informed the class that Adams’ book did win.

“That just goes to show you don’t have to be a professional historian to write good history [Adams has a doctorate in education] – and you don’t need to be a professional historian to know when you’re reading good history,” Foley says.

— Written by Denise Gee

Sunbelt prisons are focus of 2012 Clements Center Symposium

Logo image for 2011-12 Clements Center SymposiumDeclaring that today’s racially disproportionate rates of incarceration represent “a New Jim Crow,” scholar Michelle Alexander has argued that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” This assertion, and its exploration, provide the theme of the 2011-12 Annual Public Symposium presented by SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

“Sunbelt Prisons and the Carceral State: New Frontiers of State Power, Resistance and Racial Oppression” is cosponsored by the Clements Center, SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program and The Center for the American West at the University of Colorado. It will take place 8:15 a.m.-5 p.m. March 24 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The event brings together historians, legal experts, civil rights veterans and formerly imprisoned activists to discuss “The Age of Mass Incarceration” in the American Southwest. The international slate of presenters and panelists includes U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson ’76 and 2010 Clements Book Prize winner Kelly Lytle Hernández.

The symposium is open to the public and has been approved for Continuing Education Credit for teachers.

The $10 registration includes the conference fee, refreshment breaks and a light buffet lunch. Read more about how to register or contact the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, 214-768-3684.

Find a complete schedule at the Clements Center Annual Symposium homepage

‘Contested Spaces’ key to 2010-11 Clements Center symposium on the early Americas

Antonio Pereiro map, 1545, courtesy of the John Carter Brown LibraryThe common history of the Americas – bridging conceptions of borderlands both continental and hemispheric – is the theme of the 2010-11 Annual Public Symposium, presented by SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

“The Contested Spaces of Early America” is cosponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the Clements Center. It will take place 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. April 2 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

This year’s event takes as its model and inspiration the work of the late David J. Weber, Clements Center founding director and Dedman Professor of History in SMU’s William P. Clements Department of History. The symposium theme was originally organized to honor Weber upon his retirement.

“We wanted a theme that would transcend some of our usual models for understanding the histories of the Americas and the borderlands,” says symposium co-organizer Juliana Barr, associate professor of history at the University of Florida and former Clements Center Fellow. “David was expansive in his own work in using a larger framework to understand the histories of those lands that were colonies of New Spain, as well as the borders of Mexico and the U.S. Southwest.

“There are a number of interesting commonalities across the histories of North and South America,” she adds. “It’s a good exercise to step back and take a larger look and think in new ways about framing these histories.”

An initial meeting and program took place in Fall 2010 at the McNeil Center. The participants will gather at SMU this Saturday to present their revised papers.

One highlight of the conference is its diversity of both scholars and scholarship, Barr says. “Our presenters include a Canadian scholar who specializes in the history of New France, scholars from Mexico and Argentina, a literature scholar, a Native American scholar, one former Ph.D. student of David Weber’s, and three former Clements Center Fellows, as well as traditional ethnohistorians,” she says. “With that kind of diversity, you begin to build bridges among these seemingly disparate areas of scholarship. It’s the conversation among them all that will be the most exciting.”

The symposium is open to the public and has been approved for Continuing Education Credit for teachers. “Texas teachers face a lot of challenges in the classroom,” says Barr, herself a native Texan. “The state is such a crossroads for so many histories. It’s one of the most fascinating states to teach about because of its own diversity. How can we look at all these individual communities and link them across borders that include everything from European empires to Native American lands?

“These larger frameworks may help teachers help their students create those bridges between the histories of the larger American and global worlds.”

Preregistration cost is $5 for general admission ($20 including lunch at the SMU Faculty Club) and $2 for graduate students ($10 including lunch). Register online or contact the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, 214-768-3684.

> Find a complete schedule at the Clements Center Annual Symposium homepage

Above, Antonio Pereira’s 1545 map of the Americas, courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library.