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Laura Amanda White* -- 2001-- Outstanding Former Faculty
Born in Bloomington, Illinois, in 1882, Laura Amanda White primarily grew up in Webster City Iowa, where her father, an architect, designed the local courthouse. White earned a B.A. in history at the University of Nebraska in 1904, followed by an M.A. in 1912. While working toward her doctorate degree at the University of Chicago, White accepted a position to teach secondary level history classes at the University High School in Laramie, Wyoming. However, after the untimely death of UW Department of History Chair Agnes Matilde Wergeland, the university president asked White to assume the chair and teach college-level history.
For 31 years, White chaired the Department of History, and until 1922, she personally offered all UW history courses—European and American. In 1917, she took a leave of absence to complete her doctorate. White’s national credibility and extensive professional contacts brought respect to UW and served as a tool with which White leveraged many of her students into graduate schools and academic positions across the country.
A diplomatic but tenacious campus leader, White lobbied for enhanced funds for books and source material for the library and worked to establish UW’s faculty tenure program. White led efforts to create a student history club, initiated efforts to bring a chapter of Mortar Board to UW, and was instrumental in establishing Phi Beta Kappa at UW. White was partially responsible for brining promising academics, including T.A. Larson, to UW. She alo devoted considerable time to help created the UW American Studies program.
White helped establish the Women Professors’ Club. She was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the American Association of University Professors, and the American Association of University Women.
White considered herself to be a “modern woman” and moved easily as an equal among the premier mid-nineteenth century American historians of her time. She was an active member of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (the Organization of American Historians) and the Southern Historical Association; from 1945 to 1948, she served on the governing council of the American Historical Association.
*In loving memory.