Philip J. Roberts

Professor Emeritus of History

Portrait of UW History Professor Emeritus Phil Roberts

Phil Roberts is Professor of History Emeritus, University of Wyoming, where he has been on the faculty since 1990.  He specializes in the history of Wyoming and the American West, legal, environmental and natural resources history.  He also has taught courses in various areas of public history and developed several new courses at UW, including "History of Oil" and “History of Wyoming Law,” for which he also authored the online casebook/textbook.  He holds the Ph.D. degree in history from the University of Washington (1990) and the J.D. in law from the University of Wyoming (1977).

At three different times in his career, he has served as editor of Annals of Wyoming. His first monograph, titled Penny for the Governor, Dollar for Uncle Sam, a study of taxation in Washington Territory (State), was published by the University of Washington Press.  His book on the history of Shoshone Caverns National Monument and federal policies, titled Cody's Cave: National Monuments and the Politics of Public Lands in the 20th Century West, was published in 2012. He is completing a book-length study of the history of Prohibition and liquor regulation in Wyoming. He is co-author (with his two brothers) of Wyoming Almanac, now in its eighth edition (last published in 2019). His edited textbook, Readings in Wyoming History, is in its fifth edition and also available online.

He has written a number of articles on Wyoming and Western history, including: "Regulating Liquor: Prohibition Enforcement, Official Corruption, and State Efforts to Control Alcohol after Prohibition Repeal," Wyoming Law Review, 2012; "A Hospital at the Hot Springs: The Politics of Locating Veterans' Health Facilities in Wyoming," Annals of Wyoming, Summer 2009; "All Americans Are Hero-Worshippers: American Observations on the First U. S. Visit by a Reigning Monarch, 1876," Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, October 2008; "Wyoming as Community," Annals of Wyoming, Summer 2006; "History of the Wyoming Sales Tax," Wyoming Law Review, 2004; "Wyoming's Pioneers of Prohibition," Wyoming Law Review, Summer, 2001; "Scotts Bluff National Monument and the Coming of Television to the Nebraska Panhandle," Nebraska History, Spring, 1996; and "The Prohibition Agency's First Case," Western Legal History, Summer/Fall, 1998.  He contributes numerous articles to the Wyoming State Historical Society’s online website.

He recently completed a comparative analysis of oil development in the American West and the Arab Middle East. In recent years, he conducted research and served as a visiting lecturer at two universities in the Middle East. In 2004-2005, he served as a legal consultant for a project on legal education under the sponsorship of the ABA-CEELI in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Phil is a native of Lusk, Niobrara County, Wyoming. He attended public schools in Lusk, Torrington, Thermopolis, Worland, and numerous other towns around the West. He graduated from Cody (Wyo.) High School in 1966. He attended Northwest College, Powell, and then entered the University of Wyoming for year. He served in the U. S. Marine Corps from 1970-1972 and, later, returned to Wyoming to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Wyoming. After editing newspapers in California and Arizona, he again returned to Wyoming for a law degree. During his career, he practiced law, worked in public history, owned a publishing company, and published a city magazine in Cheyenne.

He is a member of several professional and civic organizations including: the Wyoming State Bar (admitted to practice in 1977); the Wyoming State Historical Society; Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society; Tenth Judicial Circuit Historical Society; Pacific Northwest Historians' Guild;; and numerous local Wyoming history organizations. At UW, he served on numerous university and college committees, including the Student Media Board; Academic Planning committee; AHC Board of Faculty Advisors; and several terms on the Arts and Sciences Central Committee. He lectured and presented programs throughout Wyoming, averaging about 50 presentations annually and in nearly every Wyoming county. He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Wyoming in 1998. He participated in several National Endowment for the Humanities summer programs. During the summers of 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016, he was history guide for a History of Wyoming "on-the-road" tour. His weekly column on Wyoming history, titled "Buffalo Bones: Stories from Wyoming's Past," was syndicated in Wyoming newspapers from 1979-84, 1991-98; and 2007-09.

During his career, he chaired more than 50 graduate committees and served on many others in history, political science, mass media, and American studies where he was adjunct faculty. 

Click here for Phil Roberts' website:


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