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USU History Grad Earns Prestigious Book Prize

Thursday, Apr. 09, 2009

USU alum Jared Farmer

USU history alum Jared Farmer is the recipient of the 2009 Francis Parkman Prize from the Society for American Historians for his book "On Zion's Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape."

When Jared Farmer was an undergraduate at Utah State University, it became clear to faculty members in the History Department that he was a promising scholar.

“Jared was one of those rare undergraduates who come along once or twice in a professor’s career,” said history professor and Western Historical Quarterly Editor David Lewis. “He took my Utah history course as a freshman, for Honors credit. I generally try to scare freshmen out because the course requires extensive reading and a primary source research paper based on diaries and journals held in USU’s Special Collections and Archives. The Honors component requires even more.”
By the end of the quarter, the verdict was in. Farmer’s written work and final primary source paper were outstanding — beyond the quality and analytical level of seniors in the class, Lewis said.
“It became clear that Jared was an exceptional student,” he said.
That “exceptional student” recently won the prestigious 2009 Francis Parkman Prize from the Society for American Historians for his book On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard University Press, 2008).
According to USU history professor Colleen O’Neill, the Parkman Prize is awarded annually for the best nonfiction book on an American theme published the previous year. The award honors the literary value of the work in addition to the book’s historical significance, O’Neill said.
With his promising start as a history major at USU, Farmer went to earn his undergraduate degree at USU in 1996. He was an undergraduate intern at the Western Historical Quarterly with then editor Clyde Milner. He pursued a master’s degree in history, working with environmental historian Dan Flores at the University of Montana and completed a doctorate in history at Stanford University in 2005, where he worked with preeminent western and environmental historian Richard White. He followed up with a post-doctoral fellowship at the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, then accepted a position as assistant professor of history at SUNY-Stony Brook.
On Zion’s Mount is Farmer’s second book. His first, Glen Canyon Dammed: Inventing Lake Powell and the Canyon Country, was published in 1999 by the University of Arizona Press.
According to Lewis, Farmer studied broadly during his time as a student at USU, but with a distinct focus on Utah, western, environmental and folklore topics — all strengths of USU’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.
“His latest book is really the culmination of his fascination with Utah and western history and folklore that started during his undergraduate career at USU,” Lewis said.
Related links:
Contact: David Lewis, 
Contact: Colleen O’Neill,
Contact: Jared Farmer
Writer: Patrick Williams (435) 797-1354,

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