Blegen Article Award

The Forest History Society's (FHS) Theodore C. Blegen Award recognizes the best scholarship in forest and conservation history published in a journal other than Environmental History. FHS initiated the award in 1972.

Award Details

Named for Theodore C. Blegen, one of the founders of the Forest History Society, the Blegen award consists of a $500 cash award and a plaque. Editors of scholarly journals in the fields of forest and conservation history annually submit up to two articles from their publications for award consideration. Entries must be postmarked no later than March 15th of the award year. If you prefer to submit your article(s) as a PDF via email, please submit it to An award subcommittee of the FHS board evaluates submissions and selects the article that best exemplifies (1) contribution to new knowledge, (2) strength of scholarship, and (3) clarity and grace of presentation.



Córdova, Ana. “El Colorado Sawmill: A View into 20th-Century Timber Extraction from the Chihuahua Sierra Madre.” Journal of the Southwest, 63, No. 3 (Autumn 2021): 385–425. This work introduces readers to the El Colorado Sawmill, one of the largest sawmills in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua between 1952 and 1970. It operated with up to three shifts daily, processing lumber extracted from its surroundings and providing employment for hundreds of workers. Impressive as it was, it endured for less than two decades, and followed the fate of mills in other logging and mining towns in the extractive boom-and-bust economy of the northern state of Chihuahua during the 20th century. The author demonstrates that to understand the origins of El Colorado settlement and why the mill lasted only two decades, one must go back to the end of the Apache Wars in the 1880s, the arrival and colonization by Mormon refugees, and then follow the complex sweep of Mexican history from that era forward. The author draws from social, political, environmental, and economic histories to tell this fascinating history.

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(c) Journal of the Southwest


Whittlesey, Lee H. "Abundance, Slaughter, and Resilience of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's Mammal Population: A View of the Historical Record, 1871-1885." Montana: The Magazine of Western History, 70, No. 1 (Spring 2020): 3-26. This winning article reveals that while subsistence hunting by indigenous inhabitants and Euro-American settlers affected the greater Yellowstone region's wildlife populations, unregulated commercial hunting and thrill killing increased the number of mammals killed to the level of wholesale slaughter between 1871 and 1885. A study of the historical record yields evidence that the region supported an abundance and diversity of animals, all of which continue to survive in the park to this day.

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(c) Montana: The Magazine of Western History


Demuth, Bathsheba. "The Walrus and the Bureaucrat: Energy, Ecology, and the Making of State in the Russian and American Arctic, 1870-1950." American Historical Review Vol. 124, No. 2 (April 2019): 483-510. The Pacific walrus emerges as a protagonist in the surprisingly parallel histories of the United States and the Soviet Union across much of the twentieth century as they developed their environmental practices to ensure that each could obtain as much energy and value from the walrus as possible.

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(c) American Historical Review


Mittlefehldt, Sarah. "Wood Waste and Race: The Industrialization of Biomass Energy Technologies and Environmental Justice." Technology and Culture 59 (October 2018): 875-98. In the 1980s, engineers developed new ways to use one of humanity's oldest fuel sources—wood—to create electrical power. This article uses envirotechnical analysis to examine the development of a wood-burning power plant in Flint, Michigan, and argues that when public officials began working with major energy corporations to build industrial biomass facilities in the 1980s and 1990s, new energy technologies designed to run on renewable fuels became part of an entrenched fossil fuel-based power structure that maintained deep historical inequalities.

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(c) Technology and Culture


Wilson, Richa. "Building the Forest Service in Utah: An Architectural Context." Utah Historical Quarterly 85 (Winter 2017): 41-57. This article offers an overview of the evolution of Forest Service architecture in Utah dating to the early twentieth century. It shows how buildings constructed in the state’s forests both reflected and departed from mainstream trends. The changing nature of federal forest management and policies gave each period distinctive design characteristics that continue to be identifiable today.

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(c) Utah Historical Quarterly


Miller, Daegan. "Reading Trees in Nature’s Nation: Toward a Field Guide to Sylvan Literacy in the Nineteenth-Century United States." The American Historical Review 121 (October 2016): 1114-1140. This essay traces a history of sylvan literacy, from its rise in the nature-based cultural nationalism of the 1830s to its eclipse in the early twentieth century by the language of professional scientists. It is also a theory of how sylvan literacy worked: more like poetry than a dictionary, open to multiple competing interpretations, put to contesting uses.

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(c) The American Historical Review


Loomis, Erik. "When Loggers Were Green: Lumber, Labor, and Conservation, 1937-1948." Western Historical Quarterly 46 (Winter 2015): 421-41. From 1937 to 1948, the International Woodworkers of America challenged the timber industry's forestry practices, attempting to reshape the Northwest's timber industry to work for the sustainability of logging communities and the forest instead of corporate profits. Their activities demonstrate the long history of unions pressing for the environmental agenda of their members.

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(c) Western Historical Quarterly


Reid, Jack (John). "The ‘Great Migration’ in Northern Arizona: Southern Blacks Move to Flagstaff, 1940-1960." The Journal of Arizona History 55 (Winter 2014): 469-98. In the 1940s and 1950s a wave of African Americans from the South moved westward to Flagstaff, Arizona, to work in the growing lumber industry in the region.

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(c) Journal of Arizona History


Turner, Nancy J., Douglas Deur, and Dana Lepofsky "Plant Management Systems of British Columbia's First Peoples." BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly 179 (Autumn 2013): 107-33. Considers largers scale management techniques such as the use of fire to clear prairies and subalpine meadows as well as very focused actions, such as the pruning of individual shrubs.

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(c) BC Studies


Rajala, Richard. "’Streams Being Ruined from a Salmon Producing Standpoint’: Clearcutting, Fish Habitat, and Forest Regulation in British Columbia, 1900-45.” BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly 176 (Winter 2012/13): 93-132. Analyzes the conflict between forestry and fisheries in British Columbia during the first half of the twentieth century. Looks at fish habitat degradation, attempts at regulatory action, and the work of local forest managers and fisheries officials.

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(c) BC Studies


Davis, Lynne. "Home or Global Treasure? Understanding Relationships Between the Heiltsuk Nation and Environmentalists." BC Studies: The British Columbia Quarterly 171 (Autumn 2011): 9-36. Looks at attempts to create a wilderness park in the Great Bear Rainforest area of British Columbia. Davis examines the tensions between environmentalists and the local indigenous Heiltsuk peoples who were directly impacted by the project.

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(c) BC Studies


Sutter, Paul S. "What Gullies Mean: Georgia's 'Little Grand Canyon' and Southern Environmental History." The Journal of Southern History 76, No. 3 (August 2010): 579-616. Examines Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia and its human-produced canyon of soil erosion resulting from poor agricultural practices during the 19th century. Looks at the preservation of this landscape of environmental degradation and explores the importance of soil to the study of southern environmental history.

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(c) Southern Historical Association


Swanson, Drew Addison. “Fighting over Fencing: Agricultural Reform and Antebellum Efforts to Close the Virginia Open Range.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 117, No. 2 (2009): 104-39. Swanson revisits the literature and offers a reinterpretation of the drive for enclosure in the antebellum South based on concerns about productivity and fertility, rather than class.

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Dant, Sara. “Making Wilderness Work: Frank Church and the American Wilderness Movement.” Pacific Historical Review 77, No. 2 (May 2008): 237-72. Argues that Church was not only at the vanguard of the evolving definition of wilderness in America but also established a viable process for designating wilderness areas. Church's coalition-building vision of wilderness as a communally defined natural space, not necessarily “untrammeled by man,” became the standard for wilderness designation

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Hsiung, David C. "Food, Fuel, and the New England Environment in the War for Independence, 1775-1776" published in The New England Quarterly 80, No. 4 (December 2007): 614-51. Discusses the impact of agricultural and forest products on the first year of the Revolution and the importance of local production and supply systems on the fight for control over the rebelling colonies.

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Willis, Roxanne. "A New Game in the North: Alaska Native Reindeer Herding, 1890-1940." Western Historical Quarterly 37 (Autumn 2006): 277-301. Assesses the introduction of domesticated reindeer to Alaska by the missionary Sheldon Jackson, ostensibly for the benefit of native communities. Explores new ground with a compelling narrative and a keen sense for the complexities of the interaction between Native Alaskans, do-gooding Anglo-Americans, and the shifting economy of the far north.

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Fiege, Mark. "The Weedy West: Mobile Nature, Boundaries, and Common Space in the Montana Landscape." Western Historical Quarterly 36 (Spring 2005): 22-47. Examines the movement of weeds across human boundaries in Montana during the 20th century, and how collective responses to that movement created common geographic space in which people adjusted land allocation to ecology.

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Feldman, James. "The View from Sand Island: Reconsidering the Peripheral Economy." Western Historical Quarterly 35 (Autumn 2004): 285-307. An intriguing assessment of the relationship between local communities and their economies and the broader sweep of western environmental history.

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Senter, Jim. "Live Dunes and Ghost Forests: Stability and Change in the History of North Carolina's Maritime Forests." North Carolina Historical Review 80 (July 2003): 334-71. Argues that sea level rise and increased storm frequency since the end of the Little Ice Age, rather than human activity during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, have been the primary causes of vegetation change on the barrier islands along the coast of North Carolina.

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Wondrak, Alice K. "Wrestling with Horace Albright: Edmund Rogers, Visitors, and Bears in Yellowstone National Park. Part I; Part II" 52 Montana: the Magazine of Western History (Autumn- Winter 2002): 2-15; 18-31. On the establishment and difficulties of prohibiting bear feeding practices within the Yellowstone National Park during the 1930s and 1950s.

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Ewert, Sara E. "Evolution of an Environmentalist: Senator Frank Church and the Hells Canyon Controversy," Montana: The Magazine of Western History 51 (Spring 2001): 36-51. Examines the gradual evolution of the views toward environmental politics held by Senator Frank Church of Idaho.

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Andrew H. Fisher. "Working in the Indian Way: The Southwest Forest Firefighter Program and Native American Wage Labor," Arizona History, Vol. 41, No. 2, (Summer 2000): 121-48.


Stacy Mitchell. "Union in the North Woods: The Timber Strikes of 1937," Minnesota History, Vol. 56, No. 5, (Spring 1999): 262-277.


Taylor, Joseph E., III. "El Niño and Vanishing Salmon: Culture, Nature History, and the Politics of Blame," Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4, (Winter, 1998): 437-57.


Fisher, Andrew H. "The 1932 Handshake Agreement: Yakama Indian Treaty Rights and Forest Service Policy in the Pacific Northwest" in Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 2. (Summer 1997): 187-217.


Outland, Robert B., III. "Slavery, Work, and the Geography of the North Carolina Naval Stores Industry, 1835-1860" in Journal of Southern History, Vol. 57 (February 1996): 27-56.


Mccullough, Robert I. "A Forest in Every Town: Vermont's History of Communal Woodlands" in Vermont History, Vol. 64 (Winter 1996): 5-35.


Pyne, Stephen J. "Nataraja: India's Cycle of Fire" in Environmental History Review, Vol. 18 (Fall 1994): 1-20.


Rajala, Richard A. "The Forest as Factory: Technological Change and Worker Control in the West Coast Logging Industry, 1880-1930" in Labour/Le Travail, Vol. 32 (Fall 1993): 73-104.


Cronon, William J. "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative" in Journal of American History , Vol. 78 (March 1992): 1347-76.


Duncan, Colin A. M. "On Identifying a Sound Environmental Ethic in History: Prolegomena to Any Future Environmental History" in Environmental History Review, Vol. 15 (Summer 1991): 5-30.


Dilsaver, Lary M. and Douglas H. Strong. "Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: One Hundred Years of Preservation and Resource Management" in California History, Vol. 69 (Summer 1990): 98-117.