Murphy portrait


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Distinguished Professor Lecture

Date: February 25, 2014
Time: 4 PM
Place: Procrastinator Theater, Strand Union Building

  • A reception will follow in the Leigh Lounge

Title: ’Can the Kaiser’: Food, Gender, and the Domestic Politics of World War I


Meatless Mondays, Wheatless Wednesdays, Sweets without Sugar: in 1917 all were weapons designed for the World War I homefront. “Food will win the war,” proclaimed the U.S. Food Administration, and it urged farmers to grow more, consumers to eat less, and patriots to monitor their fellow citizens’ consumption. Montana women joined the campaign with enthusiasm, but also skepticism. Having recently won the right to vote, they brought keen political insight to the domestic politics of the homefront. Their gleaming Mason jars of preserved vegetables took on many meanings during World War I.

About the speaker

Murphy first came to Montana in 1980 to research the history of Butte for her doctoral thesis from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She’s taught at MSU since 1990. In that time, she’s won several awards for her teaching and scholarship, including the Wiley Award for meritorious research, and the Betty Coffey Award for contributions on behalf of women at MSU. She was the Michael P. Malone Professor of History from 2005-2010.

Murphy is known for her engaging history books focusing on gender in Montana. She has published 10 books and book chapters, including "Hope in Hard Times: New Deal Photographs of Montana, 1936-1942," which won the Montana Book Award in 2003. Her "Mining Cultures: Men, Women, and Leisure in Butte, 1914-41," received the 1998 Barbara Sudler Award from the Colorado Historical Society and was a Choice Outstanding Academic Book in 1997.

She has served on the Humanities Montana and Montana Historical Society Boards. Humanities Montana named Murphy a Humanities Hero in 2012. Earlier this year she was honored with a Governor’s Humanities Award.

Murphy is currently researching the historic role of food in the American West, as a way of tracing the history of women in the region. She is also collaborating on a Montana cookbook that will combine essays about food and cooking in Montana with recipes drawn from historical cookbooks.