Montana State University

Paul Schullery named first scholar-in-residence at MSU's Renne Library

May 10, 2009 -- Anne Pettinger, MSU News


Paul Schullery, a noted historian and prolific author, has recently been named the first scholar-in-residence at MSU's Renne Library. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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Paul Schullery, a noted historian and prolific author, has recently been named the first scholar-in-residence at Montana State University's Renne Library.

As scholar-in-residence, Schullery will advise MSU librarians on the libraries' collections, particularly its Yellowstone Collection and Trout and Salmonid Collection.

"Paul, who is an eminent scholar, will bring a new focus to some of our collections," said Tamara Miller, dean of the MSU Libraries. "We think it's quite a coup that he has agreed to share his expertise and advise us...it's just wonderful to have him here to interact with our librarians."

Schullery's advisory role, which is an unpaid position, comes with an office in the library's Special Collections.

The agreement with Schullery is for one year, Miller added, and it could be renewed.

Schullery, 60, is perhaps best known for the more than 30 books he has authored, co-authored or edited. Many of Schullery's books deal with Yellowstone, and he plans to utilize the library's Yellowstone Collection for his own research.

"I'm finishing up a couple of books...so (being here) facilitates that process," Schullery said. The soft-spoken historian said he's particularly pleased to be part of the library community and to have close access to the library's Yellowstone Collection.

Schullery, who retired from a long career with the National Park Service in Yellowstone in 2008, said his association with the park began serendipitously.

The son of a Lutheran minister, Schullery and his parents and two older siblings moved often when he was a boy. He was born in Pennsylvania and lived in Texas, Alabama and Michigan before moving to Lancaster, Ohio, where he graduated from high school.

Then in 1969, while Schullery was in college in Ohio, he traveled to Yellowstone to visit a friend who was working there as a gate ranger. He eventually decided he'd like to work in the park himself, and from 1972-1977 Schullery was employed seasonally as a ranger-naturalist, performing such duties as giving campfire talks to park visitors.

Schullery also spent three winters in the '70s working in the park archives, which set him on a course to be a historian.

"I was in the midst of wonderful treasures," Schullery said, noting that he would come across gems of items, such as letters from Theodore Roosevelt, while he was working.

"From then on, Yellowstone was the center of my world," Schullery said. "I was not always there, but it was always the center."

After a stint from 1977-1982 as executive director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vt., Schullery moved back to Montana, where he worked as a writer based in Livingston for about four years. Another stint took him to Harrisburg, Penn., where he was an associate editor at Country Journal magazine. He returned to Yellowstone in 1988 and was involved for the next 20 years in a number of different projects there.

"My most appropriate title (in Yellowstone) was writer-editor, but I was so lucky," Schullery said. "I got to be involved in so many different things."

Some of those duties including writing articles about scientific processes for lay audiences, overseeing the start of a biennial conference series on science, and launching a quarterly publication, "Yellowstone Science."

And, Schullery has been associated with MSU for years. In recognition of his work as a nature writer and historian, MSU presented Schullery with an honorary doctorate of letters in 1997. He has also served as an affiliate professor and taught several history classes at MSU.

Now, Schullery is enjoying retirement in Bozeman with his wife, Marsha Karle, who retired about five years ago from a National Park Service career to become a full-time artist. The two have been collaborating on books since their retirement, Schullery said. Karle works mainly with watercolors.

Schullery said he is pleased to continue his association with MSU as a scholar-in-residence. The work that people do in libraries is important, he added.

"Conversations about Yellowstone or trout stream conservation or American West resource management are so terribly important that we all owe it to ourselves to be as well-informed as possible," Schullery said. "Libraries are the toolbox for that."

Tamara Miller, (406) 994-6978 or tamaramiller@montana.edu