Montana State University
Archived Spotlight story

Mary Murphy, an award-winning historian at Montana State University, has been selected as the university's new Michael P. Malone Professor in History. Following Billy G. Smith in the position, Murphy was chosen for her nationally-acclaimed research on western American history and for her distinguished record as a teacher and mentor. Her appointment runs three years.

During the first year, she will continue researching World War I and sedition in Montana and the Pacific Northwest, Murphy said. She will also write articles on the topic and give a lecture about Montanans' response when Jeannette Rankin, their representative in Congress, voted against the United States entering World War I.

Murphy's most recent book, "Hope in Hard Times: New Deal Photographs of Montana, 1936-1942," received the Montana Book Award for 2003. The book, drawing on more than 140 Farm Security Administration photographs, looks at Montana during the Great Depression.

Murphy also wrote, "Mining Cultures: Men, Women, and Leisure in Butte, 1914-41," published in 1997. She co-edited "Montana Legacy: Essays on History, People, and Place," published in 2002, as well as dozens of book chapters, peer-reviewed articles and book reviews. She has lectured across the country on Western mining history, women in the West and history of the Great Depression. She has served as historical advisor on numerous films and museum exhibits.

Besides the Montana Book Award, Murphy has received the Betty Coffey Award for Contributions on behalf of Women at MSU, the Wiley Award for Meritorious Research at MSU, the Barbara Sudler Award from the Colorado Historical Society and the Spur Finalist Award in Contemporary Nonfiction from Western Writers of America.

Murphy teaches courses in American history, women in the West, the American West, social and cultural history and a variety of upper-level seminars at MSU. She chairs the Graduate Program Committee for MSU's Department of History and Philosophy. She has belonged to the Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees since 1997. She was previously a member of the Montana Committee for the Humanities.

Murphy received her bachelor's degree in political science at the University of Massachusetts and earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined MSU's Department of History and Philosophy in 1990.

The Malone Professorship honors the late Michael P. Malone who was a history professor and MSU president before his 1999 death. The professorship is made possible by an endowment from his family.

Story by Evelyn Boswell, MSU Office of Communication and Public Affairs