Thomas G. Andrews

Thomas G. Andrews

Fellow: Awarded 2011
Field of Study: United States History

Competition: US & Canada

University of Colorado, Denver

A graduate of Yale University (B.A., 1994) and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (M.A., 1997, Ph.D., 2003), Thomas G. Andrews was an award-winning author before he even completed his doctoral degree. Revisions of his Yale senior thesis and his master’s thesis earned the Eleanor Adams Award (2001) for best article in borderlands history and the Western History Association’s Arrell Morgan Gibson Prize (2003) for best article in Native American history, respectively. His dissertation, which he wrote with support from the Rockefeller Archive Center, was honored with the Rachel Carson Dissertation Prize from the American Society for Environmental History in 2004.

As these prizes suggest, Mr. Andrews’ interests cross a number of academic lines—Western, Native American, and environmental history—to which can be added labor history, the history of the book, and the scholarship of teaching and learning in history. A number of these lines converged in his first monograph, Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War (Harvard UP, 2008), which recast the famous massacre of more than a dozen miners and their family members in Ludlow, Colorado, as much more than a labor dispute gone horribly wrong. Weaving together a story of capitalists, unions, and union busters, the geology of the Rocky Mountains, and deteriorating European economies that pushed immigrants to seek employment in the American West, to list but a few of its threads, Killing for Coal was a popular and critical success. Among its honors were Columbia University’s Bancroft Prize, the top book prize in the field of history; the American Society for Environmental History’s George Perkins Marsh Award; the Vincent DeSantis Prize of the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era; the Mining History Association’s Clark Spence Prize; Colorado Humanities’ Colorado Book Award; and the Caroline Bancroft Award from the Western History and Genealogy Department of the Denver Public Library. That so many organizations with widely differing focuses honored his work gives some indication of its scope.

At Ludlow, and elsewhere, the miners took mice into the mazy shafts with them since the rodents were able to detect much more quickly than the men hazardous gasses and tremors foreshadowing cave-ins, but the men also treated them as pets. Mules too were essential to their livelihood, yet often terribly abused—not unlike the part symbiotic, part parasitic connection between the miners and mine owners. Such contradictory elements in the miners’ relations to animals sparked Mr. Andrews’ curiosity about the role of animals and animal-human relations throughout American history. During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, Mr. Andrews will be continuing to research and write a book on this topic, entitled An Animals’ History of the United States, which promises to be another interdisciplinary, multilayered study.

Thomas Andrews is currently an Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Faculty Affiliate of the Center of the American West there. Previously he held faculty appointments in the history departments of California State University, Northridge (2003-07) and the University of Colorado, Denver (2007-2011). He is a member of the Organization of American Historians, the Western History Association, and the American Society for Environmental History.


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