Every year the Coalition for Western Women’s History awards various prizes to recognize promising and outstanding work in the field of western women’s and gender history. Over the next couple of weeks, BlogWest will recognize this year’s slate of accomplished award recipients. Today we recognize the recipient of the 2013 Irene Ledesma Prize, which is a cash award of $1000 for graduate student research in gender and western women’s history.
In October the CWWH awarded the 2013 Irene Ledesma Prize to Brianna Theobald, a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Arizona State University. The Prize will support Theobald’s dissertation research on indigenous women, gender, and U.S. Federal Indian Policy in the Twentieth Century. Titled “‘The Simplest Rules of Motherhood’: Settler Colonialism and the Regulation of American Indian Reproduction, 1910-1976,” Theobald’s study explores the federal government’s regulation of the sexual and reproductive lives of American Indian women over the course of the twentieth century by placing gender—and more specifically reproductive politics—at the center of her analysis. Theobald’s work “begins with the Indian Service’s early twentieth-century pronatal campaign and concludes with the federally-supported sterilization campaign of the 1970s.” She argues: “through these campaigns, and through the treatment of venereal disease, the termination of pregnancy, and the removal of indigenous children, the federal government asserted authority over American Indian women’s reproductive practices.” “The Simplest Rules of Motherhood” is a significant scholarly work that examines the intersection between settler colonial history, federal Indian policy, and reproduction in the North American West.
Theobald graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with her B.A. (2008) and M.A. (2010). She advanced to Ph.D. Candidacy in the History Department at Arizona State University and works under the advisement of Dr. Susan Gray. Theobald has an essay forthcoming in the edited volume The History and Politics of Abortion. She is also the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including this year’s Walter Rundell Graduate Student Award from the Western History Association, the AHA Albert J. Beveridge Award, Charles Redd Center Summer Graduate Research Award, and Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Paper Prize from Phi Alpha Theta. She has presented her work at the American Society for Ethnohistory, Western History Association, American Historical Association, and the Western Association of Women’s Historians. Theobald has also taught several courses at ASU, including both sections of the United States History Survey.
The Ledesma Prize will support Theobald’s archival research at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana-Missoula. Congratulations to Theobald for her graduate studies accomplishments and for receiving the 2013 Ledesma Prize. Best of luck to her as she works to complete her dissertation research and writing.
The Irene Ledesma Prize is named in honor of Dr. Ledesma’s important contributions to the fields of Chicana and working-class history. In 1997 Ledesma received the annual CWWH Jensen-Miller Prize for her article “Texas Newspapers and Chicana Women’s Activism: 1919-1974” in the Western Historical Quarterly (26:3). This year’s Ledesma Prize Committee recognized the excellent work of numerous applicants as a sign that the field of gender history in the American West remains a growing and crucial course of study. The 2012 Ledesma Prize winner was Katherine Massoth for “‘As in the Custom of the Country’: Cultural Practices and Ethnic Identity in Arizona and New Mexico, 1846-1941,” and the 2011 winner was Larisa Veloz for “Forgotten Migrants: Mexican Women and Migrant Families, 1930-1965.” For a complete list of winners since 1999, visit the Ledesma Prize page on the CWWH website. The next application deadline will arrive in May 2014. Ledesma Prize applicants must be CWWH members–consider joining today (only $15)!