Dedicated to advancing scholarly and public understanding of the past, present, and future of western North America, the Center supports research, teaching, and reporting about western land and life in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Did the transcontinental railroads save the Union? Were they a triumph of innovative capitalism? Did they cut the cost of moving goods across the country? "No," says Richard White in his new book, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (2011, W.W. Norton & Co.).
The book, an iconoclastic history of the transcontinental railroads, is now available in print and for order on Amazon.com and other retailers.
Prof. White will appear at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, together with fellow Center faculty co-director David M. Kennedy, to talk about the railroads and their present-day parallels, from Wall Street bailouts to California high-speed rail. "Myths About the Transcontinental Railroad and the Building of the American West" will take place on Wednesday, June 8 at 6:00pm.
For more details, please see the Events Page ».
John Ford, who served Stanford’s development efforts for more 30 years and rose through the ranks to become the university’s chief fundraiser, has joined the Advisory Council of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford.
When Ford retired in 2008, Stanford President John Hennessy said: “Under John’s leadership, Stanford has been higher education’s development leader for the past 20 years, launching the first billion-dollar campaign, The Centennial Campaign, followed later by the first ever billion-dollar effort focused exclusively on undergraduate education, The Campaign for Undergraduate Education. Finally, The Stanford Challenge again is setting the pace for 21st-century fundraising campaigns.”
That campaign is still underway, as Ford joins the Bill Lane Center for the American West, which seeks to establish itself as the go-to center for understanding the past, present and future of the region that gave birth to Stanford.
Ford, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford in 1971, began his development career at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. Joining Stanford in 1977 as a development officer at the Medical Center, he served as director of Medical Development from 1980 to 1986. He became the university’s associate vice president for development in 1986 and vice president for development in 1988.
In spite of a broad increase in the number of doctors per capita in the United States and in the American West over the past century, many rural areas in the West have seen little or no increase. This is a cause for grave concern.
The fact that much of the rural West has seen little improvement in this basic measure of health care access is surprising, and it underscores the persistent remoteness of vast stretches of the rural West. But it also underscores the importance of improving physician access in the rural West. And the state of Utah shows a way forward. Postdoctoral scholar Michael De Alessi and research assistant Robin Pam examine the trends. Explore the data yourself through interactive maps embedded in his essay.
I'm pleased to welcome you to the new website of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. We hope the site will help visitors quickly get to know the people, projects, and priorities of the Center, and make it easy to contact our staff.
Underneath the new design and reorganized content is something even more important for us in the long run: our website now runs on a robust Drupal-based content management system that will enable us:
- To showcase our main projects, and provide frequent updates on our activities and events and share with you what's on our minds;
- To include contributions from a wide range of people involved in our community at the Center, with home pages for each of our projects, our faculty, staff, and student researchers;
- To provide detailed pages for events, fellowship and internship postings, and news and multimedia from and about the Center;
- And to provide quick links for people to: join our mailing list, follow our Twitter feed, like us on Facebook, and find courses on the American West (see buttons on the upper right)
The State of the West: First Annual Joint Symposium with the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
On Friday, February 4, the Center held its first annual State of the West Symposium with the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Video for most of the sessions is now available. You can either watch it above or browse a playlist of sessions on YouTube.
The symposium featured a timely lunchtime address by John C. Williams, the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank's vice president and director of research. Williams said that the nation's economic recovery has reached "escape velocity," and that while the West suffered some of the worst impacts of the Great Recession, the region can lead the way to recovery, through technology and exports.
A remembrance delivered at a celebration of Bill Lane’s life at Memorial Church, Stanford University, October 1, 2010
Bill Lane was many things: Husband, father, brother, son, friend, businessman, philanthropist, diplomat, conservationist and horseman, just to name the most familiar.
To recite such a list is to be reminded of Orson Welles’s legendary self-introduction to a theater audience: “I am a producer, director, screenwriter, playwright, magician, editor, connoisseur, raconteur, bon vivant and actor.... What a pity there are so many of me, and so few of you.”
Like Welles, Bill was an outsized man of seemingly infinite interests and limitless energy. And like Welles, he often left you with the feeling that he had you seriously outnumbered, that no matter what the topic or the occasion, Bill had more ideas — and had them sooner and more clearly — than even the most caffeinated and clairvoyant among us.
The remembrance continues below and is also available in its entirety in the Autumn 2010 Center newsletter, which also outlines our ongoing vision for the Bill Lane Center for the American West. If you share our passion for the West and training future regional leaders, please consider a donation to the Center in Bill Lane’s honor.
Before joining the Bill Lane Center for the American West in the summer of 2010, Geoff McGhee spent a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford studying data visualization and its role as a tool for journalism. His work resulted in the hour-long video documentary "Journalism in the Age of Data."
"Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium. But how do we communicate with data, how can traditional narratives be fused with sophisticated, interactive information displays?"
– Journalism in the Age of Data
The video –– available as an interactive documentary with automatic display of related information and links –– is a content-rich, interactive, multimedia documentary on the explosive new field of data journalism that is generating buzz and garnering accolades around the world.
Geoff spent a decade as an online journalist specializing in multimedia and information graphics. He has worked at The New York Times and ABCNews.com, and in France at Le Monde Interactif. In the Summer of 2010, he joined the Center as our Creative Director of Media and Communications, where he guides our efforts to develop new hybrid media projects that marry scholarship and journalism, traditional writing and reporting with information graphics and data visualization.
The interactive documenatary is available at datajournalism.stanford.edu. A closed-captioned version is available, and the video can be downloaded as a free podcast from the iTunes store. Geoff welcomes your comments and questions.
"Measuring the Sustainability of Western Water Systems"
"Our water systems in the American West are old-fashioned hybrids. Combinations of natural and engineered systems, they are largely the products of archaic political and institutional structures, some dating back centuries, late nineteenth-century scientific assumptions, and mid-twentieth-century engineering technologies. All of these foundational fixtures of the West’s water system are showing severe signs of obsolescing rapidly."– "Measuring the Sustainability of Western Water Systems"