The Bill Lane Center for the American West is 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.
The Center's vision of the West extends from San Francisco Bay to the fabled 100th Meridian, from western Canada to all of Mexico, and outward to the Pacific world. As a hub for research and expertise about the American West, we work with Stanford students, faculty, and outside partners to address challenges facing the region. One of our main objectives is to provide helpful tools, reporting and research to leaders who make decisions that impact California and the American West. In addition to supporting sound policymaking, we also strive to showcase the art, history and culture of the West to preserve and foster appreciation for the region’s uniqueness.
Students from a wide variety of disciplines regularly work at the Center as research assistants and spend summers on internships from Monterey to Missoula, Yosemite to Yellowstone. These students bring their experiences and enthusiasm back to campus. The Center aims to support future leaders who are eager to put their Stanford education to work in the West. The Center is also deeply engaged in exploring digital mapping, spatial history and analysis, data analysis and visualization, multimedia storytelling, social media, and collaborative research and teaching using new digital tools.
We work in three broad areas:
The Center was co-founded by two leading scholars of American History, Richard White and David M. Kennedy, and we continue to collaborate frequently with Stanford scholars in history, anthropology, and the arts. Our ArtsWest Initiative highlights the literature, art, and culture of the West. The Center also sponsors the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, a Stanford-based effort to understand the lives of the thousands of Chinese immigrants who were instrumental in the creation of a transcontinental railroad.