Occidental College and the Huntington Library co-founded the Ray Allen Billington Visiting Professorship in United States History. The Billington Visiting Professorship has brought some of the country's leading historians to Oxy.
With funding made possible by the estate of historian Ray Allen Billington and supplemented by a grant from the Times Mirror Foundation, the professorship honors the tradition of fine teacher/scholars at American liberal arts colleges.
This innovative professorship is a fitting legacy for Billington. A leader in the scholarly community, he served as president of the American Studies Association, the Western History Association, and the Organization of American Historians.
He was a superb historian whose scholarly books covered such varied fields as racism, ethnocentrism, biography, and western history. At the Huntington, where he was a senior research associate from 1963 until his death in 1981, he made highly effective use of the Frederick Jackson Turner papers to produce Frederick Jackson Turner: Historian, Scholar, Teacher, which won the coveted Bancroft Prize.
Billington also had strong ties to liberal arts colleges. He taught at Smith College from 1937-1944, and in the 1970s served as trustee at Occidental, which he described as “my favorite college of all the West, one that I have more or less adopted in my own mind as the institution here with which I would most like to be associated."
2020-2021 Billington Visiting Professor: Professor Leslie Butler, Dartmouth College
Leslie Butler has taught in the History Department at Dartmouth College since 2003. Her work focuses on American politics and culture, with a particular emphasis on debates over liberalism and democracy. She received her BA at the University of Rochester and her PhD at Yale University.
Dr. Butler is the author of Critical Americans: Victorian Intellectuals and Transatlantic Liberal Reform (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) as well as articles on Alexis de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, and Abraham Lincoln. She is currently working to complete a book manuscript entitled Democracy and the "Woman Question” in Nineteenth-Century America. This research, which has been supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, examines how nineteenth-century Americans, in debating women’s rights and responsibilities, probed the meaning and limits of their democratic experiment, an experiment very much contested the world over throughout the century.
While at Oxy, she will teach a course on voting in America and a course on the way Hollywood has shaped Americans’ collective historical consciousness.
Past Billington Awardees
2018-2019 | Michael Vorenberg, Brown University
2016-2017 | Bethel Saler, Haverford College
2014-2015 | Frank Guridy, The University of Texas at Austin
2012-2013 | Casey Blake, Columbia University
2010-2011 | Daniel Horowitz, Smith College
2008-2009 | Jared Orsi, Colorado State University
2006-2007 | Jonathan Earle, University of Kansas
2004-2005 | Douglas Monroy, Colorado College
2002-2003 | Matt Gallman, University of Florida
2001-2002 | Sharon Ullman, Bryn Mawr College
2000-2001 | Victoria Bissell Brown, Grinnell College
1999-2000 | Richard Buel, Wesleyan University
For more information call (323) 259-2751