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Dr. Laura Arata

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Washington State University
155 SSH


Public History, North American West, African American, Gender and Women, Race and Ethnicity, United States



Laura J. Arata is a Public Historian who specializes in the North American West, with an emphasis on race, gender and ethnicity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dr. Arata is particularly interested in the popular memory, material culture and heritage tourism of the “Wild West” and the American frontier. As a Public Historian, she works in the areas of historic preservation, museums, and oral history. Prior to joining the faculty at Oklahoma State University, she served as a consulting historian for the Montana Heritage Commission and co-principal investigator for the Hanford History Project. Her current public history projects include consulting work for historic Vernon AME Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and leading an interdisciplinary and community-engaged effort to save Stillwater’s historic Booker T. Washington School. Her first book, Race and the Wild West: Sarah Bickford, the Montana Vigilantes, and the Tourism of Decline, 1870 – 1930, a biography of the nation’s first African American female public utilities owner and heritage-tourism entrepreneur Sarah Bickford, won the 2021 Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best First Book and the 2021 Western Association of Women’s Historians Gita Chaudhuri Prize.


Courses Taught

HIST 1103 – Survey of American History
HIST 3713 – Women in the American West
HIST 5033 – Introduction to Public History
HIST 4063 / 5063 – Introduction to Historic Preservation
HIST 4073 / 5073 – Digital Methods in History

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