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Aubrey Haines Lecture

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Dr. Megan Kate Nelson

“Looking at Reconstruction from Yellowstone” 

Historian Megan Kate Nelson will discuss the exploration and preservation of Yellowstone as part of a larger effort to unite the nation and assert federal power during Reconstruction. Drawing on material from her book, Saving Yellowstone, Dr. Nelson will describe the state of the nation in 1871-72 and introduce three men who staked their claims to Yellowstone at this pivotal moment—the scientist-explorer Ferdinand Hayden, the investment banker Jay Cooke, and the Sitting Bull, leader of the Húŋkpapȟa Lakota. The talk will conclude with a discussion of what we learn by seeing Reconstruction from an unexpected place like Yellowstone.

Dr. Megan Kate Nelson is a historian and writer, with a BA in History and Literature from Harvard and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Iowa. Her most recent book, The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020) was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History. She writes about the Civil War, the U.S. West, and American landscapes of memory for The New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, Preservation Magazine, and Civil War Times. Dr. Nelson was recently elected as a fellow of the Society for American Historians, “in recognition of the narrative power and scholarly distinction of her historical work." Scribner will publish her next book, Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America, in March 2022. 

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