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Dr. Elyssa Ford

Dr. Elyssa Ford



53 Valk


660.562.1241 (fax)

Joined Northwest in 2011

Associate Professor

Honors Program Director, Public History & Museums Studies Director


  • Ph.D. History; Arizona State University
  • M.A. History; Arizona State University
  • Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies; Arizona State University
  • B.A. International Studies; Colby College

Courses Taught

  • U.S. to 1877 & U.S. since 1877
  • U.S. since 1877 (Honors section)
  • Public History
  • Local History Practicum
  • Women and Gender in U.S. History
  • Early American Republic
  • U.S. since 1945
  • Research Seminar in U.S. History

Academic Interest

I am a cultural and social historian and am interested in women's history and sport history in the United States. A lot of my work examines these areas by asking questions about gender, race, sexuality, identity, and memory. My current manuscript project looks at race- and group-specific rodeos in the United States – the black rodeo, all-Indian rodeo, rodeo and other equestrian events in Hawaii, gay rodeo, and the charreada (the Mexican rodeo). I argue that rodeo’s ties to the past allow people to connect to it in a way that is deeply personal and to see it as culturally and historically relevant. Because of this, race- and group-specific rodeos not only have continued far beyond the time of segregation, but have become even more relevant for the communities that support them.

Scholarly Activity

Selected Publications

  • "Bringing Town and Gown Together: Using Local History to Engage Students and Create Collaborative Partnerships," Journal of Museum Education 41:4 (Oct. 2016): 262-274.
  • "Pa'u Riding in Hawai'i: Memory, Race, and Community on Parade," Pacific Historical Review 84:3 (Aug. 2015): 277-306.

Selected Recent Presentations

  • "No 'Limp Wrists' Here: Masculinity & Femininity in the Gay Rodeo," at the Western History Association, October 2020
  • "Alma Nash & the Maryville Milieu," Podcast with the State Historical Society of Missouri, Summer 2020
  • "The 'Smithsonian Effect' in Small-Town America?: 'Repairing' Rural Communities through Museum on Main Street," at the National Council of Public History, March 2019
  • "Profession-Based Learning: Building Bridges between Theory & Practice and between Academic & Cultural Institutions," at the Missouri Association of Museums & Archives, October 2018
  • "Rodeo and the Transmission of Identity and Belonging: The Sporting West," at the Western History Association, October 2017
  • "There is no 'L' in the IGRA: The Complicated Position of Lesbians in Gay Rodeo," at the Conference on Women, June 2017
  • "Hard Questions: When to save a museum and when to let it die?," at the National Council of Public History, April 2017
  • "Where Gay Men can be 'Real' Men: The Gay Rodeo," at the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, November 2015
  • "What is Rural Feminism?," at the Rural Women's Studies Association, February 2015

Student Group Advisement

  • Society of President’s Scholars & the Celebration of Quality
  • Honors Student Advisory Board
  • International Scholarship Committee

Other Professional Experiences

  • Steering Committee, Missouri Conference on History, 2018-Present
  • Northwest Region Representative, Missouri Association of Museums and Archives, 2017-Present
  • Public History Liaison, Coordinative Council for Women’s Historians, 2017-Present
  • Development Committee, National Council for Public History, 2017-Present
  • Board Member, Nodaway County Historical Society Museum (Missouri), 2013-Present
  • Fulbright Award, Romania, 2009-2010
  • Leadership Resident, Harpswell Foundation, Cambodia, Summer 2009