Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Kuhlken provided the funds for the position in September 1997, and Edmunds filled the professorship the next year. The Kuhlkens created the position to honor the memory of Mrs. Kuhlken’s parents, Anne Stark Watson and Chester Watson. The professorship was designed to promote study of U.S. history and the history of Texas and the Southwest.
Edmunds is the recipient of one of the most distinguished awards in the field of history, the Francis Parkman Prize, which recognizes outstanding nonfiction historical writing. He has also received the Ohioana Prize for Biography and the Alfred Heggoy Prize of the French Colonial Historical Society.
Financial support from the Watson Professorship greatly facilitated my research, buttressed the quality of my teaching, and enabled me to interact with Western and Native American scholars across the United States, Canada and even Western Europe.
Dr. David Edmunds is a historian of Native American people and the American West. He has written extensively about Native American-white relations in the 18th and 19th centuries. He is an expert on the Potawatomi, Shawnee, Mesquakie, Miami, Seneca-Cayuga, Otoe-Missouri, Omaha, and other Native American tribes. His current research focuses on the history of Native American identity, Native Americans on the Great Plains and Native American biography.
Edmunds was a content and historical adviser to PBS’ American Experience program for the five-part series “We Shall Remain.” PBS describes the series as a provocative multi-media project that establishes Native American history as an essential part of American history. The five episodes were “After the Mayflower,” “Tecumseh’s Vision,” “Trail of Tears,” “Geronimo,” and “Wounded Knee.” Edmunds has also served as a consultant to numerous tribal governments and to the U.S. government.
Edmunds has also been recognized with awards or fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Newberry Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in addition to winning five teaching awards from four universities. He is the past-president of both the American Society of Ethnohistory (2002-03) and the Western History Association (2006-07).
Edmunds has a doctorate from The University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree from Illinois State University. He recently received Illinois State’s 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award.