MacArthur Fellows Program

Patricia Nelson Limerick

Historian | Class of 1995

Boulder, Colorado
44 at time of award
Area of Focus
American History
Published July 1, 1995

About Patricia's Work

Patricia Nelson Limerick is a historian.

Limerick’s work expands our view of the history of the American West by including the stories of women’s history, ethnic histories, and environmental history.  In her influential book, The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (1987), Limerick presented a region whose defining experience was conquest: conquest of nature, Indians, Mexicans, and often, conquest of the human spirit.  She is the author of Desert Passages: Encounters with the American Deserts (1985), Something in the Soil: Field-Testing the New Western History (2000), and has frequently contributed opinion pieces to national publications.


Limerick, a professor of history at the University of Colorado since 1984, also serves as associate director of the university’s Minority Arts and Sciences Program, where she explores both theory and practice in the recruiting and retention of students of color.  In addition, she co-founded the university’s Center of the American West and chairs its board.

Limerick received a B.A. (1972) from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Ph.D. (1980) from Yale University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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