Van West named state Historian

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Dr. Carroll Van West

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced the appointment of Dr. Carroll Van West as state historian. West replaces the late Walter T. Durham, who served 11 years in the honorary position.

“Dr. West’s faithful service to his field for many years reflects a commitment to excellence that will serve the citizens of Tennessee very well,” Haslam said. “His incredible body of work speaks for itself, and we are fortunate and grateful to have him as our state historian.” West has served as director at the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area since 2002.

He has taught as a professor in the MTSU history department since 1985. He currently serves as a co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and as a Tennessee representative on the National Board of Advisors of National Trust for Historic Preservation. West also sits on the Executive Board of Lewis and Clark Trust, Inc. and on the Advisory Board of Teaching with Primary Sources, Library of Congress.

“There is no greater honor for a historian of Tennessee than to serve the state and its citizens as their state historian. I deeply appreciate Gov. Haslam’s confidence and thank him for this opportunity,” West said. “I look forward to collaborating with our state agencies, our many outstanding heritage organizations and history programs, and especially the citizens of Tennessee who for generations have been effective stewards of our documents, objects, landscapes, and especially our stories — the stuff of our history that gives us a sense of shared identity, purpose, and community.” 

“Governor Haslam has made an excellent choice in appointing Dr. Carroll Van West as Tennessee’s new State Historian,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Dr. West has worked with our staff at the State Library and Archives on the Civil War Sesquicentennial and other public history projects, and we look forward to working with him in the future as he takes on this new role. Dr. West has been published extensively on Tennessee history and has done much to preserve the physical heritage of our state’s past. He has served admirably as the editor of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly and as the managing editor of the Encyclopedia of Tennessee History and Culture.”

West, 58, is a 1977 MTSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. He earned his master’s degree in American History from University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1978 and went on to earn his Ph.D. in History at the College of William and Mary in 1982. He lives in his native Murfreesboro. He and his wife, Mary Sara Hoffschwelle, have two children: Owen, 22, and Sara, 15. He is the brother of Cannon Courier editor Mike West and the son of Cannon County natives WC and the late Sara West. He is the grandson of the late Cling and Lena West and John and Angie Van Hooser.

West’s term is four years and began July 1, 2013.

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