Welcome to the Lamar Center
The Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders at Yale University was established to further the advanced historical study of North American frontiers and borders, as well as the comparative study of the frontier experience throughout the world.
The Center honors Howard Roberts Lamar, Sterling Professor Emeritus of History and Former President of the University. Lamar, well-known for his pivotal contributions to the field of western history, continues to work as a scholar and adviser. His The New Encyclopedia of the American West (Yale University Press) was described by historian Stephen E. Ambrose as "a monumental achievement in the historiography of the American West. Howard Lamar had rendered our nation a great service by compiling this magisterial and indispensable reference volume."
The Center's principal priority is the support of graduate study in the departments of History and American Studies at Yale University by providing grants for dissertation research on topics relating to the Center's scholarly interests, by sponsoring talks and workshops by scholars, and in keeping with Howard Lamar's dedication and generosity of spirit as a teacher, mentor, and friend to generations of Yale students, by seeking to create at Yale a community of mutually-supportive scholars interested in frontiers and borders.
The Center also seeks to encourage the study of frontier history in the wider scholarly community by sponsoring an annual postdoctoral fellowship for a historian who has, within the previous two years, received the Ph.D. from a university other than Yale; and, in cooperation with the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, sponsoring a senior research fellow. The Center holds an annual symposium of scholars in September, the annual Betts Lecture in November given by the immediate past president of the Western History Association, and also presents, in cooperation with other departments and divisions of the University, conferences and lectures by distinguished scholars throughout the academic year.
By supporting the Lamar Center, Yale University dedicates itself to maintaining a position of national importance in the study of the frontier experience, the American West, and Native American history. The directors believe that the West continues to provide in Howard Lamar's words "a wonderful window on American History." The history of the frontier experience is at once profoundly local and specific, yet national, even global, in scope. Recognizing both the public and scholarly interest in our Western past, the Lamar Center hopes to provide a national forum for historical discussion and an academic jumping-off place for future explorations of the frontier experience and the cultural borderlands of North America and the world.
The initial funding of the Lamar Center was provided by a generous gift from Roland W. Betts II, Yale Class of 1968. Elected Alumni Fellow in 1999 and appointed Senior Fellow in 2003 and Successor Trustee in 2005, Betts is the chairman of Chelsea Piers, L.P., which developed and operates the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex in New York City. He is the founder and president of Silver Screen Management, Inc., which produced over ninety motion pictures with the Walt Disney Company. After graduating from Yale, Mr. Betts taught public school in Harlem. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1978 and practiced law for several years in the entertainment department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. From 1989 to 1998 Mr. Betts was a principal owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. He is a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, the National Park Foundation, and Columbia Law School, and serves as the treasurer of the Kennedy Center. As a director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation from 2001 to 2006, Mr. Betts assumed a leadership role in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. The Lamar Center's annual Betts Lecture honors the continuing support and encouragement of Roland Betts. We are proud of his achievements as a citizen of New York, the West, and the nation and grateful for the friendship and the dedication to scholarship of Roland and Lois Betts.
The directors also wish to acknowledge the enthusiastic support of Jeremy F. Kinney, Yale Class of 1968, and his wife, Holly Arnold Kinney, daughter of the late Samuel Arnold (Yale Class of 1949) and Executive Director of the Tesoro Foundation in Denver, Colorado (www.tesorofoundation.org). The Tesoro Foundation’s mission is to create community-based events and educational outreach programs designed to enrich and celebrate the history and shared cultural heritage of Colorado and the Southwest. The Tesoro Foundation works with many local institutions and has partnerships with, among others, the Native American Bank, Univision, and Wells Fargo. Holly Arnold Kinney is also the owner and proprietress of The Fort (http://www.thefort.com), a classic Denver restaurant and area landmark, housed in a recreation of Bent's Fort and specializing in the old and new foods of the West. Jeremy Kinney serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tesoro Foundation and is the founder and President of the Kinney Oil Company. He has also served as Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Opera Colorado. In April 2008, the Lamar Center presented the first annual Kinney/Tesoro Lecture in the History and Culture of the American West. Thanks to the generosity of Jeremy and Holly, the Lamar Center is also able to support the research of one or more graduate students at Yale every year.
Graduate research on Native American history and the history of the American West is also supported by the Arnold and Lucille Alderman Fellowship, administered by the Lamar Center. Lucille Alderman is a trustee of the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven, the President of the Community Soup Kitchen at Christ Church, and a member of the Foundation Board of Southern Connecticut State University. The late Arnold J. Alderman, a passionate lover of the West, Native American history and culture, and life in general, was deeply involved in the Boy Scouts of America. The Aldermans supported the renovation of the Hall of Native American Cultures at Yale’s Peabody Museum. Arnold Alderman received a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree from Yale in 1989 (at the age of 65), taking courses on western and American Indian history from Professors Lamar and Gitlin.
We are grateful not only for the financial support of these donors, but also for their deep interest in and enthusiasm for the history and cultures of the American West. Anyone interested in supporting the activities of the Lamar Center should contact Associate Director Jay Gitlin at jay.Gitlin@yale.edu.