Call for Proposals: Public Health in Utah and the American West

Special Issue of Utah Historical Quarterly

Guest Editor: Dr. Benjamin Cater, Associate Dean, Foundational Explorations, and Associate Professor of History, Point Loma Nazarene University

Utah Historical Quarterly is planning a roundtable conversation for a special issue on public health in Utah and the West. We hope this published roundtable will serve as a primer on community efforts to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life over the last few centuries. Topics may include sanitation, vaccination, hygiene, education and therapeutics, mental and emotional health, religious and folk health practices, environmental preservation, outdoor recreation, and more. Submissions may highlight human experiences of giving and receiving, teaching or legislating care, a crucial event, era, or movement intended to promote societal health on a broad scale. 

The special issue will consist of a series of brief essays (2,000 – 3,000 words) addressing the major historical questions and issues pertinent to some aspect of public health in Utah and the American West. We invite interested scholars in the fields of history, medical humanities, and allied fields to submit to brief proposals (one or two paragraphs) for an essay on a public health topic of your choice.

The Covid-19 pandemic has piqued popular interest about the health and well-being of our society and the unique experiences of individual segments of our population. So has recent scholarship on the health effects of a hotter and drier western America, and on the many respiratory and cardiovascular problems associated with a drying Great Salt Lake, reservoirs, and other bodies of water. Historians and scholars of allied fields are well positioned to contextualize and revisit public health in Utah and western history. We intend the special issue to illuminate the intersection of historical inquiry and efforts to promote and prolong life. 

We are not wedded to a particular approach and would leave it up to you to shape the essay in ways you feel most appropriate and useful, given the tools of your discipline. The goal is to provide varying perspectives and approaches to public health history written for both scholars interested in advancing the literature as well as for medical practitioners, educators, community health workers, government officials, and an informed citizenry.

Guiding questions for contributors to address include: 

·      In what way(s) has your topic impacted population health in Utah and the West?

·      To what extent can study of history contribute to societal well-being?  

The proposed roundtable format as a whole certainly deviates from the standard four research articles. Most issues of UHQ—even our thematic issues—publish research articles largely unconnected from the others. This is unfortunate, but having a conversation between authors in the pages of the journal is simply not possible under our current model. For this reason we are really excited about shaping the topics in the issue. The idea is that each essay in the roundtable would be more think piece than research article, based on a synthesis of your own or others research.  

The planned special issue is scheduled for winter 2024 and will be guest edited by Dr. Benjamin Cater of Point Loma Nazarene University. We are setting May 2023 as the deadline for completed drafts. Scholars selected to contribute to the special issue will be paid an honorarium.

Thank you for considering this invitation. Please contact us at with any questions you may have.

Holly George and Jedediah Rogers, coeditors, Utah Historical Quarterly