Robert M. Utley


Honorary Degree (1983)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Mathers Museum Dedication
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan
Distinguished Alumni Service Award (1977)
M.A., 1952


American author and historian Robert Marshall Utley graduated from Indiana University in 1952 with a Master of Arts in History. He has written more than fifteen books on the history of the American West and is a former Chief Historian for the National Park Service.

Utley was born in 1929 in Arkansas. His parents, Don Williams Utley and Valeria Haney, moved to Indiana when he was a child. After graduating from IU, Utley served in the U.S. Army from 1952-1959.

Utley has spent the majority of his professional career working for the National Park Service, and in addition to being Chief Historian, Utley has also been the Director of the Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, as well as the Assistant Director of the Service for Park Historic Preservation. He also worked for the Department of Defense as a Historian and for the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Additionally, he has been an Adjunct Professor of History at Utah State University, an Affiliated Scholar with Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and an Adjunct Professor of History at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

In 1980, Utley officially retired, however he continued to work as a freelance writer, occasional teacher, and a consultant for several television programs.

He is married to Melody Webb, herself a published author and NPS veteran. He has two sons, Donald and Philip.

Not surprisingly, Utley's expertise and experience as a literati and historian has made him widely sought after by various historical and literary organizations. He has held advisory positions for numerous enterprises, including The American West Magazine, Western Historical Quarterly, Arizona and the West, Pacific Historian, Montana: The Magazine of Western History, New Mexico Historical Review, Journal of Arizona History, North Dakota History, The National Historical Society The Center for the History of the American Indian, Newberry Library, Eastern National Park and Monument Association, the National Wildlife Art Museum, and the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum.

He has also held or currently holds memberships with the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the National Historical Society, the Historical Society of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Westerners, the Council on America's Military Past, Western Writers of America, the Texas State Historical Association, the George Wright Society, the Wyoming State Historical Society, the North Dakota State Historical Society, and many, many more.

For his scholarship and successes, Utley has been the recipient of countless awards and honors, including the National Park Service Outstanding Performance Award, the Buffalo Award of the New York Westerners, the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History, a Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior, an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Purdue University, an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of New Mexico, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Indiana University, the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, the Western History Association Prize (Caughey Award) for distinguished published writings in the field of American western history, the Edgar Lee Hewitt Award of the Historical Society of New Mexico, and many, many more. Utley is also the namesake of The Western History Association's annual Robert M. Utley Book Award for the best book published on the military history of the frontier and western North America.

In 1977, he received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award from Indiana University.