LAWRENCE — University of Kansas scholar Beth Bailey was named today as one of 26 researchers in the 2021 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows. With a $200,000 stipend, it is one of the most generous awards of its kind for scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Honorees include established and emerging scholars, journalists, authors and public intellectuals.
Bailey, a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the Department of History and the founding director of the Center for Military, War, and Society Studies, is a leading historian of the modern United States whose research interests include the U.S. Army in the modern United States and the history of gender and sexuality in 20th century America.
“We congratulate Dr. Bailey on this achievement. Given the recent attacks on U.S. democracy, historians have never been more important in our society than they are now. Beth’s work on the relation between the U.S. military and American society and on the history of gender and sexuality represent important areas of inquiry in today’s world. She has been a prolific and productive scholar, and this achievement is well-deserved,” said John Colombo, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Bailey will use the funding to complete a book on the U.S. Army and "the problem of race" in the Vietnam era. The project examines U.S. Army efforts to address calls for racial justice and to manage the racial conflict that exploded during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The army’s actions, she argues, must be understood in the context of its “institutional logic” — the collective force of the Army’s culture, history and tradition, its structure and organization, its avowed mission and purpose, its policies and practices. As part of the project, she will also host a symposium at the Center for Military, War, and Society Studies on the role of the U.S. military in social change.
“I’m truly honored to receive this fellowship and pleased that it helps draw attention to the significant research being done here at KU,” Bailey said. “And, as a historian, I also want to stress the contemporary relevance of my work, which the Carnegie Foundation funded under the category ‘Strengthening Democracy.’ Today institutions across the nation — including KU — are facing renewed calls for racial justice. And many of these institutions are trying, with varying levels of commitment, to change. I’m arguing that institutions matter in struggles for social change. I’m arguing that change has to be incorporated into the major institutions of national life in order to make a long-term, fundamental difference, and so we need to understand the roles that institutions play in that process.”
Bailey’s research seeks to understand how social change is brought about in the United States, who “belongs” in the nation and on what terms. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the American Council of Learned Societies, and she has twice received the Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award. She was elected to the Society of American Historians in 2017.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in American culture from Northwestern University and holds a master’s degree and doctorate in American history from the University of Chicago. Having previously worked at KU as a visiting professor in the 1980s, she joined the university faculty in 2015, along with her husband, David Farber, the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor in the Department of History.
Bailey’s books include "America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force"; "Sex in the Heartland," which explores the sexual revolution in Lawrence; "The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawai’I," co-written with David Farber; the forthcoming work "From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America," as well as the co-edited volumes "Managing Sex in the U.S. Military"; "Beyond Pearl Harbor: A Pacific History"; "Understanding the US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan"; "America in the Seventies" and "The Columbia Guide to America in the 1960s." She also serves as managing author of the widely assigned textbook "A People and a Nation: and co-edits the Cambridge University Press series on Military, War, and Society in Modern U.S. History.
She has given talks or been a visiting scholar in Australia, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. She formerly chaired the OAH International Committee and served as coordinator for the Organization of American Historians (OAH)/American History Research Association of China residency program. She has served on the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Subcommittee, to which she was appointed by the Secretary of the Army, and she currently serves on the Society for Military History Board of Trustees and the Society of American Historians Executive Committee.
Bailey is the fourth KU researcher to receive a Carnegie Fellowship. Greg Cushman, associate professor of history and environmental studies, was one of the inaugural Carnegie Fellows in 2015. Cecilia Menjivar was named a Carnegie Fellow in 2017, when she was a Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology at KU. Sarah Deer, a University Distinguished Professor who holds a joint appointment with the School of Public Affairs & Administration and the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality studies, joined the 2020 class of Carnegie Fellows.
The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program was established in 2015 with the goal to support high-caliber scholarly research in the humanities and social sciences that addresses important and enduring issues confronting our society. The program represents an overall investment of $43.2 million in 216 recipients whose scholarly research spans such subjects as U.S. democracy, the environment, technological and cultural evolution, and international relations. The criteria prioritize the originality and potential impact of a proposal, as well as a scholar’s capacity to communicate the findings with a broad audience. Of this year’s fellows, 14 are from public institutions of higher education, and 12 are from private colleges or universities.