William J. Cronon

Position title: Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies

Email: wcronon@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 265-6023

Department of History 5103 Humanities Building 455 North Park St Madison, WI, 53706

Department of Geography 443 Science Hall


PhD, Yale University, 1990 D.Phil., Oxford University, 1981 B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1976


Environmental History Historical Geography History of the American West and Frontier
United States 19th- and 20th-century social and economic history The Writing and Rhetoric of History and Geography


Completing a book entitled “Saving Nature in Time: The Environmental Past and the Human Future,” based on the Wiles Lectures at Queen’s University in Belfast, discussing contributions environmental history can make to contemporary environmental politics.

Changes in the Land Working on a local history of Portage, Wisconsin (Frederick Jackson Turner’s home town), to explore ways of integrating environmental and social historical methods with non-traditional narrative literary forms, book to be published by W. W. Norton & Co.


Hist, Geog, IES 460 American Environmental History
Hist 462 The American West Since 1850
Hist 600 History as Storytelling
Hist/Geography 932: Seminar in American Environmental History
Hist 965 Seminar in the History of the American West


“The Riddle of the Apostle Islands: How Do You Manage a Wilderness Full of Human Stories?” Orion (May-June 2003), 36-42.(read)

Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, 20th anniversary edition, Hill & Wang, 2003.

“Why the Past Matters,” Wisconsin Magazine of History, 84:1 (Autumn 2000), p.2-13. Awarded the William Best Hesseltine Award for the best article published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History in 2000-2001.

“Only Connect…: The Goals of a Liberal Education,” The American Scholar, (Autumn, 1998), p.73-80.

“The Uses of Environmental History” (Presidential Address, American Society for Environmental History), Environmental History Review, 17:3 (Fall 1993), p.1-22.

Nature’s MetropolisUncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, W. W. Norton, 1995.

“Telling Tales on Canvas: Landscapes of Frontier Change,” In: Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

“A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative,” Journal of American History 78:4 (March, 1992), p.1347-1376.

Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, W. W. Norton, 1991. (Awarded the Bancroft Prize, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and one of three nominees for the Pulitzer Prize in History.)


American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, 2006
Distinguished teaching awards from both Yale University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison American Philosophical Society Fellow, 1999
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow, 1985-90
Guggenheim Fellow, 1995
Danforth Fellow, 1976
Rhodes Scholar, 1976


For an updated and complete list of past and current students, please see William Cronon’s Students.


Founding Faculty Director, Chadbourne Residential College, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997-2000.
Board of Curators, Wisconsin Historical Society.
Governing Council, The Wilderness Society.
Board of Directors, Trust for Public Land.
Series Editor, Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books, University of Washington Press.
Vice President for the Professional Division, American Historical Association.
Board, Organization of American Historians
Editorial Board, Environmental History.
Editorial Board, Journal of Historical Geography.