Santa Clara University

History Department

Nancy C. Unger


Nancy C. Unger

O'Connor Hall 203A
tel (408)554-6889
fax (408)554-2181
Amazon Author's Page

Fall 2015 and Winter 2016:

Office Hours:  MW 1:30-2:30         

Education Ph.D. University of Southern California, 1985
M.A. University of Southern California, 1981
B.A. Gonzaga University, 1978


Selected Publications


Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer. Routledge. Now available! Click here for more information.

Click here for 3 minute film about Belle La Follette

Belle La Follette bookcover


Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History. Oxford University Press, 2012.

California Book Award finalist

Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000. Revised paperback edition with new preface, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008.

Winner of Wisconsin Historical Society 2001 Book of Merit Award.

Click here for a 2 minute sound film of La Follette giving a speech in 1924

fighting bob la follette

Books Under Contract

A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (Wiley-Blackwell), Co-edited with Chirstopher McKnight Nichols. 

Book Chapters

With Marie Bolton, “‘Mother Nature is Getting Angrier’: Turning Sacred Navajo Land into a Toxic Environment,” Environmental Crisis and Human Costs Ufuk Özdağ and François Gavillon, eds. (Colección Benjamin Franklin. Alcala de Henares, Madrid: Universidad de Alcalá, 2015): 31-45.

"Women and Gender: Useful Categories of Analysis in Environmental History," Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, Andrew Isenberg, ed., (Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 600-643.

Co-authored with Marie Bolton, "Hope and Disappointment: San Francisco Housing Reconstruction after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire" in Sophie Vallas, ed., San Francisco: 'A L'ouest D'Eden (Presses Universitaires de Provence, 2012), 57-68.

“The Role of Nature in Lesbian Alternative Environments in the United States : From Jook Joints to Sisterspace,” Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Biopolitics, and Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, University of Indiana Press, 2010, pp. 173-198.

With Marie Bolton, “ Rivers of Republic, Rivers of Empire: The Transformation of a Young Soldier, 1892-1893,” Mickaél Augeron and Robert DuPlessis eds., Fleuves, Rivières et Colonies. La  France  et ses Empires (XVIIe-Xxe siècle). Waterways and Colonies. France and its Empires (17th-20th centuries), Paris: Les Indes Savantes, 2010, pp. 340-50.

"Teaching 'Straight' Gay and Lesbian History," In Teaching American History: Essays Adapted from the Journal of American History, 2001-2007. Edited by Gary J. Kornbluth and Carol Lasser. Bedford/ St. Martins, 2009, pp. 247-55. access the chapter on line

"Gendered Approaches to Environmental Justice: An Historical Sampling," In Echoes from the Poisoned Well: Global Memories of Environmental Justice. Edited by Sylvia Washington. Rowman and Littlefield/Lexington Books, 2006, pp. 17-34.

"'When Women Condemn the Whole Race': Belle Case La Follette Attacks the Color Line." In Women in Print, edited by James P. Danky and Wayne Wiegand. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006, pp. 281-296.

"The Two Worlds of Belle Case LaFollette." In Women's Wisconsin: From Native Matriarchies to the New Millenium, edited by Genevieve McBride, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2005, pp. 282-89. (Anthologized 1999-2000 peer-reviewed article)

With Marie Bolton. "The Case for Cautious Optimism: California Environmental Propositions in the Late Twentieth Century." In La Californie: Periphere ou Laboratoire?, edited by Annick Foucrier and Aontine Coppolani, Paris: L'Harmaltan, 2004, pp. 81-102.

"Women, Sexuality, and Environmental Justice in American History." In New Perspectives on environmental Justice: Gender, Sexuality, and Activism, edited by Rachel Stein. Rutgers University Press, 2004, pp. 45-60.

With J. Michael Butler. "The Victims." In The Holocaust: History in Dispute, St. James Press/The Gale Group, 2003, pp. 242-51.

With Marie Bolton. "Pollution, Refineries, and People: Environmental Justice in Contra Costa County, California, 1980." In The Modern Demon: Pollution in Urban and Industrial Societies. France: University of Clermont Press, 2002, pp. 425-37.

Journal Articles

"Wisconsin's League Against Nuclear Dangers: The Power of Informed Citizenship," Wisconsin Magazine of History 96, no. 2 (Winter 2012-2013): 42-53. (access this article on line)

“La Follette’s Autobiography: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Glorious,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 10, no. 3 (July 2011): 354-61.

With Marie Bolton, “Housing Reconstruction After the Catastrophe: The Failed Promise of San Francisco’s 1906 ‘Earthquake Cottages,’” Annales de Demographie Historique no. 2 (2010): 217-40.button

"Women for a Peaceful Christmas: Wisconsin Homemakers Seek to Remake American Culture,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 93, no. 2 (Winter 2009-2010): 2-15. (access this article online)

"The Role of Gender In Environmental History," Environmental Justice. I, no. 3 (September 2008): 115-120.

"Teaching 'Straight' Gay and Lesbian History." Journal of American History 93 (March 2007): 1192-99. [Electronic Journal, access the article online.]

 Autumn 06 "The We Say What We Think Club: Rural Wisconsin Women and the Development of Environmental Ethics," Wisconsin Magazine of History Vol. 90, No. 1 (Autumn, 2006): 16-27. (Cover feature) Honorable mention, 2006 Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History. (access this article online)

Guest co-editor (with Bob Lentz), special issue of Clio's Psyche: "The Voice/Personal Experience and Psychology of Women at Work and in Modern Life." Contributions include the articles "Women in Society: Changes and Challenges" and "The Beauty Myth: Young Women and the Culture of Appearance." March 2005.

"How did Belle La Follette Resist Racial Segregation in Washington D.C.,1913-1914?" Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000. Edited by Kathryn Sklar and Thomas Dublin. New York: Alexander Street Press, 2004. [Electronic journal at

"'I Went to Learn,' Meanings of the European Tour of Senator Robert M. La Follette, 1923." Mid-America Vol. 84, no. 1-3, Winter/summer/fall 2002: 5-25.wisc mag of history

"The Two Worlds of Belle La Follette." Wisconsin Magazine of History Vol. 83, no. 2, (Winter 1999-2000): 82-110. (Cover feature) (access this article online)

"The Burden of a Great Name: Robert M. La Follette, Jr." The Psychohistory Review Vol 23, no. 2 (Winter 1995): 167-91.

"The 'Political Suicide' of Robert M. La Follette: Public Disaster, Private Catharsis." The Psychohistory Review Vol 21, no. 2 (Winter 1993): 187-220.


U.S. Progressive Era/The Making of Modern America


Presentations Available Online

Address to the Commonwealth Club on Women in Environmental History

KQED Forum Radio with Michael Kranzy: 50th Anniversary of Wilderness Preservation Act

National Public Radio: Women Led Battle Against Air Pollution

C-SPAN Gays and Lesbians in Early 20th Century America

One Hundred Years of Policing Morality

C-SPAN: American Women in Environmental History

Fighting Bob La Follette versus Theodore Roosevelt

Wisconsin Women in Environmental History

Women for a Peaceful Christmas

Belle Case La Follette: Progressive Reformer

The Humanism of Julia Child, America's French Chef

The Stonewall Riots: A Turning Point in Gay History

The Last Lecture: Personal Reflections

Op-eds "When Helping Earth was Women's Work"

"Letting Go of 'Mother Nature'"

"Hetch Hetchy Redux: An Effort to Turn Back the Environmental Clock"

"Fifty Years After "Silent Spring," Let's Not Roll Back Environmental Protections"

"Wisconsin Has a History of Leading the NationFor Better or Worse"

"Superdelegates Diminish True Democracy"

"Passive Citizenship is Not Enough"

"It's Gay Rights, Not Gay Genes, That Matter"

"Pioneering Women in Congress Aren't Guaranteed Success"

"When Principle May Be the Best Policy"

"After Past Scandals, Real Reforms"

"How to Rise from the Political Deathbed"

"Does PBS Do History Right"

"Lessons for the Nader Camp: 'Fighting Bob' La Follette in 1924"

Articles for
See for ongoing series "What Would Fighting Bob Do?"

Editorial Positions

2006-2013 Book Review editor:
Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era


Board of Editors: Environmental Justice



HIST 84 U.S. Women's History

HIST 101 Historical Writing

HIST 177 Gay Men and Lesbians in American History

HIST 181 Women in American Society Since 1900

HIST 188S Seminar: The U.S. Progressive Era


David Logothetti Teaching Award, 2014
 Winner of the David Logothetti Teaching Award, 2014













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