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Faculty in Focus - Christine Erickson

July 2014
Christine Erickson joined COAS’s Department of History in 1999. She specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American history, with a special interest in her home state of Montana. Erickson’s current project concerns the Montana Ku Klux Klan, and she is working on a book tentatively titled “Fraternity on the Frontier: The Ku Klux Klan in Montana during the 1920s.”

Erickson wasn’t always interested in history; in fact, she received a B.A. in zoology from the University of Montana. However, after graduation and although considering law school, Erickson entered a master’s program in history at the University of Montana. In one of her graduate courses, she read John Higham’s Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860–1925 and realized that history “wasn’t just what I wanted to do, it was what I needed to do.”

While Erickson has written articles on a variety of historical periods and subjects, “something was always drawing me back to the Klan.” In 2012, she received a grant from IPFW’s College of Arts and Sciences to travel throughout Montana to gather research. During this time, she found minutes from Klan meetings in public libraries and spoke with community members who remembered its presence in Montana. Afterward, Erickson decided to dedicate a large portion of her book to three counties in Montana: Butte, Harlowton, and Roundup.

With her research complete, Erickson now is working on the book’s structure and focus of her book. She will also be presenting a paper on Grand Dragon Lewis Terwilliger at the Montana History Conference in September 2014. She is also looking ahead to her next project, an article on the anti-Vietnam War movement in Missoula. If you would like to learn more about Erickson, the Montana Ku Klux Klan, or IPFW’s Department of History, contact Erickson or the history department.