As many of you already know, Ethan Schmidt, an early American history professor at Delta State University in Mississippi, was killed today in his office. I did not know Ethan, but he was recently featured at the blog of the American Historical Association. Here is a taste of that interview
When did you first develop an interest in history? I grew up in a family that valued history.
My parents were both involved in historic preservation. My father is a collector of Civil War and other 19th-century Kansas memorabilia. Both he and my mother have always exhibited considerable interest in 19th-century America, so I came of age with parents and extended family members who were as often as not engaged in some kind of discussion in which history played either a primary or tangential role. When I went to college at Emporia State University, I was originally a political science major (I wanted to be an attorney). I took US history to 1877 from Christopher Phillips (now with the University of Cincinnati) and loved it and him. I made history my minor, but continued to take every class with Chris that I could. Finally, one day I was leaving class my junior year I saw a flyer which listed the requirements to major in history and I realized I was only about six hours short. I was questioning my desire to go to law school at that point as well, so I went straight to the History Department office and declared a dual major in political science and history. Not long after that, Ronald McCoy (now at Oklahoma State University) introduced me to ethnohistory and I was hooked!
What projects are you working on currently? My first monograph, The Divided Dominion: Social Conflict and Indian Hatred in Early Virginia, is currently in production with the University of Colorado Press and should be published sometime in 2014. My second project, a synthesis of the Native American experience in the American Revolution tentatively titled The Greatest Blow That Could Have Been Dealt Us: Native Americans and the American Revolution, is under contract with ABC-CLIO.
I understand that Ethan was a real family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this tragedy.