Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gordon Bakken (1943-2014)

Gordon M. Bakken (credit)
Gordon M. Bakken, probably the leading legal historian of the American West of his generation, died of cancer on December 5. An "in memoriam" page at California State University Fullerton notes that Professor Bakken, a Wisconsin native, "earned his bachelor's degree in English, master's and doctorates in history and law at the University of Wisconsin."  He "joined the campus in 1969 and never stopped teaching, advising or mentoring."
He "authored or edited 24 books, including The Development of Law in Frontier California: Civil Law and Society, 1850-1890, Women Who Kill Men: California Courts, Gender and the Press and Invitation to an Execution, as well as hundreds of articles in such publications as the American Journal of Legal History, Southern California Historical Quarterly, Rocky Mountain Social Science Journal and the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly."  The Western History Association awarded him its Award of Merit in 2009.  Contributions to either of two funds are requested instead of flowers.

The Orange County Register’s obituary emphasizes Professor Bakken's study of women's history:
“My interest in women’s history flowed from the 1960s interest in the history of unrepresented groups,” said Bakken in a 2009 CSUF news article. “Many of my colleagues at the University of Wisconsin focused on African-Americans, but I started looking into the experiences of women in the American West. I quickly found that women had far more to teach me than any other group of people.”