Associate Provost for Faculty Development, Distinguished Professor of History and the Director of the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico. A highly respected authority on Southwest and women’s history, she is Women of the West chair at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, and a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. She was President of the Western History Association for 2008.
Virginia Scharff is Associate Provost for Faculty Development, Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly publications include “Taking the Wheel: Women and the Coming of the Motor Age” (1991); “Twenty Thousand Roads: Women, Movement, and the West” (2003), two textbooks, “Present Tense: The United States Since 1945” (1996); and “Coming of Age: America in the Twentieth Century” (1998); and the edited volume, “Seeing Nature Through Gender” (2003). Her academic honors include being named Beinecke Research Fellow in the Lamar Center for Frontiers and Borders at Yale University (2008-9), Women of the West Chair at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, and a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. She was President of the Western History Association for 2008.
Virginia’s most recent book, “The Women Jefferson Loved”, was released in October, 2010 by HarperCollins. It is the first major study of Thomas Jefferson’s female kin and intimate companions. In this book, Virginia puts Jefferson’s free and slave families into the same story, and reveals how Jefferson’s love for women shaped his ideas, achievements, and legacies.
Her academic degrees include: a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University in 1974, being among the first female graduates of Yale; an M.J. in Journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977; an M.A. in History from the University of Wyoming in 1981; and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Arizona in 1987.
Virginia’s areas of study include: Women’s history, the American West, Environmental history, and Social Theory. Virginia served as co-curator of “Home Lands: How Women Made the West,” an exhibition sponsored by the Autry National Center, opening in Los Angeles at the Autry in April, 2010 and traveling to the Missouri History Center, the Museum of New Mexico, and the Gilcrease Museum. She is also the author of four mystery suspense novels, written under the name of VIRGINIA SWIFT: “Brown-Eyed Girl” (2000), “Bad Company” (2002), “Bye, Bye, Love” (2004), and “Hello, Stranger” (2006).