Elaine Marie Nelson

Image of a woman in a burgundy sweater, with her arms crossed, smiling at the camera.
  • Assistant Professor
  • Executive Director, Western History Association
  • North American West; Great Plains; U.S. Women and Gender; Native American and Indigenous History

Contact Info

Office Hours: In Person
Mon. & Wed. | 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM


Elaine Nelson received her Ph.D. in American Western History and is an Assistant Professor in the History Department specializing in the North American West. She arrived at KU in 2020. 


B.A. in English and History Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney
M.A. in History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ph.D. in History, University of New Mexico


Nelson’s research on the North American West appears in academic journals, various anthologies, and public exhibits. Her first book manuscript examines the history of memory, monuments, and tourism. She has presented at several professional conferences and received fellowships and grants from numerous institutions and organizations.


At KU Nelson teaches courses focused on the Great Plains, North American West, women and gender, and U.S. history in general.

Selected Publications

"Mni Luzahan and ‘our beautiful city’: Indigenous Resistance in Rapid City and the Black Hills up to 1937,” in Cathleen Cahill and Andrew Needham, Eds., Indian Cities: Histories of Indigenous Urbanism, University of Oklahoma Press (Winter 2022)

“‘No where to be found’: Myth-Mapping, Empire, and Resistance in the Black Hills Country, 1800-1860,” South Dakota History (Summer 2021)

Women in Omaha: An Exhibit Catalog of a Biographical Sketch of Persistence Through History, 2019

“Draft by Draft: The Battle of Sandoz and Her Big Horn Manuscript,” Great Plains Quarterly (Spring 2019)

“The Legacy of Black Hills Tourism and Native American Performers,” in Matthew J. Hill, ed., Reinterpreting Mount Rushmore’s Heritage: Native Engagements with a National Memorial in the Context of the Black Hills (Cooperative Agreement #P14AC00888, Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Park Service and The University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2019)

“Cultural Survival and the Omaha Way: Eunice Woodhull Stabler’s Legacy of Preservation on the Twentieth-Century Plains,” Great Plains Quarterly (Summer 2009)


Co-Curator, “Women in Omaha: A Biographical Sketch of Persistence through History,” The Durham Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, February 3-July 29, 2018. Awarded the Alice Smith Public History Prize, Midwestern History Association, May 24, 2019.

This collaborative teaching and public engagement project featured the stories of women from diverse backgrounds and highlighted their experiences as advocates, leaders, and professional. Read more about the exhibit here and here.