Laurie Winn Carlson

Laurie Carlson currently teaches history at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon. Laurie, husband Terry, and son John live near Dallas, Oregon, where they have begun restoring a farmhouse on six acres. New book projects include a book about sunlight's relationship to human health and behavior, and a book for young readers about the history of petroleum.

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Laurie with her flock of hens.

The story of 20th century agriculture through the life of a progressive scientist

University of Missouri Press
210 pages, hardcover. ISBN 0-82621581-5.

Born in Sonora, California, Laurie Winn Carlson has enjoyed living in a variety of western communities. As a teenager she moved to northern Idaho, later graduating from the University of Idaho with a degree in home economics. In the mid-1980s she and her family moved to Arizona where she earned a Master's degree from Arizona State University. While there teaching elementary school she began writing children’s books, a successful endeavor that led her to quit the day job and move back to Idaho. After a few more books (and years) she moved to eastern Washington and began writing history, earning a Master's degree in history at Eastern Washington University. Her thesis won the 1999 Best Thesis Award from the Western Association of Graduate Schools, and was published as A Fever in Salem: A New Interpretation of New England’s Witch Trials (1999). Following that she began doctoral work in history at Washington State University, while publishing several other books of serious history as well as works for children. She has published seventeen books and several articles.

Variety is her hallmark. From picture books to serious history and science writing, Carlson brings a unique viewpoint to her work. A believer in cross-disciplinary thinking, her books bring together wide-ranging sources to synthesize original interpretations. She approaches life and writing creatively, with a passion for knowledge and a desire to “connect the dots” as one of her college students put it.

Carlson lives on twenty acres in eastern Washington with her family. She has two sons and two grandsons.

Between books she teaches history at local universities, including the history of medicine and the history of foods.

Some reviewers’ comments about her work:

Seduced by the West:

“a valuable contribution to ongoing debates about what kind of nation we have been and will be in the future.”
--Pacific Northwest Inlander

“One comes away from her narrative with a greater appreciation of the normal, human dimensions of the nation’s westward march.”
--Publishers Weekly

“This provocative book is well written and documented... recommended for libraries wanting a single-volume treatment of a complex topic.”
--Library Journal

Cattle: An Informal Social History

“a riveting read...a fully referenced academic study of the relationship of cows and humans, but presented in a way that really makes the reader think.”
--World Land Trust

“Carlson’s topical approach enables her to make refreshing connections between history and present-day issues that might otherwise go unmade.”
--Western Historical Quarterly

A Fever in Salem

“Carlson’s study is meticulously researched, and the author marshals her arguments with clarity and persuasive force.”
--The New Yorker

Selected Works

Thomas Edison for Kids
A biography with activities and experiments for young readers. Chicago Review Press, 2006.

On Sidesaddles to Heaven: The Women of the Rocky Mountain Mission
The lives of the first six white women--missionaries--to cross the Rocky Mountains in the 1830s.

Seduced by the West:
Jefferson’s America and the Lure of the Land Beyond the Mississippi

A provocative look at the nation and personalities surrounding the Lewis and Clark era.


A Fever in Salem: A New Interpretation of the New England Witch Trials
“innovative... impressive... persuasive”

--Publishers Weekly

Cattle: An Informal Social History
The curious and wonderful story of the animal that changed human history.

University of Missouri Press, June 2005.

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