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Robert Marshall Utley (born October 31, 1929[2]) is an American author and historian who has written sixteen books on the history of the American West. He is a former chief historian for the National Park Service.

Robert M. Utley
Utley at the 2007 Texas Book Festival.
Utley at the 2007 Texas Book Festival.
Born (1929-10-31) October 31, 1929 (age 88)
Bauxite, Arkansas, U.S.
Occupation Historian
Years active 1957 – present
Spouse Melody Webb (1980-present)[1]

Much of his writing deals with the United States Army in the West, especially in its confrontations with the Indian tribes. He writes:

the frontier army was a conventional military force trying to control, by conventional military methods, a people that did not behave like conventional enemies and, indeed, quite often were not enemies at all. This is the most difficult of all military assignments, whether in Africa, Asia, or the American West.[3]

The Western History Association annually gives out the Robert M. Utley Book Award for the best book published on the military history of the frontier and western North America.[4]


Early life and educationEdit

Utley was born on October 31, 1929 in Bauxite, Arkansas. During his childhood, his parents, Don Williams Utley and Valeria Haney, moved him to northwestern Indiana, where he attended high school. Later, he attended nearby Purdue University, receiving a Bachelor of Science in history. He then attended Indiana University for graduate school, receiving a Master of Arts in history in 1952. Following his graduation, Utley served in the U.S. Army, and then joined the National Park Service.[2]

In 1997 he was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for lifetime achievement given by the Society for Military History.[5]

Selected bibliographyEdit


  1. ^ Robert M. Utley (2011). "Biographical Information for Robert M. Utley". Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  2. ^ a b Foppes, Ellen K.; Utley, Robert M. (Spring 2002). "Present at the Creation: Robert M. Utley Recalls the Beginnings of the National Historical Preservation Program". The Public Historian. 24 (2): 60–82. ISSN 0272-3433. JSTOR 3379522. 
  3. ^ Robert M. Utley, "The Contribution of the Frontier to the American Military Tradition" (1988). The Harmon Memorial Lectures in Military History, 1959-1987. DIANE Publishing. pp. 525–34. 
  4. ^ "Robert M. Utley Award". The Western History Association. Retrieved January 2, 2018. 
  5. ^ "Samuel Eliot Morison Prize previous winners". Society for Military History. Retrieved December 25, 2017. 

External linksEdit