The author of 15 books and dozens of scholarly articles, Robert Utley has long been regarded as the country's foremost scholar of the frontier army and Indian-white relations on the Northern Plains. He has also been a leading voice regarding the preservation and examination of historic sites within America's National Parks. A founding member and past president of the Western History Association, Mr. Utley served for 25 years in various capacities with the National Park Service and other federal agencies, concluding his career in the federal government as Deputy Executive Director of the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, from 1977 to 1980. Since his retirement from the council, Mr. Utley has devoted himself to historical research and writing. His biography of Sitting Bull The Lance and the Shield (1993) received the Western History Association's Caughy Prize, awarded annually to the best book published in the field of Western history, as well as the Spur Award of the Western Writers of America. In 1997 the Society for Military History presented him with the Samuel Elliot Morison Prize in recognition of his distinguished career.
A native of Arkansas and Indiana, Mr. Utley was educated at Purdue and Indiana Universities, and has enjoyed a long association with Yale. His first book, The Last Days of the Sioux Nation was published by the Yale University Press in 1963. The next year, the press released Mr. Utley's edition of Richard Henry Pratt's previously unpublished memoir, Battlefield and Classroom: Four Decades with the American Indian. Since 1966 Mr. Utley has been a member of the editorial board for the Yale Western Americana Series, for which he edited and introduced Life in Custer's Cavalry: Diaries and Letters of Albert and Jennie Barnitz. 1867-1868 (1977). George Miles, the William Robertson Coe Curator of Western Americana, observed that Mr. Utley's appointment as the inaugural Beinecke Senior Research Fellow "seemed especially appropriate given that both Mr. Pratt's memoir and the Barnitz letters are housed in the Western collection. Few scholars have done more in the last quarter century to explore and publish from our collections than Bob Utley.