McFarlane, Wallace

Field: United States; Advisor: Jacoby; Year: 2014

Scot McFarlane is a Ph.D candidate in history at Columbia University.  His dissertation explores the history of the Trinity River in Texas during the 19th and 20th centuries.  In the antebellum period the Trinity was one of the most important plantation belts in the state as planters came for the fertile soil and access to markets.  Following the Civil War, the lower half of the Trinity became a backwater rather than a central economic artery as flooding become more of a liability, meanwhile the area around the upper Trinity boomed as an urban and agricultural region.  By the beginning of the twentieth century Dallas boosters attempted to claim the whole of the river for their vision of turning Dallas into a port city, while much of their vision went unrealized, pollution from upstream continued to link the city and the countryside along the river.  This framework allows for an exploration of rivers, the relationship between cities and the countryside, and a better understanding of the nature of Texas politics.  
Scot’s research blog, CV, and extensive book summaries can be found on his personal website: 


“Oil on the Farm: The East Texas Oil Boom and the Origins of an Energy Economy,” Journal of Southern History 83 (November 2017) 
“Defining a Nuisance: Pollution, Science, and Environmental Politics on Maine’s Androscoggin River,” Environmental History 17 (April 2012).


In addition to teaching in the history department, Scot previously taught writing and history at high schools in Oregon and Massachusetts.  He currently serves as the Senior Lead Teaching Fellow for Columbia’s Center for Teaching and Learning, after running the history department's teacher training workshops the year before.  Scot has been involved in developing several public history projects online, gives public talks on his research, and regularly leads history tours of New York City.