Paul Wallace Gates
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Paul Wallace Gates
Paul Wallace Gates
Born(1901-12-14)December 14, 1901
DiedJanuary 5, 1999(1999-01-05) (aged 97)
Known forForemost authority on history of United States land law

Paul Wallace Gates (December 14, 1901 - January 5, 1999) was a professor of history and general historian who is widely considered to be the foremost authority on the history of federal land policy in the United States. Gates wrote 10 books and 75 academic articles, and his magnum opus was History of Public Land Law Development.[1]

Life and career

Gates was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, son of a Protestant minister.[2] His undergraduate work was chiefly at Colby College, although he also attended Clark University and the University of Wisconsin.[3] He earned his PhD from Harvard University in 1930, working under the direction of Frederick Merk. Gates' PhD thesis was the basis of his first book, The Illinois Central Railroad and Its Colonization Work (1934),[4] for which he was awarded the David A. Wells Prize at Harvard. After receiving his PhD he worked for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and taught briefly at Bucknell University.

In 1935 Gates began his career at Cornell University, where he did the majority of his academic work. From 1946 to 1956 he was the Chair of the Department of History. He eventually earned the honor of being named the John Stambaugh Professor of History. Aside from his research, he was a renowned professor of undergraduate courses and had 23 PhD students, many of whom became leaders in the profession as well. He emphasized with these students interdisciplinary studies, a characteristic of Gates himself. After he retired in 1971, he continued writing many seminal works on the subject of land law and well into his 90s was still being honored as the foremost leader in this field.[2]

Gates wrote on many separate regions, with a focus on the upper Midwest and California. Although his early career interests were in federal land policy in general, as he himself once said, "It soon became apparent that before a history of the Public Domain could be written, special and regional studies would have to be prepared to show the functioning of the land system in a number of fairly typical states and smaller subdivisions."[5]

Gates was married for over 60 years to Lillian Cowdell Gates, who had an independent academic career and also collaborated with Paul on several books. They had 4 children and 17 grandchildren. After Lillian died, Paul remarried. He died in Oakland, California, where he had lived briefly late in his retirement.[2]


In addition to the references above, the following selected list of works is provided since his writings define who Gates was. Most of these works are by Gates but some of them are about Gates.

Books and other monographs

  • Ellis, David M (ed.) (1969). The Frontier in American Development: Essays in Honor of Paul Wallace Gates. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Retrieved 2013.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Gates, Paul Wallace (1997). Fifty Million Acres: Conflicts Over Kansas Land Policy, 1854-1890. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806129914. Retrieved 2013.
  • Gates, Paul Wallace (2011). The Wisconsin Pine Lands of Cornell University. Ithaca and London: Fall Creek Books. ISBN 978-0-8014-7763-8. Retrieved 2013.Reprint edition available for sale October 31, 2013.

Journal articles

  • Gates, Paul W. (March 1948). "Hoosier Cattle Kings". Indiana Magazine of History. 44 (1): 1-24. Retrieved 2013.
  • Gates, Paul W. (May 1956). "Private Land Claims in the South". Journal of Southern History. Southern Historical Association. 22 (2): 183-204. doi:10.2307/2954238. JSTOR 2954238.
  • Gates, Paul W. (May 1958). "Adjudication of Spanish-Mexican Land Claims in California". Huntington Library Quarterly. University of California Press. 21 (3): 213-236. doi:10.2307/3816434. JSTOR 3816434.
  • Gates, Paul W. (May 1961). "California's Agricultural College Lands". Pacific Historical Review. University of California Press. 30 (2): 103-122. doi:10.2307/3636696. JSTOR 3636696.
  • Gates, Paul W. (June 1961). "California's Embattled Settlers". California Historical Society Quarterly. University of California Press. 41 (2): 99-130. JSTOR 25155471.
  • Gates, Paul W. (June 1967). "Pre-Henry George Land Welfare in California". California Historical Society Quarterly. University of California Press. 46 (2): 121-148. doi:10.2307/25154205. JSTOR 25154205.
  • Gates, Paul W. (Summer 1969). "Frontier Land Business in Wisconsin". The Wisconsin Magazine of History. State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 52 (4): 306-327. Retrieved 2013.
  • Gates, Paul W. (November 1970). "The Suscol Principle, Preemption and California Latifundia". Pacific Historical Review. University of California Press. 39 (4): 453-471. doi:10.2307/3637782. JSTOR 3637782.
  • Gates, Paul W. (December 1971). "The California Land Act of 1851". California Historical Quarterly. University of California Press. 50 (4): 395-430. doi:10.2307/25157352. JSTOR 25157352.
  • Bogue, Allan G. (2006). "Tilling Agricultural History with Paul Wallace Gates and James C. Malin". Agricultural History. Agricultural History Society. 80 (4): 436-460. doi:10.1525/ah.2006.80.4.436. JSTOR 4617776.



External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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