Ph.D., University of Missouri (2003)
Public and Environmental History, Historic Preservation
Office: (269) 387-4651
4428 Friedmann Hall
Department of History
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5334
I teach a variety of courses in public and environmental history. For undergraduates, I offer the Introduction to Public History as well as advanced courses in Museum Studies, Historic Preservation, and American Environmental History. For graduate students, I teach readings and research seminars in Heritage Tourism, Historic Preservation, and Cultural Resources Management. I also oversee internships and manage the Public History Program. I am currently planning a multi-year series of Practica to develop the cultural resources at the site of an abandoned logging camp in the Hiawatha National Forest.
My research centers on community planning and the history of logging in the United States. My current book project is a study of the factors affecting the qualities of persistence, both in memory and in physical form, of lumber-company towns throughout the United States. In this comparative study I investigate how companies designed towns, managed the availability of timber, and directed the lives of laborers as well as how residents shaped their own social and cultural opportunities in each of the major logging regions. The purpose of this study is to identify characteristics that affected residents’ sense of place and to investigate and broaden the discussion of the concept of sustainability.
I am book-review editor for H-Environment and recent past vice-president for research and publications at H-Net. I am an active consultant on cultural-resource contracts as a historian and architectural historian. I also utilize my professional experience on local boards and committees, such as the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission.
Conflict in the Ozarks: Hill Folk, Industrialists, and Government in the Courtois Hills (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2010).
Articles, chapters, and professional publications
“Whose Forest Is This? Hillfolk, Industrialists, and Government in
the Ozarks.” In The Ozarks in Missouri History: Discoveries in an American
Region, edited by Lynn Morrow (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2013).
Perrault, Stephanie, Emily Crowe, Nathanael Heller, Susan Barrett Smith, David Benac, and William P. Athens, Phase I Cultural Resources Survey and Archeological Inventory of the Proposed Southern Natural Gas Company South System Expansion III Project Fulton, Clayton, Spalding, Lamar, and Upson Counties, Georgia. Submitted by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc. to Southern Natural Gas Company, 2009.
Eberwine, James, David Benac, Emily Crowe, and William P. Athens, Phase I Cultural Resources Survey and Archeological Inventory of the Proposed 97.6 ha (241.1 ac) River Birch Landfill Borrow Location Project, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Submitted by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc. to River Birch Inc., Highway 90, LLC, 2008.
Benac, David. “Whose Forest Is This? Hillfolk, Industrialists, and Government inthe Ozarks.” Missouri Historical Review (Oct. 2006).
Benac, David. “Ozarkers and Industry: The Integration of Economic and SocialBehaviors.” Big Muddy: Journal of the Mississippi River Valley (Spring 2006).
Benac, David and Susan Flader. “History of Missouri Forests in the Era ofExploitation and Conservation.” Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-73. (Asheville, NC: U.S.Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 2004). pp.36-41.
Dr. David Benac earned a B.A. in History from Michigan State University (1995), an M.A. from Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis in Public History (1997), and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Missouri (2003). He has taught at Southeastern Louisiana University from 2003 until now, and developed the Public History program there.
He joins the Department of History at WMU as an Associate Professor of Public History with responsibility for coordinating the department's public history major.
Dr. Benac is the author of numerous reviews, articles, commissioned reports for state and federal agencies, and the recipient of numerous awards and grants for his teaching, research and public history initiatives. His first book, Conflict in the Ozarks: Hill Folk, Industrialists, and Government in the Courtois Hills (Truman State Press, 2010), traces the rise and fall of the timber industry in the region and the inter play, and conflicts, that developed between residents, lumber companies and government. His next major project is a comparative study of lumber towns in different regions of the United States with a focus on questions of town planning and sustainability. The new project continues his research interest on both the built and natural environments and how people shape, and are shaped, by them.