Graduate Student Awarded for History Research

Derek LeFebre earned a scholarship and won an award for his current research examining cultures in New Mexico during the 1850s.

University of Northern Colorado graduate student Derek LeFebre recently won a scholarship through the Office of the State Historian in New Mexico and a separate award for emerging scholars from the Historical Society of New Mexico.

The scholarship and the society's Myra Ellen Jenkins Award recognized LeFebre for his in-progress research, as part of his master's thesis, on interactions between New Mexicans, Indians and Anglo fur trappers from 1846 to 1912.

He became interested in exploring the social, political and economic history of the northern New Mexico communities of Guadalupita and Ocate after learning through genealogical research that his ancestors were among the first wave of families that settled there during the American occupation of the region in 1846.

What appeared to be a genealogy project became academic research, and inspired LeFebre to enroll at UNC, to tie his work to the "broader U.S. narrative" and answering questions about relationships between multiple cultures.

In addition to oral family histories, LeFebre is sifting through county and state public documents to "enhance background knowledge of individual settlers as well as events contributing to the historical context of these communities in the territorial period."

LeFebre studies history at UNC and has taught in Greeley-Evans School District 6 since 2006. He will teach social studies this fall at Greeley's new dual-language school, Salida del Sol Academy. His research is titled, "Pursuit of Prosperity below the Ocate Mesa, 1846-1912."

As a recipient of the Myra Ellen Jenkins Award, named after the first New Mexico's first state historian, LeFebre will provide an upcoming lecture (to be announced) and will also publish an article through the historical society.