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The Mellema Program in Western American Studies

Academics / Departments & Programs / History / About Us / Mellema Program

The Mellema Program in Western American Studies (MPWAS) is an interdisciplinary program with interests across academic fields and cultural activities. “Western American” means US territory west of the Mississippi River. But the program includes broader comparative study of the Canadian West, Northern Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii, and the region’s relations with the larger Pacific Rim.

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Mellema Program in Western American Studies
History Department
Calvin University
1845 Knollcrest Circle SE
Grand Rapids, MI


The Mellema Program sponsors two history courses that are taught regularly. HIST 358 is an advanced topics course that in the past has focused on comparative frontiers and on the history of violence and power in the American West. Currently, it is being taught as "Native American History." HIST 274, "Environmental History," which surveys history from early humanity to the present, includes a significant regional component on the American West.

The Mellema Program also has sponsored the development of courses in other departments with components related to the American West. These have ranged over the years from English and Community to Geology and Environmental Studies and has included off-campus courses. The program annually provides opportunities for grants to support the development or revisions of courses related to the American West.

Library Collection

Calvin University's library now holds one of the largest collections of Western American studies material in Michigan. In addition to recent scholarship on the American West, the library includes a significant amount of work on the Canadian West and North. It also includes runs of major journals that focus on the West, notably the Western History Quarterly, Pacific Historical Review, Journal of the West, and Montana: Magazine of Western History.

The library is also rich in primary sources from the nineteenth century, notably significant portions of material from microfilm collections such as Western Americana, History of the Pacific Northwest, The Plains and Rockies, Travels in the West and Southwest, and History of the Canadian Northwest. Descriptions of this material on microfilm can be found at the library website.


Books support by Mellema Program grants include:

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