Dr. Robert J. Voss

Assistant Professor of History

Northwest Missouri State University




Ph.D. History, 2013.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Concentrations in Nineteenth-Century America, United States, Technology, Latin American Revolutions, Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Digital History

Advisor: William G. Thomas III

M.A. History, 2006.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Advisor: John Wunder

Thesis: “Redeeming the Time: Protestant Missionaries and the Social and Cultural Development of Territorial Nebraska”

California Teaching Credential, 1999.

k-8 with supplemental 9th-grade provision

Simpson University, Redding, CA                   

B.A. History, 1996.

Simpson University, Redding, CA                                  


“Railroads and Coal: Natural Resource Extraction in the Indian Territory, 1866-1907”

        This dissertation examines the history of the interaction of railroads and coal during the end of the nineteenth century in what is today eastern Oklahoma. The Indian territory presented complex opportunities and challenges for railroad developers, coal operators, miners, railroad workers, and Native Americans. Using primary sources, such as published and unpublished accounts of both prominent and typical Native Americans and Euro-Americans, congressional debates, railroad company annual reports, railroad company correspondence, account books, treaties, court cases, and maps, this dissertation explores the process of railroad and coal company incursion in the region and the conflicts that resulted. All participants in the negotiations, contracts, treaties, strikes, and other legal actions between 1866 and 1907 sought to control the terms of energy production, market accessibility, and resource extraction. New approaches to the history of capitalism inform this dissertation, which stresses, in particular, the significance of the private contract as a tool of incursion and resistance.

Rather than living on federally dictated reservations or having only itinerant land access, the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Creek (Muskogee) possessed clear title and fee simple land rights to Indian territory. Their legal right to the coal deposits and to the rights of way necessary for railroad building proved surprisingly durable and highly contingent. In this setting Native Americans in the Indian territory used opportunities presented by railroads and coalmines to strengthen their economic and political position. Powerful Native Americans worked with and against weak railroads from a position of relative strength in the Indian territory.

This dissertation argues that railroad companies, endeavoring to build across Indian territory and gain access to its coal, faced considerable legal and political challenges. Complicated practical concerns over coal and railroads challenged managers, federal authorities, and Native American leaders attempting to balance access to coal, income from taxes and legal frameworks. This tenuous balance toppled at the end of the nineteenth century in the strike of 1894 when some Native American coal leaseholders, coal operators, and the railroads turned to the federal government to help break the strike.

Professional Positions

Assistant Professor of History and Social Science Education Coordinator

Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, Missouri                                                                  2013-present

        – Secondary Social Studies Coordinator

– Graduate Advisor for MSEd: Teaching History program

– Award winning professor for Digital History

– Designed and presented course work in person and online

– QM Certified online course delivery

        -Advised and mentored Master’s Thesis research

  -Served university on Professional Educational Development Committee, Educational Technology Committee, Secondary Education Coordinating Council,

        U.S. History to 1865

        U.S. History since 1865

        Missouri History

        Methods of Social Science Education

        Research Seminar in History: The African American Experience

        Research Seminar in History: Native America

        History of the American Constitution

Latin American Survey

The American West

Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Information, Technology, and Culture

Introduction to Digital Humanities

Adjunct Instructor     Nebraska Wesleyan University-Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska                        2012

        -Designed and presented summer lecture series for k-12 teachers in Hist 520

        -Created curricula and taught courses

        History of American Technology, History 592

Adjunct Instructor     Hastings College, Hastings, Nebraska                                                          2012       

        -Designed curricula for and taught core course

        -Provided advisement as needed for Education and History majors

-History of the United States 1865-present History 120

Graduate Instructor   University of Nebraska-Lincoln                                                                      2011-2012              

        – Designed and taught core course for regional history

        – Provided advisement as needed for Education and History majors

        – Only state-focused history course at state flagship university

        – Required course for Education Majors

History of Nebraska and the Great Plains, History 360

Adjunct Instructor     Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska,                                   2009-2013 

-Co-Instructor of Summer Teaching Workshop: Teaching History with Technology

-Built digital “toolbox” for teachers’ use while assessing primary source collections

-Created numerous blogs, digital tools and interactions for teachers’ classroom use

-Designed curricula for and taught original courses in American, Technological, Cultural, and Regional history

-Master’s level, grant funded program for current k-12 teachers

-Built classes for immediate integration in k-12 classroom teaching,

History of American Technology, History 592

Recent American History, 1945 to Present, History 520

American Creeds – Immigrant Experiences, History 562

        Nebraska and the West, History 564

Adjunct Instructor     Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska                                                     2009        

        History of the United States to 1865, History 311

        The Modern Western World, History 101

Adjunct Instructor     Southeast Community College, Lincoln, Nebraska                                      2009       

        Survey of World History 1500 to present, History 2110

University of Nebraska-Lincoln                                                                                                       2004-2011

-Online and distance learning course

-Self-directed and modular course for world-wide community

Western Civilization since 1715, History 101,

Honors and Fellowships:

Union Pacific Travel Grant for presentation, “Sophisticated Capitalism: Native American success Resisting and Regulating Railroads in the Indian Territory” at the Railroads in Native America Symposium, Omaha, NE, September 2019.

National Endowment for the Humanities Participation Grant for the Sustaining DH Workshop, Northwest Stories, Oklahoma State University, February 2019.

Excellence in Learning, Teaching, and Technology Award for “Digital History”, Northwest Missouri State University, Fall 2016.

College of Arts and Sciences Academic Initiative Grant, Northwest Missouri State University, 2016.

Center for Information Technology Education Grant, online course development grant, Northwest Missouri State University, 2015.

Summer Research Grant, University of Nebraska, Lincoln 2009

Fellowship in the Study of the American West and American Transportation History, Mercantile Library, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2008.

William S. Heitzman Fellowship in History, University of Nebraska, Lincoln 2005.

President’s Cup, Simpson University, Redding, California 1996.

Academic Experience:

Project Coordinator                                 2018-                                                   Northwest Missouri State University

        Project lead coordinator for Northwest Stories, a digital humanities project that tells the stories of Northwest Missouri State University using digital tools. Coming out of the inaugural Digital Humanities course in the fall of 2018, this project utilizes Omeka S and the Clio app to bring the past of Northwest into the present. Funded by the Northwest Foundation and internal university funding, Northwest Stories expects to bring the stories of Northwest to the next generations of Bearcats. NorthwestStories.org.

Journal Editor                                          2017-                                                   Northwest Missouri State University

        Co-creator and editor of Scholastica: An Undergraduate Research Journal of the Humanities, a digital project. This is the only undergraduate research journal in the United States focused on undergraduate work. Co-created with Dr. Dawn Gilley, we recognized the need for additional research and publication opportunities for undergraduates. We built an online framework for publication, editing, and peer reviewing that incorporates Northwest faculty into the process of humanities research and review.

Web Publisher                                          2016-                                                   Northwest Missouri State University

        Along with Dr. Dawn Gilley, I created DHNorthwest.org with the support of an institutional grant from Northwest Missouri State University. Recognizing the shifting directions of humanities studies including history, philosophy, public history, and other disciplines, DHNorthwest is a digital location for born-digital projects and research from Northwest Missouri State University. DHNorthwest serves as the home for Scholastica and other future digital projects. Hosted outside of the university’s servers, the website is the launchpad for scalable digital humanities projects.

Historical Consultant                              2016-                                                   Cleveland, Mississippi

        Consultant for the award-winning documentary, “Finding Cleveland” and the upcoming follow-up film, “Far East Deep South”. The film traces the personal impact of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the resulting implications of discrimination and racism on the Delta Chinese. Produced and directed by Baldwin Chiu and Larissa Lam, the film continues to be under development into a larger project.

Research Assistant                                 2010-2011                                           University of Nebraska-Lincoln

        Lead Digital Research Assistant for Civil War Washington, a digital humanities project that is focused on the experiences of Culture, Politics and the Sciences within the city during the Civil War and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Working with Ken Price, Ken Winkle, Kay Walter, and Susan Lawrence, I worked on the digital aspects of the web project. Specifically focused on compensated emancipation documents from the National Archives, I made decisions for mapping, displays, and database information retrieval while managing undergraduate data entry.  I oversaw the work of encoding and transcribing slave emancipation documents from microfilm, created mapping points, oversaw and verified data entry. I also created the blog for the website to portray the ongoing state of the project without requiring a retooling of the webpages. As lead digital research assistant, I helped develop the undergirding decisions and code that allows users to interact with digital copies of historical documents. As part of the development team, I participated in design and database decision making while learning the development process and library skills needed for a major digital humanities project. Eventually, this site will enable further research on the political, medical and cultural world of Washington D.C. during the Civil War.

Research Assistant                  Spring/Summer 2010                                        University of Nebraska-Lincoln

        Assistant on the Railroads and the Making of Modern America project, a digital history project that uses digital tools to discover new historical connections while displaying prior research.  This NEH Digging into Data Grant funded digital project is a major project of the History Department at UN-L.  I assessed and evaluated all manner of digital material for inclusion in the project.  As a lead research assistant, I was responsible for major design and implementation decisions for the project that has informed many papers and several books, including William G. Thomas III’s latest, The Iron Way: Railroads and the Making of Modern America. I built several digital representations of data sets from various events using JSON and XML coding interacting with Google Spreadsheets and Excel files to populate interactive webpages using timelines, maps and graphical displays from the Exhibit project. They can be found at the Railroads and Making of Modern America website.

Research Assistant                 2010-2011                                                       University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Assisted in the planning and implementation of the inaugural History Harvest, a public history outreach with Nebraska Public Television, Nebraska Public Radio, and the History Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This large project seeks to bring privately held historical objects within the state of Nebraska together in a mediated space to reveal their historical value while sharing the pieces without donating to an archive. At this public event we recorded interviews with community members regarding their personal investment in their objects.  Digital copies of materials and some interviews are online as will be the interviews with the owners explaining the personal or family history of the items.  Public history expanded through personal interviews, digital tools and television recording of private materials.

Teaching Assistant                  2005-2008                            University of Nebraska, Lincoln

        Assisted in multiple sections of history classes, developed lectures and class interactions, graded papers, designed rubrics, conducted student reviews and individual student conferences.

World History, under Tara Woods-Seefeldt, Spring 2009. (recitation)

Intro to East Asian Civilizations, under Parks Coble, Spring 2008.

America to 1877, under Lloyd Ambrosius, Fall 2007 and Fall 2008. (recitation)

African Culture and Civilization, under Dawne Curry, Summer 2007.

America since 1877, under Thomas Berg, Spring 2007.  (recitation)

History of Christianity, under Amy Burnett, Fall 2006.

History of the Great Plains, under John Wunder, Summer 2006.

America to 1877, under Andrew Graybill, Spring 2006.                       

America since 1877, under Randy Reddekopp, Fall 2005.

Western Civ since 1715, under Evan Widders, Spring 2005.

Research Assistant   Summer 2008      University of Nebraska, Lincoln                                              

        Graduate research assistant to Prof. William Thomas for the Railroads and the Making of Modern America digital history project.  Researched and digitally transcribed railroad workers’ data for the Construction Corps of Mississippi, February 1865.  Researched and encoded strike experiences during the Great Strike of 1877. Created digital displays of analysis of the various data.

Research Assistant   Summer 2007       Stanford University                                                                  

Graduate research assistant to Prof. Richard White for Union Pacific Railroad records for his book and companion website, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America. Researched Union Pacific Railroad records housed in the Nebraska State Historical Society while conducting extensive historical research. Crosschecked and verified research points.

Elementary Teacher   2002 to 2003      McPhee Elementary School, Lincoln, Nebraska           

        Taught 5th and 6th grade combined class in ethnically and economically diverse elementary school. Designed curriculum, planned individual student objectives, participated in student intervention teams, assessed student learning.

High School Teacher   1999 to 2002      Mendota High School, Mendota, California                   

        Taught social studies, specifically Geography, Leadership, and Social Skills, as part of the social studies curriculum in a rural, impoverished community in Central California. Implemented significant curriculum changes in the social studies program within the small, diverse high school to reflect and encourage educational opportunities for the local community.  While teaching I served in multiple ways including activities director, leadership advisor, coached varsity volleyball and junior varsity softball, participated in faculty leadership of technology grants and taught summer school.


“Teaching with Digital Humanities: Engaging your Audience”, Chapter in Quick Hits: Teaching with Digital Humanities, Michael Morrone, Christopher Young, Emma Wilson and Tom Wilson editors, Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2020.

“Teaching with Digital Humanities: TimelineJS”, Chapter in Quick Hits: Teaching with Digital Humanities, Michael Morrone, Christopher Young, Emma Wilson and Tom Wilson editors, Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2020.

“The Social and Cultural Foundations of the Nebraska Territory”, Chapter in Just Plains Folks: Studies of the People of the Great Plains, Joan Blauwkamp editor, University of Nebraska Kearney Press, 2016.

“Railroads in the Indian Territory: Governments and Unlikely Partnerships” Journal of Business and Economic History, Vol. 13, 2015.

Selected Professional Conference Papers and Presentations:

“Sophisticated Capitalism: Native American success Resisting and Regulating Railroads in the Indian Territory,” Railroads in Native America Symposium at the Union Pacific Railroad, Omaha, NE, September 2019.

“Northwest Stories: Undergraduate DH in the Short Term,” Digital History Presentation, American Historical Association, Chicago, IL, January, 2019.

“Native Americans in Northwest Missouri,” Daughters of the American Revolution presentation, October, 2017.

“Teaching DH and American West,” Six Shooters Presentation, Western History Association, St. Paul, MN, October 2016.

“Railroads In the Indian Territory: Governments and Unlikely Partnerships,” Governments and Unlikely Partnerships Panel at the International Business History Conference, Miami, FL, June 2015.

Developing Missouri PreTeacher Assessment responses, invited presentation for Dr. Christine Benson and Dr. Cheryl Malm, University of Missouri, Columbia, April, 2014.

“Iron Horses and Indigenous Crossroads: Railroads, Resources, and Sovereignty in Indian Territory,” A Nation Indivisible: Military, Economic, & Cultural Connections during Greater Reconstruction Panel presentation at the Organization of American Historians, Atlanta, April, 2014.

Invited Presenter, Summer Teaching Pedagogy Workshop, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Omaha, Nebraska, June 2012.

“Trestles, Ties, and Tracks: Community Response to the Western Railroad” Presented at the Western Historical Association Annual Meeting, Incline Village, Nevada, October, 2010.

“Beyond the Archive: Scholarly Research, Visualizations, and the Future of Digital History” Panel presentation at the Missouri Valley Historical Conference, Omaha, Nebraska, March 2010.

Round-table Participant “Historical Scholarship in the Digital Age: Asking New Questions and Exploring New Forms of Scholarly Communication with Digital Techniques.” Presented at the 51st annual meeting of the Western Social Sciences Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 2009.

 “Enticing the Iron Horse: The Unexpected Effects of Railroads on Town-Building in the Great Plains.” Presented at the James A. Rawley Conference in the Humanities, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, April 2008.

“Industry, Transportation, and Settlement in Oklahoma.” Presented at the Dakota Conference, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, April 2007.

Graduate Students Theses Advised:

Joseph Barbosa, “A Search for God’s Country: A Religious History of Northwest Missouri in the Nineteenth-Century”, Master’s Thesis, Fall 2017

Troy Anstine, “Second Place: Competition between St. Louis and Chicago, 1764-1900”, Master’s Thesis Spring 2015

Jennifer Sanders, “Patria O Muerte: The Legacy of Revolution in Cuba, Master’s Thesis, Summer 2014

Brent Trout, “Rails of Destiny”; Early Railroad Development in Kansas City, Missouri, 1840-1870”, Master’s Thesis Spring 2014


HTML, Flash, XML, Simile, JSON, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Keynote, Dreamweaver, WordPress, Prezi, Social Media; Technology in the Classroom; Studying and reading knowledge of Spanish, French;

Research Fields of Expertise:

Nineteenth Century U.S.; North American West; New Capitalism; Science, Technology and Society; Digital History; Gilded Age and Progressive Era; Business History;

Professional Societies:

Organization of American Historians

American Historical Association

Western Historical Association

Society of the History of Technology

Western Social Sciences Association


Co-Chairperson Assessment Committee, Northwest Missouri State University, 2018- present

Secondary Education Coordinating Council, Northwest Missouri State University, 2016-present

Chairperson of Educational Technology Committee, Northwest Missouri State University, 2016-2017

Member of Educational Technology Committee, Northwest Missouri State University, 2015-2016

Council on Teacher Education, College of Arts and Sciences Representative, Northwest Missouri State University, 2014-2016

Missouri Pre-Teacher Assessment Development Benchmark Committee, Columbia, Missouri March, 2014

National History Day Judge, Missouri Regional Competition, Maryville, Missouri 2014-present

Faculty Resource Committee, History Department, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2012-13

National History Day Judge, Nebraska State Competition    Lincoln, Nebraska 2010-2011

Middle School Youth leader, New Covenant Community Church, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2003-2013

Treasurer, History Graduate Student Association, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2006-2008

Associated Student Body President, Simpson University, Redding, California, 1995-1996.

Associated Student Body Treasurer, Simpson University, Redding, California, 1994-1995.