New UPK acquisitions editor Bethany R. Mowry is a proud Navy brat, a native Kansan, and an expert on maritime history. No, really.
“I understand how those things may not really go together,” she says with a laugh. “But, here I am.”
After a youth spent living on the coast until her parents’ retirement from the Navy brought the family back to Kansas, Bethany graduated from Topeka West High School, earned a BA from Washburn University in Topeka, and then moved across the country to pursue a MA at the University of Pittsburgh. It was while studying in the Steel City that Mowry’s passive interest in maritime history became a passion.
“For me, studying maritime history is all about recovering the histories of real salt-of-the-earth people,” she explains. “By looking at their songs and diaries, and the few official records they left behind, you get a real sense of who these people were—and how important their stories still are.”
Until recently, one of the nation’s leading maritime historians taught at the University of Oklahoma, so Mowry moved back to the Great Plains to work on a PhD. While at OU, Mowry was awarded a fellowship working with the University of Oklahoma Press.
“The first major project with which I assisted was a book celebrating the 125-year anniversary of OU,” she says. “That meant I spent hours in the university archives, poring over regents’ minutes and other official documents, or searching through boxes of photos in the basement. It wasn’t exactly glamorous, but that’s where I fell in love with the process of making books happen.”
When the opportunity to acquire books for the University Press of Kansas arose, Mowry knew it was time to come back home. She will be acquiring titles for multiple UPK lists, including Environment and Society, Feminist Ethics, Rural America, and regional studies.
“I’m really excited to be back in Kansas,” Mowry says with a genuine smile. “This feels like my academic life has come full circle. Kansas’s Press has a great tradition and reputation, and I’m proud to be able to work with our authors and scholars to help advance our lists.”
Bethany and her husband TJ live in Lawrence.