Born and raised near Kansas City, Missouri, Dr. Ray Rast has studied and taught U.S. history across the country. He earned his B.A. in History from Yale University in 1995, his M.A. in History from the University of New Mexico in 1998, and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Washington in 2006. Dr. Rast held a visiting position at the College of Wooster in Ohio and then served as an assistant professor for five years at California State University, Fullerton, before coming to Gonzaga in 2012.
Dr. Rast specializes in U.S. history since the Civil War, American cultural history, American urban history, the history of the American West (including the Pacific Northwest), and Latina/o history (particularly Mexican American history). His dissertation examined the relationship between the development of the tourism industry in San Francisco and the transformation in American culture from the Victorian to the Modern between the 1860s and the 1920s. More broadly, his scholarship focuses on tourism, mobility, social and cultural diversity, historic preservation, and “sense of place” in the modern American West.
Dr. Rast also teaches and engages in “public history” (the work that historians do beyond the university). He has written several National Register and National Historic Landmark nominations and curated or consulted on several museum exhibitions, including an award-winning exhibition on the legal battle to abolish segregated “Mexican schools” in post-WWII California (a class action lawsuit known as Mendez, et al. v. Westminster School District, et al.).
Along the same lines, Dr. Rast has worked directly with the National Park Service in various consulting roles. He served as the lead historian for the Park Service’s Cesar Chavez Special Resource Study from 2010 to 2012, he served on the National Park System Advisory Board’s Planning Committee from 2010 to 2014, and in 2011 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar appointed him to a scholars’ advisory board for the National Park Service’s “American Latino Heritage Initiative.” Dr. Rast’s work on the Chavez Special Resource Study played an important role in President Obama’s creation of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in 2012.
Refereed Publications and Projects
“Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel: National Historic Landmark Nomination.” Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks Program, 2016.
“Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz: National Historic Landmark Nomination,” co-authored with Gail Dubrow. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks Program, 2012.
“San Francisco’s Chinatown,” in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, ed. J. Mark Souther and Nicholas Dagen Bloom, 45-52. Chicago: Center for American Places, 2012.
A Class Action: The Grassroots Struggle for School Desegregation in California. Exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum, Santa Ana, California, September 2011−June 2012.
“Forty Acres: National Historic Landmark Nomination,” co-authored with Gail Dubrow and Brian Casserly. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks Program, 2008.
“The Cultural Politics of Tourism in San Francisco’s Chinatown, 1882-1917.” Pacific Historical Review 76 (February 2007), 29-60.
“Eagledale Ferry Dock: National Historic Landmark Nomination,” co-authored with Gail Dubrow and Connie Walker. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks Program, 2001.
Non-Refereed Publications and Projects
“Forty Acres: Historic American Buildings Survey Historian’s Report.” Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, Heritage Documentation Programs, 2014.
“A Matter of Alignment: Methods to Match the Goals of the Preservation Movement,” National Trust for Historic Preservation Forum Journal 28 (Spring 2014), 13-22.
American Latinos and the Making of the United States: A Theme Study, with multiple co-editors. Washington, D.C.: National Park System Advisory Board, 2013.
Cesar Chavez Special Resource Study and Environmental Assessment, with multiple co-authors. San Francisco: National Park Service, Pacific West Region, 2012.
“Planning For a Future National Park System: A Foundation For the 21st Century,” with multiple co-authors. Washington, D.C.: Planning Committee, National Park System Advisory Board, 2012.
“Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Notes on Integrity Prepared for the National Park System Advisory Board,” Washington, D.C.: Planning Committee, National Park System Advisory Board, 2012.
“Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz: National Register of Historic Places Nomination.” Sacramento: California Office of Historic Preservation, 2011.
“Recommendations on the Development of a History Program at Joshua Tree National Park,” in Scholars’ Reports of a Visit to Joshua Tree National Park, ed. Meg M. McDonald, 17-41. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service in cooperation with the Organization of American Historians, 2010.
Building On Tradition: Photographs of Downtown Wooster’s Past and Present. Exhibition at Wayne County Public Library, Wooster, Ohio, June 2007–September 2007.
“Preserving the History of Nikkei Removal on Bainbridge Island, Washington,” in Preserving Western History, ed. Andrew Gulliford, 74-88. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.
“Building Meanings: The Construction and Preservation of Blockhouses on Whidbey Island, Washington,” in Preservation of the Vernacular Environment, ed. Gail L. Dubrow, Neile Graham, and Amy Scarfone, 22-33. Seattle: University of Washington, Preservation Planning and Design Program, 2001.
“Western Landscapes: Symbols of an American Identity,” in Shifting Ground: Transformed Views of the American Landscape, ed. Rhonda Lane Howard, 14-15. Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, 2000.
“Vistas, Visions, and Visitors: Creating the Myth of Yellowstone National Park, 1872-1915.” Journal of the West 37 (April 1998), 80-89.
Review of Inlander Histories: Timeless Tales of Spokane and the Inland Northwest, Volume 1, edited by Ted S. McGregor, Jr., and Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Inland Northwest, by Dwayne A. Mack. Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History 29 (Summer 2015), 34.
Review of From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement, by Matt Garcia. The Journal of American Ethnic History 33 (Spring 2014), 122-23.
Review of Making San Francisco American: Cultural Frontiers in the Urban West, 1846-1906, by Barbara Berglund. Western American Literature 46 (Fall 2011), 328-30.
Review of The Opium Debate and Chinese Exclusion Laws in the Nineteenth-Century American West, by Diana L. Ahmad. Pacific Historical Review 77 (November 2008), 670-71.
Review of Early Placentia, by Jeanette Gardner, Lawrence de Graaf, and the Placentia Historical Committee. Voices: Newsletter of the Center for Oral and Public History 4 (Spring 2008), 4.
Review of All Aboard For Santa Fe: Railway Promotion of the Southwest, 1890s to 1930s, by Victoria E. Dye. Western Historical Quarterly 38 (Spring 2007), 91.
Review of Seeing and Being Seen: Tourism in the American West, ed. by David M. Wrobel and Patrick T. Long. Pacific Northwest Quarterly 93 (Spring 2002), 96.