U.S. History, Anglo-American history (in particular, the relationship and connections between Britain and the United States), Presidential History, local, state, and regional history (Texas, particularly Dallas and Collin Counties)
I have an interest not only in U.S. history but also the history of Great Britain, where most of my ancestors came from and where I resided (in London) from 1977 to 1982. The United Kingdom is also a country to which I still have close personal ties and to which I travel from time-to-time, most recently in July and August 2017.
I teach a "warts-and-all" view of American history, with a particular emphasis on political and social struggles and issues that have engaged and in some cases, continue to engage, thoughtful and concerned American citizens.
Whenever it is relevant, I try to show my students how local history connects with larger national events.
I trace the beginning of my lifelong interest in history to the Disneyland television series, which in December 1954 aired the first of three episodes about frontier hero Davy Crockett. I also credit my grandmother, who told me at an early age about my great-grandfather (her father), who had fought in the Civil War. By the age of eight, my love of history was noticeable. On January 24, 1958, my third grade teacher at Edwin J. Kiest Elementary School in Dallas, Mrs. Johnson, wrote in my report card for the third six weeks period: "Steven brings to class many interesting anecdotes and much historical background of famous people and places. How we enjoy these!"
I received both my M.A. in History (1999) and my Ph.D. in Transatlantic History (2006) from The University of Texas at Arlington. I am also a graduate of Rhode Island College, where I was awarded a B.A. in History in 1976, and Rhode Island Junior College, from which I earned an Associate degree in Liberal Arts in 1974. A native of Dallas, Texas, I began my undergraduate work in 1972 as a "charter student" at Richland College, one of the two schools where I teach today. During the 1972-1973 school year, I served as Associate Editor of the Richland Mandala, forerunner of today's Richland Chronicle student newspaper. If you are interested, here is a short article I wrote,
Remembering Richland College, 1972.
Doc Butler as a student at Richland College, 1972
Doc Butler visiting Rhode Island Junior College (now Community College of Rhode Island), June 2012
Doc Butler visiting Rhode Island College, June 2012
Doc Butler at the University of Texas at Arlington, December 2006
I am a veteran of the Cold War. Between 1968 and 1971 I served in the United States Navy, on land and also at sea aboard the aircraft carriers U.S.S. Yorktown (CVS-10) and U.S.S. Intrepid (CVS-11). As a Third Class Petty Officer, I participated in several NATO antisubmarine warfare exercises in the North Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, and Arctic Ocean. The purpose of these exercises were to prevent a surprise nuclear attack upon the United States and its allies by the Soviet Union. Both of the ships I served aboard are now floating museums, the Yorktown at Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina (near Charleston), and the Intrepid in New York City. After a wait of several decades, I revisited both vessels, the Yorktown in 2010, and the Intrepid in 2012.
Doc Butler aboard the Intrepid, 1970
Doc Butler visiting the Yorktown, August 2010
Doc Butler visiting the Intrepid, June 2012
When I first started college in 1972 I intended to major in Journalism. During part of my sophomore year (1973-1974), I worked as a part-time tour guide at the Old Slater Mill Historic Site in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the first cotton mill in America, opened in 1790 by an English immigrant named Samuel Slater. The historic site consists of three buildings: The Sylvanus Brown House, the Slater Mill, and the Wilkinson Mill. My job was take visitors through the Wilkinson Mill, where Samuel Slater's father-in-law, Oziel Wilkinson, operated a machine shop. While working here, on weekends mostly, compliments from visitors led me to give up the idea of pursuing a career in Journalsim and to change my major to History and become a teacher. Below are some photos that show me in 1973 and also 2012, when I returned to see the place where I made one of the most important decisions of my life.
Doc Butler at the Wilkinson Mill, Old Slater Mill Historic Site, 1973.
Doc Butler at the Wilkinson Mill, Old Slater Mill Historic Site, 2012.
Doc Butler at the Wilkinson Mill, Old Slater Mill Historic Site, 2012.
Old Slater Mill, 2012.
I am married and have two adult sons and two grandsons.
The Lakewood Advocate (Dallas, Texas) featured an article about my love of history in its September 2017 issue, pp. 20 23, and 24.
I was also featured in the December 2002 issue of The Lakewood Advocate.
Hobbies and Interests: Travel, Photography, Family History (Genealogy), collecting inexpensive historical artifacts that I call "Pieces of the Past." In keeping with these interests, I also maintain several other websites, which you are invited to visit.
A "pet peeve" is something that in the grand scheme of things may or may not be terribly important to most folks, but is irritating or bothersome to a person all the same.
Although I am not an English professor, my "Top Ten" pet peeves all involve the misuse of language. Here they are:
Not addressing someone with a Ph.D. as "Doctor." Anyone who has been awarded a Ph.D. or "doctorate" is entitled to the title "Doctor." An academic doctor may not be able to cure you of anything but ignorance, but he or she has earned the right to be respectully addressed as "Doctor," not Mister or Miss or Ms. or Mrs. or "Dude" or "Hey you." When in doubt, use "Professor." I don't mind if you call me "Doc," however.
Calling a lectern a "podium." A podium is something you stand ON, like a stage or a raised platform. A lectern is something you stand AT. Even otherwise well-educated people and people in the media make this mistake all the time. When someone calls another person to "come up to the podium," they mean (or should mean), to the stage or platform, not the piece of furniture you stand at and put your notes or glass of water on. To llustrate, here's a photo of me giving a presentation at the 2006 Annual Dallas History Conference.
Sofa vs. Couch. Most people who think they are "couch potatoes" are in fact "sofa potatoes." A couch, which is meant for lying on, is a long bench-like piece of furniture with only one armrest. A sofa, which is meant for sitting on, has two armrests. You can lay on a sofa, of course, but it is still a sofa, not a couch.
I also hate redundancies. Don't say "Rio Grande River." It's redundant. "Rio" means river in Spanish! So when you say, "Rio Grande River," you are actually saying "River Grande River."
Here's another redundancy that gets on my nerves: "PIN number." The "N" in "PIN" stands for "number!" So when you say "PIN number" you are actually saying "Personal Identification Number Number." It's the same with a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
Here's something similar: "ATM machine." The "M" in "ATM" stands for "machine." So when you say "ATM machine," you are actually saying "Automatic Teller Machine Machine."
Confusing "Calvery" with "Cavalry." I hear this one all the time: "And the calvary came to the rescue." Calvary is the place where Jesus is said to have been crucified. Cavalry is a body of armed, mounted troops.
Mispronouncing "Nuclear" as "Nu-cu-ler." President George W. Bush used to do this all the time and it drove me crazy!
Saying, "the Government." Which one? We have several levels of government in this country: city, county, state and federal. Which one are you talking about? It also drives me crazy when people say "the Government" (usually, they mean the federal government") can't do anything right. Really? Are we talking about the same government that built the Panama Canal, defeated Nazi Germany, and then put men on the moon?" Yes, governments (on all levels) don't always get things right, but they also do some pretty incredible things, like building highways that enable commerce to thrive and also things such as inventing the Internet. Who do you think did that? Santa Claus?
Misuse of the word "like." Example: "And I was like, "are you going to help me with my homework?" and he was like, "well I can't do that." The word like means either to approve of something, as in "I like chocolate cake." Or, it means something similar. Example: "That movie was very much like another one I saw recently." "Like" is NOT a synonym for "said."
From Water Supply to Urban Oasis: A History of White Rock Lake Park (AUTHOR)
John Neely Bryan: The Father of Dallas (AUTHOR)
From London to Kentucky: The Life and Times of James Haycraft, Jr. and his son, Samuel Haycraft, Sr. (AUTHOR)
15 Lancaster Gate: A Tranatlantic Love Story (AUTHOR)
Guided by Reason: The Golden Age of Freethought in Texas (AUTHOR)
The Forgotten Soldiers (AUTHOR)
Miles Away from Butler: How a DNA Test Rewrote My Family's History (AUTHOR)
BOOKS I'VE EDITED AND/OR INTRODUCED
A Biblical Merry-Go-Round and Other Essays by Arthur Babb (EDITOR)
A Texas Freethought Reader (EDITOR)
The EUTAW RANGERS in the WAR with MEXICO (EDITOR)
Sketches by a Skirmisher: The Mexican War Writings of Captain Mayne Reid (EDITOR)
The Rural Life of England by Capt. Mayne Reid (EDITOR)
BOOKS TO WHICH I'VE CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OR PHOTOS
The U.S. and Mexico at War, edited by Donald Frazier. (contributor of four articles)
When Art Worked: The New Deal, Art, and Democracy by Roger G. Kennedy, former director of the National Park Service and director emeritus of the National Museum of American History. (contributor of five photographs)
Marshall Cavendish--The Old West (contributor of nine articles)
A Line Around England by Simon Harmer (includes a line drawing based on my photograph of Canterbury Cathedral)