Pace, Robert F. 1966–

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Pace, Robert F. 1966–


Born April 18, 1966. Education: Austin College, B.A. (with honors), 1988; Texas Christian University, M.A., 1990, Ph.D., 1992.


Office—McMurry University, McMurry Station, Box 638, Abilene, TX 79697. E-mail—[email protected].


Academic and historian. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, instructor in history, 1990-92; Longwood College, Farmville, VA, assistant professor, 1992-98, associate professor, 1998-99; McMurry University, Abilene, TX, associate professor, 1999-2004, department of history chair, 2001-06, professor of history, 2004—, Grady McWhiney Foundation, Abilene, senior director, 1999-2004, vice president and chief operating officer, 2004—, Grady McWhiney Research Foundation fellow, 1996—, board member, 1997—.


Pi Gamma Mu and Phi Alpha Theta.


Longwood College, exceptional merit faculty award, 1994, 1996, 1998, Student Government Association resolution of commendation for contributions to student life, 1995; McMurry University, Pacesetter faculty award, 2003, 2004, outstanding faculty award, 2005, E.E. Hall Award for outstanding scholarship in the arts and sciences, 2006, Gordon R. and Lola J. Bennett Award for Teaching, Service, and Leadership, 2008.


(Editor, with Grady McWhiney and Warner O. Moore) Fear God and Walk Humbly: The Agricultural Journal of James Mallory, 1843-1877, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1997.

(Editor) Two Hundred Years in the Heart of Virginia: Perspectives on Farmville's History, 1798-1998, Longwood College Foundation (Richmond, VA), 1998.

Halls of Honor: College Men in the Old South, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2004.

(With Donald S. Frazier) Frontier Texas: History of a Borderland to 1880, State House Press (Abilene, TX), 2004.

(Editor) Buffalo Days: Stories from J. Wright Mooar as Told to James Winford Hunt, State House Press (Abilene, TX), 2005.

(With Donald S. Frazier and Robert P. Wettemann, Jr.) The Texas You Expect: The Story of Buffalo Gap Historic Village, State House Press (Abilene, TX), 2006.

(With Donald S. Frazier) Abilene Historic Landmarks: An Illustrated Tour, photographs by Steve Butman, State House Press (Abilene, TX), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Louisiana History, Southern Studies, and Southern Culture.


Robert F. Pace is an academic and historian. Born on April 18, 1966, Pace earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors in history from Austin College in 1988. He then undertook graduate studies at Texas Christian University, where he earned a master of arts degree in history in 1990 followed by a Ph.D. in 1992.

While a doctoral student, Pace worked as an instructor in history at Texas Christian University. In 1992, when he completed his degree, he accepted the position of assistant professor of history at Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia. By 1998, he was promoted to associate professor of history. Pace left Virginia the following year, accepting a position as associate professor of history at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. He concurrently worked as the senior director at the university's Grady McWhiney Foundation. In 2004, Pace was promoted to full professor of history at McMurry University and to vice president and chief operating officer of the Grady McWhiney Foundation, of which he had been a fellow since 1996 and a board member since 1997. Pace served as chair of McMurry University's department of history from 2001 until 2006.

In 2004, Pace wrote Frontier Texas: History of a Borderland to 1880 with Donald S. Frazier. The book covers West Texas and its cultural history up until 1880. The region, under regular attack from native inhabitants of the land, did not gain stability until the mid-nineteenth century, when a series of forts were built across the frontier. This was followed by the advent of cattle drives and private property laws, thus putting an end to the days of the open range. Byron Pearson, writing in the Journal of Southern History, said that "the book is written in a lively style and is filled with interesting tidbits of Texas frontier history placed within a broader context. It is organized chronologically through the use of vignettes that introduce interesting personalities and events," adding that it "is an excellent read for all audiences."

Also in 2004, Pace published Halls of Honor: College Men in the Old South. The book opens the scholarship on how Southern college students reacted to the scholars of the time. In this "highly descriptive" book, wrote Peter S. Carmichael in Southern Cultures, "the depiction of the difficulties that young men faced in trying to achieve adult status is the strongest section of Halls of Honor." Carmichael noted that the author, when dealing with the young men in the account, "chooses to emphasize emotion when understanding college-aged secessionists at the expense of such other factors as ideology and politics. In the end, Halls of Honor plays upon the old stereotype of southern youth: that men below the Mason-Dixon Line could only [feud] and were incapable of serious thought." Daniel Kilbride, reviewing the book in the Journal of Southern History, suggested that "this book would have benefited from another hundred pages in length, which would have given Pace the space to expand his analysis beyond the commonplace. Surely college life was more diverse than the picture presented here." Kilbride appended that "the interpretation also suffers from insufficient research in primary and secondary sources." James Fuller, reviewing the book in the Historian, commented that "Halls of Honor also raises many questions and new subjects to explore, which is the mark of a good book, not a criticism of an author who persuasively accomplishes what he set out to do. Southern historians will find much to confirm or challenge in their own research." Fuller found that the account "gracefully" fills "a serious gap in the scholarly literature."

Pace told CA: "Reading good narrative history (and good fiction) made me want to try my hand at writing.

"Grady McWhiney, who was my major professor in graduate school, was a wonderful narrative writer. I did not always agree with his historical interpretations, but he approached writing as a skill to be practiced and honed. He spent many hours working with me on parsing the correct verb or crafting the perfect topic sentence. I also appreciate great writing in other areas. I recall the first time I read Alan Paton's novel Cry the Beloved Country, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of his words and the power of his imagery. I aspired to be able to write like these authors and so many others. I haven't gotten there yet, but I will keep working on it.

"For me, my writing process begins with the research. I take copious notes on the topic, then I begin to develop a thesis about the subject. I spend a significant amount of time planning and outlining the general direction of the arguments and the evidence to support the arguments. Finally, I organize my notes according to the outline, and begin to write. I usually work hard on the introduction from the beginning (rather than write the text, then come back to the narrative). I like introductions that begin with a narrative story that is illustrative of the topic. I focus my efforts on strong topic sentences so that paragraphs all mean something (if a sentence does not fit the topic sentence, then it does not belong in that paragraph). I then write quickly to get sentences and paragraphs written. Once I have completed the first draft, I then spend significant time reading each paragraph carefully, focusing on verb and adjective choices, making changes as I go. I usually have five or six drafts of any given work before I send it out for others to read.

"Words are important. Following grammatical rules, focusing on active verbs, and trying to be concise in writing are all things that matter.

"Halls of Honor is my favorite book. I stumbled across the topic by finding letters from a college student from the 1850s. I then explored thousands of letters, diaries, and others documents from antebellum college students in the South. My focus in the work was to explore what it was like to be a college student in the antebellum South. In the years I worked on that research and writing, I believe that I came to know the micro-society of the antebellum college. I had great fun trying to convey to readers what that society was like. I served as the narrator, and I let the voices of the students provide the evidence for my arguments. More importantly, I think I provided a glimpse of the sometimes chaotic, sometimes structured world of these adolescents—from their pranks and frolics to their hopes and fears.

"I want my books to be informative. I want readers to learn from them about the topic. Beyond that, however, I want readers to be entertained by my writing. I hope to bring humor and insight to the subject. If I accomplish these goals, then my books have achieved what I hope for them."



Agricultural History, spring, 2006, Glen Sample Ely, review of Frontier Texas: History of a Borderland to 1880, p. 262.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June, 2005, J.D. Born, Jr., review of Halls of Honor: College Men in the Old South, p. 1185.

Historian, spring, 2006, James Fuller, review of Halls of Honor, p. 160.

Journal of American History, September 1, 2005, Jennifer R. Green, review of Halls of Honor, p. 603.

Journal of Southern History, November 1, 2005, Daniel Kilbride, review of Halls of Honor, p. 886; August 1, 2006, Byron Pearson, review of Frontier Texas, p. 647.

Journal of the Early Republic, summer, 2005, Rodney Hessinger, review of Halls of Honor, p. 330.

Journal of the West, summer, 2005, Michael J. Bailey, review of Frontier Texas, p. 100.

Roundup Magazine, February 1, 2005, review of Frontier Texas, p. 21.

Southern Cultures, fall, 2005, Peter S. Carmichael, review of Halls of Honor, p. 109.

Southwestern Historical Quarterly, July 1, 2005, Ty Cashion, review of Frontier Texas, p. 151; April 1, 2006, Charles D. Grear, review of Buffalo Days: Stories from J. Wright Mooar as Told to James Winford Hunt, p. 586.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, (May, 2007), Christopher J. Olsen, review of Halls of Honor.

McMurry University Web site, (April 21, 2008), author profile.

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Pace, Robert F. 1966–

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