MSU’s Marcus wins Lifetime Achievement Award from history society

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Alan I. Marcus wearing regalia on an MSU commencement stage
Alan I. Marcus (Photo by Logan Kirkland)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State professor and head of the history department is receiving the highest honor awarded by the Agricultural History Society for his professional influence on the scholarly organization throughout the past 36 years.

Alan I. Marcus, an MSU William L. Giles Distinguished Professor, is the 2019 selection for the Gladys L. Baker Award for Lifetime Achievement, announced this month. He will formally accept his award during a 2021 in-person ceremony due to this year’s cancellation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Rick Travis said, “The committee recognized Marcus’s myriad of intellectual contributions to the study of agricultural history and its tributary disciplines, as well as his nearly four-decade association with the organization.”

Calling the award “a total surprise,” Marcus has been a member of AHS since 1984 and has had more scholarly articles published in the society’s journal, Agricultural History, than any other member.

“For much of my career, I have been immersed in the scholarship of the history of science and technology, of which agricultural history is but a part,” said Marcus, who has authored nine books, edited 12 additional books and journals, and written dozens of journal articles.

“When I started with the society, very few people worked in agricultural science. Now it is one of the most prominent areas of research within the society,” he said. 

Marcus served as the organization’s treasurer from 2010 to 2019, was named an AHS fellow in 2016, and brought the society’s executive office to MSU in 2010 where it was sheltered until 2019.

A 101-year-old organization, AHS established the Gladys Baker Award in 2009 and presented the first award in 2010, honoring the first woman in the USDA history office. Born in rural Iowa in 1910, Baker became head of the USDA’s War Records Department when it was created in 1942. She was considered an expert in agricultural policy and history and was senior author of “A Century of Service: The First 100 Years of the United States Department of Agriculture.” Baker served as president of the Agricultural History Society in 1970 and died in 1991.

Founded in Washington, D.C. in 1919, AHS is the third oldest professional historical organization in the U.S. and is the leading association worldwide of academics interested in the history of agriculture and rural life. 

Marcus also is a member of the Society for the History of Technology, American Association for the History of Medicine, History of Science Society, Organization of American Historians, and the American Historical Association.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 325 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs, 14 master’s programs, and 27 undergraduate academic majors offered in 14 departments.  It also is home to the most diverse units for research and scholarly activities, including natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. For more details about the College of Arts and Sciences or the Department of History, visit or

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