Office: Department of History
Southeast Missouri State University
One University Plaza
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
Bob White retired after thirty-three years of service in the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University. During that time he taught U.S. History to thousands of students, many of whom will always remember the "What were the major newspaper headlines on the date of your birth?" assignment.
White, a native of Arkansas, earned his B.S. in Education at Arkansas State University. Before coming to Southeast, he completed his M.A. at Colorado State College in Greeley. Initially assigned to teach the American History survey, Bob gave yeoman work in the mid-sixties-- sometimes teaching six courses a semester and coordinating the American History survey. This coordination was vital since department offered between fifty and sixty sections of American History to nearly 2,000 students. Program changes were all made by hand in this era before computers on campus and White dutifully dealt with hundreds of students every semester as they dropped and added sections of history.
He was one of the "founding fathers" of the Historic Preservation Program and developed and taught the infamous HP200 Techniques of Local History course. Students in his museum studies classes researched and developed exhibits for the University Museum and for museums throughout the region on topics ranging from the New Madrid Earthquake to the Missouri Mule. To further create an experiential style for his local history course, White helped secure a grant to microfilm all the county records
Professor White researched and wrote on local history. His publications include book reviews, an article on Willard Vandiver, a book on slavery in Cape Girardeau County, and a book on Mississippi steamboating, Child of an Eagle. White served as one of the historical consultants for the films, Puddin Head Wilson and Life on the Mississippi.
When George Ketcham gave up active teaching, White developed a field in the history of the Middle East. This led to a Fulbright Fellowship to Hebrew University in Israel and many semesters teaching about Middle Eastern life and history.
Professor White also served as the Director of the Center for Regional History. During his tenure the Center received grants to further study the Mississippi River and the rural schools and communities of Cape Girardeau County. White began the practice of publishing works written by local historians through the Center and was instrumental in getting the Louis Houck papers donated to the University.
He served on the Board of Directors for the River Heritage Museum, the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission, the Missouri Secretary of State’s Task Force on Local Records, and was appointed by the Governor to the Missouri State Historical Records Board.
Following his retirement, Professor White pursues his love of travel and the great outdoors by developing prowess in clearing brush, chopping wood, and road construction and the dubious honor of being the only member of the Department to be so dedicated to deer hunting that he rode out a tornado in a tree stand. Bob and his wife, Wylene, have traveled to Europe, the western Caribbean, the maritime provinces of Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, and Australia since retirement.