Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, currently serves as Tennessee's State Historian, is the co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and is director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. He also serves as editor-in-chief of The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture web site (University of Tennessee Press). West continues to work extensively with the National Register of Historic Places program; a recent project is the The U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study, Macon County, Alabama, 1932-1975, Multiple Property Submission. West is currently working on a website entitled "Revisiting Montana's Historic Landscape" that showcases his fieldwork in Eastern Montana, as well as "Tennessee's Historic Landscape" showcasing fieldwork in Tennessee.
His research interests lie in 19th and 20th century southern and western history as well as architecture and material culture. He served as the editor of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly from 1993-2010. His most recent book is A History of Tennessee Arts: Creating Traditions and Expanding Horizons (University of Tennessee Press, 2004), the state’s first comprehensive history of the arts. Forthcoming is Nashville: Architecture: A Guide to the City (University of Tennessee Press, 2012). He also has published the chapter "Sacred Spaces of Faith, Community, and Resistance: Rural African American Churches in Jim Crow Tennessee" for "We Shall Independent Be": African American Place Making and the Struggle to Claim Space in the United States (University Press of Colorado, 2008), “Rocky Mountain Architecture” for Rocky Mountain Cultures (Greenwood Press, 2005), “Architecture” for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press, 2006), and co-authored a National Trust for Historic Preservation booklet, Heritage Areas: Getting Started (2006).
Earlier books by West include: an edited anthology, Trial and Triumph: Readings in Tennessee’s African-American Past (University of Tennessee Press, 2002), the first such textbook on Tennessee’s African American history in over 20 years; the web edition of The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (University of Tennessee Press, 2003), which includes many more visuals, maps, videos, audio, and other illustrative material than the original print volume; Tennessee’s New Deal Landscape (University of Tennessee Press, 2001), the first statewide book on the many New Deal-era structures, buildings, and parks; The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture published by the Tennessee Historical Society in 1998 (co-winner of the Tennessee History Book Award and received an AASLH Award of Merit in 1999); the edited anthology Tennessee History: The Land, The People, and The Culture, published by the University of Tennessee Press in 1998; Tennessee's Historic Landscapes, a study of history and architecture, published by the University of Tennessee Press in 1995; Capitalism on the Frontier: The Transformation of Billings and the Yellowstone Valley in the 19th Century, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1993; Images of Billings, a photographic history of Billings, MT, published by the Western Heritage Center Press in 1990; Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Farms Perspective, a descriptive history of 783 Century Farms, published by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture in 1987; and A Traveler's Companion to Montana History, an analysis of twenty-three Montana cultural landscapes, published by the Montana Historical Society Press in 1986.
As a professor in MTSU's history department, he teaches courses in architectural history, historic preservation, and state and local history. West has directed to completion over eighty M.A. theses and Ph.D. dissertations of MTSU graduate students in history, historic preservation, and public history.
West serves on the board of advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He has worked with museum/preservation projects in many other states and has been recently working on historic preservation issues in Alabama, Mississippi, and Montana, He has written numerous articles and book reviews in southern and western history. He regularly speaks to history, museum, preservation, and civic groups and conferences in Tennessee and across the nation.
A native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, West holds a B.A. from MTSU, a master's degree in history from the University of Tennessee, and a doctorate in history from the College of William & Mary.