Like most roads in life, my path to becoming what was traditionally called a ‘diplomatic historian’ was full of chances. Even my survival as a 4.5 lb. preemie born in a ‘birthing home’ in Sheridan Wyoming in 1944 was a roll of the dice. As a (female) child, raised in Billings, Montana, during the 1950s with a working father and a stay-at-home mother, I had vague aspirations with no particular goal except to go to college and see the wider world. I ended up at the University of Nebraska, a university from which my older sister, mother, two aunts, grandmother, and grandfather had graduated and was therefore touted in our family as a great school in ‘the East.’ My first clear professional interest emerged in a geology class. I asked my professor how I could become a geology major, and he laughed at the fact that I did not know women could not be geologists because only men could do the required field work. Silly me.

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