Image of Robert Marshall Utley


Lifetime: 1929 - 2022 Passed: ≈ 1 year ago


Author, Historian


United States

Robert Marshall Utley

Robert Marshall Utley (October 31, 1929 – June 7, 2022) was an American historian who wrote sixteen books on the history of the American West, especially in its confrontations with the Indian tribes. He was a chief historian for the National Park Service. In 1997 he was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for lifetime achievement given by the Society for Military History.

Early Life and Education

Utley was born in Bauxite, Arkansas, in 1929. During his childhood, his parents, Don Williams Utley and Valeria Haney, moved him to northwestern Indiana, where he attended high school. Later, he attended nearby Purdue University, receiving a Bachelor of Science in history. He then attended Indiana University for graduate school, receiving a Master of Arts in history in 1952. Following his graduation, Utley served in the U.S. Army, and then joined the National Park Service.


Utley began his career with the National Park Service as a park ranger at Fort Union National Monument in New Mexico. He later served as superintendent of Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. In 1973, he was appointed chief historian of the National Park Service, a position he held for ten years.

During his time with the National Park Service, Utley wrote extensively about the history of the American West. His books include:

  • Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891 (1959)
  • The Last Days of the Sioux Nation (1963)
  • Cavalry Scouts and Indian Wars (1967)
  • Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1891-1917 (1973)
  • Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848-1865 (1981)
  • The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull (1993)
  • Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life (2001)
  • American Frontiersman: Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Kit Carson (2009)

Utley's books are known for their accuracy, objectivity, and readability. He was a master of storytelling, and his books bring the history of the American West to life.


Utley's philosophy of history was based on the belief that all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or social status, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. He was a strong advocate for the rights of Native Americans, and he believed that the history of the American West should be told from a Native American perspective as well as a European-American perspective.

Death and Legacy

Utley died on June 7, 2022, at the age of 92. He is remembered as one of the most important historians of the American West. His books have been widely read and praised by scholars and the general public alike. Utley's work has helped to shape our understanding of the American West, and it continues to inspire and inform new generations of historians.

Interesting Facts

  • Utley was a recipient of the William H. Prescott Award from the American History Association, the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize from the Society for Military History, and the Distinguished Writing Award from the National Park Service.
  • Utley was a frequent lecturer and commentator on the history of the American West. He appeared on numerous television and radio programs, and he wrote articles for magazines and newspapers.
  • Utley was a member of the American Historical Association, the Western History Association, and the Society of American Historians.


Robert Marshall Utley was a giant in the field of American history. His books on the American West are classics, and they will continue to be read and enjoyed for many years to come. Utley's work has helped us to understand the American West in all its complexity, and it has inspired a new generation of historians to continue his legacy.

Books by Robert Marshall Utley

Custer Battlefield: A History And Guide To The Battle Of The Little Bighorn Cover image

Custer Battlefield: A History And Guide To The Battle Of The Little Bighorn

History War
Battle Military Guide America World Wars Pursuit United States Disaster

On June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry were defeated by a combined force of Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. This pivotal event in American history is chronicle...