Elizabeth Fenn is the chair of the History Department at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she is the Walter and Lucienne Driskill Professor of Western American History. Her award-winning book Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, was published in 2001. More recently, she completed Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People, which won the 2015 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, the 2015 Colorado Book Award in History, the 2015 Albert J. Beveridge Award, the 2015 Caroline Bancroft History Prize, and the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for History. Elizabeth is now at work on a biography of Sakagawea.
Elizabeth joined the CU Boulder faculty in 2012 and also is a faculty affiliate of the CU Boulder Department of Ethnic Studies. She previously taught at Duke University and earned her PhD at Yale University.
Elizabeth received a bachelor of arts degree in history (with honors) from Duke University in 1981, then attended Yale University, finishing her masters in 1985. Fenn originally planned to write her dissertation on millenarianism in Native American culture, but left her doctoral program at Yale before it was finished. Elizabeth entered the auto mechanics program at Durham Technical Community College and worked as a mechanic around the Durham, North Carolina area for eight years before returning to Yale in 1995 to complete her studies.
Prior to joining the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2012, Elizabeth taught at George Washington University from 1999 to 2002 and Duke from 2002 to 2012.