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Ken Townsend


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Contact Ken Townsend

Brittain Hall 362

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday: 7:00AM - 8:00AM, 12:15PM - 1:15PM

From the day you’re born until you ride in the hearse, there’s nothing that happens that couldn’t be worse.” (Fred Duncan, educator)


Dr. Kenneth Townsend joined the Coastal Carolina University faculty as an Instructor in August 1989, following his fifteen year service as an eighth grade Social Studies teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina public schools. Two years later, in 1991, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conferred on him the Ph.D. in Twentieth Century United States History, and Coastal Carolina placed him on the tenure track as an Assistant Professor of History.   Dr. Townsend’s general area of expertise is the social, cultural, and military history of the United States, particularly the World War II and post-war period, and his secondary field of expertise is Native American cultures and history. His dissertation, titled “At the Crossroads: Native Americans and World War II,” blended effectively his two academic concentrations, and, in 2000, the University of New Mexico Press published his first book, World War II and the American Indian.  His book earned outstanding reviews. “World War II and the American Indian is quintessential history,” wrote a reviewer for the Utah Historical Review.  “It is at once impeccably researched, highly interpretive, and beautifully written.”  Wrote another reviewer, “If you read only one history book in your entire life, read this one. . . . It will most definitely make you think, and rethink, and make you realize how much richer history is. . . how broad it is, how challenging it is, and surprising and complex, and how events and issues of very long ago continue to exert so much pressure and influence . . . today.” The book was nominated for several distinguished awards, among the the Elliott Rudwick Prize, the Merle Curti Award in American Social History, the Western Writers’ of America Book Award, and the Western Heritage Award. It was also considered for a Pulitzer Prize nomination. World War II and the American Indian has also been required reading in both undergraduate and graduate level classes nationwide. Dr. Townsend followed this accomplishment with two more published books.  South Carolina (2008) is a history of the Palmetto State from its founding to the present and is part of the “On the Road History Series” produced by Boston’s Interlink Publishing Group.   First Americans: A History of Native Peoples (2012), published by Pearson-Prentice-Hall, is a university level textbook that spans 30,000 years of Native American history and cultural development. A second edition of the text is currently in production. 

In addition to his scholarship, Dr. Townsend has been an effective and respected classroom instructor, and he has a lengthy record of service to the university, the surrounding community, and the discipline of History. He developed new courses for the Department of History and served as Department Chair, built a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies, served on key university committees, worked as a consultant for the Horry County School System, reviewed published books for professional journals, and critiqued manuscripts prior to their publication for major presses. He served as a consultant and “on air” commentator for the PBS television broadcast “Way of the Warrior,” and he has delivered public lectures at national, regional, and local conferences and other venues. 

In summer 2006, Dr. Townsend and a colleague, Mr. Paul Olsen, journeyed to war-torn Afghanistan and there witnessed that war first hand. Not content to stay on the large military bases, he and Olsen opted to participate in foot patrols, long distance convoys, and meetings with Afghan tribal elders. Townsend and Olsen interviewed American, Canadian and Afghan enlisted combat personnel and officers, Afghan regional military commanders , American and Afghan medical personnel, and local civilians. Their collected interviews in Afghanistan and follow-up interviews stateside with some of the same individuals three years later allowed Townsend and Olsen to construct an often ignored reality of modern war and its effects on both soldiers and their families for presentation before numerous audiences locally and nationally. 


Ph.D.:     University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill (1991)—20th Century US History; Native American History

M.A.:       University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill (1987)—Modern US History

M.A.Ed.:  University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1975)—Pre-Civil War American History

B.A.:        University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1973)—American History; Political Science


Kenneth W. Townsend, World War II and the American Indian

(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000)

Kenneth Townsend and Mark Nicholas, First Americans: A History of Native Peoples 

(Upper Saddle River, NJ:  PearsonEducation, Inc., 2013)

Kenneth Townsend,  South Carolina 

(Boston: Interlink Publishing, 2008)


Interesting Facts

Chair, Department of History (2008-2011)

James Madison Fellow, Indiana University, 1988

NEH Fellow, UCLA, 1989

Teaching Areas

American and World War II, Native American Cultures and History America since 1945

Research Areas

Native Americans in the 20th Century

The American Home Front During World War II