Walter Rundell, Jr., historian, son of Walter and Olive (Spillar) Rundell, was born at Austin, Texas, on November 2, 1928. He grew up in Baytown, where his father taught and served as dean of Lee College from 1934 to 1967, and attended public schools there. Rundell graduated from Lee College in 1948 and received its Outstanding Student Award. He earned both B.S. (in music literature) and B.J. degrees from the University of Texas in 1951. From 1954 to 1957 he served in the United States Army investigating the history of the army's overseas fiscal activities during World War II. Although he originally planned a career as a music critic, his work as a historical officer in the army led to a change in career plans, and he took M.A. (1955) and Ph.D. (1957) degrees in American history from the American University in Washington, D.C. Rundell taught at Del Mar College, Texas Woman's University, the University of Oklahoma, and Iowa State University, where he also chaired the history department. In addition, he served as assistant executive secretary of the American Historical Association, as head of a National Archives study, and as president of the Western History Association. In 1971 he took a position as professor and chairman of the Department of History at the University of Maryland, where he remained until his death; he served as department chairman from 1971 to 1976.
Rundell won national acclaim through his publications. He wrote five books and contributed to fourteen others, published thirty-nine articles, and wrote more than 100 book reviews. For a series on southwestern writers, he wrote a monograph on Walter Prescott Webb (1971), and at the time of his death he had begun writing a full-length biography. Rundell's books included Black Market Money: The Collapse of U.S. Military Currency Control in World War II (1964), In Pursuit of American History: Research and Training in the United States (1970), Early Texas Oil: A Photographic History 1866–1936 (1977), Military Money: A Fiscal History of the U.S. Army Overseas in World War II (1980), and Oil in West Texas and New Mexico: A Pictorial History of the Permian Basin (1982). In Pursuit of American History won the Waldo G. Leland Award of the Society of American Archivists; that organization elected him its president in 1977. In 1959 Rundell married Deanna A. Boyd; they had three children. Rundell was a Democrat, and the family was active in the First United Methodist Church in Hyattsville, Maryland. Rundell died at his home in Hyattsville on October 25, 1982.
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Contemporary Authors, 1981. Directory of American Scholars, 1982.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
James C. Maroney,
“Rundell, Walter, Jr.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1995