Dr. Michael Fry

Dr. Michael Fry
Professor of History


  • Latin American history
  • Central American history
  • 18th and 19th century Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica


  • Ph.D., History, Tulane University, 1992
  • M.A., Latin American Studies, Tulane University, 1985
  • B.A., History and Spanish, Westminster College, 1983


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About Dr. Michael Fry

Michael Fry is a professor in the Department of History at Fort Lewis College. He joined the College in 1995. Dr. Fry's research focuses on Guatemala and Latin American history. He teaches courses in Central American history, Mexican history, the Hispanic world, Latin American history, U.S.-Latin American relations, and other related topics. Dr. Fry has two current book projects: a historical dictionary of Guatemala under contract and a second on the Ladino people of Guatemalan Montaña that is under review. He has lived and traveled extensively throughout Latin America, leading students on Innovative Month and other residential programs to Spain, Mexico, and Central America to study the region's history. Dr. Fry was a Fulbright Fellow in Latin America, where he studied the Agrarian society in the Guatemalan Montaña, the basis for his doctoral thesis.

Dr. Fry serves on the FLC Faculty Senate. He is a founding member and past president of the FLC chapter of the American Association of University Professors. 

In January 2020, Dr. Michael Fry went on a sabbatical research trip to Guatemala to carry out work that would lead to revisions of his book-length historical monograph, tentatively entitled Becoming Ladino: Land & Community in the Guatemalan Montaña, 1700-1840. The goal was to study key primary manuscripts at the national archives, the Archivo General de Centro América, and to take notes in the national Hemeroteca, a repository of old newspapers.

Unfortunately, the next month, the Covid-19 pandemic struck Guatemala. The government closed all restaurants and bars, prohibited all social, religious, political, or recreational gatherings, closed the airport, barred the entry of all non-Guatemalans into the country, mandated the wearing of masks and the practice of social distancing in public, banned all travel from one department to another within the country, imposed a 4 p.m. curfew, and began an aggressive program of testing. Of course, the archives, the Hemeroteca, and the national library were closed.

Nonetheless, Dr. Fry did much work after the closures, although less than he had hoped. He had already been working in those repositories for almost two months. In the week before the lockdown, with the help of some of the archival employees, he scanned considerable numbers of documents that he could read and study in his room in the boarding house where he was staying. Moreover, the director of the national library allowed him to take many books to his room. He worked that way for three months until he ran out of research materials. He spent most of July trying to figure out how to get out of Guatemala. Finally, he got back to the United States in early August 2020.

When Fry returned to teaching at the College, he had to scramble to learn how to teach with Zoom, which he had never heard of. With the challenges of Covid and some personal medical problems, he had to stall work on Becoming Ladino, but he has recently been working again on the project. Fry is reading broadly and taking notes in the literature on late colonial Guatemalan history and other areas of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. He is searching for thematic connections with his work, incorporating them into his manuscript to give it greater breadth.

Selected publications and presentations

"Civilization & Barbarism: Urban Elites & the Rural Poor in the Revolt of the Montaña," Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Washington, D.C., 2014

"Defending the Web: Private and Communal Land Tenure in the Guatemalan Montaña." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ethnohistory in Springfield, Missouri, 2012

"The Dilemma of the Guatemalan Montaña: Internal and External Burdens in the Eighteenth Century." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ethnohistory in Pasadena, California, 2011

"Rise of the Ladino Republic, 1700-1840." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ethnohistory in Ottawa, Ontario, 2010

“Latin America,” Great Issues Group lecture, Durango, Colorado, 2006

“Relaciones étnicas en la historia guatemalteca,” Lecture given at the Universidad de Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico, 2006

“De indígena a ladino: diferenciación étnica en la montaña guatemalteca, (1750-1840),” Diálogos Latinoamericanos [Denmark] VII, 2004


In the news

Professor of History Michael Fry has released Historical Dictionary of Guatemala, a detailed guide to the country's important personalities, politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, and culture. [8/15/18]