History students
History majors and masters students celebrate the end of the 2017-18 academic year.
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Andrew R.L. Cayton, a much beloved History professor at Miami University, died on December 17, 2015 following a long illness. To honor his legacy, the Department of History has established the Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund.

The fund commemorates Professor Cayton’s profound impact as an instructor, advisor, and mentor of generations of students in the History Department and at Miami University. The fund will support History students’ research, internships, and other opportunities to expand their education and to prepare them for a wide range of careers.

Donations can be made by clicking the red button below. Please reference “Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund” in the memo section.
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Chair's Welcome
Wietse de Boer
Dear Alumni and Friends:
As the summer heat has settled over Oxford, I am delighted to bring you a news update from Miami’s History Department.  A lot has happened since I wrote to you ahead of the last winter break. This newsletter illustrates the passion and engagement with which Miami students and faculty continue to explore the past.  They do so not only because of its intrinsic appeal, but also to deepen their grasp of the present.
In fact, history often helps to illuminate the headlines of our confusing, rapidly changing world. That’s what I took away from a stimulating series of extracurricular discussions History faculty and students had this Spring about salient political themes like democracy, fascism, and Civil War (and other) monuments. Professor Steven Conn, who organized these events along with Professors Erik Jensen and Stephen Norris, reports on these conversations below. Guest lecturer Professor Bryant Simon revisited a 1991 factory fire in North Carolina to offer further reflection on past and present. In his hands, a tragic news item tells a much larger story about the deep undercurrents of late-20th-century U.S. history, which continue to reverberate in the present.
The department was equally fortunate to host a large number of Miami alumni during Alumni Weekend. We took advantage of this opportunity to offer a preview of an upcoming course on the momentous year 1968. Our guests’ recollections showed not only how intensely the past lives on in memory and present-day outlooks, but also how the personal and the political are often deeply intertwined.
Earlier this Spring, we had the good fortune to welcome back another alumna, 2017 National History Teacher of the Year Sara Ziemnik. Ziemnik, a passionate advocate of history education, gave an inspiring lecture to prospective teachers and other students, reminding them that history is a civic project, whose significance extends well beyond the walls of classrooms and university halls. “We have inherited the past,” Ziemnik noted, “so we have a unique responsibility to acknowledge that it affects us.” The quality of our historical engagement – the critical examination of sources, the consideration of multiple perspectives, the awareness of our connectedness to the past – is therefore a vital interest.
Our students continue to hone these skills, in classrooms as well as individual research. This newsletter offers brief reports on classroom projects about subjects as varied as ancient bronze objects recently acquired by Miami’s Art Museum (Daniel Prior) and African American Civil War veterans buried in Oxford, Ohio (Helen Sheumaker). Many of our best students end up pursuing individual research projects. In April students, family, friends, and faculty enjoyed the presentation of sixteen excellent honors theses during our annual Honors Symposium. More information on the students and their projects can be found on the department’s Facebook page.
You may find the results of more student and faculty work in the new issues of two online journals sponsored by the History Department. Journeys into the Past features undergraduate student research and class work. Origins, a collaborative project with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, offers historical perspectives on many pressing contemporary issues. Our faculty and graduate students are regular contributors.
On behalf of the History Department, I send you our best wishes for the summer. We look forward to being in touch again in the coming academic year.
Wietse de Boer
Professor and Chair
Feature Stories 
Sara Ziemnik
Award-winning history teacher and Miami alumna Sara Ziemnik speaks to future teachers
Sara Ziemnik (Miami '99) returned to her alma mater on April 12 for the Manning Morgan Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Department of History, to present "Making the Past Present:  Insights from the National History Teacher of the Year."
History faculty and students discuss links between past and current politics
As Miami students and faculty wrestled to make sense of the political dynamics at play right now in the United States and internationally, the History Department felt a special obligation to put these developments in some deeper context. With that in mind, three members of the department – Erik Jensen, our German historian, Steve Norris, who specializes in Soviet/Russian history and Steve Conn, an Americanist – designed a three-part symposium titled: "Understand the Past, Understand the Present." The program ran during the spring semester.
The series addressed three questions: What is Fascism and Why Should We Care?; What Are We Fighting About When We Fight about Monuments?; and What's the Difference Between Liberal Democracy and Illiberal Democracy? Each session began with short presentations from two faculty members and then turned into a loose, wide-ranging discussion between students and faculty. Dr. Will Brown, a scholar of early-modern French history contributed to the final meeting with a presentation on the French Revoluation. All presentations were informative, the questions from students were smart, and the series demonstrated just how central a knowledge of history is to being an informed, engaged citizen.
Classroom Highlights
In several classes offered by Professor Daniel Prior, history students got first-hand experience with premodern world civilizations by exploring Miami’s rich collections of documents and objects. In a hands-on lab exercise in World History to 1500, the class examined a range of manuscripts and incunabula (early printed books) in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections in King Library. Miami’s rare texts include Babylonian clay tablets, Egyptian papyri, a sumptuously illuminated 15th-century French book of hours, and a page from a Gutenberg Bible.
Dr. Prior’s upper-level undergraduates in Eurasian Nomads and History investigated the formation of ancient steppe nomads north of China using a collection of bronze artifacts excavated from sites in present-day China, Mongolia, and south Siberia. The objects were donated to the Miami University Art Museum by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation in New York, after the museum hosted them in a temporary exhibition co-curated by Dr. Prior and several undergraduate and graduate students in History.
Third Battle of Petersburg
Tombstone of Harris Cochrane
Public history students research African American Civil War veterans
Students in Dr. Helen Sheumaker’s Introduction to Public History course created a blog highlighting the lives of the 37 African American Civil War veterans buried in Woodside Cemetery on Chestnut Street, Oxford, Ohio. These men served in the USCT (United States Colored Troop), the USCHA (United States Colored Heavy Artillery, Infantry, and Cavalry). Some were from Oxford or Liberty, Indiana; others enlisted in Kentucky and other southern states. By 1870 most lived in Oxford, joining the historic community of African Americans that had lived here since the 1840s. Some men made their way steadily, teaching themselves to read and write, buying property, and raising children. Others struggled, moved away for work, and returned.
Oxford was unusual for having two African American G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) posts, both led by black Civil War veterans. Oxford's early cemeteries were not racially segregated. Two of them, "Old Yard" (near today's Ace Hardware) and Township Cemetery, a small plot alongside College Corner Pike, were superseded by Oxford Cemetery (off U.S. 27 south of town), and Woodside Cemetery. 
The blog, Wood Cemetery USCT, provides biographies for each of the men cross-indexed by regiment, occupation, and state of birth.
More Department News
History faculty recognized with endowed positions
This summer three History department faculty were appointed to endowed positions: 
Matthew Gordon Amanda McVety Steve Norris
  • Matthew S. Gordon, a specialist in the history of the Islamic world, is the new Phillip R. Shriver Professor of History
  • Amanda K. McVety, a scholar of U.S. foreign relations, was appointed a Naus Family Faculty Scholar
  • Stephen M. Norris became the Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Russian History and was also appointed to serve as director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies
We are very proud of the accomplishments of these faculty colleagues and wish them well in their new positions.  A profile of Dr. Norris and the Havighurst Center follows below. Future newsletters will feature the work of Drs. Gordon and McVety.
New Havighurst professor previews Russian Studies programming
As noted above, Stephen M. Norris, the newly minted Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Russian History, began his term as director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. Professor Norris, the author of two monographs, several edited volumes, and numerous articles, is currently working on a biography of Boris Efimov (1900-2008), the most significant political caricaturist in Soviet history. Efimov’s career began in Civil War Ukraine when he was just a teenager before he moved to Moscow in 1922 and worked as a cartoonist for major Soviet publications. He continued to draw caricatures for them until the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Below Professor Norris describes the mission of the Havighurst Center and some upcoming events.
Founded in 2000 as the result of a generous bequest from Walter E. Havighurst, the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies is a nationally and internationally recognized study center. The Center has a tremendous core of faculty engaged in research and teaching; hosts an annual Young Researchers Conference; weekly colloquia lectures with outside speakers; and post-doctoral teaching fellows. The Center also provides funding for other university initiatives having to do with Russia and the former USSR. The Center also sponsors undergraduate fellows, study abroad initiatives, and the Russian and Lithuanian Clubs at Miami. It has a long-standing relationship with the History Department, bringing in several post-doctoral teaching fellows (including Dr. Francesca Silano, who will start this year) and numerous co-sponsored events.
This coming year, the Center will sponsor a series of events on the theme "Truth and Power." Complementing the Humanities Center’s Altman Program on "Truth and Lies," the Center will host Anna Veduta, the Global Outreach Director of Meduza Media and former spokesperson for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and Mikhail Zygar, founder-in-chief of TV-Rain, the only independent television channel in Russia and author of the bestselling book All the Kremlin's Men. With the Humanities Center, the Havighurst Center is co-sponsoring the visit of Masha Gessen, the National Book Award-winning author of The Future is History. In the spring, we will welcome Victoria Lomasko, a graphic journalist and author of Other Russias, who will paint a mural while on campus. Our annual Young Researchers Conference, which is run in a workshop-like format and brings a dozen or so graduate students or recent PhDs to campus, will be on the theme "Technologies and Narratives of Truth and Power." Our focus on "Truth and Power" will be covered on the Center's blog by three outstanding undergraduate students: Emily Erdmann, August Hagemann, and Helen McHenry. It should be an intellectually rewarding and timely year at the Center!
Historian Bryant Simon Revisits a Historic Fire
On April 11, Professor Bryant Simon (Temple University), in the well-attended Charles and Elizabeth Wilson Lecture in History, analyzed the tragic 1991 fire in a chicken processing plant in the small town of Hamlet, North Carolina. This was one of the worst accidents in recent American history, causing twenty-five deaths behind locked doors.
Drawing on his interviews with survivors, first responders, workplace safety experts, and local business professionals, the speaker offered a harrowing autopsy of this gruesome event and explained it as part of the larger economic and political trends of the late twentieth century. Professor Simon has published a full account of his research in his book, The Hamlet Fire (The New Press, 2017).
History honors students present research at Honors Symposium 
Honors Symposium presentation
On April 27, 2018, sixteen History honors students presented the findings of their research theses to an audience composed of family, friends, fellow-students and faculty.
Our History Honors Program is comprised of the brightest, most motivated history majors who follow a separate curriculum, culminating in an individual research project, conducted with the guidance of a faculty advisor. Honors students often engage highly relevant and topical themes to pursue in-depth historical research. This year, these themes included conflict and identity, immigration, and social justice. For profiles of these students and their work, see the Department’s Facebook page.
Professor Amanda McVety and History colleagues discuss the year 1968 with alumni during 2018 Alumni Weekend
History faculty and alumni look back at 1968
During this summer’s Alumni Weekend, history faculty Erik Jensen, Amanda McVety, Stephen Norris, Allan Winkler, and Wietse de Boer discussed the momentous events of 1968 with Miami alumni, many of them ’68 graduates.
The standing-room-only event was meant as a preview of a team-taught course on the same topic which the department will offer this Fall. The discussions ranged broadly from Vietnam to women’s rights and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and from the Prague Spring to the student movements in Paris, Rome, and Oxford, Ohio. Many alumni shared memories of life on campus, military service, and study abroad. 
In the photo to the right, Professor Amanda McVety and History colleagues discussed the year 1968 with alumni.
Student Accomplishments
Joshua Bradford Jacob Bruggeman Caroline Godard Kaylie Schunk
  • Joshua Bradford was the second History major to receive a research grant from the Andrew R.L. Cayton Memorial Fund, in support of his project on “The Shifting Discourse of Liberian Colonization during the 19th Century.”
  • History and Political Science major Jacob Bruggeman was awarded Miami’s Goldman Prize.
  • Junior Caroline Godard (2017 Undergraduate Summer Scholar) won the Miami University Libraries’s LAURE award (First Prize) for her research on the Italian humanist Andrea Alciati. Godard presents some results of her work in the History Department’s undergraduate journal, Journeys into the Past.
  • BA/MA student Kaylie Schunk was the second Miami History major in two years to receive the nationally competitive Gilder Lehrman History Scholar award.
Faculty Accomplishments
  • Elena Albarrán published “Prólogo: Infancias y juventudes en la historia latinoamericana (siglo XX),” in Infâncias y juventudes no século XX: histórias latino-americanas, ed. Silvia Maria F. Arend, Esmeralda Blanco B. de Moura, and Susana Sosenski (Ponta Grossa, Brazil, 2018).
  • Wietse de Boer’s article, “Trent, Saints, and Images: A Prehistory,” appeared in the proceedings of a conference on the Council of Trent, Trent and Beyond: The Council, Other Powers, Other Cultures, ed. Michela Catto and Adriano Prosperi (Turnhout, Belgium, 2018).
  • Charlotte Newman Goldy published “Teaching Jewish and Christian Daily Interactions in Medieval England,” in Jews in Medieval England: Teaching Representations of the 'Other,' ed. Miriamne Krummel and William Pugh (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017);  “Prosopography and Proximity: Friendship and Neighborhood in Oxford,” Medieval Prosopography 33 (2018); she reviewed Ruth Nisse, Jacob’s Shipwreck. Diaspora, Translation, and Jewish-Christian Relations in Medieval England for The Medieval Review (on-line, 2018).
  • Stephen Norris is editor, with Pavel Lyssakov, of The City in Russian Culture (Routledge, 2018).
  • Lindsay Schakenbach Regele is the author of “Industrial Manifest Destiny: American Firearms Manufacturing and Antebellum Expansion,” Business History Review 92 (Spring 2018) and “The World’s Best Carpets: Erastus Bigelow and the Financing of Antebellum Innovation,” Technology & Culture 59, no. 1 (January 2018).
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