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Greetings from the Chair

Dear Friends, Alumni, and Fellow Historians, Greetings from the UNC History Department! As those of us who work on an academic calendar transition to summer pursuits of research and less regular teaching, I hope this finds you healthy and engaged in something similarly restorative. Our university’s spring commencement speaker this year was New York Times columnist and author Frank Bruni, who graduated from UNC, as he put it, “back in the Mesozoic era, by which I mean 1986.” Bruni “did many questionable things, many foolish things” as a UNC student, he said in his speech; and in an interview with …Read more here

Update from the Director of Undergraduate Studies

During the Spring semester, the Department celebrated a number of prizes and other accomplishments. Allison Holbrooks was the winner of this year’s Cazel prize, which recognizes an outstanding graduating senior who has excelled in the study of history, contributed to the life of the History Department, and shown a profound commitment to the values of the historical discipline on and off campus. Among other roles, in the Spring, Allison took on a leadership role as the president of the History Undergraduate Association (HUA). In this position, among other responsibilities, she helped to coordinate events with the Career Mentor Coalition (CMC), …Read more here

Update from the Director of Graduate Studies

Our graduate students are remarkably resilient! After a year of challenges just getting to the libraries and archives they need for their work, almost 20 were off campus doing research on a variety of grants and fellowships. See the whole list in the Annual Report coming your way this summer. We made a variety of changes to the program this year as we reconsidered what historians would need to be able to do in the future, especially re-examining our field structure, comprehensive exams, and admissions. Our new class was admitted without the usual field quotas for a fascinating distribution across …Read more here

Celebrating Louise McReynolds

On Friday, May 6th, members of the History Department and colleagues across campus gathered in the lounge of Graham Memorial Hall to celebrate the career of Louise McReynolds, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of History. McReynolds has established a reputation as one of the world’s foremost cultural historians of the Russian Empire. For many at the celebration, however, her retirement was a bittersweet moment that hit much closer to home. Since arriving at Carolina in 2006, McReynolds has earned the deep admiration of undergraduates, doctoral students, and her colleagues. This can be attributed not only to the sheer force of …Read more here

Schwarzman Scholar Reflects on Studying History at UNC

As a traveler and an intellectual, Sam Zahn ’22 is always on the move. After graduating from UNC with a double major in history and political science on May 9, he headed to southern Utah for a real-life adventure in the wilderness. Having fun might have been on the agenda, but it wasn’t the point: the trip was organized by the Robertson Scholarship Leadership Program for its recipients to push themselves and each other in an environment far beyond the classroom. Donning a winter jacket in May was not Zahn’s initial plan for celebrating graduation. “Initially, I was really skeptical,” …Read more here

New Initiative Offers a Fresh Perspective

For Prof. William Sturkey, historical education can never be a top-down affair. Central to the mission of a public university is the responsibility to give students the tools to think critically about their surroundings and to reach their own conclusions. This is the core idea behind an exciting new initiative he founded named the Historical Truth & Justice Action Fund. Its purpose is to support student projects that engage critically and creatively with the history of UNC. The fund aims to push undergraduates to think out of the box, not only intellectually, but methodologically, by using podcasts, videos and other …Read more here

Fulbright-Hays Recipients Return to Research in Africa

After navigating almost three years of a global pandemic, two graduate students of the History Department, Laura Cox and Abby Warchol, received the Fulbright-Hays fellowship and are finally able to resume their research in Africa. Both scholars recognized the reception of this award as the driving force able to get them back into their dissertation projects and, as Warchol states clearly: “Quite simply, the Fulbright-Hays fellowship has made it possible to do my dissertation research. Since the archives I use in Senegal have not digitized their holdings, the inability to travel meant that I was unable to do much exploratory …Read more here

UNC Supports Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Eastern Ukraine and catalyzed a war. Individuals and communities internationally mobilized to support Ukraine and its people in any way they could, including at UNC. For the academics and educators at UNC who specialize in the region and its history, this support took the shape of a teach in and rally held on March 4, 2022. This event was organized by three Ph.D candidates in the Department of History, Alma Huselja, Pasuth Thothaveesansuk, and Nicole Harry, and a Master’s student in the Global Studies Program, Kathryn Goodpaster. When asked about her motivations for organizing …Read more here

Russia and Ukraine

Donald J. Raleigh is the Jay Richard Judson Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History. He taught the history of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe at UNC-Chapel Hill for thirty-two years and advised twenty-six graduate students before his retirement in 2020. Dr. Raleigh has written extensively on the Russian Revolution and Civil War, focusing particularly on its local and regional aspects. Currently, he is working on a biography of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, for which he has conducted research in Russia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. I met with Dr. Raleigh in mid-April to get his perspective both on …Read more here

Cristian Walk Receives Award for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence
Cristian Walk

Beyond their research, publication activity, grant proposal writing, and the challenge of staying on top of an ever-burgeoning historiography, graduate students in UNC’s history department are, first and foremost, training to become educators. Thus, it is significant that Cristian Walk was selected as one of five winners of the College of Arts and Sciences’ 2022 Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Walk, a Ph.D student focused on labor, business, and Latinx history in the U.S., notes that he is “honored to have received this award,” and “especially grateful to the students and professors who spent so much time submitting …Read more here

Researching Religion in Russia

Luke Jeske is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Russian history. He received the 2021 Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Fellowship from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. In January of this year, he left for a year-long research trip in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began the following month, however, he returned to the United States. Q. Can you tell us about your dissertation research? A. I’m writing about Russian Orthodox pilgrimage to the holy places of the Near East during the nineteenth century — especially to biblical sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere in …Read more here

The History Department is a lively center for historical education and research. Although we are deeply committed to our mission as a public institution, our “margin of excellence” depends on generous private donations. At the present time, the department is particularly eager to improve the funding and fellowships for graduate students.

Your donations are used to send graduate students to professional conferences, support innovative student research, bring visiting speakers to campus, and expand other activities that enhance the department’s intellectual community.

Make a Gift

To make a secure gift online, please click “Make a Gift” above.

The Department also receives tax-deductible donations through the Arts and Sciences Foundation at UNC-Chapel Hill. Please note in the “memo” section of your check that your gift is intended for the History Department. Donations should be sent to the following address:

UNC-Arts & Sciences Foundation
Buchan House
523 E. Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Attention: Ronda Manuel

For more information about creating scholarships, fellowships, and professorships in the Department through a gift, pledge, or planned gift please contact Ronda Manuel, Associate Director of Development at the Arts and Sciences Foundation: or (919) 962-7266.