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Greetings from the Chair

Dear Friends, Alumni, and Fellow Historians, Greetings from the UNC History Department! As I write this, the university and its wider communities are cautiously emerging from over a year of crisis. As historians, we endeavor to understand the present in a longer context; as individuals and members of communities, we are worn out but looking forward to brighter days. This spring issue of The Department Historian details both the ongoing, impressive work of our faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates as well as some of their extraordinary initiatives in the face of our challenging times. These include grappling with historical legacies …Read more here


Update from Professor Sarah Shields, Director of Graduate Studies

Spring 2021 was challenging for many of our graduate students. They took time out to care for family, to learn to be effective remote teachers, to balance the demands of the varied activities that make up lives under lockdown. Many had received grants and fellowships to complete dissertation research, only to find that they could not travel—and even if they could, libraries and archives were closed indefinitely. Thanks to our generous donors, the History Department was able to provide some funding for travel, copying, and books essential for their work. Thank you. Despite these difficult conditions, the graduate students continued …Read more here


Undergraduate News

On one hand, it was business as usual in the History department undergraduate program, teaching classes, carrying out research, and recognizing the excellence of our History majors. Special congratulations go to Kimathi Muiruri, awarded the Frank Ryan prize for the best senior honors thesis, “Their City, Our Terms: The Livelihood and Political Strategies of African Migrant Labourers in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal c. 1874-1906.” In this study, Muiruri explores strategies of self-expression and group organization amongst younger African laborers vis-a-vis both their own networks and the structures of British rule. The prize committee observed that ‘his writing is beautiful, his use of …Read more here


History Department Receives High Ranking in US News and World Report

UNC-Chapel Hill ranked eleventh among all graduate programs in history in US News and World Report’s most recent rankings, published in March 2021. It also received high rankings in a number of individual subfields, reaching tenth in African-American history, twelfth in European history, tenth in Latin American history, seventh in modern US history, eighth in US colonial history, and ninth in women’s history, and coming behind only three other public universities in the overall history rankings. While US News and World Report’s rankings of undergraduate programs and professional schools use a complex methodology, including statistical indicators such as acceptance and …Read more here


Six History Majors Successfully Complete Senior Honors Theses

The 2020-2021 academic year has presented unprecedented challenges, from a global pandemic to social turmoil, for faculty and students alike. Yet, despite these disruptions and disturbances, six History majors were able to successfully complete Senior Honors Theses. For most students this is the largest and most in-depth project they undertake in their college careers. The rigor of the Honors thesis program is demonstrated by students’ commitment to conducting original research to produce a paper that is, on average, 75 pages long. The students who embark on their thesis projects are supported by a faculty adviser and the instructor of the …Read more here


Bailey White ’16 Founds Mentorship Group

Anyone considering a degree in history who has been asked the question, “What for?”, need only look up Bailey White ’16. A Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting, Bailey studied History and Business Administration at UNC. Originally from Winston-Salem and a lifelong Tar Heel fan, he became a history major after taking a course on the History of North Carolina with Professor Harry Watson. The course strengthened a passion for historical research stretching back to his AP history days. Bailey’s professional success in Deloitte’s Government and Public Services (GPS) practice might, at first glance, seem to stem primarily from his training …Read more here


Working Group on Equity and Inclusion Hosts “Courageous Conversations about Race in the Academy: A Roundtable with UNC History PhDs”

This Spring semester, the department’s Working Group on Equity and Inclusion hosted a virtual roundtable featuring six alumni from the Ph.D. program who all engage in diversity, equity and inclusion work in their scholarship, teaching and service. The panel featured Jessica Dixon-McKnight (Assistant Professor at Winthrop University), Bonnie Lucero (Associate Professor at the University of Houston), Julie Reed (Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University), Devyn Spence Benson (Chair and Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Davidson College), Carlton Wilson (Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences and Humanities at North Carolina Central University), and Brandon Winford (Associate Professor at The …Read more here


Spotlight on Scholarship: Historicizing Gender, War and the Military

Faculty in the UNC History department have consistently produced scholarship that not only engages with timely issues, but can also offer new perspectives for understanding the historical developments of these issues in different contexts. A recent publication co-edited by professor Karen Hagemann, alongside Stefan Dudink and Sonya O. Rose, fits well within this tradition of innovative scholarship. Published in November 2020 by Oxford University Press, The Oxford Handbook of Gender, War and the Western World since 1600 is a collection of 32 essays which investigate the interplay of the social construction of gender and the shaping of warfare and military …Read more here


History Seminar Fosters Global Collaborations over Zoom

Zoom has opened up exciting possibilities for international collaborations in the History Department. This year, Professor Chad Bryant’s HIST 783 Colloquium on Russian and Eastern European History included a component the students in the course had not encountered before. As part of UNC’s COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) initiative, Professor Bryant’s course was one of nearly 15 other courses throughout campus that capitalized on virtual learning by engaging in transnational seminars. Supported by the Chancellor’s Global Education Fund, the COIL initiative seeks to expand, reconfigure, or develop new methods of teaching as a commitment to pedagogical excellence among faculty and …Read more here


Building Renaming Marks Reckoning with Racism in UNC’s Past

Visitors to UNC’s campus may have trouble finding Pauli Murray hall on Google Maps—that’s because it isn’t there. Instead, one will find directions to Hamilton Hall, the building’s official name, honoring a past department chair and founder of Carolina’s famed Southern Historical Collection. More than a member of Carolina’s faculty, Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac Hamilton was a white supremacist who praised the Ku Klux Klan, excluded black voices and experiences from his Southern Historical Collection, and argued that Reconstruction was a “disaster” because it gave political power to African Americans. Though the collection is much more diverse now, Hamilton’s legacy …Read more here


Reflection from John A. Britton ’65 on time at Carolina and motivation for recent gift to support student research in the department of history

Dr. John Britton ’65, has made a generous gift to the history department in support of undergraduate and graduate research. Britton, a Professor Emeritus of Latin American History at Francis Marion University who majored in history at UNC, attributes his success at the university to a scholarship he received while on campus, covering one third of his tuition. Calling the financial assistance “a very positive factor in my persistence at the University,” Britton has always wanted to give something back to Carolina. “For the last fifty years, I have thought about reimbursing the University for the amount of money that …Read more here


Writing and Researching an MA Thesis in the COVID era

In March 2020, Kaela Thuney was in the middle of her second semester as a graduate student, and beginning to develop plans for her MA thesis. She hoped to spend her summer break at the National Archives in Senegal, looking into the themes she planned to explore in her work: the slave trade, empire, and gender in nineteenth-century West Africa. “I thought if I could just go over and find some document no one had ever worked with before, I could tie all of those things together in this incredible and cutting-edge way,” she said. Marlon Londoño had received an …Read more here


“The Enduring Value of Historical Education”

History Department Zoom Recognition Ceremony for Graduating Seniors UNC-Chapel Hill, May 16, 2021 I’m honored to represent the UNC history department faculty as we celebrate the achievements of the department’s talented students who are graduating today. I know that your families and friends are also celebrating, but I can assure you that your professors take a special pride in all of you who chose to major in History and then completed the hard work that has brought you to this milestone in your lives. It’s a privilege for the faculty to teach the students who come into our UNC classes …Read more here


The History of Pauli Murray Hall

Pauli Murray Hall has never been a prominent stop on any campus tours. It is dated, not historic. The Campus at Chapel Hill: Two Hundred Years of Architecture, a recently reissued 1986 book written by art history professor John V. Allcott, barely mentions it. Its poured concrete, narrow windows, and dim corridors have the charm of a municipal government center. On one side of campus, venerable old nineteenth-century edifices provide a sanitized image of the university’s past and its place in a local history of slavery, racial hierarchy, and exploitation. On the other, new buildings with bright, open spaces and …Read more here


2020-2021 Digital History Lab Annual Report

The Digital History Lab’s second year has been a productive and rewarding one. With a staff of four, the DHL has continued one podcast and started another, offered tutorials and workshops, produced a weekly newsletter highlighting tools and events relevant to digital history, and conducted regular consultations as we continue to deal with the implications of teaching in the time of COVID-19. In Summer 2020, the lab created and edited the blog, Teaching History Online. This blog contains posts by educators and students about their experiences during remote instruction in the Spring 2020 term. It is designed as a resource …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: ronda.manuel@unc.edu or (919) 962-7266.