What Do History Majors Do?

Students majoring in history at Hartwick have numerous opportunities to explore their interests through internships, semesters abroad, mentoring, and other activities. Some have worked closely with local historical societies in Oneonta to develop displays on women's history in nineteenth-century New York. Others have worked on the preservation of baseball memorabilia (including Babe Ruth's baseball bat) at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in nearby Cooperstown.

Photo: History major Rachael Morrissey ('06) learned about the use and preservation of museum artifacts through an internship at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in summer 2004.

Hartwick College's P. Cooper Archives in the Stevens-German Library also provide rich opportunities for internship and discovery. In spring 2008, history major Jessica Henson ('10) interned at the P. Cooper Archives and researched life as a woman at Hartwick College during WWII, with heavy emphasis on the Cadet Nursing Program and the establishment of a permanent Nursing Program at Hartwick. From her research in the archives, she is compiling an exhibit about the Cadet Nursing Program for display in the Stevens German Library. Jessica has also internet at Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois Museum as a tour guide and intern from 2005-2007, where she wrote and helped revise exhibits throughout the museum and even served as project manager for the exhibit, 'Winds of Change'. From Jessica's experience, it is clear that Hartwick history majors can explore vast and rich opportunities through internships.

In order to add depth and understanding to their scholarship, many history majors attend workshops and conferences in the region.  In November 2006, Allison Saft and Gabriel Mattox attended the 'Researching New York' Conference at SUNY-Albany, accompanied by the history department chair, Dr. Edythe Ann Quinn. In September 2006, Hartwick College hosted the annual meeting of the New York State Association of European Historians, aided by the efforts of Professor Peter Wallace and Phi Alpha Theta members. At the meeting, history major Kalyn Brunetta presented her paper, 'The Family Life of Ralph Josselin: Modeling Puritan Ideals in Seventeenth-century England'. In June 2007, the history department sponsored the attendance of three history majors at the Local History Workshop at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Nathan Tweedie, Sara Evenson, and Jessica Henson have all demonstrated a keen interest in local history education.

Many history majors also take advantage of the wealth of off-campus learning opportunities available at Hartwick and spend anywhere from a few weeks studying French history and culture in France, to a semester studying Russian history and language in Russia.

Through their internships and overseas learning experiences, history majors often develop insights into historical themes and issues that become the basis of their senior thesis. In recent years, history majors have drawn upon interests in South Africa that emerged during a January term program and crafted senior research projects centered around the historical construction of ideas about "race" or British-Afrikaner relations prior to the Boer War. Others have drawn upon summer programs of study in Eastern Europe to enhance their understanding of the role played by commemorative sites in the historical memory of the Holocaust. In these and many other ways, history majors at Hartwick make connections between their own inquiries as historians and the society in which they live, both local and global.

The history department thanks Saxton Fellow Amanda Brinzow ('08), who composed a substantial portion of the content for this page.