Welcome to the Department of History

We are a community of scholars engaged in cutting-edge research.  Our expertise spans many centuries and continents: Africa to Asia, Europe and the Americas, ancient Greece and Rome to Byzantium, and modern nation-states around the globe.  We bring different approaches, methodologies, and analytical paradigms to these various places and eras, but share a firm belief that rigorous historical analysis can give us a better understanding of our place in time. 

As a foundational discipline in the humanities and social sciences, history offers a testing ground for assumptions and propositions about human actions, beliefs, and ideas. To study history offers a means to explore our shared humanity and to learn about the particularities of the human experience.

We invite you to explore our website and learn more about our department: the subjects matters that we study, the students with whom we work, the courses that we teach, and the engaging intellectual community that faculty and students have built and share here at the University of Chicago.


Latest News and Announcements

Brenda Shapiro Gift Will Bring Top PhDs to Chicago

Brenda Shapiro has made an important gift to help us recruit top PhD students to the Department of History. Beginning with the Class of 2017, and continuing for 2018 and 2019, the best five students selected for admission will be named Brenda and Earl Shapiro Scholars in History. The 2017–18 Shapiro Scholars will receive a five-year fellowship, totalling $25,000, on top of the regular fellowship awarded by the Division of Social Sciences.

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NEH Awards $350K Grant for PhD Training

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the University of Chicago a $349,919 grant to support the professional advancement of  humanities doctoral students. "The Next Generation Humanities PhD program NEH expects to play a leading role in helping humanities doctoral programs prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century," said NEH Chairman William D. Adams.

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William H. McNeill, Pioneering World Historian, 1917–2016

William H. McNeill, AB'38, AM'39, Robert A. Milikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, passed away on July 8, at the age of 98. John W. Boyer, dean of the College and a former student of McNeill, shared this rememberance: "Bill was one of the most important historians to teach at the University of Chicago in the twentieth century. He served as chair of the Department of History during a crucial period in the 1960s, helping to rebuild the department and make it into an internationally preeminent place of historical research.

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Quantrell Award to Emily Osborn

Emily Lynn Osborn, associate professor of African history and in the College, has received the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Osborn is the sixteenth professor in the Department of History to be so honored.

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Fulbright Singles Out 7 Chicago Historians

Seven PhD students in History will travel to eight countries for dissertation research, thanks to fellowships from the Fulbright US Student Program. History garnered the most grants, 37 percent, made to the University of Chicago in 2016–17. The Fulbrighters' interests ranges from ancient Greece to China:

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OAH Names 7 Chicago Historians as Distinguished Lecturers

The Organization of American Historians has named seven University of Chicago historians to its Distinguished Lectureship Program. Founded in 1981, the program is an easy-to-use resource to identify and contact leading historians who will share their expertise with the public.  Congratuations to the 2016–17 Chicago speakers:

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2016–17 Undergraduate Courses—from the Classics to Culture, and more

This selection is from the many great courses offered in History. Find them all, read course descriptions, and plan your 2016–17 year at our undergraduate pages.

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Holt Elected to the American Philosophical Society

The American Philosophical Society has elected Thomas C. Holt, James Westfall Thompson Distinguished Service Professor of American and African American History and in the College, as a member. Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, the APS is the oldest learned society in the United States. Holt is the third Chicago historian elected to the society. John Hope Franklin was elected in 1973, and William H. McNeill was elected in 1977.

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David Nirenberg Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

David Nirenberg, dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History, will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on October 8, 2016.  He is joined by four other members of the faculty at the University of Chicago, who were also elected this year.

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Homer's Odyssey through Print

Students of Ada Palmer, assistant professor of history, have published a set of essays on the transmission of classical ideas through time. On Monday, February 29, 2016, Palmer and the students will celebrate this exciting accomplishment at a reception sponsored by the Renaissance Workshop and the Making History Work program.

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Chicago's Queer Clout: From the Margins to the Center

Timothy Stewart-Winter, PhD'09, assistant professor of history, Rutgers University, returned to Chicago to discuss his first book, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (Pennsylvania, 2016).

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Many Awards for History Graduate Students

History graduate students garnered many awards in 2015–16, including teaching prizes, internships through the Mellon Foundation's Making History Work pilot program, summer language and research grants, and dissertation fellowships.

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John Boyer Writes a History of the University of Chicago

In the summer of 1996 John W. Boyer, AM'69, PhD'75, dean of the College, began what he thought would be a small summer research project, never imagining that his efforts would span nearly two decades and result in a history of the University of Chicago. He spent the summer investigating the university’s archives, piecing together the story of the College, its evolving size and demographics, and its ties to the wider university. Boyer presented his findings to the faculty that autumn—and even those who opposed the growth of the College were grateful for the context the report provided.

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