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

Onassis Visiting Professor Delivers Lecture

The Department of History is sponsoring a lecture by Anthony Kaldellis, Onassis Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, on February 24 at 3:30 PM.

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Lydia Cochrane, a Great Friend to History, Dies

I am sad to report the death of Lydia Goodwin Steinway Cochrane. Ms. Cochrane translated many scholarly works from French and Italian, greatly enriching the number of books by European authors available in the English language. Ms. Cochrane was a great friend of ours. She supported travel grants for students of European history and a lecture series for distinguished European historians, both in memory of her husband, Eric Cochrane, professor of the Italian Renaissance in the department.  Below is an excerpt of her obituary, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

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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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Chakrabarty and Winter Speak at Franke Institute Anniversary

Historians Dipesh Chakrabarty and Alison Winter will speak on November 10 at a symposium, "Humanities Research: The Future of an Idea," to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

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Historians Host a Human-Trafficking Conference

The Pozen Family Center for Human Rights and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality sponsored "Human Trafficking, Labor Migration, and Migration Control in Comparative Historical Perspective" on October 16–17. The conference sought to challenge traditional ideas about human trafficking through a cross-disciplinary approach.

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Mellon Grant to Study Algorithms

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a substantial grant to a four-year University of Chicago project to support research on the relationship between algorithmic techniques and academic disciplines. Building on the "Disciplines and Technologies Project" at the Franke Institute for the Humanities, the project seeks to understand the nature, course, and consequences of the interaction between new technology and disciplinary practices by focusing on algorithms, models, and other formalisms.

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Carlo Ginzburg Lecture

New Location

The Ginzburg Lecture has moved to Harper Memorial Library, room 140, 1116 East 59th Street.

The Department of History invites you to a talk by Carlo Ginzburg, "Unintended Revelations: Reading History against the Grain," on Monday, October 26, 2015.

Persons with disabilities who need accommodation should contact Contact David Goodwine, dgoodwine@uchicago.edu, 773.702.8397.

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Prizes Awarded for Alumni Dissertations

The Fraenkel Prize and the Fritz Stern Prize go to Patrick Houlihan, PhD'11, and Sarah Panzer, PhD'15, respectively.

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History Garners Nine Dissertation Fellowships in 2015–16

History graduate students succeed in several competitions for prestigious fellowships to complete their doctoral dissertation. Congratulations!

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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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Ajay Mehrotra to Lead the American Bar Foundation

The American Bar Foundation has appointed Ajay K. Mehrotra, PhD'03, as its next director, effective September 1, 2015. The foundation's mission is to serve the legal profession, the public, and the academy through empirical research, publications, and programs that advance justice and the understanding of law and its impact on society.

Excepts from the press release follow:

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Congratulations to Our Spring Graduates!

History doctoral students marched at convocation on Saturday, June 13, 2015, and are now marching off to new positions.

Aidan Beatty's dissertation, "The Life That God Desires: Masculinity and Power in Irish Nationalism, 1884–1938," won the 2014 Adele Dalsimer Prize for Distinguished Dissertation from the American Conference for Irish Studies; he is revising the manuscript for publication with Palgrave Macmillan. Aidan currently teaches at Wayne State University.

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Give the Lady What She Wants

In the period between the Belle Epoque and the Roaring Twenties, middle- and upper-class women in the United States left their parlors for the public square. They organized for the right to vote, ran settlement houses for the poor, pushed for better public education, and fought for the prohibition of alcohol. Less well known was their other new public role in the Progressive Era—as conspicuous consumers.

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Online Form Fits Function

Online learning may feel new, but it is only the latest in a long line of technologies adopted by American educators. Faced with a vast nation of diverse people, educators took to the trains and streetcars to meet students in the nineteen century and broadcast classes on radio and television in the twentieth century. The University of Chicago led many of these innovations.

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New History Minor Appeals to Wide Variety of Students

Since the History minor was introduced in 2013, undergraduates throughout the College are signing up.

The minor's appeal extends to students in majors as varied as anthropology, art history, biology, economics, international studies, political science, and psychology. The minor has a special appeal to students who want the flexibility to explore their passion for history while still having time to study abroad, complete the bachelor's degree in four years, or pursue a joint BA/MA degree program.

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The Uniform Make the Soldier

Not long after the Battle of Gettysburg, Walt Whitman wrote: "Soldiers, soldiers, soldiers, you meet everywhere about the city, often superb-looking men, though invalids dress'd in worn uniforms, and carrying canes and crutches." Later, in 1865, he saw "a large procession of young men from the rebel army […] Their costumes had a dirt-stain'd uniformity; most had been originally gray; some had articles of our uniform, pants on one, vest or coat on another; I think they were mostly Georgia and North Carolina boys." (Specimen Days & Collect, 1882).

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Mauricio Tenorio Awarded Laing Prize

The University of Chicago Press has awarded the 2015 Laing Prize to Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo for I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. The president of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer, presented the award on April 21. He praised the book's "beauty and complexity."

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From Archives to Court: Historians and Human-Rights Abuses

Ann Schneider, PhD'08, recently finished five years of archival research. The results were not destined for an academic press but a court house. Schneider's subject is Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova. Vides was head of the Salvadoran National Guard and later its defense minister during El Salvador's civil war of the 1980s, a bloody decade that saw the deaths of over seventy-five thousand civilians, including the rape and murder of three US nuns and a Catholic laywoman by members of the guard.

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