1. History (1942)

    Systematic instruction in the field of history on a scientific basis is comparatively recent, dating in Europe from the early part of the nineteenth century. American, European, and especially German developments set the example. It was only in 1828 that Harvard, which led the way among American universities, established a professorship of civil history. Under these circumstances, the rather meager provision for the subject in the early years of the University of Michigan is not at all surprising.

    In 1844-45, the year that the first class was graduated from the University of Michigan and the second year of the University Catalogue, the Reverend Daniel Denison Whedon (Hamilton ’28, D.D. Emory ’47, LL.D. Wesleyan ’67), a Methodist Episcopal theologian and author — though apparently his repertory did not include any historical work of moment — was appointed to the chair of logic, rhetoric, and history. Thus history supplanted grammar in the medieval trivium, and the Reverend Professor continued to occupy his threefold chair until he left the University in 1852. Evidently ancient history was taught by the Department of Ancient Languages, where portions of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Livy were read by freshmen. Medieval history for sophomores, modern history for juniors, and additional ancient history for freshmen were added in 1846-47. Since each occupied only one of the three terms, the work was doubtless nothing more than a bare series of recitations. As yet, however, this was the method employed throughout the country in the few institutions where history was taught. In 1847-48 the term philosophy of history was substituted for mere history.

    For the first two years of the Tappan administration no one was recorded as specially concerned with history, but in 1854 — such was the versatility of the men of those times — Erastus O. Haven, the future President, was transferred from Latin to history and English literature. He resigned in 1856, and, after a varied and useful career in the East, was recalled, in 1863, to succeed President Tappan. Haven taught throughout his administration. He held the chair of rhetoric and English literature until 1865, when he accepted that of logic and political economy. In 1868 he was transferred to the chair of mental and moral philosophy, which he had taught for one year along with his other subjects.

    In the meantime, in 1857, a pioneer in historical teaching of the modern type had appeared at the University in the person of Andrew Dickson White (Yale ’53, A.M. ibid. ’56, LL.D. Michigan ’67). A young man barely twenty-five, he had graduated from Yale four years previous to his call to Ann Arbor as the Professor of History and English Literature. Coming from a family of substantial means he had had the advantages of travel and had spent much of the interval in Europe; also, he had begun to collect that remarkable library which is now one of the distinctive possessions of Cornell. In spite of his prospective wealth he early sought a means whereby he could be of service in the world. With great mental alertness and boundless energy, he was at once a rapid reader and a copious and informing talker, who possessed human charm and was interested both in men and in things. Yet, throughout his busy academic and public life, he invariably found time to help and encourage young men, as the present writer can testify. His interest in the possibilities of the West seems to have been first aroused by an address at Yale by President Wayland of Brown.

    When the third-year course was still coupled with acoustics and optics[1] he started with a threefold aim, as announced in the Catalogue of 1857-58: “First — to conduct the student through a careful review of modern history. Secondly — to exercise him in original investigation and close criticism of important periods and noted characters. Thirdly — to give him some insight into the Philosophy of History.” His original plan was a modest one: for the first year, John Lord’s (Ford’s, in the Catalogue) Manual of Modern History; for the second year, private reading under direction; and for the third year, the philosophy of history, with Guizot’s History of Civilization as a guide for the students. The fourth year the instruction was mainly by lectures, with collateral reading from the standard historians then available. He threw himself with ardor into the work. Not only did he break away from the old recitation method, he introduced the interleaved syllabus, he had students at his house one evening a week for discussions and reports, he went about the state lecturing, he bought books for the Library, and even planted trees on the campus. Indeed, for four years he was a member of a committee in charge of improvements on the campus, and for one of these years served as Superintendent of University Grounds, with “power to prepare and perfect a plan for improving and beautifying” them.

    Although White retained his nominal connection with the University till 1867 and gave a few lectures, his residence and active teaching ceased in 1863 on his election to the New York Senate. He subsequently became president of Cornell University, 1867-85, and minister and ambassador to Russia and Germany.

    In 1862 Charles Kendall Adams (’61, A.M. ’62, LL.D. Harvard ’86), who was only twenty-six years old but had had some previous experience as a teacher, was added as a second member of the staff. For the first year, while White remained, he was delegated to teach constitutional law and constitutional history. Then for a time, even though his chief was on the eve of departure, he was called upon to teach Latin as well; indeed, in 1865, he was appointed Assistant Professor of History and Latin. However, in 1867, when he was promoted to a professorship, he was able to devote himself solely to history. As a matter of fact, he secured a year’s leave of absence for study in Germany. Up to this time he seems to have carried on the traditions of Andrew White in the main, even to the wording of the announcement in the Catalogue. Now he introduced some changes. The greatest of these was a seminar which he began to conduct in 1871-72 on the Prussian model. Though this class was not so described in the Catalogue, he apparently employed the seminar method of reports and discussions (Farrand, p. 269) — a method soon adopted by Moses Coit Tyler, who in 1867 began his brilliant term of fourteen years as a teacher in the University of Michigan.

    It is a curious coincidence that three men bearing the historic name of Adams should have introduced the seminary method into their respective universities in the seventies. C. K. Adams apparently was the innovator in point of time (1871-72), but Henry Adams at Harvard and Herbert Baxter Adams at Johns Hopkins first showed tangible results in publication by their students. Moreover, undergraduates were admitted to the course at the University of Michigan, and the work seems to have been of a general character rather than detailed research. When the American Historical Association was founded in 1884, C. K. Adams and Moses Coit Tyler signed the call for the first meeting. Later, Adams was made a member of the council — one of five from the University of Michigan to hold that office. In 1885 he succeeded Andrew D. White as president of Cornell. Although he was energetic in academic and scholarly affairs and lectured with force and clarity, his few publications have not proved of enduring importance.

    Meanwhile, history as a subject of study was gaining recognition. President Angell, who became an authority on international law, in his inaugural address on Commencement Day, 1871, included it with modern languages as a subject of increasing importance, and in 1878-79 it was made a part of the new English course leading to the degree of bachelor of letters. In 1881 a School of Political Science was established, with history as one of the required subjects. C. K. Adams was the first Dean. He was succeeded in 1885 by Thomas M. Cooley, the first chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission and one of the most outstanding jurists and legal writers this country has ever produced. Judge Cooley was at the same time appointed to the professorship of American history and constitutional law, which he retained until his death in 1898, though he was absent except for brief intervals after 1886 and ceased to lecture in 1894. The School of Political Science was absorbed by the Literary Department and did not survive even in name beyond 1890.

    Men who afterwards went into other fields began as teachers of history; for example, Harry Burns Hutchins (’71, LL.D. ’21), subsequently Dean of the Law School and from 1910 to 1920 President of the University, began as Instructor in Rhetoric and History in 1872-73 and was promoted to an assistant professorship in the following year. He was succeeded in 1876 by Isaac Newton Demmon (’68, A.M. ’71, LL.D. Nashville ’96), who taught rhetoric and history. Demmon completed the History of the University of Michigan begun by Burke A. Hinsdale. Subsequently, Demmon was for many years head of the Department of English; also, he was the very efficient editor of the Alumni Catalogue of 1911, and, as chairman of the Library committee, rendered invaluable service in building up the present collection. Thanks to the start made by Andrew White, C. K. Adams, and himself, the collection in English history is, after that of Harvard, one of the most complete in the country. During the year 1878-79 Assistant Professor Pattengill, of the Department of Greek, was added to the staff to teach the general history of England, while European history and advanced English constitutional history remained with C. K. Adams. Demmon, during his brief tenure in the department, taught American history.

    In the Calendar of 1879-80 the Reverend Richard Hudson (’71, A.M. ’77, LL.D. Nashville ’01) was listed as Assistant Professor of History. After the first year the “Reverend” was dropped. Pattengill and Frieze for a time taught ancient history, and during the next few years Adams and Hudson took over all the modern history. Hudson had started as a Methodist minister, but finding that a change in his beliefs made it impossible for him to continue his original profession, he utilized his savings to study history for three years in Europe. In 1885 he was made head of the Department of History and in 1897 Dean of the Department (now College) of Literature, Science, and the Arts. He retired in 1911 and died in 1915. Having inherited a substantial fortune from his brother, a Detroit merchant, he left funds in his will for the founding of the Richard Hudson professorship in English history. This was the second of the endowed professorships at present existing in the University of Michigan. Richard Hudson, except for a few scattered articles, published nothing. He read widely and lectured with exceptional clearness, and, in his gentle and mildly humorous way, he had the courage to defend his convictions, but he was timid about expressing himself in print.[2]

    President Tappan, from the time of his inaugural in 1852, had visions of graduate studies, and occasional “lectures” and some seminar and laboratory instruction were provided, particularly after 1870, for graduate students, but there was no specific reference in the catalogues for work leading to the degree of doctor of philosophy until 1874-75. In 1884 the first doctor’s degree in history was awarded to George W. Knight, who later became head of the history and political science department of Ohio State University and, for a time, dean of the School of Education in the same institution. Three or four doctorates annually were conferred in the interval, but the second one in history (to Ephraim Douglas Adams) was not obtained till 1890. After a decade at the University of Kansas, Ephraim Adams was called to Leland Stanford, where he spent the remainder of his life. Altogether, during the fifty-six years from June, 1884, through June, 1940, eighty-eight doctor of philosophy degrees in history were awarded, and in the same period nearly eight hundred master’s degrees in history were granted. The number of doctor’s degrees might have been somewhat greater except for the inadequacy of graduate fellowships, especially in the earlier years. Moreover, some who have started their graduate work here have been advised to finish it elsewhere.

    In 1886, the year after his graduation from the Law Department, Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin (’82, ’85l, LL.D. ’12) was appointed Instructor in Latin. The following year he was transferred to the Department of History and has taken his place as perhaps the most distinguished scholar ever connected with the department. He was made Professor of American History in 1891 and held that office till 1906, though from 1903 to 1905 he was absent in Washington as director of the Bureau of Historical Research, Carnegie Institution. Also, from 1901 to 1905, he was managing editor of the American Historical Review. Noted as a scholar, “Andy Mac” was an inspiration to students and graduates of the University for a decade. In 1906 he was called to the University of Chicago as head of the Department of History, a position which he held until 1927. He has been president of the American Historical Association and is a corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society — an honor shared by President Angell, Regent Clements, and three of his past and present colleagues in the department. McLaughlin began a considerable list of publications with a life of Lewis Cass for the “American Nation” series in 1891, and since his retirement in 1935 has put forth what is the chief embodiment of his life work, A Constitutional History of the United States.

    In the Calendar for 1888-89 it was stated that “with the flexible elective system it has been found unnecessary to retain an independent School of Political Science.” McLaughlin seems to have taken over some of the work in American history and in 1890-91 was relieved of the teaching of English history by John H. T. McPherson (Johns Hopkins ’88, Ph.D. ibid. ’90), who also was assigned Greek and Roman history. Though Hudson and McLaughlin continued on the staff, the nineties witnessed the coming and going of various men well known in the profession who were birds of passage so far as Michigan was concerned. McPherson remained only one year and went to the University of Georgia, where he became chairman of the Social Science Group. He was succeeded by Herman Vandenburg Ames (Amherst ’88, Ph.D. Harvard ’91, Litt.D. Pennsylvania ’25), who became an assistant professor, but left in 1894. At the time of his death in 1935 Ames was a professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania, and from 1907 to 1928 had been dean of the Graduate School there.

    During the absence of Professor Hudson on leave in 1892-93, an assistant professor, David Ellsworth Spencer, whom the writer has been unable to identify, taught in the department for one year. This same year came Earle Wilbur Dow (’91), who, save for two years’ leave for study in Europe, taught in the department continuously for a period of more than forty years and retired as Professor Emeritus in 1938. In 1894 he gave the first courses in history to be offered in the summer session, which was formally established in that year.

    Again there were temporary sojourners who later accepted positions in other institutions. Marshall Stewart Brown (Brown ’92, A.M. ibid. ’93) taught here during the academic year 1893-94 and then accepted a call to New York University, where he became a professor of history and the dean of the College. William Dawson Johnston (Brown ’93, Litt.D. Rutgers ’11) was three years in the department, from 1894 to 1897; he later went into library work. For some time he was in charge of the American Library in Paris. He died in Washington in 1928. During the absence of E. W. Dow, Frank Haigh Dixon (’92, Ph.D. ’95) taught for the year 1896-97. The next year he was Acting Assistant Professor of Political Economy. In 1898 he left for Dartmouth, where he remained till 1919, and then was called to a professorship at Princeton. In 1897-98 two newcomers were Theodore Clarke Smith (Harvard ’92, Ph.D. ibid. ’96) and Wilbur Cortez Abbott (Wabash ’92, A.M. Yale ’09). Smith remained only one year. Since 1903 he has been a professor of American history in Williams College. Among his various writings perhaps the most generally known is his Life and Letters of James Abram Garfield (1925). Abbott, who remained for two years, was one of the few young Americans who studied history at Oxford before the days of the Rhodes scholars. After teaching successively at Dartmouth, Kansas, and Yale, he was called to Harvard in 1920. Although his specialty is the Cromwellian and Restoration period, he has written, among other things, a general work on the Expansion of Europe (1917) and two brilliant series of biographical sketches, Conflicts with Oblivion (1924) and Adventures in Reputation (1935).

    When Arthur Lyon Cross (Harvard ’95, Ph.D. ibid. ’99) was called to the University in 1899 he was asked to teach the course in ancient history, which still was handed to the latest comer; but his main work was in English history — a general course primarily for sophomores and an advanced course which later developed into a seminar. The large introductory course was in the field of medieval history, and was given by Dow, who also conducted an advanced course and a seminar in the same field. Hudson devoted himself to modern European history and to the Near and Far East. McLaughlin was in charge of a separate Department of American History.

    English history was assigned to a room with a gallery in the north wing of University Hall. There the floor was often littered with old newspapers to tempt an occasional idler to whom note-taking proved too great a strain. Outside the department Alfred Henry Lloyd gave a course in political theory; Roman Law was offered by the Department of Latin and in the Law School. In 1900-1901 John Archibald Fairlie (Harvard ’95, Ph.D. Columbia ’98) was called as Assistant Professor to teach political science. Political science was taught in the Department of History until the advent of Jesse Siddall Reeves in 1910, who in the next thirty years built up the present flourishing organization (see Part IV: Department of Political Science).

    As attendance in the introductory courses in medieval and American history grew and other courses were developed, additional instructors were necessary. The greater number of them remained for a year or for two or three years at most until the depression in 1929, after which it was difficult to find places for young men. It was the policy after they had gained some experience to pass them on to institutions where there was a clear field ahead. Among those who thus went on to win distinction elsewhere were Chauncey S. Boucher, chancellor of the University of Nebraska, Edward S. Corwin, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, Professors Paul V. B. Jones and F. G. Randall, of the University of Illinois, and Wynand Wichers, president of Hope College. Meanwhile, there have been various changes in the more permanent staff — losses, replacements, and additions. In 1906 Frederic Logan Paxson (Pennsylvania ’98, Ph.D. ibid. ’03) was called as Assistant Professor of American History; he was promoted to a junior professorship the following year. In 1910 he accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin. There he remained till 1932, when he went to the University of California as Margaret Byron Professor. He is one of the better-known members of the profession and has written various works of general interest, including The History of the American Frontier, which was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 1924. He was president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Society in 1917 and was a member of the council of the American Historical Association 1921-25.

    In 1908 Hudson’s freshman course in general English history was introduced as an alternative to the European history course formerly prerequisite to all other work in the department. Hudson also taught the basic sophomore course in English history from 1909 until it was merged with the freshman course in 1911.

    In the autumn of 1909 William Alley Frayer (Cornell ’03) was called to substitute for Cross, who was invited to Harvard as a visiting lecturer for the second semester. Frayer proved an effective teacher and a popular lecturer throughout the state and even beyond. He was put in charge of the introductory year course in European history in 1911-12, when its content was changed from the history of the Middle Ages and Renaissance to that of modern Europe. In 1929, five years after being advanced to a full professorship, he went with the Bureau of University Travel. He subsequently became the executive secretary of the Cranbrook School.

    The introductory English history was placed under Edward Raymond Turner (St. John’s ’05, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins ’10), who came from Bryn Mawr in 1911. Turner also proved to be a clear and forceful lecturer and a prolific writer as well, of a painstaking and literal type. His chief work is an exhaustive History of the Privy Council in four volumes. In 1924 he accepted a call to Yale, but the following year went to Johns Hopkins on the retirement of Professor John M. Vincent. He died December 31, 1929, at the age of forty-eight.

    Another newcomer in the year 1911-12 was Ulrich Bonnell Phillips (Georgia ’97, Ph.D. Columbia ’02). Already he was known as a leading authority in the field of Southern history, particularly with reference to slavery and plantation management — a reputation which he amply confirmed by his subsequent publications. In 1929 he was called to Yale, where he died January 21, 1934, at the age of fifty-seven. In addition to various biographies and special studies, he published American Negro Slavery (1918) and Life and Labor in the Old South (1929), his ripest and most significant productions. During 1918-19 he was in military service, having the rank of captain in the Military Intelligence Division. He was a member of the council of the American Historical Association.

    Relieved of his classes in the general history of England, Cross was able to develop a course known as the Constitutional and Legal History of England, to turn his “studies” course into a seminar on the Tudor and Stuart periods, and subsequently (1919) to offer a course on the British Empire.[3]

    Legal History and similar courses were designed mainly for “prelaw” students. Before 1897 a combined curriculum in letters and law had been perfected. By taking a special amount of required and recommended work and by attaining sufficiently high grades, a student could enter the Department of Law at the end of his third year, and, after a year of satisfactory work there, secure his bachelor of arts degree and his degree of bachelor of laws two years thereafter, thus shortening the requisite period for obtaining the two degrees. Among the required subjects were American constitutional history and subsequently English constitutional history.

    With the coming of Arthur Edward Romilly Boak (A.M. Queen’s University [Kingston, Ont.] ’07, Ph.D. Harvard ’14) in 1914 the department for the first time had a specialist in the field of ancient history, and the basic course in that field was opened to freshmen, as a third option for the introductory year in history. Boak’s scholarly production and administrative capacity were recognized by rapid promotion. He was made a full professor in 1920 and, on the death of Van Tyne in 1930, was appointed Chairman of the Department of History. William Lytle Schurz (California ’11, Ph.D. ibid. ’15) came to the University in 1915 and was appointed to an assistant professorship the following year. In 1916-17 Schurz introduced the first course in Latin-American history, and a course was offered by Boak in military history. In 1918 Van Tyne, Turner, and Frayer offered a course on the issues of the war, and Cross gave a course in the summer for army mechanics. Various members of the department lectured to training camps and other groups and contributed to war literature.

    After the departure of Schurz in 1920, Latin-American history was omitted for a year, but it was resumed in 1921 on the arrival of Arthur Scott Aiton (California ’16, Ph.D. ibid. ’23), who rose by successive steps to be a professor in 1929, and through his scholarship and teaching ability has developed Hispanic-American history to the point where it occupies an important place in the curriculum. In 1924 the department was greatly strengthened in the field of early modern European history by the coming of Albert Hyma (’15, Ph.D. ’22), who achieved a European reputation by his studies on the early Christian Renaissance (1924) and Erasmus and the Humanists (1930). In 1925 another promising branch was started when Nicholas S. Kaltchas, a Greek, well equipped in languages, including Turkish, was appointed to give work on the Near East. Unfortunately, his health failed and after a leave of absence he was obliged to resign. In 1927-28 Esson McDowell Gale (’07, A.M. ’08, Litt.Ph.D. Leiden ’31) was a visiting lecturer in Chinese history. In 1932 John William Stanton (Missouri ’29, Ph.D. California ’32) was brought in, and, well versed in Russian, Chinese, and Japanese, developed courses until 1940 in the Near and Far East.

    In 1927-28 the staff had reached a point where there were six professors, one associate professor, three assistant professors, and seven instructors. The associate professor was Preston William Slosson (Columbia ’12, Ph.D. ibid. ’16), who came as an instructor and was appointed to a full professorship in 1937. He is known as a brilliant and lucid lecturer on contemporary problems and for his books on recent European history. Arthur Louis Dunham (Harvard ’14, Ph.D. ibid. ’23), who came in 1924, is a specialist in economic history; as his chief work thus far he produced in 1930 a scholarly monograph, The Anglo-French Treaty of Commerce of 1860. He was made an associate professor in 1932. Among the new members attached to the department was Howard Meredith Ehrmann (Yale ’21, Ph.D. ibid. ’27), who became an associate professor in 1937-38. His studies on the war issues have made his name known abroad as well as at home. The years 1930 and 1931 were significant for many changes. Claude Halstead Van Tyne (’96, Ph.D. Pennsylvania ’00), appointed Assistant Professor in 1903, head of the Department of American History in 1906, and head of the Department of History in 1911, died March 21, 1930. A stimulating teacher, a scholar at once careful and imaginative, a brilliant writer, and a vivid and masterful personality, he was a man of mark in the historical field. Though not afraid to oppose even with sarcasm those of his colleagues who held views contrary to his own, he was sympathetic with young men. His standards, nevertheless, were exacting, and he aimed, with the resources available, to build up a really strong department. He was known in France and in England; he gave the Harvard Foundation lectures in the former (1913-14) and the Sir George Watson lectures in the latter (1927). The Watson lectures were embodied in his suggestive England and America. Four years previously he had been invited to India to study the workings of the Act of 1919, and published his impressions in India in Ferment (1923). Of a long line of works, his two volumes on the Causes of the War of American Independence contain the culmination of his scholarship. The second volume, 1929, received the Henry Russel award of the University of Michigan and the Pulitzer prize posthumously. He had been an editor of the American Historical Review, a corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Phillips in the meantime (1929) had resigned. This left two major positions to fill. After a temporary appointment of a visiting lecturer, Dwight Lowell Dumond (Baldwin-Wallace ’20, Ph.D. Michigan ’29) came to take Phillips’ work. He has shown his productivity by publishing a book on The Secession Movement (1931) and Roosevelt to Roosevelt (1937), and by editing two substantial collections since his arrival. In 1939 he was promoted to a full professorship. In 1930 Verner Winslow Crane (’11, Ph.D. Pennsylvania ’15), a former student and onetime instructor in the department (1916-20) but at the time teaching at Brown University, replaced Van Tyne. Crane has been an editor of the American Historical Review and is known for his Southern Frontier, 1670-1732 (1928) and his studies on Benjamin Franklin. Under him a more general course in American history was introduced and the constitutional course was placed in the capable hands of Lewis George Vander Velde (’13, Ph.D. Harvard ’31), author of The Presbyterian Churches and the Federal Union, 1861-1869 (1932). He came as Instructor in 1929, and was promoted to a full professorship in 1940. Since 1935 he has been devoting a portion of his time to assembling original materials relating to the history of the University and of the state and in 1938 was appointed Director of the Michigan Historical Collections.

    Perhaps the most significant change in 1930-31 was the substitution of an introductory course known as History of Western Civilization — covering the period from ancient times to the present — in place of the three introductory courses which had been given for nearly twenty years. Although opinion in the department was somewhat divided as to the advisability of the change, the new course was started forthwith. It is now given in four parallel lecture groups, and its success has fully justified the experiment. Boak turned his introductory course, Ancient History, into one for upperclassmen, and the work in modern European history was superseded by new special courses given by various members of the department. For example, Benjamin Webb Wheeler (California ’15, A.M. Harvard ’16), who had been Instructor since 1924, was enabled to develop a course in the history of Prussia. Also, the general course in English history was again turned into a course primarily for sophomores and was entrusted to Seaman Morley Scott (British Columbia ’21, Ph.D. Michigan ’34); he, too, had been teaching in the introductory course since 1924. Wheeler and Scott became assistant professors in 1935.

    The members of the faculty of the Department of History in 1940 were as follows: Professors Boak, Aiton, Crane, Hyma, Slosson, Dumond, and Vander Velde; Associate Professors Dunham and Ehrmann; Assistant Professors Scott, Wheeler, Long, and Throop; and Instructors Reichenbach and Stanton, besides five teaching fellows. There were in 1939-40 twenty-two semester courses primarily for undergraduates and twenty-one semesters of work for advanced and graduate students. Included in the graduate work were ten courses continuing throughout the year (two proseminars, a studies course, and seven seminars), as well as one-half of another year seminar, a semester course in historiography, noncredit reading courses, and directed research for doctoral candidates.

    Though the William L. Clements Library of American History is described at more length in a separate article (see Part VIII: Clements Library), the Department of History must express its deep obligations to that library and to its efficient and accommodating director, Randolph Greenfield Adams. Housed in a magnificent Renaissance building, it was donated to the University and formally opened in 1923, and with the John Carter Brown, Lennox, and Huntington, ranks as one of the four best existing collections of Americana. During the last ten years previous to his death in 1934, Regent Clements devoted himself to accumulating a remarkable collection of manuscripts supplementing the Shelburne, Brougham, Croker, and other papers. It includes the Greene, Clinton, Germaine, and Gage papers; all of these are now in the Library.

    The publications of members of the history staff, past and present, have been not inconsiderable, and recognition and opportunities for service have come to not a few. Three have received Pulitzer prizes, one the Toppan prize at Harvard, and one the Little, Brown and Company’s prize. One has received the Henry Russel award, and one the junior award from the same fund. Two have lectured in foundations in England, one in France, and one in Spain. Four are or have been corresponding members of the Massachusetts Historical Society. One has been president of the American Historical Association, five have been members of the council, four have been on the board of editors of the American Historical Review — of whom one was managing editor — one on the board of the Journal of Modern History, and one on the board of editors of the Southern History Journal. Nearer home, at least three have been presidents of the University of Michigan Research Club; one has been president of the Michigan Schoolmasters’ Club, and three have been presidents of the Michigan Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Moreover, in a recent survey by the American Council of Education, the University of Michigan Department of History has been rated as one among eight starred for distinction in directing research.


    • Calendar, Univ. Mich., 1871-1914.
    • Catalogue …, Univ. Mich., 1844-71, 1914-23.
    • Catalogue and Register, Univ. Mich., 1923-27.
    • Farrand, Elizabeth M.History of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: Register Publ. House, 1885.
    • General Register Issue, Univ. Mich., 1927-40.
    • Hinsdale, Burke A.History of the University of Michigan. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1906.
    • MS, “Minutes of the University Senate,” 1880-1940. Univ. Mich.
    • President’s Report, Univ. Mich., 1857-1940.
    • Shaw, Wilfred B.The University of Michigan. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920.
    • University of Michigan Regents’ Proceedings …, 1837-1864. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1915.
    • White, Andrew D.Autobiography … New York: Century Co., 1905. 2 vols.

    2. History (1975)

    With the postwar expansion of undergraduate and graduate enrollments, the History Department’s increased responsibilities required a much larger staff. Its members of faculty rank increased from 16 in 1940-41 to 61 in 1973-76. In the same period the number of teaching fellows increased from five to thirty. This change in numbers demanded several interesting changes in the scope and character of the department.

    In 1940-41 the department consisted almost entirely of specialists in European (ancient, medieval, and modern) and American history. The growth over the next 35 years was not evenly distributed. The staff teaching west and central European history (including Britain and the British Empire) increased from 11 in 1940-41 to 18 in 1973-76, while the number of department members teaching United States history (colonial to the present) went up from three to nineteen. The most striking growth, however, came in the history of non-Western areas (Europe east of the Oder, Asia, and Africa). In 1940-41 there was only one person teaching such history; by 1975-76 the number so employed increased to 19.

    The movement towards a wide geographic scope in the department’s offerings began in 1945 with the appointment of Prince Andrei Lobanov-Rostovsky, a Russian emigre, as professor of Russian history. For many years Lobanov-Rostovsky alone taught the history of both Russia and the borderlands of eastern Europe. Today this responsibility is shared by five members of the department, including specialists in the history of medieval and modern Russia, Poland and the Balkans. Even more remarkable has been the growth in the history of Asia, an area almost totally neglected by the department before the appointment of John Hall, a Japanese specialist, in 1948 and Albert Feuerwerker, a Chinese specialist, in 1959. By 1975-76 the six specialists in East Asian history made the department a major center for such studies in the United States. Comparable developments on a somewhat more restricted scale occurred in the study of South Asia and the Middle East (from 1956) and in Southeast Asia (from 1964) and Africa (from 1970). A major responsibility for teaching the history of the ancient and medieval Near East had been assumed by the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literature from 1945. In all other non-Western areas, the burden has been borne primarily by the History Department.

    The development of non-Western studies in the History Department has been closely associated with the development of the University’s centers for area studies, coordinating related studies in different departments and acting as conduits for the transmittal of federal and foundation funds to newly developing fields. The first such unit, the Center for Japanese Studies, was founded in 1947. It was soon followed by equivalent organizations for Chinese, South and Southeast Asian, Russian and East European, Middle East and North African Studies, and more recently by the Center for Afro-American and African Studies. In more traditional areas the utility of this form of organization has led to the creation of the interdepartmental Program in American Culture and the Center for Western European Studies. Members of the History Department have played an active part in the affairs of all the area centers and (as of 1975) had been conspicuous in leadership roles in the Japanese, Chinese, and South Asian centers.

    With this geographical expansion went a wider experimentation in historical methodologies. When Professor Sylvia Thrupp joined the department in 1961, she brought with her from Chicago the journal, Comparative Studies in Society and History, which has been published here ever since. (It is now edited by historian Raymond Grew of this department and anthropologist Eric Wolf of New York.) The journal and the interests of several department members made the department a leading center in the development of the comparative approach to history. With outside support, a master’s program in comparative studies became a regular feature of the department’s offerings. The 1960s and 1970s also saw an increased self-conscious concern by many in the department with new methodologies useful for their own research and the training of graduate students.

    The growth of the teaching staff in the decades after 1940 was accompanied by significant changes in its pattern of recruitment. In 1940, the History Department, like almost all equivalent departments of the day, consisted virtually entirely of white males of Protestant upbringing and northwest European ancestry. By 1960 expansion had been accompanied by the addition of persons of Catholic and Jewish upbringing and of south and east European antecedents, but the department was still entirely Caucasian and male. This limitation was to change very rapidly in succeeding years. Although women had served as visiting professors before, the first woman regularly appointed was the distinguished medievalist, Sylvia Thrupp, who was named Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History in 1961. Other female appointments followed, slowly at first but with increasing frequency after 1970 so that by 1975-76 there were six women on the teaching staff. In the same years, appointments of Africans, Afro-Americans and Asians further enhanced the cultural diversity of the department.

    Before the Second World War, the only funds the department had to support graduate study were a limited number of teaching fellowships and a few awards made by the Rackham Graduate School. After the war, these were greatly enhanced by federal veterans’ grants and (from 1958) by grants under the National Defense Education Act for both area studies and open fellowships. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation supported a number of first-year graduate students in the 1950s and 1960s while a few fortunate students received major grants from the Danforth Foundation; substantial grants were also received from the Carnegie Corporation for the Japanese Center and from the Ford Foundation for both area studies and open fellowships. From the late 1960s substantial federal, state, and foundation funding became available through the Rackham School specifically for the support of minority students who for the first time became a numerically significant element in the department’s graduate program. After 1970, NDEA and Ford Foundation programs supporting open fellowships were terminated and allocations from the Rackham Graduate School were reduced for all but minority programs. These constraints contributed to the decline in graduate student enrollment in the 1970s.

    Undergraduate teaching, however, remained the preponderant activity of the department. Allowing for annual fluctuations, the general trend of enrollments was upwards until about 1970 after which a significant decline set in. European and British history which had been extremely popular fields of study from the First World War through the Second suffered noticeably from this shift of student interest; even the new field of Russian history which was of increasing popularity in the 1960s shared the common experience after 1970. Asian, African, and Latin-American history had never been as popular as European but were gradually attracting more students (particularly when the Vietnam War caused a temporary keen student interest in East and Southeast Asian affairs); this increase tended to level off after 1970. Thus, a very substantial and increasing part of student enrollment throughout the period was concentrated in United States history. In 1969, a beginning was made in ethnic history with the introduction of courses in Afro-American history.

    The opening of the Undergraduate Library in 1958 and the development of paperback publishing considerably altered the pattern of assigned reading in most undergraduate history courses. In the 1940s larger courses relied heavily on one or two textbooks. By the 1960s, instructors had become less dependent on textbooks and much more frequently assigned reading in a variety of paperbacks and in book chapters and articles readily available at the Undergraduate Library.

    The administration of the department also changed profoundly in these years. In the 1930s and 1940s the department was directed by a chairman serving an indefinite term. This system appeared to work well in the smaller community of those days, but the larger and more complex department of the postwar years placed enormous pressures on the chairman and seemed to require a wider sharing of responsibilities. In the late 1940s an elected executive committee was established to advise the chairman. By the 1960s the executive committee in turn had to delegate to ad hoc committees some of the responsibility for advising on appointments, tenure, and promotion. An elected curriculum committee with student representation was also established in 1970. In 1953 the department adopted a five-year chairmanship. In 1969, this was changed to a two-year rotating chairmanship but, after seven chairman in ten years, the department adopted a three-year term in 1978-79.

    The department’s home for many decades, old Haven Hall, burned in 1950. After making do for two years in temporary quarters in the basement of the Rackham Building and in South Quadrangle, the department was rehoused in 1952 on the third floor of the new Haven Hall. By the mid-1970s the department occupied the third and fourth floors of Haven Hall and fourteen offices in the new Modern Languages Building.

    3. History (2015)

    The Department Before 1950

    History crystalized as a department at the University of Michigan in the 1880s, just as the discipline took shape nationally with the founding of the American Historical Association. Before that time, students at Michigan learned history from professors who taught in more than one field. Thus it is that the Department’s most illustrious ancestor, Andrew Dickson White—appointed in 1857 to teach both history and rhetoric—is also claimed as an ancestor by the Department of English. (White went on to become the first president of Cornell, minister and ambassador to Russia and Germany, and the first president of the American Historical Association.)

    History at Michigan developed by increments. To a curriculum in ancient history A.D. White brought a vigorous modernism that took on such questions as the influence of American ideas on the French Revolution and the intellectual history of the warfare between science and religion (the subject of his most famous book). The addition of medieval and modern history made a robust European core that devised, in 1930-31, an introductory course in the history of western civilization and a wide array of advanced courses. American history was added in the 1890s, and for a time there was a distinct Department of American History, but it was soon merged with the Department of History.

    In temporal terms, the Department would leave the human past before the advent of agriculture and the written word to the archaeologists. But in geographic terms, an impulse toward comprehensiveness would always characterize the study of the past at Michigan. The goal was to make history the examination of the human world as it really was, and is, in its full geographical extent.

    This impulse was manifest in early expansions of the curriculum beyond the Euro-American core. In A.D. White’s course, for example, there were gestures toward the history of India and China. Beginning in 1916, Latin American history was regularly taught, notably by Arthur Aiton (from 1921). Claude Van Tyne, one of three faculty members to win a Pulitzer Prize, wrote a book about legal developments in India. Courses were given on the Near East and China, though permanent courses only came later. Andrei Lobanov-Rostovky (appointed 1945) added Russian history.

    Thus, the Department of the 1950s had much to build on. Popular with students, it enjoyed a national reputation established through the scholarly reputations of many of its faculty. In addition to those already mentioned, Arthur Boak was internationally renowned for his work in Roman history and for making Michigan a world center for the study of papyrology. Dwight Lowell Dumond, who joined the faculty in 1930, was an influential member for more than thirty years, honored for his pioneering works on the anti-slavery movement of the Civil War era. Preston Slosson gave popular lectures beyond the campus and over WUOM.


    History faculty and students benefitted from several rich resources at U-M that lay outside the Department itself. The William L Clements Library, founded in 1923, became a major source for research in early American history. An effort to gather historical records of the University and the state grew into two archives that would eventually be housed in the Bentley Historical Library—the Michigan Historical Collections, which contains records of the state and its people; and the University Archives and Records Program. By the 1950s, the Institute for Social Research, founded in the 1940s, was the world’s largest interdisciplinary research institute in the social sciences. Historians exploring new data-based inquiries led the Department to take part in the summer seminar on Quantitative Methods and Historical Data Analysis sponsored by a unit of ISR.

    The 1950s and 1960s

    In the 1950s and ‘60s the Department—mirroring national trends— went through a period of explosive growth in both faculty and students. This was largely the outcome of rising national prosperity, and at Michigan it had a democratizing effect, bringing first-generation students in large numbers. This was bound to change the demographics of the faculty and the intellectual design of teaching and scholarship.

    The strengths of the Department were embodied in a group of men most of whom had been born before World War I, were formed as scholars in the years of the Great Depression. Now approaching the end of their careers, they were less than ideally suited to deal with postwar changes in society, university life, and the historical discipline itself. Moreover, there was much internal dissension, high enough to draw the concern of College officials and to be gossiped about among historians at other universities. Everyone knew that some members of the Department had largely ceased to publish scholarly work. Then in June 1950 their lives were more concretely disrupted when Haven Hall, which housed History and several other departments, burned down, in a fire set by an unbalanced graduate student of Classics. The Haven Hall fire was an inauspicious beginning to what eventually turned out to be a highly successful period of growth.

    The Department’s central problems continued through the 1950s. The choice of Howard Ehrmann as chair in 1953 provided continuity (he had been at Michigan since 1927) and decisiveness, but bold departures were wanted. The Dean replaced Ehrmann when he was on leave abroad, making William Willcox the acting chair while searching for an outsider to reinvent the Department. The choice fell on John Bowditch, appointed as chair in 1960. As chair of history at Minnesota, Bowditch had demonstrated substantial administrative talent. He was a natural diplomat with a good eye for talent, little ego but large ambitions for the Department, and he set about remaking it.

    Three appointments that proved highly consequential for the Department had already been made. Sidney Fine joined the Department immediately on completion of his Michigan PhD in 1948. Fine quickly showed himself a productive scholar and popular teacher of twentieth-century U.S. history. As acting chair, William Willcox had secured the appointment of Jacob Price in English economic history and Gerhard Weinberg in modern German history—two outstanding young scholars who would each achieve national recognition.

    A fourth appointment was Bowditch’s great coup: Sylvia Thrupp, economic and social historian of medieval England, lured from Michigan’s nemesis, the University of Chicago.

    To hire Thrupp, Bowditch made use of an endowment to honor Alice Freeman Palmer who, in 1871, had been one of the first women to attend U-M; she later joined the faculty at Wellesley and became that college’s first woman president. Her husband’s bequest in the 1920s had been designated for a chair to be held by a woman, but the funds proved inadequate. When alumnae stepped forward to augment the endowment, Bowditch was able to persuade Thrupp to accept the chair.

    Thrupp brought her new journal, Comparative Studies in Society and History, devised to create a new readership of historians, anthropologists, and sociologists and to promote new scholarly conversations among them. CSSH would be edited by Thrupp, Raymond Grew, and Thomas Trautmann of the Department, and it would continue to be governed by Michigan faculty. It would promote bold cross-disciplinary interactions that would enrich the Department in many ways.

    History became an enthusiastic partner with Michigan’s postwar centers of area studies. The Center for Japanese Studies, founded in 1947, was the nation’s first center devoted to the study of Japan. In 1961, with impetus from the Ford Foundation and the federal government, area centers were created in many universities. Michigan hosted an exceptionally large array; 50 years later it would still have six National Resource Centers funded by the Department of Education’s Title VI: East Asian Studies (comprising centers for China, Japan and Korea); Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Middle Eastern and North African Studies; Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies; South Asian Studies; and Southeast Asian Studies. The area centers were interdisciplinary and attracted wide participation among historians; many directors have been History faculty. With the help of the centers, History was able to greatly increase its faculty appointments in regions of the world beyond America and Western Europe, with the result that its faculty profile by the early 21st century would comprise one-third Europeanists, one-third Americanists, and one-third specialists in Asian, Latin American and African history.


    Many of the historians appointed in the 1960s—there were twenty of them in all—were engaged in comparative historical studies and in concepts, methods and evidence that came from other disciplines. They identified new approaches and new historical problems. By any measure, they were an extraordinarily talented group. They included leading Americanists (John Higham, intellectual history; Bradford Perkins, diplomatic history; Jack Greene, colonial history; William Freehling, the Jacksonian period; and Sam Warner, urban history), a Latin Americanist (Charles Gibson, who would be elected president of the American Historical Association); three specialists in Russian and Eastern European history (Arthur Mendel, William Rosenberg, and Roman Szporluk); six Europeanists (including a historian of science); two specialists on South Asia (John Broomfield and Thomas Trautmann), and a historian of Egypt (Richard Mitchell, author of a pioneering study on the Muslim Brotherhood). Their publications, the honors they garnered, and their positions in scholarly organizations added to the Department’s reputation. Some moved on, but Bowditch made their departures an argument for greater support from the College. On the whole he got it, and plans for further growth now included “Negro-American” and African history. Soon Harold Cruse, author of a book soon regarded as a classic, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, joined the Department as first director of the Center for (now the Department of) Afroamerican and African Studies.


    From 1950 to 1970 the Department grew from 18 to some 60 faculty, an increase so great it was bound to generate new patterns. One was the rapid turnover of junior faculty, hired in great numbers and dismissed through the tenure process in numbers not quite, but almost, as large; and as quickly finding teaching positions elsewhere, since the whole world of American higher education was going through the same expansion process.

    Another was a dramatic change in Department governance. The old pattern had been a chair serving for an indefinite term, consulting with colleagues only as conscience and prudence directed. In the late 1940s an elected executive committee was established to advise the chair. In the ‘60s the chair and executive committee became the governing body of the Department, advised (sometimes vigorously) by the faculty. Executive committee elections were (and still are) conducted without nominations or discussion, through repeated votes until a majority was reached. This odd voting procedure ended the dissension for which the Department was known in the 1950s and made it famous for the civility of its collective life. The term of the chair was set at two years, not renewable—the sign of a Department that was large, filled with talent, and committed to scholarship.

    Patterns of teaching changed greatly, too. Undergraduate numbers shot up and new courses proliferated. History continued to be the second or third most popular major in the College. The gift of $10,000 from an appreciative alumnus to Preston Slosson on his retirement led to a story in Time magazine about the apples given to teachers at Michigan. Graduate enrollment in history had long been large at Michigan, the great majority being candidates for the master’s degree, intending to teach in high schools and junior colleges; in 1959, for example, there were 54 MAs and only 6 PhDs. This pattern would turn upside-down, and gradually the master’s degree became a stepping-stone to the PhD as the PhD program became ever larger. Alumni found positions at a score of colleges and universities across the nation. In a single year three became chairs of history departments, at Duke, Grinnell, and the University of Southern California. Some, like Roger L. Williams, PhD, 1951; Hans Heilbroner, PhD 1954; and Hayden White, PhD 1955, had especially notable careers. Applications soared (a national phenomenon) with one-third from women. Compared to its peers, however, the Department was hobbled by a scarcity of graduate student fellowships, though the situation began to improve with increased funds from foundations, the federal government, and endowments by alumni and friends of the Department.

    Amid all this growth, one area contracted. In 1949 the College Curriculum Committee had expressed concern that there was no mechanism for direct relations between LSA and the state’s junior colleges and four-year colleges, no system for visiting them or maintaining rapport with Michigan high schools. Through the 1950s the Department sponsored extension courses in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, and elsewhere, some taught by the regular faculty, some by former and current graduate students. By the 1960s it became difficult to find volunteers to teach extension courses, and faculty concern for influence in the junior colleges and high schools was fading. An historic sense of responsibility for standards of learning within the state slowly ebbed as the state’s other universities and colleges grew and the University of Michigan History faculty attended more to academic standards, individual research, and national reputation.

    As these local ties waned, however, Michigan historians became involved in national movements for civil rights and in opposition to the Vietnam War. Several history professors joined the second civil rights march at Selma, Alabama, in 1965, and the University was an early center for protests against the war in Vietnam. Michigan students were prominent authors of the 1963 Port Huron Statement and organizers of Students for a Democratic Society. The first teach-ins, a form of protest that spread to campuses across the nation, were held at Michigan where they involved professors and students in hours of discussion. It is a paradox of this period that while the History faculty was divided over national issues, comity reigned in the internal affairs of the Department. When noisy demonstrators thronged South University Avenue on a spring night in 1969, many professors of history stood there, too, one group recruited to protect the library from unruly mobs, the other to protect students from unbridled police.

    With its ties to the Institute for Social Research, an exchange with the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris (perhaps the world’s most influential center of historical research), and the appointment of Charles Tilly (on Sociology’s budget), Michigan’s Department of History stood out as a national leader in history as a social science. The French exchange annually brought scholars from the Ecole (initially Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie and François Furet) to teach in Ann Arbor and sent Michigan faculty to Paris. Confidence in the Department’s excellence was high. Student evaluations ranked History first in the College. The faculty discussed adding positions in pre-modern Japan and Jewish history—a far cry from the curriculum that had served for generations. Internally, the gravest issue was the need for more office space for an enlarged faculty and staff. A faculty once composed of white and primarily Protestant males had come to include Catholics, Jews, and women; a department once riven by conflict now favored a rotating two-year chairmanship for which any member might be chosen and each would be obliged to serve if asked.

    The 1970s and 1980s

    The dramatic changes in the discipline of history in this period are well captured in a self-study prepared by the Department in 1990:

    Hitherto the fields of study had largely been confined to the United States and Europe (sometimes with a heavy emphasis on Britain in the case of European history). Asia, Africa, and Latin America figured in the historian’s work, if at all, as colonial dependencies of the West, and their histories as branches of Euro-American history. Sub-specialties developed internally to the national fields, starting from primary emphasis on political events to increasing interest in administrative structures, thence to the crystallization of social history, economic history, and the history of ideas….

    Yet shortly after the dominance of the West had taken on a distinctly American form during the historiographical era immediately following World War Two, the traditional configuration of the discipline no longer seemed adequate to its chosen role of interpreting our historical experience to ourselves. The rapid decolonization of Asia and Africa demanded the decolonization of history; the politicization of minorities and women called into question the adequacy of what had passed for social history; the growing realization of interdependence and the limits of national sovereignty tended to undermine the validity of the nation as the unit of history. In every way, the discipline as constituted was seen to have failed to correspond to the real complexity of experience, both in scope and its analytic means and internal design.

    The report noted Michigan’s role in bringing about this transformation over the previous quarter-century.

    Our own department of history has not only participated in these changes; it has, with the generous encouragement of the College, led them. With help from the area centers, it has established an Asian history component unmatched by any other department in the country. It has developed one of the largest Russian-Soviet and East European components anywhere in the English-speaking world, and has developed, further, programs in comparative history, African history, Latin American history, African-American history, and the history of women.

    At present, then, the Michigan department is a “comprehensive” department rather than one defined by a distinctive doctrinal “school” or by a commitment to specialize in several fields at the expense of others. Indeed, we believe no other department of history can surpass the degree of commitment we have made to the display and critical scrutiny of human diversity. . . . Our program is distinguished by the emphasis we place on undergraduate teaching. We deliver on our mission in the lecture hall as well as in the seminar, in the library, and in the archives.

    During the 1970s and ‘80s the Department had some 50 faculty members on a full-time or part-time basis. Other historians associated with the Department were entirely salaried by other units (such as Andrew Achenbaum, Gerontology; Harold Cruse, Afroamerican and African Studies; Horace Dewey, Slavic Languages and Literatures; David Lewis, School of Business Administration; Leo McNamara, English; Charles Tilly, Sociology) or serving as the full-time directors of the Bentley Library, the Clements Library, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. On the whole, after the rapid growth of the 1960s, the Department had reached something of a steady state in numbers. The distribution of fields also remained stable, with about a third each in European history, U.S. history, and other fields (Latin America, Asia, Africa), though the European component was slightly larger than the other two, and U.S. second largest. In 1981-82, for example, the figures were Europe 26; U.S. 16; and Latin America, Asia and Africa 15. This pattern was similar to those of other top ten departments of history in the country.

    But within this overall steady state, there was considerable turnover, changing demographics and changes in intellectual configuration.

    One striking change from the 1960s was the rising proportion of tenured faculty in the Department. The previous pattern of rapid hiring and firing gave way to a less fevered process, with closer scrutiny of credentials and a commitment to finding new junior faculty who could be tenured when the time came. The result was that during the 1970s and ‘80s, on average, some 80 percent of the History faculty were tenured associate or full professors. (By 1985-86 the number had reached an astounding 96 percent; this was rebalanced with the addition of more untenured faculty in 1990-91.)

    Sylvia Thrupp had been the first tenured woman in the Department. This had been very long in coming; in 1894 the Regents had voted unanimously “that henceforth in the selection of professors and instructors and other assistants in instruction in the University, no discrimination be made in selection between men and women…” It was only in the 1970s that the number of women on the faculty began to rise. There was one woman faculty member in 1970, five in 1976-77, six in 1981-82, five in 1985-86 and then 13 in 1990-91.

    During the 1970s and 1980s the Department became committed to building and maintaining a more diverse faculty. The number of African American faculty members fluctuated over these same five-year intervals: one in 1970-71; two in 1976-77 and in 1981-82; one in 1985-86; and four in 1990-91. The founding of the Program in Native American Studies (1983) was a notable new partner-program for History.


    Two institutions created in this period were further outcomes of the Department’s comparativist and interdisciplinary culture. One was an interdepartmental PhD program in Anthropology and History, the brainchild of Sarah Humphreys, author of Anthropology and the Greeks (1983). It was formulated by members of the two departments—Norma Diamond, Nicholas Dirks, Robert Berkhofer, and Sarah Humphreys—and approved in 1988. The program proved highly successful and a boon to both departments, bringing in a small number of excellent graduate students, for whom Michigan was the first choice for admission. It was a question whether they would be employable, but in the event graduates of the program have been highly sought-after by university departments of history and anthropology.

    The other was the program in Comparative Studies of Social Transformations (CSST), created by William Sewell (History and Sociology) in 1987. The program, as formulated by Sewell, Terrence McDonald, Sherry Ortner, and Jeffery Paige, was to foster exchange across the fields of history, anthropology and sociology that went further than borrowing from one another and took advantage of a growing convergence on a common problematic, stated as the question, “How do groups of actors constituted and constrained by social and cultural structures act so as to transform the very structures that constituted them?” In the 1990s the program attracted more than 150 faculty affiliates from many departments and programs. It was dissolved in the mid-2000s; much of its operations were absorbed by the Department of History.


    A third interdisciplinary program, the Medieval and Renaissance Collegium (MARC), was founded in 1972, with substantial History Department participation.

    During this period the regime of the two-year term for the chair flourished, then died, owing to pressure from LSA deans, who began to appoint new chairs after receiving confidential advice from members of the Department. Deans prefer longer terms in the interest of continuity and a wider spacing between appointments—a demanding and time-consuming task. In the ten years from 1969 to 1979 the Department had eight chairs (Sidney Fine; Bradford Perkins, who resigned; Jacob Price, acting; Gerhard Weinberg; David Bien; Roger Hackett; Marvin Becker). The dean wanted a five-year term; the Department compromised on three years with no reappointment. From 1979 to 1990 there were only four chairs (Jacob Price; Bradford Perkins, acting; Albert Feuerwerker; and Thomas Trautmann).

    By 1990 the Department had risen from twelfth to fifth in national rankings of history departments. The quality of its faculty, the popularity of history courses among undergraduates, and the number of PhDs awarded continued strong. Its major and continuing disadvantage in competition with peer programs was the limited support it could offer graduate students. Where other universities, especially the well-funded private universities, were offering multi-year packages of support, the Department could only offer support for a few years through a mix of fellowships and teaching assistantships. This problem would persist.

    The 1990s and 2000s

    In the most recent period, from 1990 to 2013, the Department had eight chairs (William Rosenberg, Maris Vinovskis, Rebecca Scott, Frederick Cooper, Terrence McDonald, Sonya Rose, Mary Kelley, Geoff Eley). These, plus the current chair (Kathleen Canning), include the first women to have chaired the Department.

    The Department’s orientation toward interdisciplinary, transnational cultural history took the form, during the 1990s and 2000s, of more joint appointments, new interdepartmental programs, a new Institute for Historical Studies, and reforms of the undergraduate and graduate programs.

    Under auspices of the Program for the Comparative Study of Social Transformations (CSST) and the journal Comparative Studies of Society and History (CSSH), members of the Department during the late 1980s and early ‘90s organized a series of interdisciplinary conferences on ambitious themes such as power, time, culture, and violence. Proceedings appeared as a series of innovative, influential volumes. Culture/Power/History: A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory edited by Geoff Eley, Nicholas Dirks, and Sherry Ortner (1994) was the fruit of CSST. A number of volumes were published by the University of Michigan Press under the imprint of CSSH: Time: Histories and Ethnologies, edited by Thomas Trautmann and Diane Owen Hughes (1996), Cultures of Scholarship, edited by Sarah Humphreys (1997), and States of Violence, edited by Fernando Coronil and Julie Skurski (2006). Conferences, seminar series, and edited volumes such as these secured the Department’s importance as a leading force in methodological and theoretical innovation.

    The interdisciplinary, transnational ambition of these conferences, seminar series, and published volumes assumed concrete, institutional form in new programs of study and in a growing number of joint appointments with other departments and programs. The joint doctoral program in History and Anthropology quickly acquired international renown for its demanding, innovative seminars and for the high quality of its students. The first PhD produced by the program, Anne Waters, defended her dissertation in 1995 and won a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University. Other programs emerged to coordinate courses, to create lecture series, or to offer graduate and undergraduate certificates: the Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (1991), the Program in British Studies and the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (2000). In collaboration with the Center for African and Afroamerican Studies, and supported by President James Duderstadt’s Michigan Mandate, the Department of History helped establish one of the leading programs in African American and African history. Although the Department often had prominent scholars hired away by other universities, it kept its reputation in these competitive fields through the appointment of talented junior and senior scholars. These included: in African American history, Earl Lewis (1989), Elsa Barkley Brown (1990), Robin Kelly (1990), Michele Mitchell (1997), Julius Scott (1997), Matthew Countryman (1998), Penny von Eschen (1999), Kevin Gaines (1999), Martha Jones (2001), Tiya Miles (2002), Sherie Randolph (2008), and Brandi Hughes (2010); and, in African history, Keletso Atkins (1989), David William Cohen (1993), Nancy Hunt (1997), Gabrielle Hecht (1998), Mamadou Diouf (2000), Derek Peterson (2008), and Rudolph Ware (2008).

    New joint appointments strengthened ties with other departments. Fernando Coronil (Latin American history), appointed in 1991 in History and Anthropology, became an important force in the joint PhD program. The joint appointments of Carroll Smith-Rosenberg (American history, 1995) and Dena Goodman (French history, 2000) added institutional heft to the Program in History and Women’s Studies. The expansion of the Program in American Culture yielded an especially large number of joint appointments. Others linked History with Asian Languages and Cultures; Comparative Literature; English; German Studies; International Studies; Judaic Studies; Near Eastern Studies; Obstetrics and Gynecology; the School of Public Policy; Romance Languages and Literatures; Sociology; and the Taubman School of Art and Architecture. As of this writing, while the Department has 59 “full-time equivalent” faculty on the payroll, the head count of faculty stands at an all-time high of 80. Scholars with full-time appointments in History have also been likely to share the interdisciplinary approaches and transnational orientations of their jointly appointed colleagues.

    To do justice to the diversity of interdisciplinary and transnational interests, the Department supplemented conventional area caucuses with topical and methodological “clusters,” which may better convey the range of intellectual pursuits and scholarly collaboration. The clusters are: Africa Diaspora, Atlantic Studies; the American West; Early America; Economic History, Social History, Quantitative Methods; Environmental History; Gender Studies and Sexuality; Historical Materials; Intellectual and Cultural History; Law and Society; Medieval and Early Modern Studies; Nations and Nationalism; Politics and Power; Race and Ethnicity; Religion; and Science, Technology, and Medicine.

    Important developments in two interdisciplinary, transnational subfields—gender and sexuality, and global and transnational history—require a closer look.

    Gender history and history of sexuality

    In 2013 US News and World Report ranked the University of Michigan’s History Department third in the country in the subfield of Women’s History. Our prominence in this field began when Carol Karlsen was hired as an assistant professor of U.S. Women’s History in 1985. Over the next 25 years, until her retirement in 2011, Karlsen was joined by an impressive number of colleagues who examine the history of women in every part of the world and across time. By 2002, sixteen faculty members were working in the field of Gender Studies, as the field itself had grown beyond the study of women to include “gender, sexuality, body, and family.” By 2013, twenty-five faculty members and twenty-two graduate students (including thirteen in the joint doctoral program in History and Women’s Studies), saw their work as contributing to this field.

    The rise of Michigan as a leader in this area could only happen with the decision to overcome decades of discrimination in hiring practices that had kept the History Department a bastion of male privilege. The first woman hired by the Department, in 1957, was Caroline Robbins, a noted historian of English republicanism and the first recipient of the Alice Freeman Palmer chair, as a visitor for one semester. She was succeeded in 1961 by Sylvia Thrupp, the sole tenured female member of the Department from 1961 until 1972.

    In 1975, Professor Thrupp was succeeded in the Palmer chair by Elizabeth Eisenstein, known for her work on the French Revolution and especially for her magnum opus on the history of the printing press. She was followed in 1989 by Sabine MacCormack, a historian of impressive erudition whose work ranged from Byzantium to the Andes. Professor MacCormack’s successor, the historian of nineteenth-century America Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, was the first occupant of the Palmer Chair to have achieved distinction in the history of women, gender, and sexuality. Barbara Metcalf, a leading historian of modern South Asia, went on to become president of the American Historical Association. The current occupant, Mrinalini Sinha, has extended the study of gender history beyond the West in two pathbreaking books on modern India.

    The department was slowly adding other women to its ranks, but it had trouble retaining them. Two of the three female assistant professors hired between 1972 and 1974 were gone by 1978; the third remained as an instructor. However, Louise Tilly, who had collaborated with her husband, Charles Tilly, as a social historian of France, joined the faculty as an associate professor in 1977. The following year she published a pioneering work in women’s history, Women, Work, and Family, coauthored with Joan Wallach Scott. In 1978 she went on to direct the Women’s Studies Program, which had been founded through student initiative in 1973, and to launch the “Michigan Occasional Papers in Women’s Studies,” which continued until 2011 as Michigan Feminist Studies.

    With the arrival of Carol Karlsen in 1985, both women faculty and women’s history finally took root in the Michigan History Department. The next three years saw the hiring of three more assistant professors who would go on to be leaders in gender history: Hitomi Tonomura (pre-modern Japan), Kathleen Canning (modern Germany), and Laura Lee Downs (modern France). Between 1984 and 2002, the percentage of women at the rank of assistant professor and above climbed steadily from eight percent to 41 percent, from four women to 26. Since then, as the faculty has grown from 63 members to 80, many holding joint appointments, the proportion of women has remained steady at 41 percent.

    Most of the women who joined the department after 1984 stayed to build their careers here, in part because of an improving climate for women at Michigan. But they also stayed because their careers became stalled under heavy service loads and little appreciation of “the second shift”—household and family responsibilities that married working women bore but their husbands and male colleagues did not. The result was that between 1995 and 2002, the number of women at the rank of professor remained steady at seven or eight, even as assistant professors were being hired and routinely promoted to associate. By 2002, the number of women at the rank of associate had grown from six to sixteen. Due to a record number of retirements and departures of senior faculty over the course of these years, the percentage of women at the rank of professor rose dramatically from two to 21 percent even as their real numbers stayed constant. Moreover, of the seven women at the rank of professor in 2002, only one (Rebecca Scott) had risen through the ranks from assistant professor. By 2002, women made up 73 percent of the associate professoriate.

    These women were extraordinarily influential in the transformation of women’s history into gender history in the years after the 1986 publication of Joan Scott’s paradigm-shifting article in the American Historical Review: “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” Thanks to their national and international leadership, Michigan has become recognized since 1990 as one of the top three departments in the United States in which to study the history of women and gender.

    Two developments in particular have brought Michigan’s strength in the history of women and gender to national and international attention: the journal Gender & History, which had its U.S. editorial home here from 1998 to 2008, and the joint doctoral program in Women’s Studies and History, which began training students in 1999.

    Gender & History was founded in the U.K. in 1989 in the wake of Joan Scott’s transformative call to go beyond the study of women as subject matter to the use of gender as a lens through which to understand power relations in history. A decade later, the editors of Gender & History were looking to collaborate with U.S. scholars in order to widen that lens and gain new editorial perspective. Sonya Rose, a historian of modern Britain who joined the Michigan faculty in 1993 as Professor of Sociology and History, was instrumental in bringing Gender & History to Michigan and developing its transatlantic structure of collaborative editorial cooperatives. Kathleen Canning, then an associate professor, took on the job of North American co-editor with Mrinalini Sinha (then at Penn State and, since 2010, the holder of the Palmer Chair at Michigan). With support from the Rackham Graduate School, Gender & History’s decade at Michigan was marked by the global expansion of readership and conferences that brought gender historians from Asia, Africa, and Latin America into dialogue with those in the West, leading to special issues that examined underrepresented fields of history through the lens of gender. Between 1998 and 2008, many members of the History Department faculty served on the editorial collective, including, in addition to Canning, several who served as North American co-editors: Nancy Hunt (African history), Helmut Puff (early modern Germany), and Michele Mitchell (African-American history).

    Closer to home, in the mid-1990s, the Women’s Studies Program initiated partnerships with the Departments of English and Psychology to develop joint doctoral programs that would give graduate students “the opportunity to acquire the conceptual and methodological tools grounded in the interdisciplinary perspective of Women’s Studies,” to enhance and complement critically their training in a traditional discipline. In 1998, when Gender & History arrived at Michigan, a joint doctoral program in History and Women’s Studies was already in the works. The first three students matriculated in the fall of 1999 and represent the global and temporal breadth of the program: Monica Burguera (modern Spain), Erica Gasser (early America), and Vanessa Noble (South Africa). The two or three students accepted into the program each year are fully integrated into the History Department and work with History faculty in every field. They bring to the department not only a commitment to the historical study of women and gender, but a passion for social justice and an engagement with theories of sexuality, race, and gender that constitute a more complex, intersectional lens than historians imagined in the 1980s.

    The Department’s success in hiring and retaining women and especially historians of women and gender has had a significant impact on the scholarship and teaching of the department as a whole. Historians of all stripes and both sexes attend to gender in their research and teaching at all levels, from introductory surveys to advanced seminars. In May 2004, the editors of Gender & History organized a faculty workshop on comparative gender historiographies from which a year-long graduate seminar was developed that continues to be co-taught by participants in the workshop. And as the field has broadened to include sexuality, so have both the scholarship and teaching of History Department faculty. Although as yet no faculty line has been designated for the history of sexuality, an undergraduate survey course on the subject was introduced in 2008 in collaboration with Women’s Studies, and increasing numbers of graduate students are coming to Michigan to study the history of sexuality. History faculty Sueann Caulfield (Latin America), Anthony Mora (U.S. borderlands), Helmut Puff (early modern Germany), and Scott Spector (modern central Europe) are all contributing to Michigan’s growing prominence in this field.

    Global history

    “The global,” in its many dimensions, now stretches across all facets of History at Michigan. It influences the work of our current faculty and shapes the priorities used to hire new colleagues; it suffuses the curriculum, reshaping graduate training and undergraduate teaching; and it defines a good portion of the Department’s outreach to the wider institution and our communities beyond.

    This development builds upon and knits together existing strengths, including Michigan’s area studies centers; the impulse toward comparison and interdisciplinary conversations fostered by the arrival of Sylvia Thrupp and her journal, Comparative Studies in Society and History; the historical and sociological work of Charles and Louise Tilly; and the global framing of Eric Wolf’s anthropological writing, especially his book, Europe and the People without History (1982); the Anthro-History PhD program; and CSST.

    The comparative approach aimed to develop wide-reaching theoretical contributions through analyses rooted in particular places and contexts. The careful comparative work of its practitioners generated a distinguished record that continues today—for example in the work of Victor Lieberman, who published a much-lauded two-volume study of the patterns in Eurasian state formation, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800-1830 (2003-08).

    A few historians set out to consider historical processes that did not assume national or regional units as structuring elements. Their work contributed to the development of global and connective methods in world history, avenues that have since become much more prominent in history generally.

    John Broomfield, who taught South Asian history from 1963 to 1983, may have been the first at Michigan to take such an approach, through his research on the global flu pandemic of 1918. Charles Bright also crossed national and regional boundaries, starting in 1973 when (in light of OPEC’s oil embargo) he saw the need to teach modern European history in a global frame. He was joined in this effort by Michael Geyer, who arrived in 1977 and proposed (with Bright) a co-taught class, “The 20th Century: A Global Perspective.” This large lecture course seems to have been the first curricular manifestation of a global-historical approach available to undergraduates. It continued until Geyer left for Chicago in 1986.

    Global and transnational ways of thinking spread in the 1990s. They grew in response to a wider “cultural turn” in the discipline of history, and were shaped as well by global geopolitical shifts, including the fall of the USSR. During this period Raymond Grew, the longtime editor of CSSH and a specialist in French, Italian, and comparative history became convinced that global history could be a viable scholarly field that did not violate disciplinary rules of specificity and evidence even as it opened new scales for investigation. Grew published a book, Food in Global History (1999), and taught an undergraduate course on global fundamentalism. Shortly before retiring in 1999, he also taught U-M’s first graduate colloquium in global history. Some of his students developed projects that linked regional knowledge with global history, such as Aims McGuiness, in Latin American history, and Kerry Ward, who wrote a dissertation about linkages across the Indian Ocean.

    The groundwork had been laid for an efflorescence of world/global history in the Department. It grew into a much fuller conversation in the 2000s and 2010s. There are several reasons for this. The field’s intellectual underpinnings held a newly powerful appeal to many historians, through its emphasis on border-crossing, both geographic and temporal; its challenge to nation-state framings; its engagement of various scales in space and time; and its stress on interactive and connective approaches. Global history was equipping graduate students for a job market that increasingly called for expertise in world/global history. For this reason, peer institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton likewise have sought to become more active in global-oriented scholarship and teaching. Michigan, however, has pursued this work with distinctive thoroughness.


    In the Department’s Long-Range Plan (LRP) of 2003, transregional and transnational approaches came to the fore. The LRP aimed to protect existing strengths while pursuing two new initiatives. The first called for an emphasis on “regional and transregional processes that have been substantially masked by historiographies framed in terms of ‘the nation’ and ‘the national.’ ” The next year, the first volume of Lieberman’s Strange Parallels won the World History Association’s national book prize. In 2004 the department also hired Douglas Northrop, a specialist in Central Asian history who had previously taught world history. In 2005 he launched a new undergraduate lecture survey, “The World Since 1492” and in 2006 offered the first graduate colloquium in world/global history since Grew’s retirement. These moves started a new interdisciplinary conversation by catching the attention of Robert Bain, a professor in the School of Education, who had recently led the group that rewrote Michigan’s high school curriculum in world history. Bain’s work created new undergraduate demand, too, as teaching certificates in Michigan henceforth required students to complete multiple courses in world and global history.

    Around this time the History Department, under the aegis of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies (EIHS), launched a thoroughgoing conversation about global developments and what they meant for the department. In fall 2007, EIHS scheduled a roundtable on world history that packed Tisch 1014; the standing-room-only crowd inspired EIHS director Kathleen Canning to pursue these issues in a sustained and serious way. Also in this period the Medieval and Renaissance Collegium, essentially a European program, was reinvented and given a global and comparative dimension as Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS).

    Global history has now grown into every domain of the department’s work. A new faculty caucus—known informally as “the globalists”—came into existence in 2010. It operates under the full name of “Global, World, International, Transregional, Edges, Connective, and Comparative history,” under the fetching acronym GWITECC. The group now numbers more than 30 faculty. New faculty hires over the last five years have brought more colleagues with world/global expertise, including Mrinalini Sinha, Hussein Fancy, Pamela Ballinger, and Melanie Tanielian. In 2013 the department added Perrin Selcer, a specialist in global environmental history and author of a book on transnational institutions such as UNESCO.

    GWITECC has focused on curricular expansion (at the undergraduate level) and admissions and training (for graduate students). At the undergraduate level, Ian Moyer (ancient Greece and Rome) designed a premodern world history lecture survey to complement the modern survey class; he first taught it in 2011, and now both courses are offered every year, by a rotating roster of faculty. Northrop added a cross-disciplinary class in so-called Big History, with even greater time depth, and at scales ranging out to the cosmological (“Zoom: A History of Everything”). The course joined the world history survey sequence as part of a minor in global history, proposed to begin in 2014. Department faculty offering courses for the minor in global history include Valerie Kivelson on global witchcraft, Nancy Hunt and Martin Pernick on global health, Howard Brick on theories of the globe, Penny Von Eschen on the global Cold War, Gabrielle Hecht on global nuclear proliferation, Hitomi Tonomura on global gender, Sueann Caulfield on global sexuality, Pamela Ballinger on international human rights, and Anne Berg on global garbage.

    At the graduate level, GWITECC initially encouraged existing regional caucuses to consider border-straddling and transnational-to-global PhD applicants. In 2013, under Farina Mir’s leadership, global history went beyond such brokering to receive its first formal designation as a field for admission to the PhD program. The colloquium in world/global history is now offered every year, and existing students have designed global fields for preliminary examinations in the PhD program.

    * * *

    The growth of the faculty and the proliferation of programs, clusters, and joint appointments have produced intellectual effervescence, but they also have tended to disperse the faculty into a variety of administrative obligations and physical locations. This centrifugal force has been an increasing problem.

    Administrative obligations have grown because the Department’s interdisciplinary orientation has made its members well known across campus and highly appealing for administrative jobs. Since 1990, members of the Department have served as Dean of LS&A (Terrence McDonald), Dean of the Rackham Graduate School (John D’Arms, Earl Lewis), and Associate Dean of Social Sciences (Susan Juster, Philip Deloria) and members of the Executive Committee of the College (Maris Vinovskis, Geoff Eley). History has also supplied many directors of programs and centers, including the Institute for the Humanities (Thomas Trautmann), International Institute (William Rosenberg, David William Cohen), Center for Chinese Studies (Albert Feuerwerker, Rhoads Murphey, Ernest Young, James Lee), Center for Japanese Studies (Roger Hackett, Hitomi Tonomura, Leslie Pincus), Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (Juan Cole), Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (William Rosenberg, Roman Szporluk, Ronald Suny, Valerie Kivelson, Jane Burbank, Douglas Northrop), Center for South Asian Studies (John Broomfield, Thomas Trautmann, Nicholas Dirks, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Barbara Metcalf, Will Glover, Juan Cole, Farina Mir), Armenian Studies Program (Gerard Libaridian, Kathryn Babayan), Center for European Studies (Dario Gaggio, Kathleen Canning, Joshua Cole), Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (Sueann Caulfield, Richard Turits, Jesse Hoffnung-Garscof), Center for (now Department of) African and Afroamerican Studies (Harold Cruse, Kevin Gaines, Tiya Miles) and the African Studies Center (Derek Peterson), Program in (now Department of) American Culture (Robert Berkhofer, Caroll Smith-Rosenberg, Richard Candida Smith, Philip Deloria, Gregory Dowd, George Sanchez).

    In answer to the centrifugal pull of joint appointments, the Long-Term Plan of the Department proposed, in 2003, to create an Institute for Historical Research that would “give a different balance, and modestly increased but critical support, to the Department’s overall intellectual and research projects.” This became a viable ambition when in 2006 Kenneth (History ’64) and Frances Eisenberg (Education ‘64) committed $5 million dollars to endow such an institute. The Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies (EIHS) was officially opened on November 15, 2006.


    The core of the Eisenberg Institute’s intellectual program is a bi-weekly lecture on Thursday followed by a panel discussion on Friday. When the Thursday lecture is delivered by a speaker from outside the University, the Friday workshop offers graduate students the opportunity to interact with him or her directly, by commenting on the speaker’s published work or by receiving the speaker’s comments on brief presentations of the students’ own research. To lend coherence to the lecture series, the Institute invites external and internal scholars to speak to two-yearly themes: “History and the Visual” (2005-2007), “Topographies of Violence” (2007-2009), “Paucity and Plenty” (2009-2011), “Taking Place” (2011-2013), and “Materials of History” (2013-2015). These broad, methodological themes enhance the stature of the Institute as a place of intellectual innovation and ensure that the lectures and workshops are relevant to all members of the Department.The Institute has also reached out to the broader community by sponsoring lectures at Ann Arbor District Library and a workshop for high school history teachers.

    Apart from providing a common intellectual focus, the Eisenberg Institute supports the Department’s research with Faculty Fellowships, Graduate Student Fellowships, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship. To create ties to nearby colleges and universities, the Institute has awarded fellowships to faculty members of other history departments in the region.

    Successive reforms of the undergraduate and graduate programs have made certain that the interdisciplinary, transnational orientation of the Department of History is manifest in teaching as well as in research.


    The reform of the undergraduate program is in progress at the moment of this writing (2013). In 2000, the Department determined to make the History major “better attuned to the changes in our globalizing world and more reflective of the strengths of our growing faculty” by requiring that undergraduates take at least one course dedicated to a period before 1800 CE as well as two courses (instead of one) on cultures outside Europe and the United States; one of these latter two courses might be dedicated to comparative or transnational history. In addition, the Department expanded the number of introductory surveys that undergraduates might take to fulfill the prerequisite for the History concentration by offering two-semester surveys not only in American and modern European history, but also in African history, East Asian history, Greek and Roman history, and South and South east Asian history. In 2011, an Undergraduate Working Group reviewed the curriculum in order to adjust the undergraduate program to the evolving interests of the faculty and the field of history at large, and thereby attract the interest of potential concentrators. In accordance with these proposals and recommendations, the Department of History created a mentoring program, expanded the distribution requirement to demand courses in four world regions, and approved a series of gateway courses: “What Is History?,” “History of the Present,” “Key Topics in History,” “Doing History” and “Making Sense of History,” to supplement the older core courses.

    As to the graduate program, abandoning the prior segregation of graduate students into Americanists, Europeanists, and students of non-Western cultures, the Department introduced one compulsory seminar for all incoming graduate students. Entitled “Introduction to the Comparative Study of History” or “Introduction to the Practice of History” (History 615), it is co-taught by two faculty members of different regional and temporal specializations. This seminar invites PhD students in their first semester to discuss recent books chosen for their disciplinary interest and methodological contributions, rather than for their specialized subject matter.

    The greatest change in the graduate program has entailed a solution to the Department’s long-standing funding disadvantage compared to peer institutions. With help from Rackham Graduate School and its own body of graduate fellowships, the PhD program now offers five-year funding packages to all incoming graduate students while dramatically limiting graduate admissions. The Department is now better able to compete for the best students.

    Through all these changes, and because of them, the Department of History has retained its ranking in the top ten, usually in the top five, graduate programs in History in the United States. Although the faculty has continued to turn over at a high rate, the new hires have been no less successful than their predecessors in winning distinction in research and teaching, both inside and outside the University: Collegiate Chairs and Distinguished Chairs; Henry Russell Lecturers (Maris Vinovskis and Rebecca Scott); Golden Apple awards (Sidney Fine, Matthew Lassiter, and Victor Lieberman) and several Arthur F. Thurnau Professorships for teaching excellence; a Diversity Award; Faculty Fellowships at the Institute for the Humanities; MacArthur Foundation Fellowships (Rebecca Scott and Tiya Miles), Guggenheim Fellowships, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, a National Science Foundation Fellowship, Mellon Fellowships and Mellon New Directions Fellowships, Ford Foundation Fellowships, American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships, Social Science Research Council Fellowships, Fulbright Fellowships, Spencer Foundation Fellowships, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, and an R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellowship; affiliations with the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, the Davis Center, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Humanities Center, the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study, and the Stanford Humanities Center; elections as fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and many other prizes and book awards.

    Because of the centrality of history to the humanities and social sciences, countless Michigan students have taken the Department’s courses and many of them have become History majors or graduate students of the Department. The Alumni Association has over 10,000 living alumni and other friends of the Department on its books. In the century and a half of its existence, the Department has served many times that number of Michigan students. They are the measure of the value of its work.

    Alumni and friends of the Department have been outstanding in their loyalty and support. The premier gift has been that of the endowment for the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, from Kenneth and Frances Eisenberg. Others have endowed seven named professorships: The A.M. and H.R Bentley; the Fred Cuny (from Robert Donia); the Louis Evans; the Frederick G.L. Huetwell; the J. Frederick Hoffman; the Alex Manoogian; and the Alice Freeman Palmer professorships. In addition there is the Aiton Lecturship in Latin-American history and the Richard Hudson research professorship. Still others have endowed undergraduate and graduate student fellowships and prizes, many of them named in honor of their teachers, or contributed to the History Strategic Fund. The Department has been exceptionally blessed by this support. All of this support for the work of the Department testifies eloquently to the value it holds for its students.


      1. Acoustics and optics were probably required only of candidates for the degree of civil engineer.return to text

      2. The author of this article, Arthur Lyon Cross, was appointed to the Richard Hudson professorship in 1916. Professor Cross died June 21, 1940. At the time of his death he was the senior member of this department, which he had served for forty-one years. The professorship is now held by A. E. R. Boak. — Editor.return to text

      3. Professor Cross was the author of a number of books, including the well-known text entitled A History of England and Greater Britain. He was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society. — Editor.return to text