Undergraduate students in the George Washington and his World class. Text: Department of History, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences seal


Examining the Past to Understand the future
Studying history through today's lens


Who We Are


Professor Joel Blecher teaching a class on Islamic History with a group of graduate students listening


With an unparalleled location in the nation's capital, award-winning faculty and access to some of the most important research repositories in the world, the GW Department of History offers an ideal platform from which to explore our past. Undergraduate and graduate students are exposed to a diversity of topics, from the Africa diaspora to the Cold War, from imperialism to urbanization, from the founding of Islam to Jewish history, from race relations to labor, law and politics. Students graduate with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary for success in a wide range of careers.



Where We Are


The Washington, D.C., area offers a front-row seat to history. Students are immersed in their surroundings through trips to museums, battlefields and historical sites including the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Jamestown Settlement, the Gettysburg Battlefield, the Society of the Cincinnati and George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

Through the department's collaborative relationships with institutions throughout the region, students also have extraordinary access to historical documents at the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the National Security Archive and the Smithsonian Institution.

Aerial picture of the national mall. Left to right: The Smithsonian, The Washington Monument, museum of natural history



Upcoming Events

See our News and Events page for more.


Farah al-Nakib

Farah Al-Nakib, BA '01

Author, Kuwait Transformed: Oil and Urban Life

"[Senior year] was the first time I ever studied Kuwait's history. ... Being able to unearth unused documents about the subject I was researching was really thrilling. I didn't quite know it back then, but that experience officially turned me into a historian."

 History by the Numbers

100+ students in the major


50+ students in the minor


~40 full-time faculty members



Our Highlights 

Department Headlines

Professor Christopher Brick at his desk listening and recording a podcast

Failing Grade: Are Americans Flunking History?

History professor Christopher Brick has a lesson plan to raise our humanities IQ.

During World War II, Jews in France like Denise Bauman were required to carry identity cards. (Photos Courtesy Ashley Valanzola)

Commemorating History’s Dark Chapter

PhD student Ashley Valanzola is researching the stories of six extraordinary Jewish women—Holocaust survivors who worked to honor the memory of lives lost.

Three students at Mt. Vernon point at paintings on the wall

Student-Led Exhibition, "George Washington and His World," Opens at the GW Museum

Seventeen students in Prof. Denver Brunsman's course, "George Washington and His World," curated an exhibition of the same name about how Alexandria, Mount Vernon, and Washington, D.C., shaped George Washington.

Faculty Books

  • Book cover of "ruling the savage periphery" by Benjamin Hopkins

    Ruling the Savage Periphery: Frontier Governance and the Making of the Modern State

  • Book cover of "African Americans & Africa: A New History" by Nemata Amelia Ibitayo Blyden.

    African Americans and Africa: A New History

  • Book cover of "Spinoza's Challenge to Jewish Thought: Writings on His Life, Philosophy, & Legacy" edited by Daniel B. Schwartz.

    Spinoza's Challenge to Jewish Thought: Writings on His Life, Philosophy, and Legacy

  • Book cover of "Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism" by Arie Dubnov and Laura Robson.

    Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism