Why study history?

Students and professors at the University of Utah describe why a history major is the most relevant degree students can get in the 21st century. Click the video below to find out more.

Interested in joining the Historical Review?

Interested in joining the editorial board of our undergraduate journal, the GW Historical Review? Applications for 2018-2019 position of editor are now open! Click here for more information on how to apply.

2018-2019 Phi Alpha Theta officers

The 2018-2019 Phi Alpha Theta officers have been elected:

President: Annabel LaBrecque

Vice President: Anayeli Nuñez

Secretary: Lee Febos

Treasurer: Sarah Ek 

Historian: Joe Hillman

Member Recruitment: Julia Brown and Erin Haas




The History Department teams up with History News Network (HNN)

The History News Network (HNN)

The History Department is excited to announce a new partnership with History News Network (HNN), a website devoted to putting current events in historical context.  Among other things, HNN endeavors to expose politicians who misrepresent history; to point out bogus analogies; to deflate beguiling myths; and to remind us all of the complexity of history. Their mission states, "Because we believe history is complicated our pages are open to people of all political persuasions. Left, right, center: all are welcome."  Visit historynewsnetwork.org to see what it's all about! 



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Department of History

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the George Washington University History Department is an intellectual community of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and many associates and friends. With more than 40 full-time faculty, varied both in specialization and research methods, GW is an ideal place to study fields as diverse as modern Africa, early modern Europe, the history of colonialism and imperialism, modern America, and the Cold War.

Home to some of the most important research repositories and archives in the world, Washington is a unique and exciting place to study history. Studying history at GW provides students with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary for success in a wide range of careers and professions.

2019 Kayser Memorial Lecture: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Kayser 2019

This year's annual Elmer Louis Kayser Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize-winning author of six books on women's history and material culture, and originator of the oft-cited phrase "well behaved women seldom make history." Dr. Ulrich will speak on "Susan B. Anthony and the Disreputable Suffragists of Utah Territory: A Material Culture Story." Her lecture will begin at 4 pm in the Teamsters Room on the 7th floor of Gelman Library. All are welcome to attend! 

History News Network Comes to GWU

We are excited to announce that the popular website History News Network (HNN) has moved to the History Department. HNN's mission is to bring historical perspective to current events by publishing original essays by professional historians and by aggregating history-related material from other sources.  HNN also publishes blogs by historians and news about the historical profession. The site will be run by double-GW History alumna Kyla Sommers (BA '13, PhD'19), who will serve as editor-in-chief (read her "Welcome Letter" here). HNN founder and outgoing EIC Rick Shenkman handed over the reins to Kyla on December 19. The department has big plans for HNN, including offering opportunities for undergraduate History majors and graduate students to develop digital and public history experience through internships with the project.  More information will be coming soon about ways that students, faculty, and alumni can become involved!  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Kyla Sommers or department chair Katrin Schultheiss.

Remembering Leo Ribuffo

Leo Ribuffo

The History Department community mourns the death of Leo Ribuffo, professor of 20th century U.S. history. Leo was the author of The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War, which was awarded the 1985 Merle Curti Prize for best book in intellectual history by the Organization of American Historians. He also wrote Right Center Left: Essays in American History (1992) and many articles for scholarly and popular journals. At the time of his death, Leo was completing a biography of Jimmy Carter called The Limits of Moderation: Jimmy Carter and the Ironies of American Liberalism. Over the course of his 45-year-long career at GW, Leo taught courses on contemporary U.S. history and America social thought.  He was a challenging and memorable teacher to innumerable undergraduates and a revered mentor to dozens of graduate students. His intelligence, erudition, and sardonic wit will be deeply missed by his many friends and colleagues.

"It is with great sadness that we share with you the news that Professor Leo Ribuffo died unexpectedly on November 27. He had just returned from an intellectual history conference in Chicago that featured a special session on his contributions to the field. In Chicago he attended an opera—one of his favorite pastimes—with his good friend Mike Sherry whom he had known since his graduate student days at Yale. Leo had a talent for cultivating friends. He had a generous laugh that let people know he appreciated what they said. Leo was good company, who enjoyed  fine cigars from Cuba and the best sort of comfort food but who delighted most in conversations with his colleagues and friends. He was, of course, a mainstay of the GW History Department, leading its efforts in twentieth century American history for over forty years. He wrote award winning books but made his mark as a mentor to generations of graduate students. His graduate seminars captivated his students, many of whom chose Leo to direct their dissertations. He was as deeply read in the history literature as anyone, and he had a lightning quick mind capable of making connections that illuminated America history in perceptive and highly original ways. His death greatly diminishes the GW Department of History and the history profession more generally." - Professor Emeritus Ed Berkowitz

Prof. Denver Brunsman Delivers Trachtenberg Teaching Award Distinguished Lecture

On October 10, Professor Denver Brunsman delivered the Trachtenberg Teaching Award Distinguished Lecture, titled "Teaching History With the Musical Hamilton," at the Textile Museum. The musical Hamilton is the most celebrated American cultural phenomenon of the early 21st century. It has also changed the teaching of history in classrooms across the country. In this presentation, Professor Brunsman shares his experience with using Hamilton in his classes at GW, particularly "George Washington and His World," taught annually at the Mount Vernon estate. By pairing George Washington with Alexander Hamilton, Professor Brunsman has helped to humanize both figures for students and highlighted previously neglected historical topics. The musical has opened critical questions about historical authorship, authenticity, and memory. In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, it matters "who lives, who dies, who tells your story."


GW History Welcomes Three New Faculty Members

jackson We welcome Steven Brady as our new undergraduate advisor. Professor Brady is a diplomatic historian with special interests in German-American relations, early United States foreign relations, and Congress's role in shaping foreign policy. His current book project is Chained to History: Slavery and United States Foreign Relations to 1865.
Jackson Trevor Jackson works on early modern European economic history, with an emphasis on inequality and financial crisis.  His dissertation, “Markets of Exception: An Economic History of Impunity in Britain and France, 1720-1830” examines how changes in the scope for prosecutorial discretion, technical complexity, and the international mobility of capital diffused the capacity to act with impunity in the economy across the very long eighteenth century. 
Wells Jennifer Wells specializes in international law and history, with an emphasis on Britain, Ireland, Europe, nation building, and imperial expansion. Wells has published on a wide range of issues that examine the intersection of history, law, politics, society, and the state, including: international war crimes; terrorism and US-UK extradition law; British judges and Chinese pirates in 19th-century Hong Kong; local expertise in nation building; and the coercive powers of the state.


Joel Blecher Wins NEH and ACLS Fellowships!

Joel Blecher
Congratulations to Prof. Blecher! He has been awarded  year-long fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and American Learned Societies to conduct research for his new book project, Profit and ProphecyIslam and the Spice Trade from Venice to India. Profit and Prophecy retells the story of the spice trade through the eyes of medieval Muslim scholars, merchants, and scholar-merchants who mixed religion and business along pilgrimage routes and port cities that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. The study has the potential to teach us a great deal about the history of globalization and the complex relationship between religion, religious networks, and economics.If this sounds interesting (which it certainly is) to you, consider reading Blecher's piece for the Atlantic on the evolution of Hadith commentary. If you want to read more about other projects that have won the award, click here.

History Dept. Sweeps Teaching Awards!

2018 Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence

Brunsman Prof. Denver Brunsman

2018 Morton A. Bender Teaching Award

Diane Prof. Diane Cline

2018 Writing in the Disciplines Distinguished Teaching Award!

 Anbinder Prof. Tyler Anbinder

2018 Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award

Katharine White Katharine White (PhD '18)

Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

While the History Department does not take positions on matters of partisan politics, we are very insistent on matters of principle, including those enunciated in the University's Statement on Diversity and Inclusion: “Leveraging diversity is rarely achieved by accident. As individuals and as an institution, we must intentionally act to create the diverse and inclusive community that enables everyone to flourish. All members and units of the George Washington University community must advance the institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as a strategic priority.”  

I write now to affirm that statement and to assure you that the History Department remains dedicated to the principles of inclusiveness and tolerance; we see them as essential to the scholarly mission of the university.
If you have any particular concerns that you wish to bring to our attention, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I can be reached at [email protected].

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Meet the Chair

Katrin Schultheiss

Professor Katrin Schultheiss specializes in the history of modern France, gender and women's history, and the history of medicine.  She is currently finishing a book on the nineteenth century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, whose research on hysteria and hypnosis deeply influenced the work of Sigmund Freud. MEDIA CREDIT: HATCHET FILE PHOTO BY DAN RICH | PHOTO EDITOR

Prof. Dina Khoury wins ACLS award!

Dina Khoury

Prof. Dina Khoury has been awarded a 2018-19 ACLS Fellowship for her book project, Who is a migrant laborer? Migration and Documentation in the Persian GulfCongratulations!

Andrew Zimmerman receives John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship

Andrew Zimmerman was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship for his current book project, Conjuring Freedom: A Global History of the American Civil War. Read more here.

Andrew Zimmerman

Erin Chapman wins ACLS Fellowship!


Prof. Erin Chapman has been awarded a 2018-19 ACLS Fellowship for her book project, The Truth Demands Its Own Equals: The Art and Activism of Lorraine Hansberry


Recent faculty books

How Empire Shaped Us

How Empire Shaped Us, edited by Dane Kennedy, tackles the subject of Britain's imperial past by bringing together some of the leading figures in the field, historians of different generations and nationalities, different methodological and theoretical perspectives and different ideological persuasions.

The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Choson Korea

Jisoo Kim challenges the typical portrayal of premodern Korean society.

Before Anarchy: Hobbes and his Critics in Modern International Thought

Theo Christov explains how the 'Hobbesian state of nature' and the 'discourse of anarchy' came to be seen as virtually synonymous.

Innovative Partners: The Rockefeller Foundation and Thailand

Bill Becker explores the century-long relationship between the Foundation and Thailand.

The Greeks, An Illustrated History

On the culture that brought us democracy, the Olympics, Socrates, and Alexander the Great, Professor Diane Cline's lavishly illustrated reference,

City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York

Tyler Anbinder’s City of Dreams provides a vivid sense of what New York looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and felt like over the centuries of its development and maturation into the city we know today.

Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America

In Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America, David Silverman evaluates Native Americans' historical relationship with firearms.

Said the Prophet of God

Although scholars have long studied how Muslims authenticated and transmitted Muhammad’s sayings and practices (hadith), the story of how they interpreted and reinterpreted the meanings of hadith over the past millennium has yet to be told. Joel Blecher takes up this charge, illuminating the rich social and intellectual history of hadith commentary at three critical moments and locales: classical Andalusia, medieval Egypt, and modern India.

The Scientific Revolution in Global Perspective

William Burns places the Scientific Revolution--and its causes and effects--in a global context.

Winning the Third World

Gregg Brazinsky explores the political rivalry between the United States and China during the Cold War through their attempts to establish influence in newly independent Asian and African countries.

Set in Stone: America's Embrace of the Ten Commandments

In her new book, Jenna Weissman Joselit explores how the Ten Commandments have intersected with issues of national identity, inclusion, and pluralism in America.

Tyler Anbinder wins Mark Lynton History Prize

Tyler Anbinder's book, City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York, has been awarded the Mark Lynton History Prize of the Columbia University School of Journalism. Congratulations, Professor Anbinder!

City of Dreams by Tyler Anbinder

Other faculty publications

From Shame to Pride

Recently published journal articles, book chapters, and media contributions.