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Department of History
History Currents Newsletter Archive
Winter 2012, Number 53

Letter from the Chair

Dear Friends of the History Department,

I am most pleased to welcome you to a new edition of the Department’s electronic Newsletter and to let you know what has been happening with us.

Our biggest news has to do with recent faculty appointments, all of them most welcome indeed. We have long been understaffed in Latin American history, the importance of which is self-evident. But this year we have two new colleagues in that vital, growing field.  Drs. Eve Buckley and Adrián López-Denis share complementary interests in medicine, health, environment, and technology. Dr. Buckley is well known in the Department, having been on a temporary contract for several years. She will continue to teach her valuable courses in Brazil and in the history of science and medicine. Dr. López-Denis just completed a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in International Humanities at Brown and arrives at UD with an enthusiasm for connecting historical scholarship with contemporary issues. He will offer courses in the history of Cuba and the Caribbean. With their contributions, we will be able to expand our course offerings in Latin American history and to participate more fully in Study Abroad programs.

In addition, the Department is building on its strengths in twentieth-century U.S. history.

We welcome Dr. Erik McDuffie, a scholar of thought and activism in the African diaspora, to Black American Studies and to History, a joint appointment. Dr. McDuffie comes to us from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he recently completed the prize-winning Sojourning for Freedom, a book on black women and the American Communist and feminist movements.  

Moreover, the Department extends its offerings in environmental history with the hire of Dr. Adam Rome, a former journalist and an award-winning scholar of suburban America who has been teaching at Penn State.  He joins us this Spring semester. We will share Dr. Rome, another joint appointment, with the Department of English. He will teach environmental history and help frame a College program in environmental humanities, a new and interesting initiative.  

We are more than delighted to welcome Dr. Hannah Kim into the Department in a continuing status as an assistant professor and co-coordinator of the History/Social Studies Education program. Dr. Kim, who just received her Ph.D. from this Department, had been serving on a term contract; now we can count on her valuable services for a long time to come.

For additional information about our valued new colleagues, please see below.

This has been quite a year for faculty publication. Our Department of some thirty historians published four major books in 2011: Jesus Cruz, The Rise of Middle- Class Culture in 19th Century Spain, Louisiana State University Press; John Montaño, The Roots of English Colonialism in Ireland, Cambridge University Press; Ram Rawat, Reconsidering Untouchability: Chamars and Dalit History in North India, Indiana University Press; and Steven Sidebotham, Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route, University of California Press. All these studies are winning admiring reviews and gaining professional esteem. The books and their authors are taking this Department to a higher level.

I am also pleased to report that our Katherine Grier, professor of History and director of Museum Studies, has won a major, competitive grant that will permit her to assist local museums and historical agencies in a variety of ways. She will share her expertise, and that of her students, with underfunded, understaffed institutions in our tri-state area. Given the loss of funding that all cultural institutions are experiencing, her efforts will be more than appreciated. Meanwhile, the grant speaks to her professional standing and that of the Museum Studies program. (Please see below for more information.)

I must note, with both regret and congratulations, that Dr. Howard Johnson, Squire Professor of History, has now retired. Howard gave this University many years of distinguished service, both as a scholar and as a classroom teacher. We will miss him. At last Spring’s final Department meeting, we honored Howard Johnson for his outstanding career (and thanked our lucky stars that he spent so much of it here at UD).  

Also, we lament the departure to Hawaii (!!) of Professor Will Scott, who served at UD from 2007 to 2011.  In addition to teaching valuable courses in U.S. history, Dr. Scott was a mainstay of the History/Social Studies Education Program. Many current and past students will be forever in his debt. Dr. Scott is currently managing director of the Teach for America program in Hawaii and is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Hawaii. Will Scott rendered invaluable service to the History Department during his all too brief time with us. We wish him well and look forward to the publication of his forthcoming book (under contract) on the origin of men’s leisure wear.

Now I have the sad duty to report the death in San Francisco of Professor (emeritus) Tai Liu, 80, who taught here from 1967 until his retirement in 1993. His obituary notice appears elsewhere on this website.

All the above merely captures some of the highlights of Department activities in 2011. A more comprehensive look backwards follows.

Thanks to all the friends and alumni who have made generous contributions over the past year. Your gifts are used for many worthwhile purposes—funding professional travel for faculty and graduate students and some undergraduates too, defraying the expenses of guests invited to give talks and lectures, and general enrichment of our programs.

To make a gift to the History Department, please visit our online form at

Another way to help is to provide us with information about yourself and your recent activities, for future newsletters. Please send any such information to Dr. Darryl Flaherty:, who is compiling material for the next newsletter.

All best wishes,

John J. Hurt, Chair, Department of History

Munroe Hall Munroe Hall Munroe Hall


by Darryl Flaherty, Associate Professor

Additions to the Faculty

Eve BuckleyDr. Eve Buckley, who has served for three years as an adjunct in the Department, will continue with a tenure-track appointment in the history of Central and South America.  Her research focuses on Brazilian history and the history of science, medicine, health and environment in the twentieth century.  Dr. Buckley completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania with a project focusing on the successes and failures of science and technology in addressing the problems of poverty and underdevelopment in Northeast Brazil’s drought zone.  She received her B.A. from the University of Chicago and has also worked in science museum education.

Adrián López-DenisDr. Adrián López-Denis joins the Department as a historian of the Spanish Caribbean and Latin America. He comes to us from a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University and from graduate studies the University of California, Los Angeles where he earned his Ph.D.  He also earned bachelor degrees in biology and library science and a master’s degree in both economics and Latin American studies from the University of Havana.  His publications include works on disease, medicine, and health issues in Latin America with a research focus on disease management and epidemics, including the cholera epidemic in post-revolutionary Cuba.

Erik McDuffieDr. Erik McDuffie joins the Department as a joint appointment with Black American Studies, coming to Delaware from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He received a B.A. in history from Hamilton College, earned an M.A. in History from Temple University, and a history Ph.D. from New York University. Dr. McDuffie is the author of the book, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Duke University Press). This book has just won a Letitia Woods Brown Book Award, conferred by the Association of Black Women Historians. He has contributed articles to journals such as the African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, Radical History Review, and American Communist History.

Adam RomeWith an interdisciplinary appointment in English and History, Dr. Adam Rome contributes additional heft to the Department’s offerings in environmental history.  Dr. Rome’s book on the rise of the suburbs, suburban sprawl, and the dawn of environmentalism, Bulldozer in the Countryside, received the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians.  He comes to us from Pennsylvania State University, where he taught since 1996.  A summa cum laude graduate of Yale University, he spent a year at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. He also served as the editor of the journal Environmental History from 2002-2005.  

Hannah KimDr. Hannah Kim, co-coordinator, History/Social Studies Education Program, has become an ongoing assistant professor. Dr. Kim had been on a temporary appointment. A status now happily upgraded. She recently received her doctorate from this department, with Professor Anne Boylan as her dissertation director.

IMLS Grant

Katherine GrierDr. Katherine Grier, director of our Museum Studies Program, has won a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for her project, “Sustaining Places.” The grant, to be conferred over three years (2011-2014), will permit Dr. Grier and her students to assist underfunded museums and agencies in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, by providing them with training in marketing and the technologies of “new media.” Recent beneficiaries of Dr. Grier’s expertise include the Laurel Historical Society, the Marshall Steam Museum, and the Auburn Heights Preserve.

The Laurel Historical Society has a collection that ranges from bank balance sheets to clothing. These materials date from the 1800 and early 1900s. In January 2011, Professor Grier’s students worked for eight days at the Society and processed four hundred items in its collection. This efforts nearly doubled the number that Society itself had labeled, described, and recorded in the previous year.  The project also provided a model for future Museum Studies efforts at similar sites including work during the spring semester at the Marshall Steam Museum and the Auburn Heights Preserve, a new state park in Yorklyn, Delaware.

The Alumni Lecture and Workshop

At the Department’s April 2011 public “Alumni Lecture,” Dr. Barbara Metcalf, professor emeritus of the University of California at Davis, spoke on “Islam and Democracy: Muslim Indians and the Secular State.” The presentation offered great insight into the world’s most populous democracy and Islamic politics within it. A former president of the American Historical Association, Dr. Metcalf has published numerous books and articles on Islam in India, including the seminal work, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900.  Following up on this lecture, Dr. Metcalf gave a revealing portrait of a woman’s rule of the state of Bhopal in “The Queen, and the Nawab: The Networks of an Indian Prince in the First Age of Globalization,” a widely attended workshop hosted by the Department of History.

hurt, metcalf and rawat Dr. John Hurt, Dr. Barbara Metcalf and Dr. Ramnnarayan Rawat.


Metcalf Dr. Barbara Metcalf


Faculty News

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, associate chair of History, was appointed: 1) director, Program in African American History, Library Company of Philadelphia; 2) Faculty Scholar, Center for the Study of Diversity, University of Delaware.

Jesus Cruz was promoted to full professor. He has just published The Rise of Middle-Class Culture in 19th Century Spain, Louisiana State University Press. This interdisciplinary work credits the Spanish middle class for contributing to that country’s democratic stability and prosperity.

Darryl Flaherty was promoted to associate professor.

Ritchie Garrison, professor of history and director of the Winterthur Program, has won a $300,000 NEH grant for a project to create a digital archive that will preserve and make digitally accessible an archive of early American samplers. Stitchery once sustained the American family. In a time before cheap imported clothes, the ability of young girls and women to stitch made a family’s wardrobe.  In cooperation with Lynne Anderson of the University of Oregon, the University of Delaware will bring pieces of America’s material past before the public eye through a searchable database.  The collection will feature “samplers” that taught stitchery over three centuries, from the 1600s through 1900, beginning with more than 100 samplers from the Winterthur collection and then expanding to include regional collections.  While providing an introduction to stitchery, samplers also taught literacy through samples that reproduced letters and words.  With perhaps as many as 10,000 samplers in existence, Dr. Garrison and his collaborators invite the submission of photos of samplers to the digital archive. For additional information please read the UDaily article. Also featured in another UDaily article is Dr. Garrison's surprising attic discovery.

Peter Kolchin, Henry Clay Reed Professor, was named vice-president elect of the Southern Historical Association and will serve as president in 2013-2014.

Cathy Matson, professor of history, delivered the Caroline Robbins Keynote Lecture in Canterbury, U.K., for the British Group of Early American Historians. She spoke on the topic, “Local Subjects, Global Themes: Recent Refashioning of Colonial North American Economic History.” She has also been appointed to the Academic Advisory Committee for The Rothschild Archive, London and Paris.  

Rudi Matthee was named the first John and Dorothy Munroe Professor of History. In February 2011, at the onset of the “Arab Spring,” he represented the Department at a panel devoted to “New Beginnings in the Middle East: Tunisia, Egypt and Beyond.” Dr. Matthee highlighted the historic nature of the events while noting the challenges facing the fledgling democracies in the volatile region.

John Montaño was promoted to full professor. He has just published The Roots of English Colonialism in Ireland, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Ramnarayan Rawat, assistant professor, published his highly original, Reconsidering Untouchability: Chamars and Dalit History in North India, Indiana University Press, 2011. This project won the Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences from the American Institute of Indian Studies.

Jonathan Russ, associate professor, delivered the Library Associates Faculty Lecture, “The First State and the Nation, 1899-2010” at the Morris Library and participated in a “Saturday Symposium” on Delaware in the American Revolution, at the John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle County.

Steven Sidebotham, professor of history, published Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route, University of California Press, 2011. This opus brings together more than a decade’s archaeological study that has uncovered a detailed history of the ancient world.  Digging in sites at the Red Sea port of Berenike, Dr. Sidebotham brought to light eight centuries of commercial and cultural relations among the peoples of Europe, Arabia, and Asia.  The ancient world was thus the first example of a global economy. In addition to publishing innumerable research reports, essays, articles, and contributions to edited volumes, Dr. Sidebotham has seen his work featured in a 2008 Discovery Channel documentary, "When Rome Ruled Egypt."

Susan Strasser, Richards Professor of History, spoke at the fall lecture series, “Trash Talk,” of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. Her topic was, “Rags, Bones, and Plastic Bags: Trash in Industrial America.” 

David Suisman, associate professor, won the Mangone Young Scholars Award, conferred by the University's Francis Alison Society.  The reward recognizes faculty accomplishment and promise and is regarded as one of the University’s highest honors.  The Society highlighted Dr. Suisman’s widely celebrated Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music, Harvard University Press, 2010.  In 2011, this book won the De Santis Prize of the Society of Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. It also received an honorable mention for the Woody Guthrie Prize, awarded by the U.S. branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. In 2010, it won the Hagley Prize for the best book in business history, awarded by the Hagley Museum and Library and the Business History Conference.


Graduate Alumni News

Patricia Dockman Anderson, (Ph.D./Boylan/2009), is editor of the Maryland Historical Magazine and Editor of Publications for the Maryland Historical Society

Lindsay Rago Claro, (Ph.D./Brophy/2011), was appointed researcher, American Philosophical Society Museum.

Laura Johnson, (Ph.D./Heryman/2010), is associate curator at Historic New England of Boston, Mass., the oldest and largest heritage preservation society in the country. It manages thirty-six historic properties.

Neil Lanctot, (Ph.D./Wolters/2002), supplemental faculty in this Department, hit a home run with his 2011 book on African-American catcher Roy Campanella, Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella (Simon & Schuster).  Building on the research from his Negro League Baseball (2004), Dr. Lanctot’s Campy examines the Hall of Famer whose career ended in a 1958 with paralysis caused by a car accident.  The book has received favorable reviews in the national press from the Los Angeles Times to the Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer. It was a selection of the History Book Club.

Christian Koot, (Ph.D./Matson/2005), assistant professor of history, Towson University, Towson, Maryland, published Empire and the Peripherty. British Colonists, Anglo-Dutch Trade and the Development of the British Atlantic, 1621-1713, New York, 2011.

Alan Meyer, (Ph.D./Mohun/2009), is assistant professor of history at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

Eric Miller, (Ph.D./Alchon/2002), associate professor of history, Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania., published Hope in a Scattering Time—A Life of Christopher Lasch, Eeerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

Hillary Murtha, (Ph.D./Boylan/2010), won a post-doctoral fellowship in historical editing at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton - Susan B. Anthony papers project at Rutgers University.

Meredith Scott, (Ph.D./White/2011), was appointed assistant professor at Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, for 2011-2012.

Janneken Smucker, (Ph.D./Strasser/2010), is Content Specialist for Night Kitchen Interactive in Philadelphia, which organizes content for the interactive web sites of museums and cultural institutions. 

Michael Sparrow, M.A., 2006, was appointed assistant manager of Academic Success Center at Immaculata University, Pennsylvania.

Mark R. Thompson, M.A. (United States History), 2004, was named Executive Director of Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard, Maryland.

Bess Williamson, (Ph.D./Mohun/2012), was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Art and Design, Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois.

Zara Anishanslin, (Ph.D./Heyrman/2009), is assistant professor at the College of Staten Island (SUNY), after having studied at Johns Hopkins in 2010-2011 under a post-doctoral award.

Graduate Student News

Nicole Belolan, (Ph.D. program in American Civilization), presented at the University of Alberta's Material Culture Institute's annual conference "Material Culture, Craft and Community."

Christine Croxall, (ABD/Heyrman), received several fellowships in 2011: Albert J. Beveridge Grant for Research in the History of the Western Hemisphere, American Historical Association; Global South Research Fellowship, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, Tulane University; Research Travel Grant, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, University of Notre Dame; and the Lynn E. May, Jr., Study Grant, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee.

Kathrinne Duffy, (M.A. Program in American History), won the Walden Prize, conferred by the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association, for her paper, “Hopeless Maniacs, Physical Wrecks: Ruined Women and the ‘Oriental Cult’ Scare, 1900-1918.” Her paper was deemed the best graduate student essay at the Association’s conference in November. It originated in Rebecca Davis’ HIST 805 in Spring 2011.

Jennifer Fang, (ABD/Strasser), won a Smithsonian Fellowship for Fall 2011.

Megan Jones, (ABD/Boylan), teaches history at the Pingry School in New Jersey.

Laura Muskavitch, (M.A. Program in European History), was awarded the Bingham Estate internship from the Hagley Museum and Library.

Toni Pitock, (ABD/Matson), won the Colonial Essay Prize conferred by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Philadelphia, for “Boundaries and Boundary-Crossings: Philadelphia’s Jewish Merchant Diaspora, 1738-1822.”

Cristina Turdean, (ABD/Mohun), was appointed assistant professor in the Historic Preservation Department, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

John Vanek, (Ph.D. program/Suisman), contributed to “The 1968 Exhibit” at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, an exhibit dedicated to that pivotal year in American history.

Jamin Wells, (ABD/Mohun), won a fellowship in the University of Delaware Material Culture Summer Program.

Undergraduate Alumni News

Rebecca Davis, B.A., 2004, is Program Coordinator for the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program at American University, Washington, D.C.

Susan Gibbons, B.A., 1992, was appointed University Librarian at Yale University.

Benjamin Herold, B.A., 1999, directed a documentary film, “First Person,” profiling the struggles of Philadelphia high school students seeking to get into college. It won “best documentary” at the 2008 Philadelphia Film Festival. As a contributor to “The Notebook,” a web site for Philadelphia educators, Ben can occasionally be heard on WHYY radio.

Ashley Hlebinsky, B.A., 2011, and a current M.A. student, spent the summer on a research fellowship at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.

Thomas Miller, A.B., 2011, won the first prize in the Edward H. Rosenberry Undergraduate Writing competition.

Joseph Salvatore, B.A., 1995, is a playwright and director on the faculty of New York University’s Steinhardt School. He also serves as Artistic and Education Director for Learning Stages, a non-profit theater company in New Jersey.

Meredith Stuart, A.B., 2011, won second prize in the Edward H. Rosenberry Undergraduate Writing competition.

History Majors

Lisa Coutu, History junior, sponsored by Stewart Rafert, appointed Arts and Humanities Scholar in the Summer Scholars Program, 2010-2011.

Stephanie Halperin, senior, History and Asian Studies, won a Plastino Fellowship, which supports self-designed, off-campus learning for students of unusual ability and creativity.

Margaret K. Lee, History and FLL major, Honors, presented “Equal Rights Magazine: The Activities of the National Women’s Party Post-World War II,” at the Phi Alpha Theta Biennial Convention, January, 2012.

Kevin Mackie, History senior, studying with Dr. Jonathan Russ, wrote a 293-page paper entitled "Fort Delaware Prisoner Escapes: 1862–1865."  The paper answers the question, how many prisoners escaped from the prison on Pea Patch Island during the Civil War?  While the prison’s records suggested only fifty-four escapees, Mackie discovered that anywhere from sixty-four to more than a hundred had in fact escaped.  Drawing on a range of accounts, Mackie’s account captures the feel of the time, with reference to a range of escape methods, including ice skating in the winter, floating on empty canteens in the summer, and concealing oneself in a coffin.  Dr. Russ has called the piece of writing a "remarkable work for an undergraduate."  The results of Mackie’s research have been submitted to the Delaware Historical Society and the University's Special Collections.

Lisa Russo, senior, History and Anthropology, won a Plastino Fellowship, which supports self-designed, off-campus learning for students of unusual ability and creativity.

Three History students have won appointments as Legislative Fellows for 2012 in a program sponsored by the University and the Delaware General Assembly: Kathryn Evinger, a double major in History and International Relations, and two History minors: Rachel Giattino and Stacie Mesuda. All Legislative Fellows work directly with state legislators in a variety of ways.


Other News

The University of Delaware Library has made available online the lectures of the late Dr. John Munroe, H. Rodney Sharp Professor of History and chair, Department of History. Through the web, anyone can now view the 15 presentations on the “History and Government of Delaware” that were originally broadcast in 1963 by WHYY TV.

The Department continues to promote links between K-12 teaching and collegiate study through the history education program. In cooperation with the Academic Support Program Inspiring Renaissance Educators [ASPIRE] and other partners, faculty such as Dr. Hannah Kim has connected undergraduate history education majors to more than 100 middle and high school students who are considering college.

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