Greetings from O’Boyle Hall, the new home of the Department of History!  

As some of you already know, Marist Hall developed some structural problems this past year and was taken “off-line” by the University.  This meant that all departments in the building had to be relocated, including our own.  Consequently, in late April, we moved to our new quarters in O’Boyle, where we share the second and third floors with our neighbors in the Departments of Education and Psychology. Over the summer we have been continuing to settle in, helped enormously by our new Administrative Assistant, Ms. Kyla Roberts (, and our graduate students who pitched in their packing and decorating skills to help the cause!

Our move provided a rather feverish conclusion to an already busy academic year that found us sponsoring a jam-packed calendar of events, some of which I outline here. 

We kicked off the fall semester of 2017 by initiating an academic job search to find a historian of early America to fill out our U.S. section.  We are delighted to report that our search was successful!   Dr. Samuel K. Fisher, a newly minted Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame will be joining the department this fall.  You can read all about him and his research interests further along in this newsletter.

On the events front, our monthly Colloquium—open to all—presented a themed series entitled, “Historians Beyond the Academic Profession” in which a sequence of historians (some of them our own Ph.D.s and faculty) discussed their careers and experiences working in government and other fields beyond academia. In November, the Department marked the retirement of our colleague in canon law, Professor Kenneth Pennington, with a symposium organized in his honor entitled, “Law in Medieval and Early Modern Society” at which our own faculty gave papers and glimpses into their own work based on a diverse array of legal materials.  In December, Dr. Caroline Sherman, in collaboration with Dr. Amanda Moniz, a lecturer in early American history, used their respective courses on the French Revolution and the American Revolution to stage a “Mock Policy Briefing” on the subject of religious freedom.  Presented to the University community, the idea came from the National History Center whose initiative is to “help students appreciate the importance of bringing historical perspectives to contemporary policy conversations.”  Given the success of this event, there is no doubt that our undergraduate students learned this lesson well.   We closed out 2016 with what we hope may become a History Department tradition.  Our seniors were invited to conclude the marathon of writing their senior theses by crossing an official finish line set up in the Department. The Department recognized their heroic efforts with “medals” bestowed at a holiday party.

The spring semester was no less eventful.  Prompted by one of our first year students, the Department organized a career night called, “What are going to do with that?”  Five of our local alumni who have diverse and flourishing careers outside of academia returned to campus for this event and gave informative presentations (and valuable advice) on how majoring in History helped them to develop skills for life that led them to their present careers.   The spring, as always, also brought the annual celebration of our undergraduate majors in which the new crop of Phi Alpha Theta honors scholars were inducted into the Society and we honored the best senior thesis of the year with the bestowal of the Zeender Prize.  This year the award of the prize, named in honor of John T. Zeender, a beloved historian and former chair of the Department, was especially poignant as 2017 marked the centenary of his birth.  For the occasion, two of Professor Zeender’s sons were on hand to join us for the festivities and to honor Conor Boland’s thesis, focused on an aspect of the Ford administration’s foreign policy, which won the prize.  Conor’s thesis used primary source materials from the Gerald Ford presidential library to argue an original and exciting new thesis. 

Our graduate students also won prizes this year, among them were Carol Anderson, Vanessa Corcoran, John Paul Heyne, and Austin Powell, who won prizes from the Medieval Academy of America, the American Catholic Historical Society, the Gladys Delmas Foundation, and the Cosmos Foundation.  Not to be outdone, our faculty also won some significant prizes as well.  Dr. Sherman won the University’s Teaching Prize for junior faculty; while Professor Jerry Muller won the University’s Prize for Distinguished Research, and Dr. Julia Young’s monograph, Mexican Exodus, won the 2017 Foik Award for Best Book on the Catholic Southwest from the Texas Catholic Historical Society. 

The academic year concluded with the Second Annual University Research Day at which the Department had a very strong presence this year, including a session entitled “Mapping History,” where students of Professor Poos presented their digital mapping projects to great effect.   One last event, outside of the normal academic calendar, is also worth mentioning.  Professor Nelson Minnich served as one of the organizers of a conference commemorating “The 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s Posting of the Ninety-Five Theses,” a conference that brought international scholars to campus from 30 May to 1 June.

Along with the triumphs, the spring semester also brought the sad news of the passing of our emeritus colleague, Maxwell Bloomfield, who taught in the Department of History for more than thirty years.  Professor Bloomfield, a legal historian and the author of four books and many more articles, taught American legal history in the Department beginning in 1966.  In 1985 he accepted a joint appointment with the Columbus School of Law.  After a distinguished career, Professor Bloomfield retired from the University in 1998. Professor Bloomfield is remembered fondly by his colleagues and his students.

It’s been another busy year and we’re now looking forward to a bit of time to settle in to our new digs and to recharge for the new academic year that is (YIKES!) just around the corner.

If you didn’t get your fill here, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook.   And do remember that we welcome any and all donations to the Department, no matter how modest.  (To give, go to, select "Other" on the Designation button, then type "History Department Chair Fund".)

Wishing you all the best for what remains of the summer,

Dr. Katherine L. Jansen
Professor and Chair