Study and engagement with the past in the History Department of Trinity College takes place in a number of academic venues at the college, in Hartford, in the region, and globally, especially in our study abroad programs in different continents. Below is a list of the special opportunities available to History majors and students in general enrolled in our courses.
The Colin Leroy Research Fund
The Colin Leroy ‘10 Research Fund in the History Department of Trinity College was established in honor of Colin A. Leroy, who graduated as a history major in 2010. Sadly, he died one year later on July 4, 2011. His parents, Craig Leroy and Bethany Alvord, decided to honor his memory by establishing a fund in the History Department. The purpose of the Leroy fund is to assist history majors in research projects, including research outside the U.S. The official fund description is as follows:
The Leroy Fund provides grants to History majors engaged in research projects for advanced seminars and theses in any field of history. Grants may include, but are not restricted to, such purposes as special library acquisitions, travel to libraries and archives during the summer or academic year, purchase of library cards with stack and borrowing privileges, and study of foreign languages needed for research. The chairperson of the History Department will award grants in consultation with colleagues supervising student research and will send an annual report of the fund’s activity to the family.
The first grant went to Emma Sternlof ’13 who used it to travel to Chicago’s Newberry Library to use the archive of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American and Indigenous studies. The second grant went to Michael McLean ‘14 who traveled to the Research Center at the Oklahoma Historical Society to consult documents relevant to his thesis on the Civil War on Indian Territory. In January 2014, Mollie Scheerer ’14 will travel to western Honduras in Central America to research and carry out archival research at the Center for Archaeological Investigation (CRIA) in the town of Copàn Ruinas, contiguous to the ancient Maya City of Copan. The Mayan City of Copàn is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Mollie’s thesis is examining the Mayan Hieroglyphic Stairway in the Acropolis of the ancient city of Copàn. Major pieces of the Stairway currently reside in the Peabody Museum of Ethnology and Archaeology at Harvard University, to which they were transported at the end of the 19th century.
In these ways, the History Department encourages students to apply for grants from the Leroy Fund to further their research and to honor Colin’s memory. Any History Department major who has been approved to complete a thesis (H498-99) in their senior year can submit a grant proposal to the Chair of the History Department for consideration and potential approval.
A student must submit an application to the History Department setting forth plans to do research, citing the reasons for the off-campus research as it relates to the prospectus of the thesis. The application should include a budget detailing the cost of travel, lodging, meals and miscellaneous expenses (library fees, photocopying, etc.).
The application must include a recommendation from the thesis advisor. It will be approved or disapproved by the History Department Chair in consultation with the thesis supervisor. After the research trip, students must submit a report to the department Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Gigi St. Peter, where the research was done, what documents, maps, photos students consulted while doing their research, and their relevance to the thesis project. Receipts documenting expenses must be provided. Students will submit an entry to the Trinity History Blog. Students applying for funds supporting research in upper-division history courses follow the same procedure, assisted by the professor teaching the given course.
Historical Research at Trinity, Hartford and the Region
Understanding the past at Trinity, in Hartford, and in the region occurs bearing in mind the Mission of Trinity’s Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS): “advancing Trinity College’s strategic mission of integrated urban and global education on campus, in Hartford, and globally.” CUGS is “the first center of its kind at a top liberal arts college in the United States, CUGS promotes curricular initiatives, research projects, and civic engagement with a broad urban and global focus by working closely with the departments and programs at Trinity, a variety of organizations in the city of Hartford, and international partners.” Institutionally, the History Department is represented on CUGS’s Faculty Advisory Board by Professor Jeff Bayliss, whose research focus is Japan, and whose courses at Trinity “challenge his students to question common assumptions about Japanese culture and history, as well as the meanings of common ideas such as ‘premodern,’ ‘modern,’ ‘Asian,’ and ‘Western.’”
Between the fall of 2012 and 2013 Professor Dario A. Euraque served as co-chair of a major initiative launched via CUGS: a co-curricular initiative entitled, “Cities: Global and Urban Experience Across Time and Space”. It originated with a proposal co-authored with Professor Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies. The proposal was awarded 14k in the spring of 2012. In the Fall of 2012, students in eight First-Year Seminars immersed themselves in studies of Cities and urban cultures across time, including the following seminars: Alexandria in Egypt, Athens and Rome, Paris, je t’aime, Italian Cities, Introduction to Urban School Reform, Two Ancient Cities: Copan and Angkor, The “Creative Class” and the City, and an Introduction to Hip-Hop Studies. Students and faculty also participated in a Cities associated film series in both semesters, usually in the evening, and in a faculty led lecture series throughout the 2012-2013 academic year, usually at Common Hour on Thursdays. Some of the co-curricular activities included participation in Trinity’s Hip-Hop Festival, directed by History Department professor of African History and International Studies, Seth Markle.
Research of the past at the college in general takes place at the Paul E. Raether Library and Information Technology Center, named in honor of a Trinity History Major from the class of 1968. Our department’s faculty nurtures close relationships with the Raether library and the librarians. Reference librarians assigned to work with the History Department faculty and students and research seminars have been highly effective. The Watkinson Library—the rare books library-- is another fundamental resource for student and faculty research at the college. Courses such as Professor Jonathan Elukin’s “History of the Book” are centered on its holdings. Historiography and Junior and Senior Seminars also hold sessions in the library. Faculty and students carrying out primary research in virtually all regions of the world will find unique, and rare books, documents and maps at the Watkinson Library.
Complementing the rich collections at the Watkinson Library is the Connecticut Historical Society, located in the historic West End of Hartford. Founded in 1825, it is one of the oldest national historical societies in the United States. The Connecticut Historical Society features a non-profit museum, a terrific library, as well as an education center. Its holdings include 270,000 artifacts, graphics and over 100,000 books and pamphlets, and one of the largest costume and textile collections in New England. In the recent past its holdings have been enriched by projects to document, via oral history and photos, immigration to Hartford and the region from the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico and West Indian countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. Currently, Dr. Borden Painter ’58, a prominent Trinity History Department graduate, former chair, and former Dean and President of Trinity College, serves on the Board of Trustees of this important institution as First- Vice President. Dr. Painter is the author of Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City (Palgrave, 2005). The Connecticut Historical Society is the largest of innumerable local historical societies in the state.
Another regional opportunity for research in the state is the Connecticut State Library, located a few blocks from Trinity College. Its mission is to provide “a variety of library, information, archival, public records, museum, and administrative services for citizens of Connecticut, as well as for the employees and officials of all three branches of State government. The State Library also serves students, researchers, public libraries and town governments throughout the state. A number of scholars in our department are familiar with this archival source, including Professors Greenberg and Wickman, and Professor Scott Gacc. Professor Gacc enjoys a joint appointment with the American Studies Program at Trinity, is currently serving as Chair of the program. He teaches a variety of courses in American cultural history, and has written on the antislavery movement, protest music, the Civil War, and violence in the U.S. Fascinating research collections on these and other topics in the U.S. a mile or so from Trinity are archival holdings of the Mark Twain House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Professor Joan Hedrick, who also teaches in the American Studies Program, and enjoys a courtesy appointment in the History Department, won a Pulitzer Prize for her biography on the great abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) with research done at Stowe Center in Hartford.
Trinity students interested Native American history in the region and beyond not only have a specialist in Professor Wickman, the area features some of the most cutting edged museums and research venues to engage that experience of conquest, resistance and accommodation. Most outstanding is the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Located it is the region’s most modern museum of its kind, and possibly the best of its kind in the United States. Its research center is a venue for students examining Native American and colonial interactions. In the spring of 2014, in Professor Wickman's new research seminar, “Sense of Place in the Native Northeast (HIST 311),” students will explore the Mashantucket Pequot Museum's interactive displays, work at the research center, and consult with Pequot tribal members about change and continuity on their ancestral homelands.
Faculty and students also enjoy access and, often, research privileges at the special archives and collections of some of the most important academic libraries and museums in the U.S., many located within driving distance from Trinity College, including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia; Princeton, New York University and many others. A great number of the History Department faculty earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees at these outstanding academic institutions and are familiar with the opportunities for unique historical research in their libraries: Harvard, Kathleen Kete ’89; Jeff Bayliss, ’03; Zayde Antrim ’05; and Thomas Wickman ’12; Princeton, Sam Kassow ’76 and Jonathan Elukin ’93; Brown, Joan Hedrick ’74; Columbia, Cheryl Greenberg ’88; Yale, Michael Lestz ’82; and Seth Markle, New York University ’11.
Studying History Abroad
Equally significant when advising history students wishing to study or research the past abroad is the fact the History Department faculty have lived, researched, taught and lectured in many countries in the world, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, Finland, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Poland, Israel, Syria, Morocco, Japan, China, Cambodia, Korea, South Africa, Tanzania, Mexico, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Chile, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and many, many others. Some of our faculty has earned degrees, masters and doctorates, in countries other than the United States: Bayliss, an MA in Japan; Antrim, an MA in Oxford, and Kassow, an MA in London. Jennifer M. Regan-Lefebvre, a historian of modern Britain, Ireland and the British Empire, earned her MA and PhD from Queen’s University Belfast, and has taught at the University of Exeter, the University of Cambridge, and the American University of Paris.
The global reach and presence of the History Department faculty studying the past globally has and also remains matched by the study-abroad experiences of our students and majors. Between 2001 and 2013, on an average slightly half of all History Majors studied abroad in many countries, including in almost all the countries where our faculty have lived, researched and taught. Favorites have been to some of the traditional destinations in Trinity College’s own study-abroad options, Austria, Italy, France, and Spain, and other options authorized for this purpose, Australia and England. The Rome campus, established long ago by Professor Emeritus Borden Painter ’58, has been a favorite destination for decades. In the History Department today, Professor Sean Cocco’s courses on Italian history are gateways before and after study in our Rome campus. Professor Kete’s courses on the history of Paris and France serve the same purpose for our outstanding Trinity-in-Paris Program. During the last decade or so, the History Department’s global research and teaching specialties have diversified, and thus more recently history students are taking advantage of studying in Trinity programs in China, South Africa, Argentina, and in the Caribbean, in Trinidad & Tobago. Given that these are Trinity College programs transfer credits for the History Major are much easier that options not directly under our supervision.
A recent highlight and innovative special opportunity in this regard has been a summer study option in Cambodia led Professors of Michael Lestz and Dario A. Euraque of the History Department and Professor Pablo Delano of the Studio Arts Program. The summer 2013 edition of this opportunity centered on a course grounded in the historical study of Cambodia and the meaning of its ancient and contemporary cultural heritage. The course, entitled, “Interpreting the Ancient City: Angkor” was a hands on field investigation that traveled to Cambodia in May and June of 2013. Launched with the scholarship aid provided by the O’Neill Asia Cum Laude Endowment and the Charlotte Riggs Scholarship fund, ten Trinity students and four professors were able to travel to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to do in depth study of ancient and modern Cambodia.
Most recently, led by Professor Dario A. Euraque, efforts are under way to highlight the opportunities of studying the history of the United States, and Latin American, Atlantic, South Asian, African, and Caribbean history at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. This unique option of studying these and other themes of global history in an academic Caribbean context is grounded in one of the longest standing study abroad programs that Trinity College has, the Trinity-in-Trinidad Program. Professor Luis A. Figueroa’s courses on Caribbean history and the African Diaspora in the Americas serve as excellent preparation for study in Trinidad. The Trinity-in-Trinidad Program offers students an unparalleled opportunity to learn about one of the most diverse and culturally rich regions in the Americas: the Caribbean, cross-roads of European colonialism in the region, especially the British Empire. Based in the dynamic, English speaking, two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, the program encompasses the study of politics, the sciences, human rights, economics, and of course, history. History internships for credit can be earned in various venues, including, the National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago; the Paria Publishing Co. Limited, specializing in Museum design; the Heritage Library of Trinidad’s National Library and Information Systems Authority - (NALIS); and Trinidad’s National Museum and Art Gallery. Various courses offered by Professors Regan-Lefebre and Wickman can serve as pre-departure context for studying history in the Caribbean.