Friday, December 07, 2007

Dr. Johnson gets a DAAD

Dr. Molly Johnson has won a Faculty Research Visit Grant from the German Academic Exchange Service/DAAD. Germany’s “Fulbright Commission,” so to speak, will sponsor her travel to Germany for two months in Summer 2008 to continue research on her new project on “Collective Living, Social Experimentation, and Cultural Critique in Postwar West Berlin.” Funding from the UAH Humanities Center allowed Dr. Johnson to begin her research on this project last summer.

Dr. Johnson studies how counter-culture West Berliners in the late 1960s shared a critique of bourgeois society, mass consumption, and the nuclear family. They organized communes, squatters’ communities, automobile colonies, and collective apartment communities (Wohngemeinschaften). Examining the ideals of the communards, she situates their experiments within the history of utopian socialist movements of the early nineteenth century and communal practices that emerged internationally in the late Sixties.

Dr. Johnson stays busy. Over the next two months, she will complete final revisions to her book manuscript, Training Socialist Citizens: Sports and the State in East Germany, under contract with the Studies in Central European Histories Series with Brill Academic Publishers. Congratulations Dr. Johnson!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Student Leaders Reflect on First Semester of PASS

Veronica Ferreira and Sarah Fisher have completed the first semester as student leaders in UAH's new Peer-Assisted Study Sessions, or PASS, sponsored by the Academic Resource Center. They led study sessions to help students do better in class assignments, tests, and research in Dr. Waring's sections of Western Civilization. Although the results from the final exams have yet to be tabulated, Dr. Waring found that students who attended the sessions on average scored about a grade level higher than those who did not. Sarah enjoyed the sessions, remarking that the PASS program was "a great way for students to learn new material." Veronica said of PASS that "For me, it has been a great experience. It feels wonderful to have a student come to you who is so excited about grades. I've even learned a few new study strategies in my efforts to help others."

Based on this early success, the History Department, working with the Academic Resource Center, will expand its participation in the program in Spring 2008. In World History classes, Veronica will work with Dr. Molly Johnson, and Sarah will team with Dr. Christine Sears. Craig Noneman, a new session leader, will work with Dr. Waring in Western Civilization.

After 40 Years, Johanna Shields Teaches her Final Class

Professor Johanna Shields, who came to UAH in 1967, taught her last class this fall. She retired some years ago but helped the department by continuing to teach a couple classes on the Old South. She said she enjoyed teaching but missed seeing student development from their first year to their senior seminar and participating in the evolution of the department. Johanna reflected on the major changes she witnessed on campus over her career. She recalled that in 1967 a single room in Morton Hall housed the library. Now, Johanna expressed excitement at the incredible access to on-line resources and information. With all the data, students have so many more research opportunities, but have to learn "the illusory character of knowledge on-line" and investigate beyond the false completeness yielded by search engines. Looking back on her career, Johanna expressed satisfaction about several accomplishments. She was proud of her efforts to help found the Humanities Center, which provides funding for humanities research and programs. But most of all, Johanna expressed pride for "teaching good people" through all her years. The department will miss Dr. Shields as a colleague in learning and wishes her the best in a well-deserved retirement.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Research Experience for Undergraduates, Summer 2008

Calling Undergraduate History Majors!

Are you interested in the opportunity to do independent research under the direction of a history professor during Summer 2008?
In exchange for developing a research plan that would require 32 to 40 hours a week of active research, reading, and writing for 10 to 12 weeks, you could receive a $3000 stipend from the "Research Experience for Undergraduates" program funded by the UAH President’s Office, the Provost’s office, and other sources as they become available. 15-20 proposals will be accepted, pending availability of funds.

If you are interested, please contact a member of the UAH History Department by Friday November 9. Prelimininary proposals will be due to the department by November 16. The final deadline to submit proposals to the Faculty Senate Finance and Resources Committeee is December 1.

We encourage you to consider this exciting opportunity. Be sure to act quickly! You will be competing with students from across the campus and will need time to develop a strong proposal in cooperation with your faculty mentor.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Congratulations to New Phi Alpha Theta Initiates!

On Friday October 5, 2007, the History Department gathered at the home of Dr. John Severn and his wife Debbie to initiate new members into the Phi Alpha Theta history honorary.

We are pleased to announce the new initiates, pictured above: Dawn Suiter, Sarah Fisher, Gregory Hughes, Joseph Richardson, Elisabeth Spalding, and Charles Westbrook. Dillon Lee and Eddie Kimbrough are also new members, but they were unable to attend the initiation ceremony.

Many thanks to John and Debbie for letting Phi Alpha Theta use their home, and to Phi Alpha Theta president Diane Allaway, Vice President Veronica Ferreira, Secretary Whitney Snow, Treasurer Thomas Bockborn, and members Alex Methvin and Jennifer Coe for helping coordinate food and drink and organize a lovely evening for the new initiates and their families.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nazi Course Set for Germany in 2008

In May 2008, Dr. Molly Johnson will take UAH students to Germany as part of a course entitled "Munich, Nuremberg, Berlin: Legacies of the Third Reich." Participating students can get 3 hours of either History 399 or Global Studies 199 credit. The course will explore three cities integral to the history of Nazi Germany: Munich (the “capital of the movement”), Nuremberg (site of the Nazi Party rallies), and Berlin (official capital of the Third Reich). The course will begin during the spring semester with instruction at UAH and will end with a two-week trip to Germany in May.

The course has three objectives. First, while in Huntsville, students will learn about the rise and fall of Nazism in Germany. Second, while in Germany, students will analyze the “aestheticization of politics” in Nazi Germany by viewing Nazi architecture and visiting the sites of Party rallies and parades. Third, also while in Germany, students will examine how the cities of Munich, Nuremberg, and Berlin reflect the history of the Nazi period today, with particular focus on memorials and monuments.

If you would like more information, please contact Dr. Molly Johnson at or the Global Studies Program at
There will also be an informational session on Friday October 19 at 1:00 p.m. in Roberts Hall 423 featuring free German desserts!

Friday, August 24, 2007


The History Department is participating in a new university program, sponsored by UAH's Academic Resource Center, to help first year students succeed. The initiative’s acronym is PASS for Peer-Assisted Study Sessions. Two history majors, Veronica Ferreira and Sarah Fisher will run voluntary study sessions for Dr. Waring’s sections of Western Civilization I. Veronica and Sarah will help students develop skills and become independent learners. They will each organize three one-hour sessions every week, and assist with such skills as reading, research, test-preparation, and essay writing. Studies have shown that such study sessions help students succeed in class, do well in other courses, and graduate. Veronica and Sarah’s PASS schedule

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Congratulations and Farewell to Dr. Philip Boucher!

On Sunday August 19, 2007, Dr. Philip Boucher gathered with his wife Mary Alice and many colleagues and friends at the Bonefish Grill to celebrate his retirement from UAH after 33 years. Everybody enjoyed celebrated Dr. Boucher's accomplishments, as well as eating salmon, steak, and other yummy food, as these photographs reveal. One picture shows Dr. Boucher addressing the crowd, with his wife Mary Alice and Dean Sue Kirkpatrick to his side. One picture shows Dr. Andy Dunar, history department chair, reading a letter from retired UAH historian Dr. John White. The final picture shows Dr. Boucher with Beverley Gentry, the history department's staff assistant for the last 17 years.

Dr. Boucher, the first Distinguished Professor in the UAH College of Liberal Arts, never let his passion and productivity as a scholar wane over 33 years. In fact, he is publishing his fifth book with the Johns Hopkins University Press later this fall! He will also continue to serve UAH students when he returns to the classroom for Spring Semester 2008 to teach two classes as part of a post-retirement contract. Dr. Boucher's colleagues and students are delighted that he will be with us a bit longer!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dr. Dunar's African Safari

Dr. Andy Dunar and his wife Cathie traveled to Kenya and Tanzania for a three-week safari this summer! Dr. Dunar enjoyed taking photographs (and a fellow traveler caught him in the act!), observing how the Maasai live, and talking with his Kenyan tour guide about politics and society. The most astonishing part of the trip was observing the wildebeest migration pictured here. He also enjoyed seeing zebras, lions, birds, and other African animals, too.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dr. J Looks for Squatters

In May and early June, Dr. Johnson traveled to Berlin to conduct preliminary research for a new research project on "Collective Living, Social Experimentation, and Cultural Critique in Postwar West Berlin." As part of her research, she took photos of a famous squat calling for the destruction of capitalism and of an outdoor "automobile village." While in Germany, Dr. Johnson also traveled to Munich and Nuremberg to lay the foundations for a Global Studies course to be taught in Summer 2008, on "Munich, Nuremberg, Berlin: Legacies of the Third Reich." In Nuremberg, she accidentally discovered the red light district while checking out a student hostel. Fortunately, she was able to find other accommodations for UAH students!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Congratulations to our Staff Assistant, Beverley Gentry!

The members of the History Department have long known how lucky we are to have Beverley Gentry as our Senior Staff Assistant. And, as it turns out, we aren't the only ones who recognize Bev's talents. On Tuesday, June 19, 2007, Bev was recognized as a recipient of the 2007 UAH Foundation Staff Award. In addition to keeping the History Department running smoothly, Bev has participated in the UAH Staff Senate as Chair of the Policy and Procedure Committee, and she is also a member of the University Women's Club and the International Association of Administrative Professionals. When asked what she likes most about her job, Bev responded that she appreciates the varied interactions she has with both faculty and students and that she has enjoyed watching the growth of UAH since she began to work here 17 years ago. She also said that she is "proud to work for an outstanding department that makes her want to strive to do her very best work." We, the faculty of the history department, all know that we would not be able to do our best work without Bev's dependable and eager support. Congratulations, Bev, and thanks for all that you do for us!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Congratulations Times Two for Dr. John Severn!

Dr. John Severn, Associate Provost at UAH, had a very good year. First, he was promoted to Professor of History. Second, the University of Oklahoma Press just published his new book, Architects of Empire: The Duke of Wellington and His Brothers (2007).

The University of Oklahoma Press website describes Dr. Severn's book as follows:

"A soldier and statesman for the ages, the Duke of Wellington is a towering figure in world history. John Severn now offers a fresh look at the man born Arthur Wellesley to show that his career was very much a family affair, a lifelong series of interactions with his brothers and their common Anglo-Irish heritage. The untold story of a great family drama, Architects of Empire paints a new picture of the era through the collective biography of Wellesley and his siblings. Severn takes readers from the British Raj in India to the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars to the halls of Parliament as he traces the rise of the five brothers from obscurity to prominence. Severn covers both the imperial Indian period before 1800 and the domestic political period after 1820, describing the wide range of experiences Arthur and his brothers lived through. Architects of Empire brings together in a single volume a grand story that before now was discernible only through political or military analysis. Weaving the personal history of the brothers into a captivating narrative, it tells of sibling rivalry among men who were by turns generous and supportive, then insensitive and cruel. Whereas other historians have minimized the importance of family ties, Severn provides an unusually nuanced understanding of the Duke of Wellington. Architects of Empire casts his career in a new light—one that will surprise those who believe they already know the man."

Dr. Severn earlier published A Wellesley Affair: Richard Marques Wellesley and the Conduct of Anglo-Spanish Diplomacy, 1809-1812 (Florida, 1981).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

35 Years and Still Going Strong!

At the annual Service Luncheon on April 27, 2007, the university honored Dr. Lee Williams II, Professor of History and Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, for 35 years of service to UAH. After the lunch, Dr. Williams remarked on several key changes during his time at UAH, noting in particular the expansion of the campus, the growth of the student body, and the increasing diversity of students and faculty. When asked of what he is most proud in his 35 years at UAH, Dr. Williams first responded "longevity!" He then emphasized that he is particularly proud of his work helping students reach their academic potential, walk across the stage at graduation, and become productive citizens. He has also enjoyed experiencing the "dynamism" of the history department and is particularly proud that his department has set high standards for teaching, scholarship, and service. We wish you many more years of longevity, Dr. Williams!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New Course Offering for Fall 2007: Women in U.S. History

The UAH History Department would like to announce a new course offering for Fall 2007, HY 367-01, "Women in U.S. History." The course will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:35-10:55 in Roberts Hall 423. Please consider registering for this course!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Congratulations New Phi Alpha Theta Initiates!

On Friday April 13, faculty, students, and friends of the UAH History Department traveled to Rogersville, Alabama, to the "Castle," the home of Dr. Richard Gerberding, to celebrate the initiation of thirteen students into the Phi Alpha Theta national history honorary.

Congratulations to new initiates Diane Allaway, Jimmy Bedsole, Thomas Bockhorn, Winston Boyd, Jennifer Coe, Veronica Ferreira, Brittany Luchtefeld, Christine McIntosh, John McLaughlin, Alex Methvin, Christopher Paysinger, Jennifer Staton, and Daniel Taylor.

Several already initiated members also attended the initiation, including chapter president Whitney Snow, chapter vice president Daniel Lofgren, and Brad Lewis, John Michael Huggins, and Thomas Reidy.

The photograph, from left to right and front to back, features John Michael Huggins, Alex Methvin, Chris Paysinger, Veronica Ferreira, Brittany Luchtefeld, Jennifer Coe, Tom Reidy, Christine McIntosh, Daniel Lofgren, Whitney Snow, Daniel Taylor, John McLaughlin, and Brad Lewis.

Congratulations to all new members, and special thanks to Dr. Gerberding for welcoming over 40 people to the Castle!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

2007 History Tournament

The annual Liberal Arts Tournament took place on April 12, 2007 in Chan Auditorium (for History and Political Science) and in Roberts Hall for Art. Nearly one hundred students from five schools (Ardmore, Catholic, Covenant Christian Academy, Hazel Green, and Randolph) participated in the World History and U.S. History portion of the competition, with awards given to teams and to individuals. The spirited team competition came down to a tight contest in which UAH history graduates coached the top two teams: Jeff Murphy at Randolph and Ann Lawson at Catholic (pictured here). By the narrowest margin in recent memory, Randolph won both history competitions, with Catholic High second. (Catholic won an equally close battle with Randolph in the Government competition.) Covenant Christian Academy finished third in the World contest, and Ardmore (coached by UAH history grad student Brad Lewis) finished third in the U.S. test. This is the first time that UAH history students or former students coached all three of the top teams in either contest. Kudos to Beverley Gentry, who pulled things together as she has in every Tournament since the first one, and in this case she rescued the day’s festivities by overcoming two daunting challenges: construction material (for a stage set) littered the auditorium when she arrived, and later in the morning lunches arrived much later than requested. Dean Sue Kirkpatrick and retiring UAH President Frank Franz, both long-time supporters of the Tournament, spoke briefly to the students.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Congratulations to our Student Award Winners!

At the Honors Convocation on April 10, four of our history majors received honors and awards. Daniel Lofgren received two awards, the "Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement Award" for the history department and the "National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Alabama History Award." John Michael Huggins won the "Outstanding Graduate Achievement Award" for the history department. The final departmental award went to Diane Allaway, who won the "Colonel Walter Aston Chapter of the Colonial Dames of the XVII Century History Award." In addition, history major Veronica Ferreira won second prize in the Kathryn L. Harris Women's Studies Paper Competition.

Check out the photographs of our students after the Liberal Arts Convocation, one featuring Daniel, Diane, and John Michael, and the other featuring Veronica with her husband Brian and children Cece, Timothy, and Lily.

Congratulations Daniel, John Michael, Diane, and Veronica. We are very proud of you!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Welcome Dr. Christine Sears!

The History Department welcomes Christine E. Sears as its new expert on the early American republic, comparative slavery, the Atlantic World, and public history. During the first week of April, Christine successfully defended her dissertation at the University of Delaware, and we offer her our hearty congratulations! In addition to teaching at Delaware, Christine has taught high school and community college, and has also worked as a guide at the Winterthur Museum. Christine studies Barbary pirates! Her dissertation examines the roughly seven hundred Americans held in North African bondage between 1776 and the 1830 occupation of Algiers. Christine found that the experiences of American captives varied greatly, depending on how one was captured, by whom one was owned, how long one's captivity lasted, as well as one's class, race, and, sometimes, pure luck. Her work examines these variations, as well as the processes through which Americans were released from their bondage, and with what frequency this occurred. She explores how American captives were used, how they interacted with each other and with other slaves, and how they interacted with local inhabitants. Sears' work will provide a broader, comparative context for American captivity in Barbary, and will thus sharpen understanding of North African enslavement of Westerners during this period. Welcome Christine!!

Welcome Dr. Samuel Thomas!

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Samuel Thomas will join our department in August as a specialist in early modern European history. Sam earned his Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis in 2003 and has been teaching at Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH since then. Sam’s current research explores religious community in early modern England. He uses the diaries of Presbyterian minister Oliver Heywood, maintained over many decades, to provide a micro-history of religious community in early modern England. His work enhances historical understanding of conflicts between the Church of England and nonconformists and reassesses the presumed impact of the Reformation on community life. He has already begun developing a new research project on midwives and medicine in early modern England.

Sam will teach courses on early modern Europe and medieval and early modern England, as well as religion, medicine, and women’s history in a British and European context. Sam also plans to introduce a course on African history, and to take students to York, England via a Global Studies class. Welcome Sam!

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Tribute to a Friend of the Department

Susanna Leberman, one of the department's graduate students, told me this weekend that her dad Mike died of a heart attack. Mike Leberman was also a friend of mine, and of the History Department.

Mike was a NASA engineer of the old school. Like many young engineers, Mike Leberman moved to Huntsville and worked on the Saturn rockets that carried astronauts and American hopes to the moon. He told me how engineering was done back in the glory days of NASA and under German leadership. He showed me photos of a mistake he was responsible for when he was young and the space program was new. He helped design a pipeline carrying liquid fuel to a launch pad at the Cape. He said, rather sheepishly, that he had made an error, and the pipes burst. His mistake caused lots of damage, wasted money and time. His NASA managers told him to learn from the mistake and to fix the problem. He did. Mike later worked on many projects, including the propulsion system for the space shuttle main engines.

Mike wondered if "the young guys" who now work at NASA would ever be allowed to make mistakes and so learn lessons well enough that new rockets would ever get built. After he retired, he kept working part-time to help those young guys (many of them women). And of course he wanted to keep having fun building things. His work was to design and test a new valve for the space shuttle fuel system. He said that because he had remained a working engineer who kept his hands dirty and had not become a manager, his contractor kept him employed; meanwhile retired managers, his former bosses, sat idle and uncalled for. He told that story with his huge grin and a big laugh.

Mike was a character and an engineer's engineer. He drove the ugliest damn car ever on Marshall's roads. His old Volkswagen had caught fire years earlier. The VW had burned paint and melted plastic. Only Mike could make a car like that run and he made it run for two million miles. He also volunteered his time to a small town high school, helping a team design robots and enter them in competitions. His kids were winners because Mike was meticulous; they learned a lot more than robotics working with Mike. Mike loved to work on his farm and its old house.

He introduced himself to me in the Marshall History Office when I first had a NASA Faculty Fellowship. He would stop in a couple times a week to chat about my work and whatever. I did an oral history interview with him. Without me asking for any favors, Mike helped me line up some interviews with others who might not have been welcoming otherwise. He took Andy and I on a behind the scenes tour of Marshall that we loved and will never forget (attached are photos of Mike standing in the communications tunnel between the Saturn test stand and the observation bunker and remodeling his kitchen). And how could I forget when after a lecture on my research to the Liberal Arts faculty, Mike stood up and told everyone what really happened the night before the last Challenger launch?!

Mike was a great guy and I will miss him. Watching baseball games and drinking beer will not be the same without Mike.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Archaeology Lecture: Goddesses of North China

On Thursday Feb. 1, the North Alabama Society of the Archaeological Institute of America is bringing Dr. Tracy G. Miller of Vanderbilt University to UAH. She will give a lecture entitled "From Village Girl to Divine Empress: The Goddesses of North China and their Temples." The event will be held in Chan Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Dr. Lillian Joyce at or 256-824-6114.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Goodbye to Virginia Martin: Teacher, Colleague, Friend

The History Department is sad to say goodbye to Ginny Martin, who taught Russian, European, and world history at UAH over the last decade. We wish her all the best! Here is an open letter Ginny emailed to the department:

"In late November, my husband was offered a dream job in Madison, Wisconsin. It took us about 30 seconds to decide as a family to begin a new chapter of our lives "back home." Being Wisconsinites, we just couldn't imagine raising our two daughters without snow! After 10.5 yrs on the UAH faculty, there is so much that I will miss! Grading 100-level student exams is not on the short list, but interacting with students definitely is! I'll miss everything from discussions about Soviet "Communism" and Ottoman ethnic policies to helping conscientious students write term papers. I'll really miss my colleagues in the HY department -- from the first day I met them, I knew they were a special group of people (even Waring!...yes, and Gerberding, too!), and leaving them behind creates a big hole in my daily life. In the short term, I look forward to completing a few articles to submit to scholarly journals for publication. I have three separate positions as editor or editorial consultant for publications in the field of Central Asian/Eurasian studies. In the longer term, I hope to return to teaching, at least part-time, and expect to continue my scholarly research on Kazakh history."

Dr. Martin's email address will be changing, but she says she'd love to hear from students and know how they are doing; please ask Bev Gentry for her contact information.

Friday, January 12, 2007

One and done for Philip Boucher

Philip Boucher, Distinguished Professor of History, will retire from UAH at the end of this spring semester. Beginning in the fall of 1974, Dr. Boucher has taught here for thirty-three years. He remarked that the biggest change at the university has been the younger age of the typical student. When he began, he was 29 years old, and UAH was a commuter campus; his classes had many students about his age! In recent years, after UAH built more dorms, students have gotten younger. Boucher leaves UAH still walking in his historian boots. Johns Hopkins University Press will publish his book France and the American Tropics to 1700: Tropics of Discontent? in the late summer this year. He found writing the book challenging because it required knowledge of diverse topics including the environment, indigenous peoples, French colonists, and slaves. Dr. Boucher plans to stay in Huntsville, and after a couple weeks of rest and recreation, turn to a second volume on France in the tropics. Bon voyage, Professor PB!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Visiting Scholar to Speak on Athletics in Fascist Italy

The History Department, together with the North Alabama Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, is pleased to announce the upcoming visit of Dr. G. Vincent Arnold of Concordia College to UAH. Dr. Arnold will give a lecture entitled "Athletics, Architecture, and Authority in Fascist Italy" at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, February 5, in McDonnell Douglas Hall.
Dr. Arnold will also speak on "Archival Research and Fascism: A Scholar's Journey Through the Nine Circles of Hell" to students enrolled in Dr. Molly Johnson's seminar on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. This lecture will be on Tuesday, February 6 at 3:55 p.m. in Roberts Hall 423.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Maya Adventure!

In December, Dr. Waring traveled to Guatemala and Honduras to visit several Maya sites! He visited the ruins of the Maya cities of Yaxha, Tikal, Quirigua, and Copan. He learned about jungle and jaguars, beans and maize, kings and calendars, pyramids and astronomy, turkeys and robollo, ball games and human sacrifice. In these images from Tikal, Waring surrenders atop the observatory in the Lost World, and pitches a shut out in the ball court next to the Jaguar Temple.

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