Friday, December 02, 2011

New book by departmental alumnus Jane DeNeefe

Jane Deneefe, who received a history degree from UAH, has published a book on the history of rock and soul music in Huntsville in the 1950s and 1960s.  The book uses oral history techniques and offers insights not only on the history of music, but also of mass culture, celebrity, mass media, militarization, urbanization.  A major theme is race relations in Huntsville in the 1950s and 1960s.   Here is a review:  Left In Alabama:: Rocket City Rock and Soul: How Music Helped Integrate an Alabama City

You can purchase the book online at 

Congratulations Jane!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Congratulations to Sam Thomas on Contract with St. Martin's Press to Publish his first Novel!

Congratulations are due to assistant professor Sam Thomas, who has accepted a two-book contract with St. Martin's Press to publish his first historical novel, tentatively entitled The Midwife's Story: A Tale of Tyranny, Treason, and Murder. The book is scheduled to come out next year, probably in the fall. He will soon begin writing the sequel.

Sam has prepared a website to support the book and link it to its historical setting, including links to documents about the historic midwife, Bridget Hodgson, on which his novel is based.

Congratulations, Sam!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Welcome to New UAH Historian and Colleague Evan Ragland!

The UAH history department is delighted to welcome our new colleague, Evan Ragland, who will begin teaching for us in fall semester 2011, focusing in his upper-level coursework on the history of science and technology.

Evan earned his B.S. in history and mathematics from Hillsdale College, his M.A. from Indiana University in the History and Philosophy of Science, and will receive his PhD. from Indiana. At IU, he studied the history and philosophy of science from ancient cultures to current policy, specializing in early-modern science and medicine. His dissertation reconstructs the history of chymico-anatomical experimentation in research on digestion and disease from seventeenth-century Leiden in the Netherlands to the nineteenth-century scientific medicine of Claude Bernard. He has long-term interests in the history of experiment, the relations between science and medicine, and the complex interaction of science and religion. Also at Indiana, he taught undergraduate courses in the history of science and the history of science and Christianity.

The history of alchemy, chymistry, and chemistry also intrigues him, and he has worked on Isaac Newton's chymical manuscripts, transcribing and encoding a portion of the roughly one million words Newton wrote on the subject. Along with this textual work, he was part of a team re-creating some of Newton's chymical recipes. He has done archival research in London, Amsterdam, Leiden, Den Haag, and Delft. He loved his stay in the Netherlands, and has published on early-modern Dutch medical experimentation in Early Science and Medicine. Most recently, he received the 2011 Partington Prize from the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry.

At UAH, he will enjoy teaching world history, as well as the history of science, technology, and medicine. So far, he usually prefers the life of a historian to his previous jobs as a mover, retail clerk, factory worker, and IT assistant. When he's not researching or writing, Evan loves spending time with his wife, Zoe, and daughter, Charlotte.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Special Thanks to UAHuntsville History Majors for Hosting Faculty Appreciation Dinner

The history faculty at UAH were greatly honored when our majors, led by Brittney Fore, Kayleigh Last, and Amanda Smith, organized a Faculty Appreciation Dinner on Friday May 8 in the Shelby Center.

Students prepared a buffet with lots of food for dinner, as well as an impressive variety of desserts. Students also created humorous awards for each faculty member.

Pictured here are Kayleigh, Brittney, and Amanda, the main coordinators; a group of faculty and students enjoying the good food; staff assistant Bev Gentry received the "World's Nicest Person" award; and department chair Andy Dunar receiving the "Least Likely to Ever Retire" award.

Thanks so much, history majors! We are so lucky to be teaching passionate, engaged, and considerate students like you!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Congratulations to Our History Students for Recognition on University Honors Day!

On April 4, 2011, the history department recognized several accomplished students during UAH's annual "Honors Day."

Top honors went to Joshua Riddle for "Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement" and to Craig Noneman for "Outstanding Graduate Achievement."

Additional winners were Kenneth "Franky" Garcia, who won the "National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Alabama History Essay Award" and Derrick Chatterton, who received the "Colonel Walter Aston Chapter of the Colonial Dames of the XVII Century History Award."

Rounding out our history honorees was Alyson Buck, who received the second annual "Dr. John Rison Jones Award in Southern History sponsored by the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society."

The Classical Studies Program, led by history professor Dr. Dick Gerberding, honored Julia Paul as its Outstanding Student at Honors Day.

Pictured here are Franky Garcia, Derrick Chatterton, and Joshua Riddle; history Alyson Buck along with Dr. John Kvach; Derrick Chatterton along with Mrs. Bonnie Turner, who presents the Colonel Walter Aston award each year; and Julia Paul along with Dr. Dick Gerberding.

Congratulations to you all! We are very proud of our wonderful students.

Congratulations to Christine Sears on Publications

Congrats to Dr. Christine Sears, assistant professor of history, for two publications out this spring!

The first is "Slavery as Social Mobility? Western Slaves in Late Eighteenth Century Algiers" Research in Maritime History, issue entitled "Rough Waters: American Involvement with the Mediterranean in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," no. 44 (March 2011): 207-220.

The second, co-authored with Dr. Jason O'Brien in UAH's education department, is "Victor or Villain? Wernher von Braun and the Space Race" in The Social Studies 102, no. 2 (March 2011):59-64.

This historical role play focuses on Wernher von Braun's involvement in and culpability for the use of slave laborers to produce V-2 rockets for Nazi Germany. This role play invites students to hone their critical thinking skills as they debate a complex, multi-layered historical scenario.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kudos to Chad Pearson for Appearance on C-Span

Dr. Chad Pearson, an instructor in the UAH history department and the PASS (Peer Assisted Study Session) coordinator for UAH's Student Success Center, participated in a round table discussion at the 2011 American Historical Association conference in Boston on Beverly Gage's The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror (Oxford University Press, USA, 2009). Several panelists responded to the book, which focuses on the 1920 Wall Street bombing in order to provide a broader analysis of the history of terrorism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chad's presentation discussed the ways in which Gage's book helps us understand an era shaped by employer-led attacks on labor unions and left-wing activists.

C-Span recorded the session.

Good work, Chad!

Student Kayleigh Last Receives Summer Internship through the National Park Service

The history department is pleased to announce that student Kayleigh Last will be spending the summer interning at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park with the Student Conservation Association in partnership with the National Park Service. Her duties will include working at the visitors' center as an historical interpreter and providing help at the bookstore and gardens. This internship will provide her with an opportunity to work with park staff and assist on special park projects. This competitive national internship will aid her development as a public historian and should be a lot of fun. Great job Kayleigh!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Calling All Alumni: Please Check In!

The faculty and staff in the history department always enjoy receiving updates from our alumni, and we like to broadcast your news on our blog. So, please check in with us at! We also encourage you to join our new department Facebook group.

Alumni Update from Whitney Snow

The history department is pleased to announce that MA alum Whitney Snow has just passed her comprehensive exams for her PhD studies at Mississippi State University. Her fields are U.S. History Since 1877; U.S. History to 1877; Southern History; and Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History. She is now working on her dissertation proposal and plans to write on the domestic tung oil industry. Whitney has also been busy presenting her research at academic conferences and has published articles in the Journal of East Tennessee History and the Alabama Review, and articles accepted by Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture and the Journal of Mississippi History. Whitney also very much enjoys her work as a teaching assistant at Mississippi State, though she finds it hard to get to know her students when she has over 300 at one time!

We are pleased to hear how well Whitney is doing and wish her luck as she continues the dissertation process!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Congratulations to our New Phi Alpha Theta Members

This year's induction ceremony for the Tau Omega chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international history honorary, took place on March 12, 2011 at the home of history professor John Kvach. Several dozen faculty members and current and graduated Phi Alpha Theta members also joined the celebration.

The inductees were Evan Gieselman, Anna Grace, and Jared Robinson. The featured speaker was Phi Alpha Theta member and UAH history alum Elisabeth Spalding who briefly spoke about her experience studying abroad in Norway.

Congratulations to Evan, Anna, and Jared, and thanks to Sandra Mendiola, Phi Alpha Theta faculty advisor, for organizing the induction.

UAH History Students Invade Shiloh Battlefield and Corinth, Mississippi

Fifteen UAH students from three classes spent Friday, March 18, 2011, visiting Corinth, Mississippi, and the Shiloh National Battlefield. Although Dr. John Kvach organized the day long tour as part of his Civil War and Reconstruction class, students from other history classes tagged along to learn more about the battle of Shiloh.

The day included a visit to the Corinth Interpretative History Center, an architectural tour of downtown Corinth, and a park ranger-led tour of Shiloh battlefield. Students also enjoyed eating lunch at oldest continuously operated drugstore in Mississippi (famous for something called the Slugburger) and dinner at Hagy’s Catfish Hotel (fish check in but don’t check out). All in all a great day of history!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interesting Volunteer Research Opportunity for UAH History Student

The Apollo Project is the second largest student organization at UAH and one of only two that claims over 50 members. The Apollo Project utilizes students from a variety of different majors in an effort to build a working flight simulator that can be used for research work on campus.

Currently, the Apollo Project is looking for an upper-level history student to join the organization as a lead researcher. The lead researcher will search through historical archives at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, the UAH Library, and the Marshall Space Flight Center in order to find technical and software information that will aid in the construction of the flight simulator.

The position is unpaid, but presents a great opportunity for students to become acquainted with significant academic and professional figures, while also improving their resume.

If you are interested in the position, please contact Christian Edenfield through email at or by phone at (256) 682-4543. You can also read more about the Apollo Project here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dr. Christine Sears Films Teaching Segment for National History Education Clearinghouse

In April 2010, Dr. Christine Sears filmed a “Best Practices: Examples of Historical Thinking” segment for the National History Education Clearinghouse. The NHEC is collaboration between George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media and Stanford University’s School of Education, and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. This is a centralized, interactive website where K-12 American history teachers can find resources, research, advice, and support to enhance their teaching, including history content, lesson plans, and video of classroom teaching in action. The organizers asked Christine to participate because of her experience teaching junior high and high school.

Christine's twenty-minute presentation, “The Barbary Pirates: Letters to Tripoli,” analyzes two letters between Consul James Cathcart in Tripoli and the Secretary of State, written in 1800, not long before the outbreak of the US's war with Tripoli (1801-1805). She was asked to model analyzing primary sources, historical thinking and information relevant to K-12 teachers. Christine says that the NHEC employees were experts at making her feel comfortable despite the glaring lights and running camera, and they did excellent editing work.

Please check out Christine's presentation and the other helpful resources on this exciting website!

Pictured here is Christine with at the grave of William Bainbridge, who was captain of the USS Philadelphia, which he lost to the Tripolitans during the Tripolitan War 1801-1805. According to Christine, he did very well, however, in the War of 1812 as the Captain of the USS Constitution and scored a thrilling victory over the HMS Java.

Friday, January 07, 2011

UAHuntsville Students and Alum Sign Book Contract

UAHuntsville public history students Charity Ethridge and Michele Hopkins and UAHuntsville history alum Susanna Leberman have recently signed a book contract with Arcadia Publishing to produce a pictorial history of Huntsville, Alabama. The book will highlight the city’s rich history and allow the authors to use their public history experience in a meaningful manner. Arcadia Publishing, a major producer of local history books throughout the nation, will market the book to the general public and add it to a national database dedicated to promoting the use of local history. Dr. John Kvach will oversee the project as part of an ongoing effort to build the public history program at UAHuntsville, and proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards the public history program. This project also highlights the growing partnership between the University and the Huntsville/Madison County Public Library.

Pictured here is Huntsville's Courthouse Square in 1864.

Graduate Student Alyson Buck Working at the Weeden House

Alyson Buck, a history graduate student at UAHuntsville, has been busy working at the Weeden House, a house museum in the center of Huntsville’s historic downtown district. According to the museum's director and board of directors, Buck’s enthusiasm, dedication, and willingness to jump in and take on new responsibilities have had an important impact on how the museum and its staff interpret the past. Buck hopes to build upon this experience after graduation and find a job in the public history sector. Good luck Alyson!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Congratulations to our Fall 2010 Graduates!

In December, eight students graduated from UAH with BA degrees in history, Kyla Brickhouse, Thomas Coke, Melanie Eckstein, Katie Graham, Michael Henriksen, Joseph "Eddie" Kimbrough, Jonathan Neely, and Amber Willis.

Congratulations to all! Please keep the history department updated on your doings and remember to check out our blog from time to time!

Pictured here are Katie Graham celebrating her degree, Kyla Brickhouse doing the same, and Kyla and Jonathan Neely at the commencement ceremony.

Profile of Graduate Research Assistant Matthew Menarchek

The history department's Graduate Research Assistant for 2010-2011 is Matthew Menarchek. He received his BA in history from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2010, and he is currently enrolled in the MA program.

Matthew's primary graduate assistant work is research for a local attorney preparing a federal judicial case involving taxation and public education in Alabama. He is also collaborating with the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau to highlight local Civil War tourist attractions.

We are happy to have Matthew in our MA program and as our research assistant!

News and Notes

about the department, its students, and alumni