Monday, November 12, 2012

History MA Student Betty Bolte Publishes "Hometown Heroines"

The history department congratulates MA student Betty Bolte, who has had her 2001 book, Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure, published as an e book (ISBN 9781614173601; $3.99). It will soon be re-released in print for $5.99.

Hometown Heroines is a collection of fictionalized accounts of the events that made 18 girls from the 1800s famous and honored with landmarks (mountain, park, railroad bridge, memorial plaques, statues, etc.) in their hometowns and other cities across our country. Several girls from Alabama and Tennessee are featured.

This is the book's description:

"During the 1800s, daring and courageous girls across America left their unique mark on history.

Milly Cooper galloped 9 miles through hostile Indian Territory to summon help when Fort Cooper was under attack.

Belle Boyd risked her life spying for the Rebels during the Civil War.

Kate Shelly, when she was 15, crawled across a nearly washed-out railroad bridge during a ferocious thunderstorm to warn the next train.

Lucille Mulhall, age 14, outperformed cowboys to become the World’s First Famous Cowgirl.

These are just a few of the inspiring true stories inside Hometown Heroines—American Girls who faced danger and adversity and made a difference in their world."

Betty is a current graduate student in History, and previously received an M.A. in English in 2008 from UAH. Betty writes that "This combination is intentional, so that I can strive to 'make history entertaining' for young adult and adult readers alike. I am also writing historical romances with the same intention."

Betty's web site is She can also be found on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Congratulations, Betty. We are so proud of you!

UAHuntsville Alum Whitney Snow Wins Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award

Congratulations to UAH history alumna Whitney Snow, currently a PhD candidate at Mississippi State University, who has won a Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning award. Her initiating Phi Kappa Phi chapter was UAHuntsville's chapter! You can read more about the award here. Way to go, Whitney!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Congratulations to Christine Sears on Book Publication!

The history department congratulates Dr. Christine Sears on her forthcoming book, American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776-1820, soon to be published with Palgrave Macmillan. In this book, Christine argues that Americans captured by Barbary pirates and shipwrecked in the Western Sahara endured slavery and that a careful, focused examination of these slaveries has not been conducted yet. Because these slaveries differed so much from U.S. slavery, some contemporaries and modern scholars have been reluctant to categorize their experiences as “slavery.” Christine maintains that U.S. slavery was an outlier when placed in the context of world history, and thus should not be used as a measure against which to judge all slaveries. To understand these seemingly “peculiar institutions,” she uses a two pronged approach. First, instead of conflating centuries and locations, she individually examines Algerian and Western Saharan slavery during the years of the early American republic. Second, she uses a comparative framework, contrasting the African enslavement of Americans and Europeans to slaveries in the Mediterranean, Ottoman world, and the United States. Her work illuminates the commonalities and the peculiarities of different slaveries and contributes to a growing body of literature that showcases the flexibility of slavery as an institution. Kudos to Christine!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Welcome to Visiting Assistant Professor Anna Alexander!

The history department is pleased to welcome Dr. Anna Alexander as Visiting Assistant Professor for academic year 2012-2013. Anna was born and raised in Chico, California. She received her B.A. in history from California State University, Chico. She earned her M.A. in Latin American Studies and her Ph.D. in history from the University of Arizona. She teaches upper-level courses in modern and colonial Latin American history, specializing in environmental history and urban development. Anna most recently taught at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. She is currently working on a book-length manuscript about fire hazards in late nineteenth-century Mexico City. This project has allowed her to combine her interests in urban and environmental histories with the history of technology, medicine, and natural disasters. In her free time Anna enjoys playing tennis, reading fiction, baking, and playing with her two cats, Dotty and Boris. Welcome, Anna!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Congrats to our Spring 2012 Graduates!

The history department is happy to congratulate our Spring 2012 graduates, honored at the Propst Arena of von Braun Center on May 5, 2012. Graduating with an MA degree in history was Matthew Menarchek. Graduating with MA degrees in history as well as Grades 6-12 teaching certifications were Derrick Chatterton and John Milling. Our BA degree graduates included Michael Barnes, Vaughn Bocchino, Jennifer Coe, Sabrina Rabah, Hannah Ross, Ryan Sippel, Amanda Smith, and Kimberly Willis. Congratulations to you all -- we are very proud of you. Be sure to stay in touch and let us know about your next adventures in life and work!

Welcome to Visiting Assistant Professor Kira Robison!

The history department is happy to welcome Dr. Kira Robison as Visiting Assistant Professor for academic year 2012-2013. Kira is a recent Ph.D. from the history department at the University of Minnesota. Kira's specialization is medieval history, with an interest in ancient history that stretches as far back as her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. Her research topics are varied, but focus mainly on the history of medicine, law, and religion during the Middle Ages. Her dissertation, “Anathomia: Physicians, the Medical School, and Teaching the Body in Medieval Bologna” explores the role of anatomy in medical education at the University of Bologna from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries while paying close attention to the civic context of the students and professors of medicine that had an impact on the development of the medical school during this period. (Yes, there’s some political history in there, too). She has written several encyclopedia articles and has a piece forthcoming in the edited volume Medicine and Law in the Middle Ages, in which she investigates the medieval antecedents for Bologna’s sixteenth-century physician tribunal and their regulation of medicine and surgery amongst city practitioners. In her downtime, she likes to potter about the garden and read any novel (or comic book) not nailed down. Welcome, Kira!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Class on the Mediterranean World to be Offered in Fall 2012 by Visiting Professor Kira Robison

Visiting assistant professor Dr. Kira Robison, who holds a PhD in medieval history from the University of Minnesota, will be teaching a new class in Fall 2012. The course number is History 399-01 and the title is "Religion, Magic, and Medicine in the Mediterranean World." The class will be Tuesday/Thursday 9:35-10:55am.

To the Ancient Romans, the Mediterranean was considered “Our Sea” and the center of their vast empire. For medieval Europe, it was the ocean that separated Christians from the infidels. For many merchants, the Mediterranean meant their livelihood, and physicians considered it a major conduit for medical theory. This course will explore the world of the Mediterranean Sea between the end of the Classical Era to the sixteenth century, which saw the focus shift from “Our Sea” to other seas. The interactions within the Mediterranean World during this time encompassed peace and violence, destruction and profit, and health and disease. In order to cope with the breadth and depth of this topic, the class will be divided into separate units that will build on themes we will explore in each, but which will also function in many ways as individual case studies.

Please direct questions to Dr. Andy Dunar at, and he can put you in touch with Dr. Robison.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Course in Science and Religion to be Offered by Professor Evan Ragland

Professor Evan Ragland is introducing a new history course for Fall Semester 2012. It is listed as History 498/598 and is entitled "History of Western Science and Religion." The class will be taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:20-3:40pm.

Often depicted as enemies armed and embattled, science and religion have related in history in powerful and fascinating ways. This course aims to address such questions as ‘What is the relationship between science and religion?’ ‘Have things changed significantly over time?’ and ‘Who cares?’ We will also be able to examine notions of ‘popular science’ and engage historical controversies, including the ongoing use and abuse of the trial of Galileo, biblical chronology and geology, the Scopes Trial, and the current debates over Intelligent Design and evolution in American education.

Pictured here, Johannes Kepler reconstructs God’s cosmic architecture.

Please direct questions to

UAH History Alumna Defends MA Thesis in Sociology at the University of Iowa

Veronica Ferreira, who graduated from UAH in 2010 with dual majors in history and sociology and a minor in Women's Studies, recently defended her MA thesis in sociology at the University of Iowa. The title is "Marital Happiness and Marital Satisfaction: A Test of Role Conflict and Congruence."

For her thesis, Veronica used survey data collected in 1986 out of Wayne County, MI (Veroff et al) to test the impact of role conflict (and elements of role conflict) on marital happiness and marital satisfaction. She found that when women perceive the demands of paid labor as frequently disruptive to their married lives, they tend to be less happy with their marriages, but no less satisfied. Additionally, she found that the higher the household income, the more satisfied with marriage both spouses tend to be. Finally, she found that the number of children one has is associated with lower marital happiness and marital satisfaction, regardless of the sex of the respondent.

A version of this project was presented at the Midwest Sociological Association’s annual conference in March, 2012.

Veronica is currently expanding her analysis to include an examination of the same couples in 1987, 1988, and 1989.

Congratulations, Veronica!

Congratulations to Matthew Menarchek for Defending his MA Thesis

The history department congratulations Matthew Menarchek, who recently defended his MA thesis, entitled “Toward a New South: Huntsville, Alabama, 1804-1890.”

This thesis analyzes the commercial and industrial development in Huntsville, Alabama, from its settlement through the late nineteenth century. This study examines the role of prominent residents in bringing change to a southern city based on its relationship with agriculture, land development, and slavery. This work shows how Huntsville’s agricultural and commercial elite sought public education, internal improvements, commerce, and manufacturing. These planter-capitalists succeeded in transitioning Huntsville from an agricultural economy to a more diversified market economy by the 1850s. The city’s development provides a case study of how New South elements developed within Old South society.

Matthew, who recently won the department's Outstanding Graduate Achievement award, also worked for two years as the department's Graduate Research Assistant. His major project during this time was conducting research for a federal judicial case involving taxation and public education in Alabama. He also engaged in collaboration with the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau to highlight local Civil War tourist attractions and conducted specialized research for professors.

Matthew will attend the University of Tennessee-Knoxville beginning this autumn to pursue a PhD in history, specializing in Jacksonian America.

Congratulations, Matthew!

History Department Spring Picnic!


On Saturday, April 21, 2012 the History department is hosting a picnic at Brahan Springs Park, Pavilion 2 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The pavilion is located near the pond, the playground, and the restrooms. The meats will be provided by the department. The rest of the picnic items are on a potluck basis. There is a sign-up sheet in the department mailroom/kitchen for dishes, desserts, and picnic items such as drinks and paper plates.

Students, staff, and faculty – along with their families - are welcome to attend. Just bring a side dish to pass or other picnic supplies and whatever sports or game equipment you want to play. This promises to be a great way to relax a little after a long academic year.

Special thanks to Dr. Christine Sears for coordinating, planning, and making this happen. See you all there!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Kudos to the History Department's Honors Day Award Winners in 2012!

On April 3, 2012, five UAH history majors received recognition at the annual "Honors Day" convocation.

Jesse Thomas was honored for Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement, and Matthew Menarchek was honored for Outstanding Graduate Achievement.

Additional winners included Regina Head, honored with the Colonel Walter Aston Chapter of the Colonial Dames of the XVII Century History Award; Julia Paul, honored with the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Alabama History Essay Award; and Charity Ethridge, winner of the Dr John Rison Jones Award in Southern History sponsored by the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society.

We are very proud of our hard-working and accomplished students and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors!

Pictured here see Regina, Charity, Julia, and Matthew; Jesse with history department Dr. Andy Dunar; Charity and Matthew with advisor Dr. John Kvach; Julia with Dr. Christine Sears (for whom she wrote her award-winning paper); and Regina Head with mentor Dr. Sandra Mendiola.

Congrats to Graduate Student Jillian Rael on Grant from Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives

History graduate student Jillian Rael just received word that she will receive a $400 Lynn E. May Study Grant from the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. This grant will support Jillian's master's thesis research project, "The Dispersal of Evangelical Ideals from the Second Great Awakenings: A Local Study in Mulberry, Tennessee."

Congratulations, Jillian!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Congratulations New Phi Alpha Theta Inductees

The Tau Omega chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international history honorary, inducted ten new members on March 10, 2012: Matthew Hale, Michelle Hopkins, Kirsten Hughes, Phillip Irwin Jr, Erin Looney, Tracy McMahan, Jennifer Mellard, Julia Paul, Chase Tate, and James Xiques.

Thanks to Faculty Advisor Dr. Sandra Mendiola for organizing the induction and to Dr. John Kvach and his wife Ann for hosting the event in their home.

Pictured here see Dr. Sandra Mendiola with inductee Phillip Irwin Jr, Dr. Sandra Mendiola with inductee Julia Paul, and graduate student and previous inductee Matthew Menarchek, who gave a brief talk about his Graduate Research Assistantship as part of the event.

Congratulations, students!

Dr. John Kvach Chosen as NEH City Scholar for Civil War Project

Dr. John Kvach has been selected as a city scholar for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant project about the Civil War.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Alabama Humanities Foundation has partnered with Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery Public Libraries to host the “Making Sense of the American Civil War,” reading and discussion series. Each library will host a free, five-part reading and discussion series led by NEH city scholars.

The NEH city scholars program features UAHuntsville’s Kvach and a panel of distinguished Alabama historians, including Victoria Ott of Birmingham Southern College; Lonnie Burnett of The University of Mobile; Patience Essah of Auburn University, George Rable of The University of Alabama; and Bob Bradley of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Kvach’s presentations will be given at the main branch of the Huntsville Public Library at 7 p.m., on the following Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., March 15 and 29, April 12 and 26, and May 10.

Congratulations, Dr. Kvach, and thanks for all the work you to do promote public history at UAH and in our community!

UAH History Alum Joseph T. Richardson Receives John W. Odom Memorial Prize in Southern History from the University of Mississippi

The history department congratulates our alumnus Joseph T. Richardson on receiving the John W. Odom Memorial Prize in Southern History at the University of Mississippi. The prize is named in honor of Mr. Odom of DeSoto County, Mississippi, who was a benefactor of the university.

The purpose of the prize is to recognize outstanding scholarship in the field of Southern history. The prize is awarded annually to the student at the university who presents the best paper dealing with a topic in Southern history, as determined by a faculty committee.

Joseph's paper was entitled "'Discovering' the Plain Folk: Frank Lawrence Owsley and History from Manuscript Census Returns." It examined the methodological breakthrough of Southern historian Frank Lawrence Owsley, who in the 1940s became the first social historian to make a large-scale, systematic use of the United States manuscript census returns to study the southern "plain folk," or yeomanry.

Congratulations, Joseph!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Congratulations to Graduate Student Jillian Rael on her Public History Achievements

Graduate student Jillian Rael has been very busy pursuing two significant public history projects in the last year.

First, she successfully filed an application to have the Whitaker-Motlow House registered with the National Register of Historic Places. The Whitaker-Motlow House, located in Lincoln County, Tennessee, was constructed circa 1850 by its owner Newton Whitaker. The Whitaker family were among the earliest settlers of the area and helped to establish the once thriving community of Mulberry. The house is a intriguing piece of transitional architecture that mixes the Greek Revival and Italianate designs. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in November of 2011 under Criteria C, as its design gives tangible expression to the family's middle class status. Jillian's work on the Whitaker-Motlow House began in 2009 as a part of a Public History course at UAH taught by Dr. John Kvach, and she pursued her work further by making the house the subject of her Senior Thesis in Art History, which she completed at UAH in 2010.

Second, Jillian received a book contract to prepare a book entitled Around Lynchburg , a photographic history of Lynchburg and Moore County Tennessee. The book is being published as a part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series. The history of the area is told through about 200 images collected from the community and tells the town's story though a combination of primary source research and oral recollections. The book is set to be released in June 2012.

See here a 1905 photograph of the Whitaker-Motlow House and the cover of Jillian's forthcoming book.

We are very proud of Jillian's hard work -- she is a credit to our graduate program as well as to the communities she has studied in Tennessee!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Phi Alpha Theta Brown Bag Lunch Series

The Tau Omega chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international history honorary, is sponsoring a Brown Bag Lunch Series in Spring 2012. Meetings are on Wednesdays from noon until 1pm in Roberts Hall 422.

Here are the scheduled presenters and topics:

March 7: "Whitaker House: Following the Road to Restoration of an Antebellum Home in Lincoln County, Tennessee" (by Jillian Rael)

March 14: "Information Overload as a Unifying Trend in Early Modern Natural Philosophy" (by Joshua Riddle)

April 4: "Alexander Hamilton and the Transformation of the American Economy" (by Matthew Menarchek)

April 11: "Grover Cleveland and the Restoration of the Kingdom of Hawaii: a Foreign Policy Failure" (by Janis Dye)

Bring your lunch and hear from some graduates and graduate students of the UAH History Department. Time is allotted for questions after each presentation.

Congratulations to Our Recent Graduates!

The History Department is pleased to announce our graduates from August 2011 and December 2011.

In August, Alyson Buck and Craig Noneman graduated with MA degrees in History. Graduating with BA degrees were Ryan Burkholder, Mary Kathryn Herrin, Samantha Hillgartner, Kayleigh Last, Christopher LeQuieu, Samantha Meiborg, and Celeste Patteson.

In December, Jesse Bates graduated with a MA degree in History. Receiving BAs were Frankie Barnett, Christopher Brown, Brittney Fore, Michelle Hopkins, Nicholas Huckaby, Joshua Riddle, Jared Robison, and Kimberly Willis.

Congratulations to you all!

Help Invent a History Department Tradition!

We are looking for volunteers to plan the first annual History Department Spring Picnic for students, faculty, and their families. If you want to help plan an afternoon of food and fun, please contact Dr. Sears at 824-2573 or

News and Notes

about the department, its students, and alumni