The History Department


The study of history helps us to understand the differences and similarities between our own lives, thought, and habits and those of a variety of past and present cultures. It allows us to understand other people better through seeing them in their own contexts, and to understand ourselves through serious self-reflection. We treat history as an interpretive endeavor, investigating from various points of view the ways in which individuals and social groups have sought to order and understand their world across time. As a department, we strive to provide wisdom in particular historical fields, and to assist our students in the development of conceptual skills, critical analysis, research competence, writing fluency, and sophistication in the uses and abuses of knowledge.

Outside the Classroom:

“It has been my great joy to identify myself as a historian throughout my entire professional career, a joy that emerged during my years at Allegheny. My professors set me on the path of thinking like a historian through their rigorous approach to classroom study combined with a generous willingness to talk candidly with students and an openness to varied lines of inquiry and potential career paths. Moreover, their unflinching critiques of my senior thesis instilled in me both the great responsibility we take on when interpreting the past, and the need for careful and thorough analysis built upon solid historical research. The experience of preparing my senior thesis within Allegheny’s History Department, and the seriousness with which my professors treated it, set me upon a life-long quest to live up to their standards. Over three decades later, I remain grateful.”

—Bruce G. Harvey ’85, Consulting Historian, Syracuse, NY