History

Some of America’s most distinguished scholars teach in the Department of History. Areas of specialization range across the fields of medieval history, early modern and modern European history, British and Atlantic history, United States history from the colonial period to the present, and African, Jewish, Latin American, and East Asian history. History at Johns Hopkins, while it generally has a narrative thread, is primarily issue and topic-oriented. Students have the opportunity to work closely with individual faculty members, and are introduced to the complexities of historical causation as well to areas of the past that rarely find their way into high school history courses. In general, the idea is to provide students with extensive training in writing and research, and enable them to appreciate the variety of history, how history comes to be written and understood, and its relevance to both the present and future.

Academic Details

Overview of the Undergraduate Curriculum

Undergraduates begin with general courses, but progress quickly to those that explore topics in depth and provide experience in researching, analyzing, and writing about the past. All sophomores participate in a year-long research seminar, where they complete an original research project, and an honors thesis option is also available during the senior year. Students must study a foreign language through the intermediate level as well.

Honors Opportunities

Undergraduate history majors with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.25 or higher, and a G.P.A. of 3.5 or higher in the courses required for the history major, have the option of writing an honors thesis their senior year. The writing of the honors thesis is undertaken in conjunction with a required senior thesis seminar.

The History Department also offers a B.A./M.A. option to students that are outstanding in their fields. Students apply in the junior year and must be accepted by a faculty member and by the History Department graduate committee. The student will study as a graduate student during their fourth year, taking graduate seminar classes and preparing a M.A. thesis.

Student Stories

Research

With the support of her Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship, history major Tess Thomas ’14 traveled to London during the summer of 2012 to study the effects of the Olympics on the city’s east end. Through interviews, social media, and material culture, her research evaluates the impact and legacy of these Games. She focuses on the ways in which Londoners have benefited and been marginalized as a result of the competition, as well as the attempted regeneration of the six Olympic boroughs.

Alex Traum ’09 traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel and Vilnius, Lithuania with his Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship in order to study Yiddish, the 1,000-year-old Jewish vernacular that is a blend of Middle High German, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Slavic elements. The study of Yiddish was essential to his research into the Jewish labor movement and Abraham Liesin, an early twentieth-century activist who was remarkable, among other things, for his attempts to form a distinctly Jewish socialist tradition.

As the recipient of the Evergreen Museum and Library Student Curator Internship, history major Matt Turturo ’10 researched and curated an exhibit on the collecting activities of three generations of men in the Garrett family, who owned and resided in Evergreen House, now one of Johns Hopkins’ three teaching museums. To learn more about the project, which enabled Matt to combine his interest in history and the arts, visit Evergreen’s website.

Internships

Using the writing and research skills that a major in history provides, Ashley Emery ‘15 interned at the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, and Tess Thomas ’14 spent time as an intern at Teen Vogue and an academic publishing house in London. Other history majors have interned at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Study Abroad

Students in history have studied abroad in China, the Arab world, Africa (Ian Cash ’13 spent Spring 2012 in Egypt), and Western Europe, and often choose to study in a location where they can perfect their language skills. England and Scotland, however, are also popular destinations.

Resources

Related Student Groups

Foundations (Johns Hopkins undergraduate history research journal)

Johns Hopkins Model United Nations Conference

Campus & Baltimore Resources

The Peabody Library

The Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries Rare Books and Manuscripts Department

National History Honor Society

Majors & Minors Programs