students with awards

Each spring, the Department of History holds an induction ceremony for Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honors Society. 

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News and Events


Student News

  • From April 15-19, 2015, two of our Public History graduate students - Carrie Hadley and Lauren Van Zandt - presented their scholarship at the National Council on Public History's 2015 Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN.

  • Undergraduate History major Dimitri Wolford has been accepted into the i3 program at the University of Pittsburgh starting this summer. According to the program's website, "The iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3) is an undergraduate research and leadership development program that prepares students from underrepresented populations for graduate study and careers in the information sciences. Only 25 students from across the country are selected each year to become i3 Scholars. Those students undertake a yearlong experience that includes two summer institutes hosted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences and a research project spanning the year. i3 prepares students for the rigors of graduate study and serves as a pipeline for i3 Scholars into internationally recognized information schools-the iSchools. Most importantly, i3 empowers students to create change and make an impact on the people around them." Congratulations, Dimitri!

  • Five students in our Public History graduate program and one alumnus held a very successful exhibit opening and reception on Friday, April 10, 2015, for the Art Beyond Bars project. Dozens of guests attended, including Dr. James Swindal, Dean of McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts and Dr. Timothy Austin, University Provost. Congratulations to students Carrie Hadley, Sarina Johnston, Abigail Kirstein, Carl Lew, Lauren Van Zandt and alumnus Aaron O'Data! 

  • Four of our students received awards at the 7th Annual Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium (URSS), held on April 9, 2015. Senior History major Ian Ferguson received the Center for African Studies Award for Undergraduate Research, as well as the Department of History's First Place Clio Award for Undergraduate Research in History. Junior History major Michael Romero Moore received an Honorable Mention for the Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Society. Senior Art History major Stephanie Laux received the Department of History's Second Place Clio Award for Undergraduate Research in History. And sophomore History major Jake Roba received the Department of History's Third Place Clio Award for Undergraduate Research in History.

  • Undergraduate History major Ian Ferguson--who is also a Philosophy minor-- as recently published in Stance, an international undergraduate Philosophy journal. His article, "Nietzsche and the Prince," will be featured in the April 2015 issue soon.

  • Graduate Public History students Sarina Johnston and Carl Lew presented papers at the Milton Plesur Graduate Student Conference at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, on March 7, 2015. Their papers given are titled respectively, "Unstable Spheres: Suffragists and Antis Traverse the Home and Public Arenas in Twentieth Century Pittsburgh," and "The Value of Natural Philosophy in Traditional China."

  • Graduate Public History students Carrie Hadley and Lauren Van Zandt have been accepted to present poster projects at the National Council on Public History's Annual Meeting this coming April 2015 in Nashville, TN.

  • Graduate Public History student Lauren Van Zandt presented her scholarship on "The U.S. Capitol Columbus Doors and the Catechism of Expansionism" at the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) October 8-11, 2014, in Sarasota, Florida. SECAC typically hosts teachers and administrators in universities, colleges, community colleges, professional art schools, and museums, as well as independent artists and scholars. Thus, we are proud of Ms. Van Zandt's unique and remarkable accomplishment of being asked to present her scholarship as a Master's student at this conference. 

  • On Friday, November 7, 2014, the Department of Hitsory had three of its Public History graduate students present their scholarship at the 2014 Graduate Student Research Symposium on Duquesne's campus. Carrie Hadley, Abigail Kirstein, and Lauren Van Zandt participated.

Faculty News

Professor Emeritus Joseph Rishel, along with his wife Helen, recently published A Holy Dwelling Place: the History of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. As stated on the Diocese of Greensburg's website, "[t]he book traces the history of the Catholic community in Greensburg from the late 1700s to the establishment of Most Holy Sacrament Parish in 1847, the construction of the current church building in the 1920s, the renovations following the Second Vatican Council, and the year-long restoration project that started in 2010."

You can learn more about the book, including where and how to order a copy, here.

Faculty Presentations

Bucciantini, Alima. "National Museums, Changing Nations: The Case of Scotland." 7th International Conference on the Inclusive Museum, Los Angeles, CA, August 3-8, 2014.  

---. "More Than a Job: Challenges in Develping and Maintaining a Public History Career." 2015 Annual Meeting, National Council on Public History, Nashville, TN, April 15-19, 2015. 

Hyland, Matthew. "Emerald View Park and the Usable Past." 2015 Annual Meeting, National Council on Public History, Nashville, TN, April 15-19, 2015.

Mayer, Holly. "The 2nd Canadian's Original Establishment: Precedents and Provisions for an Unusual Continental Army Regiment." Society for Military History Annual Conference, Montgomery, AL, April 9-12, 2015. 

Parsons, Elaine. "How Klan Victims Explained their Attacks." Association for the Study of African American History and Life Conference, Memphis, TN, September 27-28, 2014.

---. "The Novelty of the Reconstruction-Era Ku-Klux," American Studies Association, Los Angeles, CA, November 5-7, 2014.

---. "The Emergence of the Ku-Klux Klan into Mainstream U.S. History Textbook Narrative, 1880-1920." Southern Historical Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, November 13-15, 2014.

Parsons, Jotham. "Pierre Nicole: Political Economy and Salvation." Western Society for French History, San Antonio, TX, November 13-15, 2014.  

---. "Sully Redivivus? Piketty and the Deep History of French Political Economy." Society for French Historical Studies, Colorado Springs, CO, April 16-19, 2015. 

Sienkewicz, Julia. "Beyond the American School: Placing Art in the 1790s." Society of Early Americanists Conference, London, England, July 15-21, 2014. 

---. "John Flaxman Redux: Copying, Homage, and Illusion in the Sketchbooks of Benjamin Henry Latrobe." Southeast College Art Conference, Sarasota, FL, October 9-12, 2014.

Simpson, Andrew. "Making Money from AIDS? Public-Private Partnerships and the Failure for Non-Profit AIDS Care in Houston, 1985-1987," Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science, Jackson, MS, March 12-15, 2015.

---. "How Do You Make #theNewPittsburgh?: The Promise and Peril of Biotechnology as Economic Development in the Post-Industrial U.S. City." Midwest Junto for the History of Science, Madison, WI, April 18-19, 2015. 

---. "The Rise of the Medical Monopoly? The Consequences of Three Decades of System Building in American Academic Medicine." Business History Conference, European Business History Association, Miami, FL, June 24-July 3, 2015.

Stelzel, Philipp. "Arguing about World War I: A Transatlantic Story, 1920-1970," German Studies Association Conference, Kansas City, MO, September 18-21, 2014.



First Fridays!

Friday, November 6, 2015
2-3 p.m.

College Hall 222

Resumé/CV Writing Workshop for History/Art History Students
with Coralyn McCauley, Career Counselor, Career Services


*On Thursday, October 21, 2015, the Department of History held its 47th Annual History Forum lecture.

*From October 12-15, 2015, the Department of History and English held a join Study Abroad Week, complete with info sessions, food tastings, and in-class presentations.

*From April 10-30, 2015, the Public History graduate program hosted the Art Beyond Bars exhibit, which featured artwork from inmates at the State Correctional Institution--Pittsburgh. Learn more.

*On Saturday, April 25, 2015, the Department of History hosted its first Public History Program Social at the Frick Art & Historical Center. More than sixty alumni, current students, incoming students, stakeholders, faculty, and staff enjoyed an evening of networking, reminiscing, music, food, and drink. View photos from the event! 

*On Friday, April 17, 2015, the Department of History held its annual Departmental Award and Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society Induction Ceremony. More than 20 students were inducted into the Epsilon Phi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, and departmental awards were given to the following students:

The Joseph R. Morice Award for Excellence in History - Nicholas Dorfner
The Jean E. Hunter Award for Excellence in Writing History - Megan Rabenstein
The Erik Gerhard Student Resource Grant - Kevlin Parnell
The Giorgio Vasari Award for Excellence in Art History - Hannah Sanders
The Clio Award for Undergraduate Research - 1st place: Ian Ferguson; 2nd place: Stephanie Laux; 3rd place: Jake Roba

*On Friday, March 13, 2015, Dr. Alima Bucciantini presented "Who Are Our Saints?: Building a National Pantheon in the Modern Museum" for the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at Duquesne University.  

What Did Our Department Do Last Year?

Faculty Presentations

Bucciantini, Alima. "GenNext: The Future of Public History Programs Working Group." National Council on Public History, Monterey, CA, March 18-22, 2014.

Dwyer, John. "Environmental Regulation for Southern California." Western History Association, Tuscon, AZ, October 9-13, 2013.

Fenichel, Emily. "Michelangelo's Portait Medal: Self-Fashioning the Religious Artist." Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference, New York, NY, March 26-30, 2014.

Hyland, Matthew. "Historic Preservation and New Deal Key West." Florida Conference of Historians, Saint Augustine, FL, January 30-February 2, 2014.

Li, Jing. "Three China-Naysayers and American Media: The Cases of Chang, Peter Navarro, and Ping Fu." The International Conference on the Comparative Study of China and the West: Bringing Disciplines Together, Beijing, CHINA, July 16, 2013.

Parsons, Elaine. "The Kuklux and the Rise of the Detective in the Reconstruction-Era." Organization of American Historians, Atlanta, GA, April 9-12, 2014.

--. "Representing the Ku-Klux Klan in History Textbooks, 1882-2010." Association of State and Local Historians Convention, Jacksonville, FL, October 3-4, 2013.

Parsons, Jotham. "État de vie, Morals, and Education in the Seventeenth Century." Western Society for French History 2013 Conference, Atlanta, GA, October 24-26, 2013.

Sienkewicz, Julia. "Epic, Ode, Image?: Classical Reference in the Watercolors of Benjamin Henry Latrobe." Classical Association of the Midwest and South, Waco, TX, April 4-6, 2014.

--. "At Sea without a Guiding Star: Uncertain Selfhood in the Atlantic Watercolors of Benjamin Henry Latrobe." American Society of Eighteenth Century Studies, Williamsburg, VA, March 20-23, 2014.

--. "Of Place and Displacement: Benjamin Henry Latrobe's Immigrant Landscapes." Poignant Prospects: Landscape and the Environment in American Visual Culture, 1750-1890, CHAVIC, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA, October 31-November 4, 2013.

Simpson, Andrew. "'We will gladly join you in partnership in Harrisburg, or see you in court': The Growth of Large Not-for-Profits and Consequences of Renaissance in the New Pittsburgh." Society for City and Regional Planning History, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, October 4-6, 2013.

Steinmetz, Charles. "The Aulihan Rebellion 1916 and the Fate of Jubaland." Kenya Scholars and Studies Association Conference, Bowling Green, OH, September 5-7, 2013.

Phi Alpha Theta Induction Ceremony

On Friday, April 11, 2014, we inducted 23 new members into the Epsilon Phi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honors Society. You can view the photo album from the day's events on our Facebook page.

Student Awards

On Friday, April 11, 2014, we presented the Jean E. Hunter Writing History Award and the Joseph R. Morice Award for Excellence in History to two outstanding students, Gesue Staltari and Gannam Rifkah, respectively. For more about our student awards, visit our Undergraduate History Program Awards page. You can also view photos from the award ceremony on our Facebook page.

student with award

Gesue Staltari, 2014 recipient of the Jean E. Hunter Writing History Award

Student Presentations

Western PA Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference

On Saturday, March 25, 2014, three of our graduate students attended and presented papers at the Western PA Regional Phi Alpha Theta Student Conference at Slippery Rock University. Aaron O'Data (Public History), Carrie Hadley (Public History), and Lauren Van Zandt (Public History) all received awards for their papers. Their paper titles:

Hadley, Carrie. "'History' Painting? The Fictional Literary Influences of John Gadsby Chapman's Baptism Pocahontas."

O'Data, Aaron."Disguising Northern-ness: Confederate Commemoration and Northern Ambitions in Richmond, Virginia."

Van Zandt, Lauren. "Slavery and Sentimentality: the Columbus Doors."

6th Annual Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium

On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, four of our undergraduate students presented their work at the 6th Annual Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium. Participating students were:

Maggie Betschart -

presented a poster session with Justine Huber entitled, "Home Sweet Home," as a result of work completed in Dr. Julia Sienkewicz's American Home course in Spring 2013. 

Justine Huber - 

presented a poster session with Maggie Betschart entitled, "Home Sweet Home," as a result of work completed in Dr. Julia Sienkewicz's American Home course in Spring 2013.

Abigail Jones -

presented a poster session as well as a public presentation on "John Vanderlyn's Visual and Political Representation of George Washington" from a paper written in her American Painting and Sculpture course in the fall 2013 semester.

Michael Praskovich - 

presented a poster session entitled, "55 Dixie Hippies: Hippies and their search for Nirvana in the Southern United States." In his abstract, he argues that in 1970 the countercultural "Flower Children" and "New Left" movements of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood combine into one and migrated from the "Haight" with the goal of "Saving the World." Hippies had spread throughout the United States settling down in communes founded largely independent of the mass-mediated image of Hippie "free-love" and drug-experimentation; instead, post-Haight-Ashbury Hippies opted for self-sufficiency and living of the land. Given the South's history as a bastion of tolerance, it would seem futile for Hippies to have settled and start communes throughout the Southern states. This research analyzes the mechanics, and also presents the narrative of three Southern Hippie communes: The Farm in Tennesse, the "Tight Squeeze" in Georgia, and the Long Branch Hotel in Louisiana. These communes are of particular interest because of the bold decision to settle in the part of the nation notoriously known for stubbornly defending antiquated ideologies throughout the 20th century.

You can view the photo album for the event on our Facebook page. 

A Model for Aslym: An Exhibition of the Series by Andrew Hairstans

On March 25, 2014, the Art History Program, in collaboration with the Dean's Office of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, hosted its inaugural exhibit opening and artist's lecture, featuring artist Andrew Hairstans, Associate Professor of Art at Auburn University Montgomery. The exhibit ran from March 25, 2014, to April 12, 2014, in the University's Les Idees Gallery in the student union. 

For more information about this particular exhibit, as well as plans for future exhibits, visit the Art History Program's Exhibits page.