Department of History
Third Floor, O’Kane Hall
Chair: Edward O'Donnell
Connect With Us
The history department offers a wide range of courses dealing with most of the world's major civilizations. Historians study the process of change over time and examine all aspects of human experience in the past. History is among the most encompassing academic disciplines; it is informed by economics, sociology, anthropology, political science, the arts and literature.
Majors should thus select courses in related disciplines to expand their historical insights and to acquire critical tools that will enhance their ability to pursue serious historical scholarship.
Students considering application to Holy Cross as history majors are strongly advised to pursue foreign language study in high school and to continue language study beyond the intermediate level at Holy Cross.
Our Unique Approach to Teaching History
In recent years, the field of history has become less bound in national histories and much more comparative, thematic and transnational. Holy Cross is leading the way among undergraduate curricula nationwide to reflect this change by approaching history through thematic clusters.
The department has 18 full-time faculty members, making it one of the largest history departments among liberal arts colleges.
Faculty members conduct scholarly research in more than 35 countries. There, they visit archives, interview historical witnesses, develop and consult sources, interact with foreign and regional colleagues, and participate in international conferences. Since 2000, history faculty have authored more than 30 books, published more than 100 scholarly articles, and conducted more than 350 scholarly presentations.
The history department’s diverse, distinguished faculty members are frequently consulted by the broader media and offer expertise in unusual ways. When Coca-Cola's Super Bowl ad generated controversy about immigration and nativism, both the New York Times and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" turned to a Holy Cross historian for historical context. From discussing Pope Francis with National Public Radio to answering CNN’s questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin, from analyzing recent events in Nigeria to training Robert De Niro with an Arabic accent, creative Holy Cross faculty have provided their expertise.
The department has a robust library of history films and videos that are shown during relevant courses. Faculty members from other departments wishing to borrow a film for a course should consult Yolanda Youtsey. Students may consult with Yolanda Youtsey to arrange to view a film within the department. Also check the video holdings in the Multimedia Resource Center.
Beyond the Classroom
Beyond traditional classroom work, students have opportunities to collaborate on research with faculty, complete internships in Washington and elsewhere, and conduct yearlong senior theses. Students are encouraged to partake in study abroad immersion programs, integrating their studies and experiences abroad.
Students are trained to think systemically, to speak and write with clarity and originality, and to respect the canons of good scholarship. Recent graduates have gone on to work in the fields of business, government and politics, law, higher education, teaching, non-profit organizations, and health professions.