I graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 2006 with a bachelor’s in history and a minor in women and gender studies. Following graduation, I attended graduate school at Binghamton University, where I earned my master’s degree in history in 2012 and my doctorate in 2016. As a newly minted PhD, I applied for and received a highly-competitive postdoctoral fellowship at the Museum of the City of New York in Manhattan. As the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Museum, I work as an assistant curator, currently developing an upcoming exhibition, Beyond Suffrage: 100 Years of Women & Politics in New York, in commemoration of the New York women’s suffrage centennial. The exhibition will trace women’s political activism in New York City from the suffrage movement through the twenty-first century, focusing on the trailblazing women who joined the political fray in the generations after suffrage.
I began my academic career at Oneonta knowing that I wanted to major in history, but uncertain of what I wanted to or could do with my degree. One of my professors, and later my primary advisor, Dr. Thomas Beal, was instrumental in helping me make that decision; from the very first course I took with him, a class on New York City history, Dr. Beal encouraged me to be more vocal in class discussions and to find and trust my academic voice. He further helped me open my mind to a career in academia post-graduation. The next semester, I took another course with Dr. Beal, Jeffersonian Democracy, where I finally found my voice. It was in this class that I really honed in on my passion for history and began refining my reading, writing, and public-speaking skills.
Every class I took with Dr. Beal from that point forward molded me into the social historian I have become. Our focus in the classroom on matters of race, class, and gender presented a history that was both relatable and stimulating; I was not only eager to learn more, I was also invigorated to contribute to a scholarship of those men and women on the historical periphery. Finding the voices of those who did not necessarily leave records of their own, reconstructing the stories of those who the historical record often left behind, and shedding light on the everyday lives of the historically marginalized challenged me, but also prepared me for graduate school as well as for my current position in public history as the curatorial fellow at a museum predicated on inclusion and the diversity of urban experience.
In the next few years, I registered for as many history courses the registrar would allow, ranging from Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Middle Ages, to a special topics class on Pirates, Rascals and Scoundrels, to the City in American Culture. Each class, and each professor, helped mold me into an inquisitive and conscientious scholar. My medievalist professor, Dr. April Harper, for example, trained me to learn—and teach—history not with dates and timelines, but rather, with events and stories; she made history come alive for me and made learning and retaining hundreds of years of history effortless, and even fun. Despite my focus on American history, I found myself registering for Dr. Harper’s classes every chance I got. Years later in graduate school, while working as teaching assistant at Binghamton University, I borrowed many of Dr. Harper’s pedagogical methods in the classroom, which I believe made me a more engaged and likeable professor and facilitated my students’ retention of historical chronology, figures, and events.
Most importantly, my professors at SUNY Oneonta encouraged me to question history—the way it was written, who recorded it, the argument that each historian made, and the sources they used. Learning not to tacitly accept textbook excerpts and historians’ opinions as facts, and to form my own arguments, was an invaluable skill that proved to be indispensable to my life as a graduate student and as a scholarly writer. While many of my fellow colleagues entered graduate school without any background in historiography, my junior and senior seminars at SUCO, and my senior thesis project with Dr. Beal, prepared me for graduate school and advanced my understanding of the writing process and historical methodology. In fact, my senior thesis, a 70-page study on infanticide in antebellum New York City, served as the groundwork for what has now become my doctoral dissertation, “These Demons Who Thirst For Infanticides": Unwanted Pregnancy, Infant Abandonment, and Infanticide in Mid-Nineteenth Century New York City.
There are so many benefits to majoring in history at SUNY Oneonta. For me, the professors, the unique courses offered, and the small classroom sizes are what motivated me to attend graduate school, to earn my doctorate, and to dedicate my life to public history, teaching, and inspiring the next generation of students and scholars.
My name is Joshua Donohue and I received my Bachelor of Science in History from State University College at Oneonta in May of 2001. Although initially beginning my undergraduate career in Business/Economics, I quickly realized that my true passion was in the field of History. With that, I became a History major during my second semester of my freshman year. The decision had enabled me to pursue my passion, which would benefit me throughout my academic and professional career. After I had switched my major, Dr. Julie Freeman became my academic advisor and was instrumental in guiding me through the transition process.
I was immediately impressed with the diverse range of History courses that were available to me as an undergraduate at SUNY Oneonta. Each course that I took would not only help me excel as a writer, but they also challenged my critical thinking and analytical skills. My coursework at Oneonta included Dr. Freeman’s outstanding courses in German history, which included Germany: Rise of the Empire and Germany: Rise of the Nazis. I also worked closely with Dr. William Simons’ in his Athletics, Society, and History, Jazz Age and the New Deal, and American Ethnic History courses. Dr. Thomas Beal’s courses in The Age of Jackson and The History of New York City helped to enhance my prowess as a writer while becoming familiar with the use of primary sources.
After I graduated from Oneonta with my degree in History, I took a non-History related position for a Fortune 500 company for the next few years. During this time, I was still actively reading and researching several History-related topics in order to keep my mind engaged in the subject as much as I possibly could. In the Spring/Summer of 2008, I decided to volunteer at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, NY as a docent. My experience there completely re-ignited my love for History. In June of 2009, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Military History when I enrolled at Norwich University in Vermont. During the application process, I consulted with Dr. Freeman and Dr. Simons who were both extremely helpful and encouraging. The body of work that I had amassed during my time at Oneonta served as a foundation for success by the time I began my Master’s program. I was able to refer to my studies at Oneonta, particularly when dealing with primary sources and Historiography. My professors familiarized me with analyzing and synthesizing differing viewpoints and developing arguments based on the works of multiple authors instead of simply “telling the story”. The History Department has employed these aspects into their courses in order for their students to evolve as writers at Master’s level. By the time a student of History at Oneonta has gained experience in 200-300 level coursework, they will have obtained the interpretive skill set to write and research as professional historians in 500-600 level graduate courses.
In May of 2011, I received a Master’s of Arts in Military History. During my graduate studies, I began writing and researching for an article that will be published in World War Two Quarterly in the spring of 2017. The focus of the article is about Major Paul A. Putnam, a Marine aviator who fought in the heroic defense of Wake Island in 1941. My research took me to such places as The National Archives in Washington D.C., The U.S. Marine Corps Archives in and Special Collections Branch in Quantico, Virginia, and the National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington D.C.. In 2014, I was hired as an adjunct professor at Suffolk County Community College. I also began teaching a course in American Military History as an adjunct at Farmingdale State College in the fall of 2016. I never envisioned myself teaching History while I was a student at Oneonta, but my experiences there created many opportunities that I never knew existed. I plan to continue writing and teaching History as well as pursuing a Ph.D. at SUNY Stony Brook sometime in the near future.
The professional relationships that I fostered with Dr. Freeman, Dr. Simons, Dr. Beal and other professors from the History Department at Oneonta would last beyond my undergraduate career. Another key relationship I cultivated was with a fellow History major named Michael Wright. We became close friends from my very first day as a freshman until my last day as a senior when we sat together during graduation. He tragically lost his life in October of 2001. I’m proud to have known him and equally proud of the History Department at Oneonta which continues to carry on his legacy with the Michael Wright Memorial Book Award. The award is presented to graduating History majors who have accomplished a high level of work in the field beyond the classroom. I know that Michael would have been honored to have such a prestigious award named after him.
I’m proud of my association with The History Department at SUNY Oneonta. Being a historian is about building relationships, establishing connections, and many hours (and sometimes years) of research. Without the help of the outstanding faculty at SUNY Oneonta, I would not be in the position that I am in today.
My name is Miles Jahnke and I graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 2016 with a degree in Criminal Justice and History. Currently, I am in pursuit of master’s degree in Criminal Justice at the University at Albany (SUNY Albany). With passions for history and the social sciences, I decided to switch gears after completing one year in Binghamton University’s engineering program, and transfer to SUNY Oneonta in 2013. The History Department at SUNY Oneonta enabled me to indulge these passions, specifically by granting me the opportunity to take fascinating classes in subjects such as the Enlightenment, the American and French Revolutions, medieval medicine, the Central Middle Ages, and the histories of Soviet Russia, Canada, and Latin America before Columbus. Yet, what really prepared me for graduate school and for my life beyond SUNY Oneonta was not necessarily the content of these courses, but rather the skills that I acquired while taking them.
Of particular importance was the development of my reading and writing skills in the program. If one has any hopes to do well in SUNY Oneonta’s History program, one must learn how to read large amounts of information and extrapolate the primary themes, analyses, and theses found within multiple sources. Furthermore, one must learn how to take this information, critically analyze it, and use it in one’s own written and oral arguments. For example, I utilized this skill to write several research papers on various topics, including on the history of African American poverty and the racial discrimination that African Americans have faced, the historical role of shamans in Andean culture, and the differing ideologies of the United States and Soviet Union, and their impact on the Cold War. A paper on Canadian gun control made me the winner of the History Department’s Maynard Redfield Short Essay contest. I also won the History Department’s Maynard Redfield Student Award for my contributions to the History Department and the Academic Achievement Award in Sociology. Not only did my reading and writing skills lead to success during my undergraduate studies – their acquisition has well equipped me for the copious amount of reading and writing needed in graduate school and the increased amount of critical thinking needed for assignments and discussions.
Some of the helpful skills that I acquired from SUNY Oneonta’s History Department involved specific faculty members. For instance, Dr. Mette Harder, especially during her Old Regime and Enlightenment class that I took in my first semester at SUNY Oneonta, significantly improved my communication and oral argumentative skills during our small group discussions. Her warm and friendly demeanor, coupled with her genuine and serious interest in the subject material, created an inviting and intellectual class atmosphere. Despite my initial shyness, her class prompted me to really come out of my shell and have confidence in both myself and my arguments.
My ability to edit and analyze written works, particularly historical journal articles, heavily derives from my experience with Dr. Thomas Beal. As a research assistant for Dr. Beal and New York History: A Quarterly Journal, I learned much about the journal editorial process, including how to examine a journal article in terms of thesis clarity, the sources used to support the author’s argument, and the structure of the article. These skills have proven to be extremely helpful in graduate school. Not only has it become necessary for me to analyze various works, but it is vital that I critique the credibility of their sources.
I fondly remember my time in SUNY Oneonta’s History Department not only because of the phenomenal faculty and staff, but because of the experiences I had with my fellow students. As part of History Club, I had the opportunity to engage in two historical travel trips to Washington, DC and Boston, MA where we went to museums, observed the historical architecture and monuments of the cities, and made some excellent memories. Furthermore, I had some great times on campus as well with the History Club, participating in fun historical activities during meetings and going to movie nights in the Red Dragon Theater to see Selma and Marie Antoinette. I had such a great time that I became the History Club President during my last semester.
My time in SUNY Oneonta’s History program was time well spent. Not only did I develop skills that I believe have made my transition to graduate level work easier, but I fostered great friendships throughout my time in the program. While SUNY Oneonta is not a large research university, undergraduates receive individualized attention and education that helps one grow and develop as both a person and an academic. I am proud to have been a History Major at SUNY Oneonta!
I have always had an inquisitive mind, yearning to know the precise details, facts, and figures associated with any historical phenomena. I can vividly recall visiting innumerable historical landmarks and museums with my paternal grandparents, or the rich oral narratives my maternal grandmother, an ancestor of the Abenaki Native American tribe, would share with my siblings and me about our people’s history and how we came to be.
During my senior year of high school, I stumbled upon the realization that I could fuse my twofold passions for history and education, and pursue a fulfilling career as an educator. Before I knew it, the time to apply for college had come… and SUNY Oneonta became one of my top choices for undergraduate study thanks to its impeccable preservice teacher education program.
As an adolescent education major, I found myself enamored with the subject of diversity specifically. I set out to extend my consciousness with the realization that one day, I would have an array of students in my classroom, each belonging to various racial, socioeconomic, political, religious, linguistic, ability, and gender identity groups. Shortly thereafter, I noticed my attraction to the subject of diversity progressively spilling over into my history courses and the assignments I undertook for these courses. By the fall of 2014, the trajectory of my life changed thanks to one history course.
When planning my course schedule for the fall of 2014, a catchy course title caught my eye: “History of American Crime and Prisons”, taught by Dr. Leigh-Anne Francis. This course awoke an intellectual hunger within me concerning the field of African American history. By utilizing an intersectional approach, i.e. scrutinizing the historical record by assessing the race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other intersecting social identities of historical actors, my classmates and I unraveled the institutional and cultural systems of oppression which have worked against - and continue to hinder - marginalized populations of U.S. citizens throughout history and in the present day.
The History Department at SUNY Oneonta permits upper-level students, with the assistance of a history professor, to conduct their own independent research projects tailored to their own individual interests for upper-division credit. The spring 2015 semester saw the completion of my first independent research study with Dr. Leigh-Anne Francis. My initial independent research project examined the racial climate in postbellum New York State by centering racial violence as the focal point in my efforts to unravel the complicated history of black-white relations in the region after the Civil War’s end. This project, in addition to a term research paper I crafted in Dr. Mette Harder’s “French Revolution and Napoleon” course - a paper which explored the influences of eighteenth-century French gender discourse, patriarchy, and poverty for the prevalence of female prostitution during the French Revolution - illuminated the allure of historical research and the satisfaction gained from answering traditionally unanswered historical queries. By the fall of 2015, the fulfillment gained from conducting original historical research led me to pursue a degree solely in History.
Aside from its vast course offerings, skilled faculty, and extracurricular organizations such as the Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society and CLIO History Club, both of which I assumed an active role in, the department’s longstanding commitment to studying the past via an interdisciplinary approach offers a fluidity between various other sub disciplines of social science and the field of history (i.e. Africana-Latino Studies, women and gender studies, psychology, sociology, etc.)
It seemed like just yesterday I relocated from my rural Alabama home to pursue a career as a high school teacher at SUNY Oneonta. Today, I am a doctoral student in a fully-funded, top-ten history program in the country chasing my dreams of becoming a professor of African American and Women and Gender histories. My tentative dissertation stems from the first independent research task I began at SUNY Oneonta almost two years ago. After attaining my Ph.D., I long to complete a law degree with an emphasis in civil rights and legal history.
In all, the importance of our field and becoming a student of history looms beyond a chronological understanding of past events. History is so much more than just time – an alluring mystery we as historians crave to unravel and explore… It offers a glimpse at the roots of who we are as people, and more significantly, where we stand today. In an era in which disproportionate numbers of unarmed people of color are slain by police or housed in “prisons for profit”, we must not ignore the voices of the past in our quest to craft a brighter and more well-informed future.
My name is Hunter Reed and I received my Bachelor of Science in History in May 2016, with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. During my undergraduate career at SUNY Oneonta, I was fortunate to work with many incredible professors who pushed me to excel in ways I never imagined I could. I began my academic experience as a biology major and by taking my general education requirements. One of these requirements was History 100, or Western Civilizations. I had heard through friends that this class was terrible, boring, and otherwise unengaging. They could not have been more wrong. I was privileged enough to take Western Civilizations with Dr. April Harper, and I can honestly say that this class changed my life. It helped me rediscover my love for history and realize I was much more interested in historical research than science labs. Within the first month of my first semester at SUNY Oneonta, I chose to change my major to history and I never looked back.
During my time as a student in the History Department, I also got the chance to take Medieval Sexuality (Spring 2014) and Boys to Men: European Masculinities (Fall 2014). Both of these classes helped me engage in my curiosity about gender and eventually led me to pick up a minor in Women’s and Gender studies. Boys to Men was one of my favorite courses and was taught by Dr. Mette Harder, who became one of my strongest mentors. It explored the characteristics of masculinity in the changing European context between the 1500s and the 1900s. It helped me engage in historical debate, as this class had only six students and was taught entirely through discussion. That is definitely one of the perks of studying at SUNY Oneonta: the average class was twenty students or smaller.
Following my experience in Boys to Men, I worked as Dr. Harder’s research assistant in the spring of 2016. In the previous fall semester, we worked on an application to the Student Grants Development Office to fund a research project on Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), a French Revolutionary. I ended up receiving enough money to cover my books and research materials and go on research trips to Cornell University’s Karl A. Kroch Library. Here, I got to work with primary documents from the French Revolution in an archive setting. This was an incredible opportunity for a budding historian like myself. The project culminated in my presentation at Student Research and Creative Activity Day, a school sponsored research showcase. My project received the Honorable Mention Award for student research.
I also worked with Dr. Harper on an independent study in fall 2014 involving the depiction of medieval knights in the Arthurian legends and how this related to expectations of masculinity at the time. I furthered this project my senior year during another course with Dr. Harper, Medieval Medicine, by examining the medicine that would have been common for knights to receive. I also looked at the presentation of medicine in the Arthurian legends. I firmly believe that if I ever choose to pursue my doctorate, I will follow a path involving chivalry and expectations of masculinity.
Outside of these two projects, I joined Phi Alpha Theta. This is the national honors society for history. My second year, I presented my paper, “Arthurian Knights: A Study of Chivalry and Homosocial Bonds in the Arthurian Legends,” at the Phi Alpha Theta Undergraduate Research Conference at Marist College. My senior year I was able to work with Dr. Danny Noorlander on the topic of Dutch New York in both my senior seminar class and as an intern for the journal, New York History: A Quarterly Journal. This was a great way to see how journals are put together and edited. I acted as secretary of the history club for a year and helped plan a trip to both Washington D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts. I loved holding this position as I got to interact with students in other disciplines who loved history as much as I did. Where does all of this leave me now? I am pursuing my Master’s degree at SUNY Albany in Secondary Education. My concentration area is social studies. After attending Oneonta’s history program, I feel completely prepared to start this new journey. I will truly miss all of our incredible faculty and staff who give so much of themselves so that we can continue to learn. I hope someday I can positively impact my students as much as my professors here did me. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to study history here at SUNY Oneonta.
My name is Luke Murphy and I graduated from SUNY Oneonta in spring 2015 with a degree in History. I began my career at SUNY Oneonta in fall 2013 as a transfer student and I will remember my time here fondly. As an undergraduate, I took classes in Russian, Soviet, and Central Asian history with Dr. Yuriy Malikov, Diplomatic and Japanese history courses with Dr. Bill Ashbaugh, courses on the Holocaust with Dr. Julie Freeman, and a course on the Early Middle Ages with Dr. April Harper. I also had the opportunity to serve as a Research Assistant with Dr. Thomas Beal for New York History: A Quarterly Journal and serve as a summer intern at the Iroquois Indian Museum. Every professor I have studied under went above and beyond to help me understand complex topics and to succeed as a student.
Each History course I took at SUNY Oneonta aided me in honing my critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. All history majors take two capstone courses; Historiographic Seminar and Senior Seminar. Students typically take these two courses back to back with the same professor. For my capstones, I had the great pleasure of working with Dr. Ashbaugh on American foreign relations. During my final semester, I work on a thirty-page paper entitled For the Defense of Britain: An Examination of the Causes of the Economic Restrictions Placed on Japan by the United States between June, 1940 and July, 1941. In this paper, I explored the financial restrictions the United States placed on Japan during the lead up to Pearl Harbor.
There are plenty of extracurricular activities and opportunities at Oneonta for you as a student to exhibit your work and to apply the methods you have learned during your studies. I became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta, the honor society for historians. During both my junior and senior year, I had the opportunity to participate in and present some of my work at the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference. Additionally, the History Department hosts the Maynard Redfield History Essay Competition, which I participated in during my senior year. I even received a prize for my work! Our history club also offers student the opportunity for all students interested in history to gather in a fun, inviting atmosphere and go to many historic places. This past year, the club visited Salem, Massachusetts for Halloween, as well as other, historic sites.
I feel that SUNY Oneonta offers the advantages of both a large and small university. As it is a part of the SUNY system, Oneonta students have access to all other SUNY study abroad opportunities as well as Oneonta’s own program. Additionally, our library has five floors filled with books, computer labs, study spaces, and periodicals. Oneonta also has a small school feeling as well. I have a great relationship with every one of the history professors I have studied under and I highly recommend the department for anyone interested in pursuing a degree in History.
I plan to continue my education through SUNY Oneonta and have recently been accepted into its prestigious Cooperstown Graduate Program for a master’s degree in History Museum Studies. Thanks to the support, instruction, and advice of the History Department, I feel well prepared to enter graduate school. A degree in History provides students with the critical skills they will need in any career field, and I can recommend no place higher than I do SUNY Oneonta’s History Department. I will be forever grateful to the History faculty here for both the support they have given me and the skills they taught me as I take my next step in my educational career. I wish you the best of luck in the future and sincerely hope you choose to study history here at SUNY Oneonta!
I graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 2015 with a BS in History. I mainly focused my studies on Colonial American History and the American Revolution, but took courses spanning the entire discipline, and every single class I took was both engaging and worthwhile. I transferred from Georgetown, a much larger university, because I wanted to build personal relationships with my professors and make the most of my undergraduate career. Georgetown, although prestigious, was not the right fit for me. Classes were huge and many lectures were held by graduate students rather than by professors. When I decided I wanted to transfer, SUNY Oneonta became the obvious choice. It offers an overall more welcoming atmosphere than a larger university. I became a student, not just a number.
Oneonta’s history department offers professional, knowledgeable professors who genuinely care about the education of their students. Class sizes are small, allowing for personal interactions. Your professors will take the time to get to know you so they can help you become a better student and a better historian. I took a course every semester with Dr. Noorlander, who specializes in Colonial American History and was always willing to help a student in need. I took the History of Canada with Dr. Hendley, who has spent an immense amount of time in Canada, and the History of the Soviet Union with Dr. Malikov, who offered actual, firsthand accounts of time spent in Eastern Europe. My studies culminated in a senior seminar with Dr. Julie Freeman, an expert on Nazi Germany, in which I researched and wrote a thirty-page paper on Hitler’s role in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Oneonta’s history professors are among the best I’ve ever encountered and their passion and caring shine through in their teaching. Every professor I had genuinely cared about his or her students. They always offered assistance with essays or other assignments through office hours. My professors also cared on a personal level, as many of them kept in touch with me and offered academic or life advice even when I wasn’t enrolled in one of their courses.
All of my upper division history classes were very small and the professor led every discussion. A few courses had TAs, but the professor always led the class and graded every student’s work personally. I took a course with Dr. Harder that had only five students, allowing for an immense amount of discussion and personal interaction not only between my professor and me, but also between my peers and me. My senior seminar course had fewer than ten students, again maximizing learning potential. None of the history courses I took at Oneonta had more than twenty students, creating an excellent learning environment. Oneonta also rewards hard work. I received recognition for my senior seminar paper, “The Perfect Storm of National Socialism: Was Adolf Hitler Necessary?,” when I won the Redfield Essay award for a long essay. I also won the Redfield History Student award and joined Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society, for which I presented a research paper on the defeat of the Spanish Armada at one of the annual history conferences held by the organization. Oneonta’s history department rewards hard work and academic achievement and helps you connect with other history majors both at SUNY Oneonta and at other institutions.
My final semester at Oneonta I served as a Research Assistant with Dr. Beal. I, along with three other students, helped Dr. Beal with his editorial work for New York History: A Quarterly Journal. This was among the best experiences I had at Oneonta. Dr. Beal quickly became a mentor, as he helped me try to forge my plans for after graduation. The research assistantship provided a learning experience outside the classroom and gave me insight into what professional historians and editors do on a daily basis.
Oneonta instilled in me the values and skills to pursue further education. I hope to obtain a teaching certificate, and eventually a Master’s Degree, so that I can teach in a high school. I’m also considering working towards a PhD and one day becoming a college professor. No matter my path, I am confident that Oneonta has prepared me for a future in any area of history.
“In May of 2009, I graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a degree in History. As an undergraduate I took such courses as Colonial America, Black Atlantic World, Tsarist Russia, Senior Seminar, History of New York City, Slave Rebellions, and Early Modern England. In addition, I wrote a 50 page paper for Senior Thesis entitled, “We Ourselves, And those that you call husbands, are our servants”: Dutch Women in Seventeenth-Century New Netherland,” which was granted the Maynard Redfield History Essay (Long Essay) award. During my time there, the skills and knowledge I acquired from the curriculum and excellent faculty helped to foster my subsequent successes. As an undergraduate, the faculty helped to hone my writing and verbal abilities and enhanced my personal capacity to analyze and sort information, both historical and other. As a historian, I have applied such skills in daily life and in the workplace.
Since graduation, I went on to earn an MA in History Museum Studies from the prestigious Cooperstown Graduate Program, one of SUNY Oneonta’s degree programs. Consequently, I have worked at the New York State Historical Association, the Fenimore Art Museum, as an Oneonta adjunct professor, and was recently named Executive Director of the Iroquois Indian Museum located in Howes Cave, NY. The Iroquois Indian Museum contains the world’s largest collection of contemporary Iroquois art and presents the culture of the First Peoples of New York through art, archaeology, and history. My current responsibilities include oversight of the museum and staff which include its functions and programming, its research and exhibition development, its fundraising and marketing. Additional accomplishments following the solid historical foundation established at SUNY Oneonta include research for the New York State Museum in Albany, creation of numerous public exhibitions at museums in Otsego, Sullivan, and Schoharie counties about various historical topics such as 9/11, the Delaware & Hudson Canal, Iroquois Art, and the Titanic. Further, I have written several peer reviewed publications including educators guides for museums, historical journal essays about colonial Dutch women, Native Americans, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade; and presented at several conferences including the Conference on New York State History, the Underground Railroad Public History Conference, and at the International Congress of Maritime History in Ghent, Belgium.
As the current history majors proceed to earn their degrees, never doubt what proficiencies you are gathering. They include time management, reading and writing skills, or communication expertise. Take advantage of every opportunity to present your research and seek advice from professors. If you forge a solid relationship with faculty, they will be happy to write recommendations for your pursuit of higher education and career. In fact, I have kept in contact with several of my former professors and feel they are exceptional colleagues. Remember, it’s not just about what you are given at Oneonta, but of what experiences you chose to pursue. Challenge yourself…write a thesis, present at Student Research Day, join the History Club, and network with successful alumni. Best of luck in a world full of numerous ways to use your History degree and to make a difference!”
“My undergraduate college experience has been anything but ordinary. The first couple of years of my college career in another state were a disconcerting and disappointing blur. I was frankly complacent and irresponsible in my academic studies. After poor academic performances, dropping-out of college, and working odd jobs, it hit me hard that this was a miserable and certainly not a “cool” reality – I did not like it at all. The immaturity of this life-style, however, presented me with a rude and cold awakening. For the first time, I was able to truly see and my metamorphosis began. January 2012 marked the start of my transformation and growth as I took classes for three semesters at a local community college, redeeming and building myself. It was not until I transferred to SUNY Oneonta in January 2013, however, where I experienced an intense growth, both intellectually and personally.
At my previous university, it is not uncommon for the class sizes to be upwards of 200 or 300 students. This made it difficult to approach and build a sustainable relationship with my professors; I was just a number to them. Additionally, a lot of the coursework is textbook based, which does not force students to attend class or to engage themselves intellectually. While my university provided its students with an abundance of resources, it is up to the individual student to learn about and take advantage of those resources with minimal individualized assistance from staff and faculty. While I enjoyed my there, I learned that it was not a good fit for me, as I required a more intimate learning environment with professors who would actively encourage me to succeed. At SUNY Oneonta, the class sizes, on average, are a manageable 20 students, which gave me the individualized attention that I needed. Moreover, this intimate classroom setting provided me with the opportunity to build relationships with my professors and maximize my education.
While my time at SUNY Oneonta was shorter than that of most graduates, I was able to truly maximize my time with the assistance of my professors. During my first semester, and thereafter, I had the privilege of taking all of Dr. Yuriy Malikov’s classes. The first class I took with Dr. Malikov was History of Soviet Russia. Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive to take this course due to my initial lack of interest in Russian history. However, after taking this course I not only developed an interest in Russian history, but I also learned the fundamental skills of writing, which was presented in a very organized and unequivocal manner. Dr. Malikov also led my Junior and Senior Seminar courses where I learned the bulk of my historiographical skills and independent writing techniques. I also had the opportunity to study under Dr. Thomas Beal, with whom I took an Independent Study, the course Economic History of the United States: Colonial Times to 1865, and a Research Assistantship. In my Independent Study, Dr. Beal was able to truly expand my research capabilities by sending me to historical societies and archives to conduct my own research and develop my own argument based on that research, like a true historian would. Moreover, Dr. Beal taught me to think critically and objectively, while exposing me to the professional world of historians through the Research Assistantship. I was also lucky enough to take several of Dr. April Harper’s fascinating courses, The Middle Ages and the Movies, Roman Civilization, and Medieval Sexuality, as well as participate in an Independent Study with her. Dr. Harper’s enthusiastic and captivating character sets her lectures apart from others and instills in her students the drive and motivation to be successful in their education.
Apart from SUNY Oneonta’s respected faculty, I believe that getting involved in the school community was just as important. I became a member of the History Club, where I progressed to become its Treasurer and then its President. The History Club not only expanded my historical knowledge and exposure, but it also allowed me to grow personally and become more responsible. I also became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, to which I presented a paper at its Regional Conference during the Spring of 2014. Moreover, I submitted papers and won an award for the Maynard Redfield History Essay Competition. Presenting and submitting personal papers that I wrote for courses I took provided me with a sense of achievement. SUNY Oneonta provides its students with numerous opportunities to get involved and it is highly important to take advantage of those opportunities.
I came to SUNY Oneonta with minimal historical knowledge and skills. However, the combination of SUNY Oneonta’s knowledgeable professors, with the numerous opportunities to get involved within the History Department, as well as my personal drive and ambition to succeed, provided me with the perfect combination to prevail in my studies. As a result of my SUNY Oneonta degree, I was accepted at my first choice of graduate school, New York University. Despite my unsatisfactory college experience at my first university, SUNY Oneonta changed my life and I am on the path I want to be. After I achieve my Master’s degree from NYU, I plan to pursue a PhD. As a career choice, I plan to become a professor and to teach and inspire others as the professors at SUNY Oneonta have me.”
“For me, one of Oneonta’s strengths is its strong cross-disciplinary approach to knowledge and learning, especially in the social sciences. Today, this is crucial, because we inhabit such a globalized world. Daily, thanks to technology and the increased means of transportation, we interact with an array of different people, demanding that we heighten our level of awareness and knowledge of various cultures and histories if we are to be personally and nationally successful.
Initially, I started my studies at Oneonta as a sociology major, but through the encouragement of Dr. Harder and Dr. Malikov, I added history to my course work and became a dual major. It wasn’t a hard sell. I have always loved history. In fact, my interest in attending Oneonta was sparked by a history course. As graduate of a community college with an associate’s degree in human services, my initial plans were to transfer to the large university near my home. Being that the program I was applying to was very competitive, I started exploring other options at a variety of institutions. Oneonta was one of the colleges I investigated. I was so intrigued by Professor Harder’s course on the development of European masculinity that, when I was notified that I had been accepted into my initial program, I surprised everyone by declining my place and attending Oneonta instead. It was a decision that I have never regretted.
While some people may be surprised by my dual major, I see a strong connection between these two disciplines. I truly appreciated how well the history department courses meshed with the areas I was studying in sociology, greatly adding to my understanding of societies and the people who composed them. Not only did Dr. Harder’s class inform my understanding of societal trends, but so did Dr. Hendley’s course on War and Society in Modern Britain and my historiography studies led by Dr. Malikov.
Right now, I am attending SUNY Binghamton in the hope of attaining my master’s degree in social work. Ultimately, I would love to engage in social research, and I feel history has further enabled me to pursue my goals. Not only has it provided me with a context in which to place the societal problems I observe, but its study has helped me to learn and practice a different type of research. Sociological research is empirical and scientifically driven, which leaves little room for creative interpretation. This doesn’t always seem to be the case in history. For even though historical research relies on primary sources, events can still be interpreted and defended from a variety of viewpoints. I feel this discipline has broadened my approach to the situations and circumstances I observe. Another advantage of the historical training I received at Oneonta is the department’s emphasis on developing analytical writing skills. All my professors expected well-written cogent arguments to research questions, but Dr. Hendley’s excellent editorial skills, especially, helped me to improve my papers and thus, refine my ability to think critically. This skill carried over into my sociology courses, helping me to excel in that field as well.
While being a dual major was challenging with the number of courses I needed to take and the work required by two fields of study, it was a choice that I do not at all regret and I would encourage others to do the same. SUNY Oneonta, with its small class size and caring, knowledgeable professors, is an excellent choice to further one’s academic studies.”
"My name is Jennifer Cole and I graduated from SUNY Oneonta in May of 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in History. I took a wide array of courses while at SUNY Oneonta including several in English History with Dr. Matthew Hendley, German History with Dr. Julie Freeman, and American History. My senior research paper, under the supervision of Dr. Ralph Watkins, was entitled The FBI’s Destruction of the Black Panther Party. This was my first experience using primary sources as the main focus for writing a paper. We were given access to microfilm in SUNY Oneonta’s library of recently released FBI records. With dozens of rolls of film, students were able to choose from a myriad of topics on which to write. Many hours were spent sorting through the documents on the microfilm reader to compile the research necessary for this paper. This was a technique I would revisit in my graduate work.
I went on to complete a Master of Arts in History and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Albany in Albany, NY. I made the decision to pursue a dual degree program to maximize my skill set in the work place and academe – the study of history and public policy are in many ways intertwined. I believe having a historical perspective when studying public policy broadens ones understanding of current policy issues. The undergraduate study of history provided me with the necessary research and writing skill sets necessary to dive into higher level work. The rigor at the graduate level of study is a marked increase from the undergraduate level, but my experience in primary source research at SUNY Oneonta provided me a great foundation. In my graduate level history education I focused on American history, particularly New York and the post-World War I Red Scare. My Public Policy studies also focused on New York State, where my original research stemmed from a graduate assistantship in the Intergovernmental Studies Program at Rockefeller College, focusing on the success of intergovernmental agreements amongst New York State’s local governments. I completed my MA in History in May of 2010, and my MPP in April of 2012.
I have since gone on to be gainfully employed in an area outside of the traditional history-student route. As of November 2012, I obtained a position as a professional academic advisor at Excelsior College, a distance learning institution based in Albany, New York. Specifically, I work in the School of Health Sciences. While I do not have an educational or professional background in the Health Sciences I find myself exceling at my work. I attribute this largely to my educational background in the study of history. A history degree, both at the baccalaureate and graduate level provides students with valuable skills often lacking in the workplace today. This includes the ability to absorb, analyze, and apply large amounts of information. Students of history also acquire an attention to detail and policy. Finally, for a history student to be successful you must have the ability to communicate clearly, especially in writing – a most sought after skill in today’s economy. My education as a history student at SUNY Oneonta have provided me a solid foundation of employable skills that have served me especially well as I continue to work in academia. I hope to one day resume my studies and obtain a PhD in History.”
"I am forever grateful for my experiences with the Oneonta State History Department. As an Adolescent Education Social Studies major from August 2000 through May 2004, I found the History faculty to be a constant source of inspiration. They regularly modeled best teaching practices and to this very day I utilize my old course notebooks for preparation in teaching my own classes. Dr. William Simons is always in the forefront of my mind when teaching American History in my 7th and 8th grade classes. He always managed to educate and captivate his classes with fascinating historical anecdotes and inspired me to integrate cultural history into my curriculum wherever possible. Students receive a richer and fuller picture of eras gone by as a result. Throughout my own teaching career, I’ve found that making connections with students both in and outside the classroom enhances the educational process. Dr. Thomas Beal, in an effort to encourage relevant, on-topic, student and faculty interaction, served as the faculty representative to the Oneonta State History Club. As a group we would regularly meet to discuss and debate topical subjects and tour the many rich historical offerings Otsego County had to offer. Following Dr. Beal’s example, I’ve had the pleasure to chaperone educational outings everywhere from Plymouth Plantation to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
Today I am seven years into my teaching career at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, a Catholic College prep school in Schenectady, NY. I still carry with me the joy and excitement for the subject matter which my professors helped to guide and foster. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I would not be the Social Studies teacher I am today were it not for my time with the History Department at Oneonta State.”
"I entered SUNY Oneonta in 2010, as a transfer from a community college. When I came to Oneonta I could barely formulate the structure of an essay, and my idea of research was a couple of books. In my first year, I felt like I was just trying to catch up, and the history department was beyond patient and helpful. I honestly did not always give my best effort in my first year; I always had a feeling, like a shadow of disappointment, of knowing that I could do better. In my second year, the riddles of research no longer mystified me; the rate of data that I was able to map allowed me to deconstruct any ideal. The more research I conducted, the more questions I had, research made my work ethic increase exponentially, the idea of being able to extrapolate any idea in a realm of possibilities, fulfilled me. Oneonta’s history department inspires you to want to do your best, creating a powerful source of intrinsic motivation not to let them or yourself down. They wanted you to reach your potential, this makes work easy, and I dare say fun. The best part of Oneonta’s History Department is their staff; they are passionate workers that project the ideals of what they love, becoming great conductors of the transfer of knowledge. Each history professor I had at Oneonta took their own unique style of displaying their classes, and it allowed the creativity of students to flourish. Just a few would be Dr. Hendley’s ability to bring classes into a state of wonder, to expand our minds into the creativity of different perceptions, Dr. Freeman’s skill to make students laugh and learn complex material at ease, and Dr. Fortin’s comprehension to inspire and perpetuate a better degree of confidence in your abilities as a historian. They created a passion, an ethic that by the end of my last fall semester, I was starting on research projects before classes even began.
In my senior year I was perplexed by the future; thinking if I should become a teacher, historian, or a lawyer. Dr. Hendley’s Senior Seminar class opened up my eyes to librarianship, and guided me to communicate with the very helpful staff at Milne Library. I was able to interview, and shadow librarians that gave me a plethora of data, including statistics on the field, advice, and even a contact that was currently going for a Library Science Masters. This data made me feel very confident in the direction I was going, and allowed my entrance into the Master’s Program into Library Science at Pratt Institute in 2013. In my first semester at Pratt, the skills I learned as an Oneonta history major readily transitioned into those of Library Science. There were plenty of essays, discussions, and presentations, but I was never intimidated, if anything, I was eager. With writing as my strength, I used the same ethic that made me a better writer to become a better presenter. I did presentations and papers on GNU/Linux, Radical Cataloging, and Cyborg Anthropology. So far, I have been told that my writing skills are on par with being published and that my presentations are compelling and exuberant. Students at Pratt have been impressed with my presentations, humorously calling them intimidating, constantly over achieving, and even intense! I think that this field needs history majors with drive and passion. I can never thank the Oneonta History Department enough; to me they stand for Nietzsche’s theory, that ‘man is a bridge, not an end’.”
"I am a proud member of the SUNY Oneonta class of 1979, graduating with a BA in American History. I went on to study law at Albany Law School of Union University and have practiced as an attorney for more than 30 years, including challenging jobs as a prosecutor in the Bronx District Attorney's Office, a litigator with the New York Power Authority and an in-house counsel specializing in employment issues at Macy's, Inc. Today, I am one of about 50 Macy's lawyers nationwide, supporting a Fortune 100 company, with 850 stores and more than 175,000 employees. My office is located in midtown Manhattan and, for the first twelve years, my office was upstairs of the main and iconic department store on 34th Street. Upon reflection, I credit my undergraduate experience as an integral foundational piece of my professional success. I fondly remember the History Department, with its interesting courses and passionate faculty. While my professors have all retired, I give them credit for helping me develop my research and writing skills, along with engaging and challenging my critical and analytical thinking. Learning to analyze and understand the dynamic underpinnings of various civilizations, key leaders and historical movements, was extremely helpful in understanding the evolution and development of common and constitutional law. Some of my favorite classes included History of Post World War II Through the Vietnam War with Professor Iverson, History of New York State with Professor Fink and History of the Holocaust with Professor Goodman. It amazes me that almost 35 years after taking those courses, I can still see and hear in my mind those instructors and the key historical issues they taught. Oneonta was (and remains) a terrific place to go to college. I fondly remember the beauty of Otsego County, sitting at the foothills of the Catskill Mountain range, the friendly student body, passionate, engaging and approachable faculty, along with a modern and manageably sized campus. SUNY Oneonta was the place where I "grew up", made lifetime friendships and met my wife. It also happens that SUNY Oneonta was and remains one of the best academic values in the Northeast. In fact, Kiplinger's Finance Magazine has named SUNY Oneonta one of the top 100 best values in public colleges for six consecutive years. I never doubted my choice of attending SUNY Oneonta. If I had to do it all over again, I would again choose SUNY Oneonta."
“My name is Emily Hunter and I am a history graduate of SUNY Oneonta. Over the course of the last three years, I had the opportunity to take a wide range of wonderful courses in American, European, and World history with professors who are deeply committed to their dual roles as researchers and educators. In many of my college history classes, I learned to take my researching, writing, and critical thinking skills to a new level with the guidance of attentive professors who were extremely generous with their time and insights. In addition to its wonderful courses, the history department also directs an internship program which places SUNY Oneonta students in a variety of history-related venues. Through the internship program, I was able to work in the special collections departments of two local libraries: the New York State Historical Association Library and our college’s Milne Library. When I was a senior at Cooperstown High School, I chose to apply to SUNY Oneonta because I wanted to attend an academically strong university in beautiful upstate New York; the college’s outstanding history program was an additional important factor that convinced me that this school was the right fit for me. Three years later, I am happy to say that I made the right decision and that SUNY Oneonta and the history program have actually exceeded my high expectations. Whenever I contemplate my aspirations for the future, I feel very grateful for the wonderful foundation that my college history courses and professors have given me. My experience in SUNY Oneonta’s history program has been thoroughly enjoyable and has given me the skills, perspective, and confidence that I will need to pursue the next level of my history career. I recently finished my first semester as a graduate student at UMass-Amherst. I am enjoying my coursework and appreciate how well my experiences in the history department at SUNY Oneonta prepared me for graduate school."
“I graduated from SUNY Oneonta in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in History and Philosophy. I entered Oneonta as a transfer student from a small community college located in my hometown and was not sure what to expect. However, my anxiety was quickly abated by my experiences there. I found the faculty to be extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and approachable. They are the kind of people that will go out of their way to say hello, always willing to answer my questions or help with research. I came to Oneonta to develop skills in history that would allow me to turn my love for history into a career. Oneonta’s History department offered a top-notch degree program with top-notch faculty members. The department’s course offerings were both plentiful and interesting. My Senior Seminar experience was especially exceptional. During the class I was able to conduct archival research for my seminar paper. I also really loved the department’s ability to offer “special topic classes.” These classes are more specialized and offer students an insight into their professors’ research interests. Two of my favorite history classes at Oneonta were special topic classes. In the spring of 2011, for example, I took Baltic Field Experience. In this class I learned the history of the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and was offered the chance to go on a two-week study abroad trip to Lithuania. I found it exceptionally interesting to see the culture and history of Lithuania first hand after learning its history. I would suggest this class to anyone that has the opportunity. During my senior year I was also a Teaching Assistant for a class on the History of the French Revolution and Napoleon. I assisted the professor with the development and implementation of the course. This experience was very fulfilling as I learned some of the ins-and-outs of being an historian, and developed my personal skills as well as my knowledge of the subject matter during weekly office hours with students. The professor was very open to my suggestions and always willing to have a conversation about the class. This experience helped me prepare for a future career in history by advancing my oral, research, and tutoring skills. After graduating from SUNY Oneonta I went on to pursue an MA in History at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. I feel extremely well prepared for graduate school.”
“I graduated from SUNY Oneonta with my Bachelor of Science in History in May 2010. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to study at Oneonta after a long period of time out of school. I came to the Oneonta campus with the goal of taking up my love of history in a more serious manner and with plans of making a career of it. During my time there, I was amazed at the quality of the history faculty and diversity of subject matter available through the SUNY Oneonta Department of History. As a result of my degree earned, I am now pursuing a Masters degree in Medieval History at University College Dublin, Ireland. The focus of my research is Norman Italy, particularly the conquest period that occurred from the mid to late Eleventh Century. After completing my MA I hope to enter into PhD level study and to continue in this research area. I plan to eventually teach history at the college or university level, and my experiences at Oneonta were instrumental in helping me to get started on my way towards this goal. During my time at SUNY Oneonta, I had the pleasure of studying under numerous professors in the Department of History and took courses ranging from American, Ancient Middle Eastern, Ancient European, Asian, British, Canadian, Latin American, Medieval and Russian history. I found the entire history faculty at SUNY Oneonta to be helpful, engaging, and always willing to take time to give advice on issues ranging from essay assignments to advice on graduate schools and the options that were available.”
“During my time as a History major at SUNY Oneonta between 2002 and 2006, I took several history classes including history of New York City, history of Slavery, Colonial and Modern Latin American history, and Borderlands history. These classes showed me that history was much more than names and dates. They taught me to think critically and analytically, instructing me in the craft of argumentative writing. From my first year at Oneonta, professors encouraged me to question the obvious and created classroom environments that fostered thoughtful discussions. Professors at SUNY Oneonta also helped me delve into history outside the classroom. The summer after my sophomore year, I obtained a summer internship with the Colonial Albany Project where I worked with primary sources. The next fall I became a teaching assistant for a Colonial Latin American class, where I got experience working with students. The next summer, I won a fellowship at the Gilder Lehrman Institute for Historical Studies and spent eight weeks in New York City conducting research in some of the city’s premier libraries and archives. During my senior year, I became profoundly grateful for the one-on-one attention that History majors receive at Oneonta in regard to writing grant proposals, going over sources, and preparing a senior thesis. During that time, I researched over 1200 police indictments and wrote a thesis exploring the intersections of economic fluctuations, violent crimes and concepts of masculinity in New York City between 1800 and 1860. The skills I learned at Oneonta served me well when I entered the University of Texas’ number one ranked Ph.D. program in Latin American history. Since the fall of 2006, I have researched a variety of topics such as bestiality in Colonial Mexico, masculinity among Puerto Rican immigrants to NYC, and the professionalization of the Buenos Aires police force. I am currently planning a research trip to Argentina to complete my dissertation research. After graduation, I will become a professor and try to instil in my students the same love for history that SUNY Oneonta gave me.”
“I recently had the privilege of returning to SUNY Oneonta. I was invited to speak as the keynote for the Phi Alpha Theta New York Upper Regional Conference, and in doing so, given the opportunity to reflect on my time at Oneonta and how it led me to where I am now. The talk I gave was entitled, ‘History Major to History PhD: Pursuing Historical Studies from Undergraduate to Graduate School’.
I attribute the success I had in graduate school to the education I received at SUNY Oneonta. In particular, the faculty served as irreplaceable role models and advisors. Their passionate teaching styles and enjoyment of their subjects encouraged me to continue in academia. To this day I am still in touch with members of Oneonta’s history department, and still receive the same support that I did when I was an undergraduate. I know that it was my time at Oneonta that led me to achieve so much in the field of history. Standing in front of the undergraduate delegates at the Phi Alpha Theta Conference I was thrilled to be able to share my experiences and give advice on attending graduate school. It was all the more meaningful to present this paper at the very institution that inspired me to become a historian.”