Today is:

History Department

SUNY Oneonta
225 Netzer Admin Building
Ravine Parkway
Oneonta, NY 13820

Phone: (607) 436-3326
Fax: (607) 436-2689


School Counselors



M Borger

Jennifer Cole (SUNY Oneonta History graduate, 2004. Professional academic advisor at Excelsior College)

"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.” 


M Borger

Ritch Harrigan (SUNY Oneonta Adolescent Education Social Studies graduate, 2004. Social Studies teacher at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons school, Schenectady, NY)

"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.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned from my History professors is that History itself is not simply rote memorization and regurgitation of names, dates, and facts.  It is in reality a series of stories from many perspectives that bring notable figures and entire eras to life. Each day when I work with my Middle and High School students, it's this principle that stays with me: work to bring history alive. For instance, I only began to understand the human cost of the World War I while taking Dr. Matthew Hendley’s War and Society in Great Britain course. In addition to his insightful lectures, Dr. Hendley assigned the Robert Graves classic, Goodbye to All That and Vera Brittain’s powerful Testament of Youth as course readings. I regularly read excerpts from those books to my own students and have often found them to be as affected as I was when experiencing those works for the first time.

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.”


M Borger

Tim Furlow (SUNY Oneonta History graduate, 2013. MA student in Library Science at Pratt Institute)

"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’.”  


M Borger

Mitchell F. Borger (SUNY Oneonta History graduate, 1979. Vice President/Asst. General Counsel at Macy's, Inc.)

"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."



Emily Hunter (SUNY Oneonta History graduate, 2013. MA student in History and Library Science at University of Massachusetts at Amherst)

“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."



Ethan Horgan (SUNY Oneonta History and Philosophy graduate, 2012. History MA Student at the University at Buffalo, SUNY)

“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.”



Toby Smith (SUNY Oneonta History graduate, 2010. History MA student at University College Dublin, Ireland)

“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.”



Junadrea Bates (SUNY Oneonta History graduate, 2006. History PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin)

“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.”


Meagan Butler (SUNY Oneonta History graduate, 2008. History PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, Scotland)

“I am currently a postgraduate student studying at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where I am working towards an MSc in Social History. I felt well prepared for studying in another country from my fours years at SUNY Oneonta. I declared a major in History by the end of my freshman year and spent the remaining three years taking as many history classes as I could. The variety of courses allowed me to figure out my favorite subject, which I ultimately realized was British history. The two most beneficial courses I took at Oneonta were the Junior and Senior seminars, whose topics were historiography, and imperialism and popular culture in Victorian Britain. Junior seminar was a skills course to teach students the importance of historiography and source analysis. For my senior seminar we had to write a critical review essay, give lecture presentations, and write our senior thesis. My final product, which focussed on education in imperial Britain, was the culmination of the Junior and Senior seminar. This paper became my main writing sample for graduate school applications.

            Since being in graduate school I have applied what I learned from my seminar classes at SUNY Oneonta: Reading historical texts critically, whether primary or secondary, and applying and citing historiography. Most importantly the seminar classes from Oneonta introduced me to an alternative form of education: Sitting around a table and having open discussions on the readings. I enjoyed history so much at SUNY Oneonta that it encouraged me to continue studying it in graduate school. Everything I have learned since supports my decision.”