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History

Department Overview

Why Study History?

  • A 2021 study concluded that a liberal arts education "is what will best equip students with the adaptability and fortitude to navigate the road ahead." (Lynn Pasquerella, President, Association of American Colleges and Universities)
  • To master an academic methodology that allows you to think critically about the past and analyze the political problems of the contemporary world.
  • To wrestle with the complex questions of "how" and "why" changes in the human experience occur over time.
  • To embark on an intellectual endeavor that provides depth and breadth to your courses in other disciplines and is crucial to a liberal arts education.
  • The study of history offers the largest comparative framework possible: all human societies over all time. More importantly, historical inquiry foregrounds the actual complexity of the human experience without the restrictive theories favored in much of the Social Sciences.
  • To develop the intellectual and analytical skills that you will need for life after college.

Fall 2021 Courses

A smoking prevention poster from Mexico, where cigarettes stand in for candles in a scene with a casket.

HIST 067T. Digging Through the Big U.S. Tobacco Archives: Public Health, Corporate Deception, and Cigarette Smoking in Modern Latin America aims to research American tobacco corporations’ efforts to expand cigarette consumption and confront the recent medicalization of the cigarette smoking habit worldwide.

Political cartoon depicting Napoleon hanging onto a two-headed eagle with a broken sword falling beneath him over his empire.

HIST 003A. Modern Europe, 1789 to 1918: Revolutionaries, Citizens, and Subjects in Europe's Long 19th Century surveys European history from the French Revolution to the aftermath of World War I, exploring topics such as empire, nationalism, revolution, and industrialization.

Political cartoon of an eagle with its feet planted in the US and its wings outstretching the globe, captioned "Ten thousand miles from tip to tip.—Philadelphia Press"

HIST 005B. Modern American History is an introductory survey of U.S. society, culture, and politics from Reconstruction to the present. 

Smoking prevention from the US, but in Spanish, where a rooster is pictured smoking but hunched over and seemingly unhealthy.

HIST 067T. Digging Through the Big U.S. Tobacco Archives: Public Health, Corporate Deception, and Cigarette Smoking in Modern Latin America aims to research American tobacco corporations’ efforts to expand cigarette consumption and confront the recent medicalization of the cigarette smoking habit worldwide.

An image of a commune. Flags are tattered but flown in the dilapidated streets flanked by buildings in a smoky scene.

HIST 003A. Modern Europe, 1789 to 1918: Revolutionaries, Citizens, and Subjects in Europe's Long 19th Century surveys European history from the French Revolution to the aftermath of World War I, exploring topics such as empire, nationalism, revolution, and industrialization.

MLK marching peacefully with other leaders, with a placard behind them reading, "If we kill men with whom shall we live" in both English and Vietnamese.

HIST 005B Modern American History is an introductory survey of U.S. society, culture, and politics from Reconstruction to the present. 

HIST 067T. Digging Through the Big U.S. Tobacco Archives: Public Health, Corporate Deception, and Cigarette Smoking in Modern Latin America aims to research American tobacco corporations’ efforts to expand cigarette consumption and confront the recent medicalization of the cigarette smoking habit worldwide.

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Indian Country: A History of Land 1790-Present

The student-run course organized by Daniel Orr '16 and overseen by Professor Bruce Dorsey, Indigenous Communities and the Lands They Belong To (HIST099SR) created a website documenting the allotment of tribal lands in the United States with help from Nabil Kayshap in the library. The website is now housed in Swarthmore's digital scholarship collection online.

View the website