Friday, November 21, 2014

Remembering the History Club's Ghost Tour on Halloween (by Harrison Leone)

A tingle down your spine. A disturbing and unshakeable sense of being watched. A slammed window, a knock on the door, the patter of footsteps down an empty hallway; probably a drunk roommate, but possibly…a ghost, a phantom or a spirit of the undead.

As with any 150 year old institution that is populated by rickety buildings and flanked by dark forests, St. Bonaventure has its fair share of ghost stories. The history club, in the spirit of the Halloween season, hosted a ghost tour to hear the tales of the school’s most famous purported paranormal phenomenon. The tour was guided by the wonderful Chris Brown, the Director of First-Year Experience and Orientation, who shared his unparalleled knowledge of St. Bonaventure history, lore and legend with the nearly forty students and faculty in attendance.

Mr. Brown regaled the group with some of Bonaventure’s most famous tales of terror, including the green light of De La Roche, the Dev Runner and, of course, the famous 5th Dev ghost. According to legend, the green light, which supposedly can be seen in the third floor windows of De La Roche, is the tortured spirit of a student who perished in a fire while attempting to finish a research project. The student is now condemned to eternity in his laboratory, working on his assignment until the end of time. The Dev Runner, as anyone who has lived or spent time in Deverux Hall, is the name given to phantom footsteps heard in the cavernous corridors of St. Bonaventure’s oldest dormitory. The ghost of 5th Dev has its origins in the period when the floor was opened for student housing. The supernatural happenings on this famous floor are related to an alleged “black mass” performed by some of the students in an attempt to summon some sort of dark, occult power.

Brown was skeptical of these alleged ghost stories and noted that these stories can all be explained through unremarkable events, such as creaky floors, leaky faucets, and overactive student imaginations. He also pointed out that, while some of the school’s legends of ghosts and ghouls have basis in fact, others are either complete fabrications or cases of misdiagnosis. The stories surrounding the grotto, for instance, are total fiction, creations of bored orientation leaders to scare impressionable freshmen (Even knowing this, I still do not think I want to be near the grotto at night). The same is true of the various iterations of the “floating mask” story of a student having a nightmare of an evil mask and finding that same mask on the wall of her dorm: an eerie story, one good for spooking new arrivals, but totally apocryphal.

The fall semester is coming to a close, and the nights get deeper and longer every passing day. As you head home for Thanksgiving, stress through finals, and pack up for the hibernation period of winter break, keep your ear to the ground and be wary of vacant hallways. Halloween may be over, but ghosts never sleep. If they’re real, that is.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dennis Frank, Jason Damon, and Phillip Payne at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference

Jason Presenting

Dennis Frank, Jason Damon, and Phillip Payne presented “St. Bonaventure Cemetery: Introducing History Students to GIS” at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference.  The theme of the conference was Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Faculty Research.  The three discussed the rewards and challenges of introducing GIS into a class from the perspective of archivist, students, and faculty.  During the spring 2014 semester students enrolled in History 419:  Digital History and Archival Practices worked on a GIS map of the St. Bonaventure cemetery.  Jason continues to work on the project this semester for the university archives.

Snow Days without Snow (sort of)

Students in my classes have gotten a treat.  I live close to Buffalo and so have been hit with the big storm making the news, even as SBU has seen very little snow.  The result is snow days for my students - without the snow.  Meanwhile, I'm snowed in.  Here are pictures from my front window and my side window.

This is the street in front of my house. 

This is my side yard.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dr. Marinari and Dr. Payne Accepted for Project on Revising the History Major

The American Historical Association, the largest professional organization in the United States devoted to the study and promotion of history and historical thinking, just selected Dr. Marinari and Dr. Payne to participate in the AHA Tuning Project for the History Major. The project represents a nationwide, faculty-led initiative to reimagine the history major and to redefine the skills and knowledge students should have by the end of their history program. To do this, the AHA will convene accomplished history faculty from across the country at its annual meeting in New York City in January 2015 to attend a workshop on undergraduate teaching and to begin "to develop common language that communicates to a broad audience the significance and value of a history degree."

Friday, November 14, 2014

History Workshops Continue

With papers due now and finals around the corner, the History Club and Friedsam Library will continue holding sessions to talk about doing well in history classes.

If you want to talk history, and history assignments, with the History Club go to the The Lower Level Seminar Room on Mondays and Thursdays from 8:00-10:00 p.m. starting Monday, November 17 (next Monday) through Thursday, December 4 (the day before the last day of classes).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Upcoming History Club Meeting

Join the History Club at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, in the Plassmann Lounge. The group will discuss future plans for activities, among other items. All are welcome, you need not be a history major!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

History Workshop

Want help with that history paper? How about some tips on preparing for an essay test? How do you figure out what is important in preparing for the final? What does the professor want you to take away from the reading? The History Club and Friedsam Library are hosting a workshop for all students enrolled in history courses to answer these questions and more. Bring your questions and concerns about doing well in a history class to the downstairs Instruction Lab at 8 p.m. Thursday night, Nov. 13. Librarians and history majors will be on hand to offer tips, strategies, and advice.

If you have a particular topic or a suggestion for the workshop email Shannon Conheady (, Alex McCuminsky (, or Harrison Leone (