Monday, February 27, 2012

A Word From One of Our Graduating Seniors: Rachel Rodriguez (Class of 2012)

Before I came to Saint Bonaventure, I had put little thought into my future. I was happy being a teenager and felt no need to make any long-term plans. My father told me I would be going to college and pressed me to consider what I wanted until I finally came up with a vague decision: I would go to college to study history. History was something in which I always succeeded, and it was the only subject in high school that truly interested me. This may sound irrelevant, but I believe it is important to understand my mindset at that time in order to appreciate the impact Saint Bonaventure's history department has had on me.
As a freshman I thoroughly enjoyed my history classes. During my first semester, I took a survey class on American history as well as a course on Pan-Africanism. My second semester included more survey classes, and I continued to enjoy my studies. I did very well in these courses and learned a great deal from them.
During my sophomore year, I made an impulsive decision and changed my major to International Studies. I have always felt a yearning to help others, and I believed studying International Studies would be a great way to prepare me to do so. However, as I took these courses I realized how little they interested me, and how much I longed to study history again. Fortunately for me, my adviser for International Studies, Dr. Joel Horowitz, is also a history professor!
I changed my major once more, back to history, and felt very confident with the decision. At this point, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and began to feel as if I needed to make the decision immediately. I made many visits to Dr. Horowitz's office claiming I had finally found the answer. But then I would leave, and not ten minutes later find I was questioning my goals once again. Something I deeply appreciate to this day is that each time I burst into his office with these triumphant proclamations, Dr. Horowitz treated my ideas as if I had finally found the answer and advised me regarding the ways that I could accomplish the goals I had set out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Museum Director Steve Appleby Speaks to History Club Students

On the evening of Tuesday November 15, 2011, Steve Appleby, Director of the Eldred World War II Museum in Eldred, PA spoke to students and others, around twenty in total, weaving his experiences as director of the Museum with his time serving in the military. Steve focused on the unique personal stories behind each artifact and vividly portrayed the human face of history. Sparked by Steve's talk, several History Club students have since then visited the Museum and commented upon the wealth of resources available there in the form of books and material culture for student historians to utilize for research projects.

SBU History Newsletter no. 7 (Year 17)

YEAR 17, NO. 7
Shrine of St. Joseph
The two pictures above show the Shrine of St. Joseph, which is located in woods behind St. Francis Hall. This shrine was erected more than a half century ago by seminarians of Christ the King Seminary (which later became St. Francis Hall). The shrine was built at the bottom of a former oil tank storage lot. The five-foot statue of St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus was donated by Rev. Joseph A. Burke, Bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo. Nowadays the shrine is difficult to find in the dense shrubbery. The statue was removed and put in storage. Perhaps when spring arrives adventurous students will rediscover this forgotten part of our history.

Summer Internships
Thanks to a generous grant from the university, the Department of History will be able to provide some financial support to students who wish to have summer internships getting hands-on experience in some history-related activity. Student interns will be able to do this work somewhere in or near their hometowns. This could be in a local historical society, museum, state park, or other such place. If you are interested in such an internship, you might wish to contact organizations near your homes over midterm break. For more information, contact me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, to see a temporary exhibition on slave life at Thomas Jefferson's plantation Monticello. For this exhibition, the museum collaborated with curators of the future National Museum of African American History and Culture (the museum will open on the National Mall in 2015). The most interesting part of the exhibition was the section where the visitor could see the lives of the most important slave families on the plantation, including the Hemings. It was interesting to see objects from their daily lives, like ceramic tableware, drinkware, cooking pots and pans, and more personal items like toothbrushes, combs, and jewels. The most striking items definitely were the headstone of Priscilla Hemming, two sets of shackles used during the transatlantic slave trade, and a bill of sale for a slave girl. A section of the exhibition focused on an oral history project that the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello began in the 1990s to trace descendants of Jefferson's slaves. Be sure to go see it if you happen to be in DC before October 14, 2012!