Monday, December 29, 2014

The Importance of the Humanities

The Washington Post just published an opinion piece on the importance of valuing the humanities during a time when everyone is emphasizing STEM fields. It's titled: "We’re way too obsessed with pushing science and math on our kids." Click here to read it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Murray Scholar Joseph Pinter on his Award

Rick Reilly spoke for the entire audience during his speech at Santa Anita Racetrack.

“Being the next Jim Murray?” Reilly, of ESPN, asked. “That’s like saying, ‘Tiger –– meet my sister. Shaq –– you shoot the technical. Donald Sterling is hosting the Kwanzaa party.’

“You can’t just replace Jim Murray.”

Reilly accepted the Great Ones Award from the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation (JMMF), and brought the room to laughter with his opening line at the JMMF dinner in October.


While Reilly’s remarks were slightly off color –– he’s never been one to shy away from those –– they are completely true. No one can call himself or herself the next Jim Murray.

Murray’s style of writing, with humor, sarcasm and wit, will be tough for any columnist to replicate.

He was the voice of his readers, the speaker for the community.

Fortunately though, every year a handful of journalism students from across the country can call themselves the next class of Murray Scholars.

This year, that included myself. It took days to actually set in that I had won one of the five scholarships. I thought the chances of my essay being selected over students from bigger journalism schools were too slim to even consider.

I wrote my column on Bill Swan, chairman of the board of trustees during the 2003 basketball scandal. I was certain the judges would choose a different entry.

I was wrong.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Joseph Pinter's Investigative Journalism

History Major Joseph Pinter just published his fourth and last blog post on the connection between St. Bonaventure University's enrollment problems and the population loss in all eight WNY counties. The post also discusses the projected decline in high school graduates in those counties through 2019. Click here to read his post!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Internship Opportunity with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

The Buffalo office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is looking for Winter/Spring 2014 interns. As an intern in her office, interns would support staff with constituent outreach and advocacy events, participate in meetings with community leaders and organizations, help to monitor daily regional news as well as advocate on behalf of Buffalo for the Senator. Students can also apply for college credit. If you are interested in applying for this program, please email Tariq A. Zahran at<> with a copy of your resume, cover letter and letter of recommendation by January 5th 2014.

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.

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 (

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

History Major Dan Leopold Reports on His Visit to the Theodore Roosevelt Inauguration National Historic Site

Over fall break, while at home in Buffalo, I was able to visit one of the most impressive, yet overlooked sites in the area’s local history. The Theodore Roosevelt Inauguration National Historic Site is tucked right into one of Buffalo’s busiest and most historic streets, Delaware Avenue, but many people, including myself, have ignored the building on their commute to and from downtown. Because of its immense relevance to American history, however, I decided I had to stop in.

The outside of the building is ornate and well designed, yet a guide later pointed out that publications like The New York Times reported the mansion as “modest” when covering Roosevelt’s inauguration. Keeping in mind that the stretch of Delaware where the museum was located is nicknamed “Millionaire’s Row”, the house certainly paled in size to the other mansions surrounding it. While this certainly contributed to it being overlooked, it did not diminish the history contained on the site.

The museum begins with a room dedicated to exploring the Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo in 1901, where President McKinley was shot. Buffalo was one of the largest cities in the United States at the time, and millions of people flocked to see this version of the World’s Fair, where exotic foods and new technology were flaunted. This was the first occasion a city used electric lighting to illuminate its streets, and people were so impressed that Buffalo was given the moniker “The City of Light” after Paris. This begin room in the museum captures the whimsy and innovation of the Exposition, offering exhibits on new technology of the time and the type of cultural items on display.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Congratulations to Joseph Pinter!

Joseph Pinter, a double major in history and journalism and mass communication, just became St. Bonaventure's 11th Murray Scholar after participating in the organization's annual nationwide essay contest. To read more about his award, please click here. Congratulations, Joe!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Registration Time is Here!

Starting this week, students at Bonaventure will be able to enroll in classes for the spring semester of 2015. The history department is offering several courses that might be of interest to students, including courses on the Great Depression (Dr. Payne), the Holocaust (Dr. Marinari), the U.S. and the Caribbean (Dr. Horowitz), African American History (Dr. Robbins), and Imperial China (Mr. Dalton). Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Strategic Choice by Incoming History Freshman Aaron Phillips

Although born in Rochester, I grew up in Cheektowaga, New York, a small suburb just outside Buffalo. For as long as I can remember I have been involved in some type of athletic activity but that never strained my focus in the classroom. I knew that without the grades I would not be able to participate in the extra-curricular activities that I had created a bond with at such a young age. 

 My competitive attitude is one of the traits that many would say best defines me. While that started on a field or a court somewhere, it quickly worked its way to the classroom. History intrigued me from day one in the lowest level of my education and I realized that I was interested in the history of anything around me. I even became interested in the previous years of the Buffalo Bills and for someone who grew up in Buffalo that is a very tough topic.

For the most part everyone involved in the field of history, or students of history have a favorite type or time period. I am no different, however my reasoning is. A majority will say that they are into the conflicts or the politics, and there is nothing wrong with those answers. For me though, it has always been the strategy; why people or countries do what they did whether it was in a war or a scandal.

My choice to attend St. Bonaventure did not entirely have to do with academics. I was recruited to play baseball and after seeing the campus I was convinced. I am still unsure if I want to become a teacher or go to law school in the future but a history degree will help either way. It has been a dream of mine to play college baseball and study a topic so intriguing for a long time and now it is finally a reality.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Report Finds U.S. History Highest Earners in Humanities

From the AHA blog comes this story, "New Report Finds U. S. History Majors Highest Earners in Humanites." There is also a breakdown of U. S. History majors careers, with Management, Sales, and Education topping the list. The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interactive graph with a more refined breakdown of majors and careers. If you want to read the full report, you can find it here.

At Bonas history majors can go into our secondary ed program or explore career options with internships or in our public and digital history classes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The History Club's Trip to Mumford (by Harrison Leone)

What do Lucifer’s hoof-print, a horse treadmill and a 30-run baseball game have in common? They can all be found at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, New York, and the history club was lucky enough to see all three.

The club journeyed to the sprawling living history museum just outside of Rochester for this semester’s trip, having gone to the Teddy Roosevelt National Historic Site last fall and to the World War 2 museum in Eldred in the spring. While both of those trips were fun and informative, the Genesee Country Village gave us the opportunity to step inside the lives of 19th century villagers and settlers.

History came alive as we made our way through the Village’s three different eras: the Pioneer days, Antebellum New York and the Turn of the Century Village. Each had its own distinct charm, whether it was the hard-scrabble self-reliance of boiling and dying your own thread with the Pioneers, perusing a 1830s general store or the gaiety of gloveless baseball games.

The history club was lucky enough to see the Village at harvest time, when tents packed to the brim with homemade jams, jellies and honey spreads were dotted among the historical buildings. Corn was being threshed and ground in the town square (hence the horse treadmill), and mouth-wateringly fresh New York apples were being pressed into buckets full of frothing apple cider. The smell of woodstoves burning mixed enchantingly with the cool October wind to let all at the Village that day know that fall had most certainly arrived.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jason Damon reports on His Internship

This past summer, I was blessed to serve as an intern for the Knights of Columbus Office of Public Policy. It was an amazing experience, and one that I’m very grateful for.

As a Policy Intern, my job was actually pretty varied. There was a larger project I worked on for about half my time, I was able to meet with legislatures to discuss various issues and bills, and I was given a lot of freedom to attend different lectures and luncheons hosted around the capital.

I was told by my coworkers that things really slow down in the summer; I can’t imagine what it looks like outside of it then! Being in the middle of all the action was incredible, and for me at least it was pretty constant. I both lived and worked in Brookland, which is in the Northeast section of the city, but went to the Capital at least once a week to meet with legislatures or other groups and to formulate responses to issues that had recently arisen. I worked at the Pope St. John Paul II National Shrine, which was cool in and of itself since they were putting the finishing touches on a new exhibit on his life and teachings; I was able to even give a little of my input on the inspiring display, which was completed shortly before I left. I recommend that anyone going to the area check it out, regardless of personal faith because the man had such a huge influence on our world even today. On the weekends I traveled around the city a lot and frequented places like the National Mall and Old Town. The entire experience was amazing and being a political science and history major, I really got a lot out of residing in the center of American politics (I almost quite literally bumped elbows with Senators Marco Rubio, Roy Blount and Tim Scott and personally met and talked with Senator Bob Casey among other politicians and interest group leaders) and a place with so much history.

My internship was truly life-changing; I got to see the inner workings of the political process as well as meet a lot of fascinating people. I still keep in touch with my coworkers and keep an eye on political events that I may, in my own (very) small way, have influenced.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

More From One of Our Incoming Freshmen: Carli Lembicz

I am a hardworking individual with substantial dreams for my future. Each step in my life and each moment that passes, makes me who I am. Every adventure I have encountered, good or bad, happy or sad, makes me stronger. Each passing minute is a new experience for me and allows me to grow into the person I want to become. Day by day I take a new step in life towards my future goals. Entering college was an enormous step for me, but I am ready to learn and process new information that will aid me to my dreams.

So, who am I, really? My name is Carli Lembicz and I am currently seventeen years old. I was born on September 24, 1996 and grew up in the small village of Franklinville, New York. I have one older brother and I live with him and my dad. To most people, I come off as the quiet type-which can be true because I am shy-but once you get to know me and I am comfortable, I am very talkative and outgoing, I am presently a freshman here at St. Bonaventure University, majoring in history. As I stated before, I live in a small town which is about a twenty minute drive from Bonaventure; so the plus side for me is that I am able to live at home and commute to class every day. Now, you may wonder why I chose to major in history. To answer that in the best way possible, I would have to start with the fact that I had a wonderful history teacher my senior year of high school. He made the class interesting and we read many books, including my favorites Jews without Money and Manchild in the Promised Land. I took American History through a Syracuse University program that my school offered and I basically fell in love with it. I find history so fascinating due to the fact that we learn about people and what they did, how they thought, and why they did what they did. As a result, I decided to study history to acquire more knowledge in the field. With a degree in history, my next step after college will be to attend law school. My goal is to become a corporate lawyer and I believe with a history degree, I will be able to achieve this dream due to the fact that many history majors work in the corporate field.

Overall, I am an individual who loves history and plans to work my hardest in college to achieve my future goals. History is such a great field to study because of the many changes that have taken place throughout the years. I find it extremely interesting to learn about historical trends of dress, culture, and mannerisms and compare them to the present because it is just amazing how much things change. As a freshman I can honestly say that I am ready to learn and work twice as hard as before in this new chapter of my life. I cannot wait to learn what my future history classes are waiting to teach me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spring Offerings

Soon enough it will be time to sign up for Spring Classes.  The History Department is offering a good selection of courses.  In addition to our usual survey courses in United States and European History, we will be offering specialized courses that include The Holocaust, The US and Caribbean, African American History, The Great Depression, World History since 1450, and Imperial China.  As always, history internships are available.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

History Club Trip

The History Club will be going to the Genesee Country Village and Museum (aka Mumford Historic Village) at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct.4. If you are a member of the History Club and would like to go, you need to fill out the online SBU waiver form and emergency travel information. If you have not yet received this information, please email Alex McCumiskey for more information.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Congratulations to Jason Damon!

After a very competitive selection process, CPRC selected Jason Damon, a history and political science major, as one of this year’s InternSpotlight candidates. Jason Damon was a Policy Intern for the Knights of Columbus Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. Congratulations!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More from One of Our Incoming Freshmen: Eric Dawson

My name is Eric Dawson and I have always had an infatuation with history. My love for history started in elementary school when we were learning about the pilgrims in first grade. I found it to be extremely interesting and ever since then I have always tried to learn more and more about history. Originally I wanted to go to college for computer science and I was looking at many schools for that. My junior year teacher was really the reason why I changed my mind. Although I had always enjoyed history, most of the teachers made their classes really dry, so I never considered it to be something I would want do in college. My junior year teacher made learning history very easy and enjoyable. A combination of this and a growing distaste for computer science, I decided to enter college as a history major. As far as choosing Bonaventure as a school, many factors went into consideration. First of all, Bonaventure has a very extensive alumni community that could help me find a job easily after college. Secondly, a lot of my friends from high school were coming here, so I thought it would be nice to have people I know when I started at a new school. Lastly, the campus of St. Bonaventure is wonderful. Not too big but it has the feel of a division one school. I had never heard a bad thing about Bonaventure from the many people I have met that went here, so I decided to attend here this fall.

More Maps

Continuing my interest in maps and such, 22 Maps and Charts that will Surprise You is interesting.  Telling a story with images (maps, charts, etc) does change things.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

World War III - in 1952

This story about an alternate history of World War III is fun, "In Collier's Magazine, World War already Happened - in 1952."  It captures the gestalt of the early Cold War.

Friday, September 19, 2014

One More Reason to Take a History Class

Constitution Day tends to bring out stories about how much, or little, Americans know about the Constitution.  This is one of those stories, "Americans know surprisingly little about their government, survey finds."

Introducing Our Incoming History Majors: Amanda Brogan

I am Amanda Brogan and I’m from Syracuse, NY. I went to Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School which had a class of 58 students; the entire school has about 320 In school I played both Varsity basketball (I was a shooting forward as my coach liked to call it) and softball (I was mainly an outfielder but also played 1st, 2nd catcher). I was a part of the theater department, participating in the dramas and musicals. I was Student Council Public Relations and on the yearbook and prom staff. Our school was very supportive of our boys’ basketball team, they were the State Champions in 2012 and have made the finals the last two years. We had a student section called the Bird’s Nest and we were voted the best student section in our division. We all worked hard carpooling to games, making posters and coming up with themes for each game.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Long Time Coming: Carter Bunce, Incoming History Major

My name is Carter Bunce, and I am from Phelps, New York. Phelps is a small town, situated almost equidistant between Rochester and Syracuse in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. I have an identical twin brother, Garrett, who also attends St. Bonaventure and is a sports studies major. I also have an older sister, Marissa, who is twenty three and a graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College. I enjoy watching all types of sports, including soccer, basketball, football, and baseball, and I participated in sports throughout high school. I enjoy reading, watching documentaries, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. I am open minded, responsible, caring and have a strong work ethic which will hopefully lead me to success during my time in college.

St. Bonaventure was the right choice for me because of the community atmosphere and size. I was drawn by how caring everyone treats each other and by the reassurance that I would get to know my professors on a better level than at a large school. Coming from a small high school, it was an easier transition knowing that there was not a large number of students per class. Also, the beauty of the campus and the pride of being a Bonnie were hard to miss out on. I have never heard a single negative comment about the school; I knew something had to be special.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

History Club Meeting!

The History Club will have its first meeting of the year at 7 p.m. this coming Thursday, September 11. It will meet in the first floor Plassmann Lounge. All majors are welcome. You need to like history! Help decide what trips and activities the club will engage in this year. Last fall, the club went to the Teddy Roosevelt Inaugural site in Buffalo, followed by the Anchor Bar for wings. In the spring, the club went to the Eldred WWII museum with lunch at Red and Trudy's. Where will the club go this year? Come and find out.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Bona History Grad in the News

Diana Phalon, a recent history graduate from St. Bonaventure, recently appeared in the Olean Times Herald. In addition to teaching social studies at Allegany-Limestone, Diana also works with aspiring softball players in the area. Read the article to find out more about what she's up to!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New York World's Fair - 1964 / 1965

I'm doing some preparation to for class, particularly teaching Jules Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century, and this led me to look at other how others have thought about the future and technology at the 1964 World's Fair.  Above is a report on what a visitor to the fair could expect.  If you have the time, and don't mind getting sucked in, there is a Youtube channel for the Fair.  I have to say, I'm in the group wanting to know why we don't have jet packs.  You can also check out "Recalling a Vision of the Future" at the New York Times.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Follow Our Department on Twitter

We are on Twitter. Follow @BonaHistory where we'll share news, stories, and other topics of interest for the History community.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Welcome Back

Tomorrow is the first day of class, so welcome to our new and returning students!

Friday, August 22, 2014

What Kind of Jobs Do History Majors Land?

Here is the link to a very interesting article recently published on the History News Networks that Dr. Horowitz would like to share with our history majors. The author uses a new tool offered by LinkedIn to analyze data on what history majors do with their degree after college. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

More on Careers in a Networked World

Following up on the previous post on LinkedIn, here is a link to an interesting interview with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, two of the founders of LinkedIn.  In it they talk about how to use LinkedIn but, maybe just as importantly, how to function and take advantage of a networked world.  One of the values of disciplines like history is that it helps you understand and adjust to change, which is only accelerating.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

New Tool for Looking at Employment

LinkedIn has announced a new way of looking at the link (get it, link.. linked in) between your field of study and future employment. The official blog announcement, "Does Studying Fine Art = Unemployment," discusses the Field of Study Explorer.  Basically, what the tool does is finds connections between what people who have linkedin accounts studied and what they listed as occupations.  It isn't perfect but it is interesting.  Check it out.  Hopefully, you will see something that points you in a direction you hadn't considered.  The time I spent playing with it seems to confirm what I've been telling students (shout out to students who took Digital History), the future belongs to self learners and self starters.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dr. Marinari Wins National Research Grant

Dr. Maddalena Marinari has received a postdoctoral grant to conduct research at the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) at the University of Minnesota. The IHRC supports research on migration, race, and ethnicity in the U.S. and the world.

Dr. Marinari will travel to Minneapolis next summer to work on her project on undocumented immigration from Europe. As part of her grant, she will also present her work in a public lecture.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dr. Horowitz Publishes Article on Soccer Club

Dr. Joel Horowitz, professor of history at St. Bonaventure University, has just published the article “Football Clubs and Neighborhoods in Buenos Aires before 1943: The Role of Political Linkages and Personal Influence” in the Journal of Latin American Studies, which is published by Cambridge University Press.

The article discusses how in the first decades of the 20th century, the inhabitants of greater Buenos Aires formed innumerable soccer clubs as part of a burgeoning civic culture. Many of these clubs not only proved enduring but helped to shape the sense of neighborhood that dominated much of the cultural and political world of the city. In this they differed from clubs in other South American cities, which tended to have much less of a barrio identity.

However, successful soccer teams required assistance to acquire land and construct stadiums. The evidence of club records and the local press shows that as the clubs grew in size and importance, politicians and other leading neighborhood figures became critical in obtaining the necessary resources for them, but in turn they made use of their association with the clubs to aid their election campaigns and build up their constituencies and clienteles.


Continuing my interest in digital and interactive historical maps check out the USGS Maps online.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

2014 SUSI is Well under Way!

Dr. Maddalena Marinari and Dr. Phil Payne are again directing one of the Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI) this summer. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the program brings to campus student leaders from Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela for a five-week institute on American history, government, and institutions. Here are a few photos from some of the extracurricular activities the students have done so far. Enjoy!

At the Chautauqua Institution with two of the day's speakers
At Niagara Falls
Ropes Course at Great Valley
Attending a local jazz class

Sunday, July 20, 2014

SBU History Alum Matt Zaros Discusses His Senior Thesis

Matt with Dr. Horowitz at graduation
In the fall of 2013, I was enrolled in Dr. Robbins's Colonial American history class. One of the required books was Myne Owne Ground: Race and Freedom on Virginia's Eastern Shore, 1640—1676 by T.H. Breen and Stephen Innes. It's an absolute must read for anyone interested in early American history. The book depicts the lives of freed and enslaved Africans in Virginia up until 1676, which was the start of Bacon's Rebellion. Before 1676, Africans could buy their freedom, just like their white servant counterparts. Some freed Africans even became extremely prosperous citizens. I remember finishing the book in bewilderment. Why did Bacon's Rebellion change all that? Why did the process of freeing slaves halt after Bacon's Rebellion? It was these questions that I took with me into my final semester at Bonaventure. I decided that I would investigate how Bacon's Rebellion changed slave culture in America.

After countless hours in the library reading and writing, I finally got my answer. Before Bacon's Rebellion, slaves were given limited liberties. One of these limited liberties was the ability to have free time. With this free time slaves were able to gain skills such as: shoe-making, tool making, carpentry and hunting. Products made by the slaves were sold to slave owners. The money slaves made would go to purchasing their freedom.  Another liberty was the ability to associate with whites. Whites and Blacks worked in the fields together and they formed a common bond, just like any other group of workers.  

It was this common bond and the promise of freedom that unified blacks and whites under Nathanial Bacon to join together to overthrow the Virginia government in 1676 (this is a simplified explanation of the Rebellion).  Unfortunately for the Rebellion, Bacon died of dysentery and soon his Rebellion died too. With fresh troops from England and no leader the unified blacks and whites could not defeat the Government.  In order to make sure a Rebellion would not happen again the slave owners decided to racially separate whites and blacks. This ensured that  the two races could not communicate with one another. They also made slavery more brutal. Taking away the chance of freedom that they slaves once had. It was Bacon's Rebellion that caused slavery in America to fundamentally change.  

This whole project started with a simple question I had in a class. And I ran with it until I got the answers. Besides now having extensive knowledge of slavery in early America, the other thing I learned is if you have a question just keep going until you have your answer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Warren G. Harding, Private Letters, and Presidential Reputation

As my students will know from my (seemingly endless) supply of stories about Warren G. Harding, I've written Dead Last: The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding's Scandalous Legacy in which I examine his reputation as the worst president in U. S. History.  One of my arguments is that, in part, Harding's reputation was damaged by the lack of historical records.  Without records, historians had difficulty examining his life and presidency.  In the absence of papers, lots of speculation took place.  The story of Harding's papers is fascinating.  Long believed destroyed by Florence Harding, in the 1960s the Harding Memorial Association released his papers.  The available papers attracted historians leading to a wave of scholarship on Harding.  Francis Russell, one of the historians and journalist that descended on Marion and Columbus, Ohio, to do research came upon the letters that Harding wrote to Carrie Phillips, long rumored to have been his mistress.  A very public and ugly debate, including legal action, took place over the ownership and use of the letters.  Eventually, a judge sealed the letters.  However, tidbits from the letters have leaked over the years.  A couple years ago James Robenalt discovered a microfilm copy of the letters from which he wrote The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage during the Great War.  Robenalt's most startling argument was that Phillips spied for Germany during World War I.

This month the Library of Congress releases Harding's letter to Phillips, creating renewed interest in Harding's personal life.  Jordan Michael Smith wrote "The Letters that Warren G. Harding's Family Didn't Want you to See" for the New York Times Magazine.  Gayle Collins brought up Harding and his letters in a recent piece in the Times on presidential reputation and rankings.  People Magazine got into the act, reporting that "President Warren Harding's Long-Lost Raunchy Letters Go Viral".

Once again Harding's private life is dominating his reputation, this time aided by social media and the internet.  Documents long-ago sealed up and tucked away can now be seen reproduced online.  What impact will this have on Harding's reputation?  Not much, other than to remind the public of its fascination with the private lives of presidents.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

For those of you who are interested in learning more about the history of the Fourth of July holiday, check out this short article by PBS. Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Invasion of America

As my students know I've been on a map and GIS kick.  Some people have asked me what historians would do with GIS.  One answer can be found with the work of my students in the Digital History class where we began mapping the SBU cemetery.

I would also point you towards the story Interactive Time-Lapse Map Shows How the U. S. Took More than 1.5 Billion Acres from Native Americans in Slate's history column, The Vault.  You can visit the Invasion of America webpage directly to see more, including the original source maps that were used to make the interactive map.  Below is the video version of the map from YouTube.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Odd and Ends

Summer is a quiet time in academics.  I taught History 475:  World War II for the first summer session and I'm editing my book.  For my students, yes we really do drafts and sometimes our first drafts need a lot of work.  I've also been watching the World Cup.  In the spirit of summer, the World Cup, and history here is a link to A Brief History of the World Cup from Time.  If you want to get completely geeky about the World Cup, you can follow it on

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bona History Grad Receives Prestigious Recognition

(Timothy Rothang, center left, stands with legislator Kate Browning, left
The Huntington Chamber of Commerce nominated Timothy Rothang one of Long Island’s 2014 Top Young Professionals. Timothy graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and currently works as legislator Kate Browning's legislative aide. He received a proclamation and glass plaque at The Crescent Beach Club in Bayville on May 6, 2014. Congratulations!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Call for Summer Contributions!

We want to hear from you! If you do anything related to history over the summer break, let us know. We'd love to post your adventures on our blog. Whether you visit a historical site, volunteer at a historical site, or read something related to history, please contact us. Just get in touch with Dr. Maddalena Marinari if you wish to write a short post for us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Blending History and Journalism by Rachel Farrell

SBU senior Emmariah Holcomb presents
her part of the presentation at the JJCHC
In this semester’s Journalism and Mass Communication class, Women, Minorities and the Media, students had the opportunity to learn about advocacy journalism and how specific women and minority groups helped to shape the media industry. The class studied historically significant advocacy journalists presented through required reading and then conducted research on lesser-known individuals who fit the classification as advocacy journalists.

The research goal was to bring to light the works of individuals to highlight in a paper entitled, "Mediation: Instrument of Change," and present them at this year’s Joint Journalism & Communication History Conference (JJCHC).

One reviewer of the proposal noted: “I love the idea of having a student panel at the conference and applaud the efforts of the course instructors at Saint Bonaventure for this idea.”

The JJCHC is made possible through collaboration between the American Journalism Historians Association and the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. A short video at the following link gives more information about the conference:

SBU students emphasized the works of journalists such as Randy Shilts, a ground-breaking gay journalist (; Veronica Guerin, an Irish crime reporter murdered for her activism (; and Melissa Fabello, who maintains a strong online presence to educate people about hot topics such as gender identity, feminism and eating disorders (

The evolution of journalism, whose basis is in service to the people, to educate and advocate for good, is an interesting topic of study, and one that I have enjoyed pursuing further over the last months. Anyone interested in the topic would benefit from the class, one I highly recommend.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Photos from the 2014 Arts & Sciences Expo

Several of our history majors presented their research at this year's Arts & Sciences Exposition. They included Daniel Leopold, Nick Siciliano, Matt Zaros, Max Schneller, and Dr. Payne's entire digital history class. Congratulations everyone!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Congratulations History Majors!

Here are a few photos from today's Phi Alpha Theta induction ceremony. Congratulations to all the new inductees!

Initiation into the Phi Alpha Theta

The History Department is pleased to initiate 16 new members into the national history honors society, Phi Alpha Theta, at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 28, in the Thomas Merton Center.

The following students are being initiated, and friends and family are welcome: Sara E. Apenowich, Leah D. Brownstein, Jacob Mark Bunce, Rachel Wren Farrell, Anna M. Ciesla, Andrew Gagne, Michele’ J. Madonna, Chelsea O'Connor-Rosiek, Maximilian J. Schneller, Nicholas Siciliano, Michael James Specht, Christina Anne Stankewicz, Mariah Wolford, Kevin Joseph Yehl, Matthew Joseph Zaros, and Christina H. Zoppi.

Please note that any Phi Alpha Theta student who is graduating this May and who was initiated into the honorary society prior to this year may contact Dr. Karen Robbins if they are interested in wearing honor cords for graduation. The cost is $13.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Discovering Buffalo with Daniel Leopold

As a Buffalo native, my pride for the once prominent city has become a large part of my life since moving away to Bonaventure. What was once America’s 8th largest city is still home to a plethora of artistic venues, beautiful architecture, and incredible museums. One such museum, the Mark Twain room, is housed within the walls of the Central Buffalo Library, located downtown.

The Southern author spent eighteen months in the city, writing for local newspapers while working on fiction pieces on the side. Many of the artifacts of his life are on display in the room, including a restored mantelpiece of his mansion on Delaware Avenue and a steamer trunk that held forgotten Twain documents.

The centerpiece of the museum are leaves from the original handwritten manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of Mark Twain’s most well-known works. Filed around this unique piece of history are English and foreign language editions of the novel. Norman Rockwell prints for the 1940 edition of Huckleberry Finn hang on the wall adjacent to bookshelves containing illustrations and other works relevant to Twain.

While small, the Mark Twain room captures a great deal of Buffalo history. Admission is free, and more information about the museum and library can be found at The room is truly a mark of the resurgence of Buffalo, connecting the vibrant downtown area and central library with a remarkable segment of local history. It is definitely worth a visit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Learning History Where it Happened: History Major Harrison Leone and the Defenestration(s) of Prague

In the summer after seventh grade, I fell through a second story window at my house, glass, frame and all. After my stitches healed, my dad began gleefully joking that I had been trying to re-enact the Defenestration of Prague. Now, I had no idea what the “Defenestration of Prague” was, and for a while I was convinced he had made it up. Defenestration? Come on, dad, that’s not a real word. Prague? Where was that, Russia?

Obviously, thirteen year old me was frightfully mistaken. Defenestration is a real word; Prague is not in Russia; and the Defenestration of Prague of 1618 played a pivotal role in modern European history. Throwing opponents out of windows is a peculiarly Czech solution to intractable political debates and, though the most significant from a historical standpoint, the Defenestration of 1618 was only one of three such events in Bohemian history.

Before understanding the defenestrations, readers should know that the Czechs have a long tradition of questioning authority and combating oppression, specifically when that oppression came via religious persecution. Prague itself was one of the first places to question the growing decadence of the medieval Catholic Church.

The fiery and passionate preacher Jan Hus decried the opulence of the church during his time. Hus would eventually be tied to a stake and set ablaze for the troubles he created. His teachings and grisly demise ignited the Hussite Wars, a proto-Protestant movement that lasted for several decades and left Bohemia a devastated, backwards province, removed from power, and without any capacity for self-government. The Hussite Wars were set off with the First Defenestration of Prague in 1419, when town council members were thrown to their death from the New Town Hall.
The Second, and most famous, Defenstration of Prague was once again provoked by religious conflict. By this time, the Protestant Reformation was in full swing and threatening to upend the social order of Europe. The Czechs, now under the rule of the devoutly Catholic Hapsburgs, were once again at the forefront of the religious fissures developing across the continent. The Protestant Bohemian nobility had enjoyed freedom of worship and equitable legal status under Emperor Rudolf II after he issued the Letter of Majesty in the early 1600s. Now, Rudolf’s successor, Emperor Matthias, revoked the letter, leaving the powerful Czech Protestants enraged at their disenfranchisement. In May of 1618, Catholic ministers were hurled from a three story window at the Prague Castle. According to the Catholics present at the scene, their lives were spared by intervening angels; according to the Protestants, they fell in manure. In either case, this spark ignited the powder keg, and Europe descended into the Thirty Year’s War, a horrendous conflict that was the deadliest the continent had ever seen.

The Third Defenestration, which is little known or publicized outside of the Czech Republic, had nothing to do with religion but everything to do with power. In 1948, Czechoslovakia had just undergone a bloodless and widely supported Communist coup. Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, son of one of the greatest Czech heroes Tomáš Masaryk, was found dead below his bathroom window, with the official report stating suicide. Masaryk was an ardent nationalist and no fan of the increased Soviet influence in his country, and suspicion abounded that either Czech communist thugs or Soviet secret agents sent the unfortunate minister to his death. In 2004, after further investigation, the Prague police officially stated that Masaryk had in fact been murdered.

The story of the Czech people’s struggle is often tragic. Surrounded by powerful neighbors, placed in the middle of the most historically mercurial continent on earth, the Czechs have sought for centuries to assert their national character on their own lands. The Czechs seem to have been the victims of every historical villain of the past 500 years, whether this villainy came in the form of corrupt priests, power-hungry Austrians, Lebensraum-seeking Nazis, or the Warsaw Pact. Troubled past aside, my experiences with the Czechs have been absolutely peaceful and pleasant, although I have made it a point to avoid standing near windows.