Student Profile: Gaia Cloutier

Another student picked for profiling was Gaia Cloutier, a graduate of Trinity’s Guided Studies program. I recorded her responses to the questionnaire I sent her here.
What in particular attracted you to history?:
I initially became interested in history through fiction. I would read historical fiction and end up being more interested in the worlds the authors were describing than the plot or the characters. I started reading about Revolutionary France or the Tudor family or Egyptian Pharaohs, and I realized that what actually happened and the different cultures throughout time were more interesting than any of the historical novels I was reading. Then I started to learn about how the events in one place or one time period impacted events that initially seemed completely unrelated, and I just found all the connections to be so interesting. I wanted to learn more about them, so I decided to study history.
And why did you choose to study at Trinity College?:
I was looking for a small liberal arts school in New England because I was coming from a high school with 500 students. My father went to Bates, so I already knew about the NESCAC schools, and they seemed to fit with what I wanted. I knew that I wanted to study history with a focus on Europe, so I looked at the history programs at all the NESCAC schools. Looking through the course catalog I saw that Trinity had a lot of courses dealing with European history, but it also had a lot of courses about topics that I never even thought about studying but instantly intrigued me. I was also invited to the Guided Studies Program which combined a lot of the things that I wanted to study including history, religion, and literature. Guided Studies made up my mind for me.
What elements of history are appealing to you?:
My favorite part about history is learning the stories of individuals and how they were influenced by larger societal and historical factors. The larger patterns are important and interesting, but I am most interested in grounding those overarching patters in the lives and stories of individuals and communities. It’s amazing how much you can learn about larger patters by studying the life of a single person. During the summer I work at a local historical society in Maine researching in the archives, and by reading one person’s letters or diaries you can find out so much about them as individuals as well get an idea about how broader topics (like the War of 1812, how a community’s economy developed, gender roles, and how colonists and Native Americans interacted) influenced real people on a day to day basis. They act as good touchstones to see how the world today is both similar and different than in the past.
What particular subjects within history do you find appealing/do you find especially relevant to the world/you? Why?:
I personally prefer European history. I think that the political history has a lot of interesting factors at play. Ideologically and culturally a large portion of western culture comes from Europe, so you can see how what you’re studying directly and indirectly impacted the formation of the world we know today. One of the most fun courses that I have taken was on the history and development of the book, specifically the Bible. As a person who loves books, especially old ones, it was fun handling them and learning to see more than just the object. It’s also nice to not learn about war in at least one history course. A large part of studying history is using what you learn to better understand the modern world and the background of current events. Right now one of the more relevant things is understanding how and why the aftermath of the World Wars literally changed the map.

Patrick Kane: IDP Student Profile

Patrick Kane is an IDP student here at Trinity, about to start the fifth of his six years here at trinity. I recently talked with Mr. Kane about his life and his experiences as a history major here at Trinity College. Mr. Kane, a retired print advertiser, came to Trinity College when he was retired to fuel his life-long love of learning. I learned that he has been interested in history his whole life, and something of a family tradition. Both his sister and his brother are history majors, and his father, who was a physician, loves history as well. This love of history, as Mr. Kane tells me, was and still is a shared experience between him and his family. Mr. Kane goes on to explain that one of the reasons the study of history is important to him is that he wants to make sure that the past is preserved.. He showed me this quote from the book, “The Fiery Trial” by Eric Foner, which read, “History, it has been said, is what the present chooses to remember about the past.” Through his study of history here at Trinity, he has learned that much of what he has learned about the past is wrong, that the popular conceptions of history and historical events are sometimes misconceptions. And though Mr. Kane doesn’t precisely know what he is going to do when he is done with Trinity, he does know that he wants to give back at least some of what he has learned to the world, perhaps through teaching.

Mr. Kane has a wide and eclectic love of history, taking classes from areas of history from all places and time periods, such as the American Civil War, early Islamic history, and Jewish Studies. However, his major interest is in United States history. Mr. Kane is most interested in United States history because as a citizen of the United States of America, he wants to know the story of where he and his family came from. Mr. Kane’s ancestors where Irish and German immigrants and he is interested in American History as a setting to begin to understand his family and others came to America as a new frontier. Mr. Kane believes that the understanding of the pursuit of new frontiers of the past are still relevant to the new societal frontiers that modern society faces today, and that the mistakes and triumphs of the past can help us in the present deal with these new frontiers.

Mr. Kane came to Trinity because the college gave an older student a chance to return and finish his studies. While trying to apply to other colleges, he found that the programs offered by other similar schools aren’t as open, offering only a few spots to IDP students. Trinity, by contrast, has around 80-100 IDP students. After going through an application process involving a test and interviews with Trinity professors, Mr. Kane was accepted s one of the first IDP students accepted for 2010. He came to Trinity because it was one of the few colleges that supported both his passion for learning and his desire to return to school.

Colin A. Leroy Research Fund

The Colin A. Leroy Research Fund, established in 2013 after the unfortunate death of Colin Leroy, is a research grant that exists to provide funding for History Majors at Trinity to engage in research outside of the college related to their thesis. As a history major myself, I was naturally interested in learning more about the Colin A. Leroy Research Fund, and how it could benefit me when it came time for me to do my senior thesis research. I sat down with Professor Dario Euraque. Professor Euraque is a professor of Latin American History and International Studies here at Trinity College, as well as the current Chair of the History Department. Professor Euraque shared with me the general ideas of the Colin A. Leroy fund, as well as providing me with his own thoughts and opinions about the fund and how it benefits history majors here at Trinity.

Two students who have benefitted from the Colin A. Leroy Fund are Michael Mclean and Mollie Scheerer, two recent graduates from Trinity College, both History Majors. During my discussion with Professor Euraque, he brought up both of their Senior Thesis works as examples of the benefits of the Colin A. Leroy Research Fund. The Fund offers scholars from Trinity the opportunity to travel across the country or to different countries to access materials that these scholars would normally never be able to access. The inclusion of these unique manuscripts and other primary sources that can be found only in particular locations around the world only enhances the thesis. In addition, traveling to the sites gives the scholars a unique sense of place, as they have visited and seen what they are writing about, lending their subject a weight beyond what they could read in books. Professor Euraque gave Mollie Scheerer as a prime example of gaining a sense of place in regards to her subject. Mollie Scheerer’s thesis dealt with the appropriation of artifacts for museums and the removal of said artifacts from their home country. Traveling to Honduras and actually visiting an ancient Mayan ruin helped her to more fully grasp the importance of the staircase to Hondurans and the national imagination of Honduras.

Beyond the academic benefits of the research, the Colin A. Leroy Fund helps students in other ways. Professor Euraque highlighted some of these benefits. One part of it outside of Trinity is a unique intellectual archive that wouldn’t happen on campus. Prior to writing the proposal they have to be in touch with the archive and determine the relevance of the materials, addressing the materials. In addition, proposal must have  budget, a series of line items, food, materials, travel, lodging, miscellaneous fees. Budgeting practice for a research trip is not a common lesson that students learn during the course of class. Students realize that research is only not an intellectual process, but also involves estimating a budget as well as other exercises that they aren’t familiar with. Doing any budget is useful and offers the chance to realistically plan goals and practice getting funding for the process, step planning.

The application’s process for a grant from the Colin A. Leroy Is a fairly easy one. Obviously, prospective applicants must be history majors and working on their senior thesis. What needs to be included in the application process are an estimated budget, an itinerary, a summary of the thesis and its goals, and the specifics of what you are planning on gaining from this expedition. Before applying for the grant, it is necessary that contact has been made with the archives to assure that such a trip is necessary and profitable.


Special thanks to Professor Euraque for agreeing to answer my questions.

Mollie Scheerer: A History Thesis


I traveled to Honduras from January 13th to 18th to do research for my senior thesis, “Mayan Copàn, the Hieroglyphic Stairway, and Museum Collecting: Issues of National Identity in Honduras”. I did so after applying to and receiving a generous grant from the Colin Leroy ’10 Research Fund. In doing so, I was fortunate enough to be the first Trinity student to travel abroad for thesis research.

In my thesis I explore the controversial nature of museums and their practice of collecting cultural artifacts from other countries through examining a magnificent hieroglyphic staircase in the ancient Maya city of Copán, Honduras that dates to that Civilization’s classic period, that is from 300-900 AD. Pieces of the stairway currently are found in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. They were brought from their original site in Honduras in 1893 after Harvard funded expeditions to Copán in the late nineteenth century. At the time, there was a legal agreement between Harvard and the Honduran government that half of the stairway  findings were to remain at the original site and half could go back to Cambridge. This agreement, however, continues to create problems as many of the pieces of the stairway under Honduran jurisdiction are missing. A large part of my research is dedicated to how the removal of these pieces continues to affect Honduran national identity today.


My father accompanied me on my trip to Honduras and we traveled first to the city of San Pedro Sula, where we met the former Minister of Culture, Dr. Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, and his anthropologist wife, Teresa Campos. She is the director of the first museum in San Pedro Sula, Museo de Antropología e Historia. Three hours west of the city lay the remains of the Maya city of Copán, as well as several institutes and museums that we visited. I was able to do a great deal of research at the archives of the Centro Regional de Investigaciones Arqueológicas (CRIA) and there I found documents I probably would not have gotten my hands on otherwise in my research at Harvard or elsewhere. For example, I found legislative texts concerning the collection of movable cultural property specific to Honduras created by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1984. This organization also declared Copan a World Heritage Site because of the Hieroglyphic Stairway, a great point of cultural and national pride for Honduras as it is recognized as a site of “outstanding international importance and therefore as deserving special protection” defined by UNESCO. The stairway itself is part of the main Acropolis of Copan, was completed in 755 AD, and is the longest inscribed text in the Maya region. It details the reigns of the rulers of Copan and links them to their ancestor, the first ruler Yax’ K’uk Mo’ with many of the inscriptions depicting warfare. Five large sculptures were originally seated ascending the stairway, but one is currently in the Peabody. Today, the stairway is covered with a canvas to prevent further erosion and damage to the soft volcanic rock from which it is carved.


I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Trinity College History Department and to the family of Colin Leroy for the opportunity to go to such an extraordinary place and conduct research.




My beautiful picture


Michael McLean: Senior Honors Thesis

Michael McLean examines archives at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Michael McLean examines archives at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Trinity senior Michael McLean has always been fascinated by Native American history. Particularly, he sees its underrepresentation in mainstream United States history as a striking opportunity for research. A visit to the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota last winter and related coursework at Trinity motivated him to pursue a senior thesis on the impact of the Civil War on Indian territory.

McLean is also a recipient of the Colin Leroy ’10 Research Fund, which assists history majors with research-based travel and other projects.

[Editor's Note: History@Trinity will publish soon an article describing the Colin Leroy '10 Research Fund program, which was established in 2012 to help seniors and rising seniors conduct research for their senior theses.]  

Following a recent visit to Oklahoma sponsored by the fund, he has kindly provided History@Trinity with the following statement on his trip:

“From October 23-27, I traveled to the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City, in large part due to a grant from the history department set aside for thesis research.

My honors thesis, “We Thought We Had Some Trouble Last Year: Destruction, Survival, and Community during the Civil War on Indian Territory,” is focused on what is today Oklahoma. I am also approaching this subject from the bottom-up. Therefore, the archives in Oklahoma were extremely useful. I was able to use letters, diaries, ledgers, rosters, and war claims to better understand the everyday experiences of regular civilians and soldiers in the area, especially with regards to food, communication and seasonality.

I will specifically be looking at the surprising adaptations that were used during this tumultuous period and how people were able (or forced) to create and maintain communities for their survival.

I am sincerely grateful towards the History Department and the parents of Colin Leroy ’10, who created the research fund, for affording me this opportunity.”

The History Department commends McLean and all other senior thesis students on their hard work.

We also encourage current juniors to consider writing a thesis next year. Please contact your academic advisor and visit the application procedure page available on this website through the menu that appears at the top for more information.

Procedures for 2014–2015 Senior Theses

Students writing senior theses in the History Department enroll in History 498-01 during the Fall semester. This course is a senior thesis research seminar taught by Prof. Darío Euraque, Chair of the Department. In the spring, students work independently to complete the researching and writing of an historical paper of up to 150 pages. A public presentation of the theses will take place in Seabury 215 on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Senior Thesis Application Procedure

All juniors who would like to write a full-year senior thesis during the senior year must submit a thesis proposal. Applicants will be notified in writing of acceptance by the Department Chair by the end of the Spring semester. Continue reading

New Book on the African Diaspora by Prof. Euraque

Photo of the cover of the book "La Diáspora Africana en los programas educativos de Centroamérica," by Dario Euraque and Yesenia Martínez (2013)

Professor Dario A. Euraque, History Department Chair and Professor of History and International Studies, published his fifth book in Spanish this past August. He co-authored the book with Honduran historian Yesenia Martínez, former Director of the Historical Research Division of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History, and former Director of the Honduran Center for Research and Documentation at the National Archive of Honduras.

The book is titled La Diáspora Africana en los Programas Educativos de Centroamérica (Tegucigalpa: Editorial Guaymuras, 2013); in English, The African Diaspora in Educational Programs in Central America.

The photo on the book’s cover is by Professor Pablo Delano, of Trinity College’s Studio Arts Program. Trinity International Studies and English major Carolina Galdiz ’14 is currently translating the Spanish edition into English thanks to a Trinity College Faculty Research Completion Grant. The book features several additional photos from Professor Delano’s collection, which he took during his last trip to Honduras in April of 2009.

During the last ten years, the historiography of Central America has registered new contributions to the study of colonialism and the presence and ethnohistory of Africans and people of African descent in this region of the Americas. This has been especially the case in Costa Rica and Panama, followed by Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and lastly El Salvador.

Some of the most interesting studies have articulated their arguments and problematics with questions and debates associated with the literature on the African Diaspora in the Americas, in general, and with the older traditions of studying slavery in the region, including comparative perspectives with the United States.

Continue reading

Lecture: Looking for War in the Landscape

Professor Megan Kate Nelson and Professor Gary Reger (Trinity).

Professor Megan Kate Nelson and Professor Gary Reger (Trinity).

On October 23, Trinity welcomed Megan Kate Nelson, a cultural and environmental historian with two published books who currently teaches at Brown University. She led a discussion entitled “Looking for War in the Landscape/Looking for Landscapes in the War” in which she analyzed the Civil War’s impact on the land of the United States and vice versa.

Nelson conducted extensive research in Virginia guided by a fascinating question: how can we access the experiences of the Civil War? The answer, she concluded, lies right beneath our feet: the land. In her research, Nelson studied “earthworks” and other physical remains of war. Some of these lay unnoticed on the outskirts of suburbs and others were formally preserved, and still others are missing. She found that the experience evoked by these earthworks was a reflection of their location and the landscape itself.

Nelson’s current research involves a narrative history of the Civil War in the Southwest, where the diverse eco-regions of New Mexico were the site of biological warfare. Whether concerning natural or built landscapes, Nelson’s insight into the diverse connections between land and warfare is compelling for historians and non-historians alike.

2013–2014 Thesis Writers

2014 History Senior Thesis Writers

ManuscriptThe following students are writing History senior theses during academic year 2013–2014:

  1. Robert Black – “The Behavioral Ecology of Animals in the Pacific Northwest and how it pertains to the Storytelling of the of the Native Tribes in the Region” – Advisor: Wickman
  2. Nicolette Chasse – “Chivalry and the family dynamic: knighthood and family in literature in medieval France” – Advisors: Elukin and Silk
  3. Hector Guzman – “A Land Without A State: Factionalism During the Warlord Era in China” – Advisor: Bayliss
  4. Michael McLean – “We Thought We Had Some Trouble Last Year: Destruction, Survival, and Community during the Civil War on ‘Indian Territory’” – Advisor: Wickman
  5. Emily Parsons – “U.S. Relations with the Soviet Union and Hungary in 1956″ – Advisor: Kassow
  6. Benjamin Plumer – “Southern White Identity and Incidence of Murder in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia” – Advisor: Gac
  7. Mollie Scheerer – “The Maya: Museums, National Patrimony, and Copán” – Advisor: Euraque

History@Trinity will be providing later on more information on each thesis writer and her\his project. Please continue checking our blog in the coming weeks.

Message from Our Newest Historian: Prof. Jennifer Regan–Lefebvre

The History Department is delighted to welcome our newest member, Professor Jennifer Regan–Lefebvre, whom we recruited last winter through an international search to teach a variety of courses in British and British Imperial history.

Prof. Jennifer Regan-LefebvreProf. Regan–Lefebvre earned a Ph.D. from Queen’s University Belfast in 2007 and a B.S. from Georgetown University in 2003. She has taught at the University of Exeter, the American University of Paris and the University of Cambridge, where she was a fellow, the Director of Studies in History and the Assistant Tutor at King’s College.

History@Trinity hopes to publish soon excerpts from an interview in which she discusses in detail her research and teaching and her plans for the near future.

In the meantime, Prof. Regan–Lefebvre has kindly provided us with the following statement:

“I am delighted to be joining the History Department at Trinity in 2013 and am looking forward to getting to know students and colleagues at Trinity.

My expertise is in British and British Imperial history and I’m particularly interested in how modern Britain was shaped and affected by the British Empire.

I’ve written a book about relations between Irish and Indian nationalists in the nineteenth century and I’ve also published on the history of travel, race and racism, and the press. I am currently researching a history of the London wine trade since 1800.

In 2013-2014 I’ll be teaching a First Year Program seminar on the history of London (“London: Traditional, Modern and Global”) plus three History courses: “Modern Britain and Imperial Culture,” “Modern Britain since 1750” and “Modern Ireland, Global Ireland.”

I’m originally from Massachusetts but have lived in Europe for eighteen years.  I’m very excited to be returning home to New England and am particularly looking forward to watching the leaves change on the Trinity campus this fall.”