Mead Lecture & Student Reactions


On Tuesday, October 20th, Dr. Stephen D. White, Candler Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at Emory University and Visiting Professor at Harvard University delivered the History Department’s annual George J. Mead (Class of 1937) Lecture: “Magna Carta: How a Total Failure Became “the Greatest Constitutional Document of All Times.”

The Mead Lecture in History, established by a bequest in 1952, is Trinity’s most prestigious endowed annual lecture. Previous lecturers have included James McPherson, Philip Curtin, Alan Samuel, and E. P. Thompson. The fund was established in honor of George Jackson Mead of Bloomfield, Connecticut. He graduated from Choate preparatory school and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mr. Mead was a founding partner in the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company and the designer of its Wasp engine, whose widespread use and reliability transformed military and commercial aviation in the U.S. He later served as an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, guiding wartime aircraft production throughout the nation, and was awarded the President’s Medal of Merit in 1948. His intent was that the Mead Fund support lectures, prizes, and other programs to stimulate the study of government, economics, and history, in order to better prepare students for government service. Mr. Mead received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College in 1937.

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Senior Thesis Presentations, Class of 2015


Thesis students (top row l-r): Haley, Tyler, Duncan; (bottom row l-r) Cody, Zack

On Thursday, April 30, 2015, the history thesis writers presented their research findings to the department and other guests. For more than a year, five students have been researching and writing and, in the process, forging bonds of friendship among each other and mentorship relationships with history professors. Their research projects explored a variety of themes, and served as critical interventions in the study of American slavery, Nazism and the Third Reich, Mediterranean city-state formations, the U.S. and World War II, and international travel and literary production.

The names of the students, the titles of their projects, and the names of their advisors are as follows:

Tyler Green, “A Connecticut Yankee in London: Mark Twain’s Rise fromd Humble American Humorist to Literary Great”
Thesis Advisors: Profs. Lefebvre & Hedrick

Duncan Grimm, “Forging an Alliance of Purpose:  John Gilbert Winant, Edward Roscoe Murrow, and Creating an Anglo-American  Worldview”
Thesis Advisors: Profs. Regan-Lefebvre & Hedrick
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A Field Trip to Historic Deerfield, MA

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On March 9th, Prof. Wickman took undergraduate students enrolled in his seminar course, “HIST 311: Place in the Native Northeast” to Deerfield, MA. Having read scholarship and primary sources related to the 1704 Deerfield Raid prior to their field trip, Prof. Wickman’s seminar students walked around Historic Deerfield to deepen their sense of place there.  In the first photograph, Prof. Wickman and his students are standing next to a sycamore tree that stood within the stockade at the time of the raid. The other two photographs (below) show the 18th-century Wells-Thorn House, which the class toured to get a feel for changes in colonial architecture and settler lifestyles in the decades after the raid.

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Prof. Sam Kassow Wins Award


February 18, 2015 – Samuel S. Kassow ’66, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, was honored this week in Warsaw, Poland, for his service to Polish Culture. Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage Malgorzata Omilanowka, presented a medal to Kassow in a ceremony on Monday, February 16.

Kassow served as lead historian for two of eight galleries of the new POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in October 2014 on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. His 2007 book, Who Will Write Our History?, is set to be adapted for the screen by director Roberta Grossman and executive producer Nancy Spielberg. Kassow is also in the process of completing a highly anticipated book called Listen and Believe: The Ghetto Reportage of Peretz Opoczynski and Jozeph Zelkowicz, to be released this year by Yale University Press.

Mead Lecture in February

On February 17th, Professor Heather Cateau will be coming to Trinity to give a lecture on Connecticut-Caribbean relationships throughout history, ranging from the 18th century to modern day relationships. Professor Cateau will be coming to Trinity to give the Mead Lecture in History, Trinity’s most prestigious endowed annual lecture which was established in 1952 by George Jackson Mead. Professor Cateau is a senior lecturer in Caribbean History at the University of West Indies’ St. Augustine Campus and the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education. Professor’s Cateau’s latest publications are Beyond Tradition, co-edited with Rita Pemberton and The Caribbean in the Atlantic World, which was co-authored with John Campbell. Her recent work deals with plantation and enslavement systems in the Caribbean.

Professor Cateau’s lecture, entitled “Caribbean-Connecticut Connections from the 18th Century to the 21st Century,” discusses the range of economic, social and other connections that existed between Connecticut and the English speaking islands of the Caribbean, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. The basic thrust of the lecture is that the immigration from the West Indies to Connecticut, especially Hartford, is only the modern form of the historical connections between Connecticut and the West Indies, a product of the 20th and 21st centuries. The historical connections between the two stretch back to before America was an independent nation in the 18th century. In the 18th and 19th century, the relationship between the two involved many people from New England coming down to the West Indies, slave trade, and commerce between the two.

Cody Patrina’s Research

Cody Patrina and Rick Wagner June 2014 (1)

This summer I was given the opportunity to conduct research for the Simsbury Historical Society located in Simsbury, Connecticut. My research was centered on the Native Americans who lived in this area before, and at the time of settler contact. The goal of my research was to find out as much as possible about the tribes that lived and interacted with the settlers. I put together a presentation and, a WordPress informational and bibliographic site, and assisted in finding useful information for the town of Simsbury’s upcoming celebration in the sSpring of 2015. My application to the Colin Leroy ’10 Research Fund was generously accepted, and the grant funded my research.
As mentioned, this internship involved studying the Native Americanss in the Simsbury region called the Massacoes. With no pre-set agenda, I delved into the research with a broad plan to learn as much as possible about the archaeology, history, lifestyle, and relationship with the surrounding environment and with the settlers. I generally found information on all of these topics.Gaps in the literature did exist, such as indications of highly distinctive cultural practices to that would have set the Massacoes apart from Native neighbors and detailed correspondence (not including deeds) with the settlers. What I did find included information about a small tribe living amongst major tribal powers with close ties to the Farmington River. This tribe played a major role in the formation and eventual incorporation of Simsbury into Connecticut. Through local archaeological finds, it is possible to imagine the Massacoes’ presence in this region.
To complete my research I traveled to various libraries, schools, historical societies and museums. The locations include Trinity College’s Raether and Watkinson Library, the Simsbury Historical Society, the Simsbury Public Library, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Institute for American Indian Studies, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the Salmon Brook Historical Society, the Windsor Historical Society and the Yale Sterling Library. I met several experts such as Dr. Kenneth Feder, Dr. Marc Banks, Dr. Lucianne Lavin and Dr. Eileen Fielding who helped provide me with facts on the history of the Native Americans and the ecology of this region. I also received counseling from my adviser, Professor Wickman, and also worked closely with Rick Wagner and Joe Buda from the Simsbury Historical Society. I would like to thank all of these individuals for giving me advice, counseling, time, and the Colin Leroy ’10 Research Fund for making this possible.

By Cody Patrina

Celebrating the life of Jack Chatfield

“Hartford, Conn. — After a long and spirited battle with prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease, Jack died peacefully at home on Sept. 18, 2014 surrounded by a continuing stream of family and friends, comforted by the music and companionship he so adored. He never complained about his fate. His strong will to live, sense of humor, and generosity of spirit gave him incredible strength throughout his final journey.

Jack was born in Baltimore, Md. on July 20,1942, son of Dr. Paul Oakes Chatfield and Helen Taylor Chatfield. He graduated from Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Va. in 1960 and from Trinity College in 1964. It was during his freshman year that his attention became riveted on the growing black student movement in the South. He became increasingly absorbed through news reports, speakers, and conversations with fellow students and when he learned that Trinity friend Ralph Allen had joined the movement and was badly beaten in Dawson, Ga., he left immediately for southwest Georgia. On his first night in Dawson he was injured by shotgun blasts fired by night riders into the house where he was staying. Jack’s involvement in the civil rights movement was passionate, inspirational, and lifelong.

Jack received his M.A. and PhD from Columbia University. From 1970-1978 he taught at the Watkinson School in West Hartford, Conn. In 1987 he began his teaching career at Trinity College which spanned 25 years until his retirement in 2012. Highlights at Trinity include the Hughes Award for Teaching Achievement in 1992, The Brownell Prize for Teaching Excellence in 2002 and organization of the SNCC conference – “We Shall Not Be Moved – The Life and Times of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” in 1988, the first major reunion of SNCC members since the group disbanded in the 1960’s.

Jack leaves his wife of 45 years, Barbara; son, Jonathan of West Hartford; daughter and son in law Julia and Nir Levy of West Granby; grandchildren Zoe and Anya Chatfield and Mason Levy; his sister Lora from Bradford, VT who has been present for weeks providing priceless nursing and moral support; brother in law Alan Schneider in San Francisco Calif. and several nieces, nephews and cousins. Special thanks to VNA HealthCare and Jack’s wonderful hospice team.

Jack’s body will be donated for research and his ashes buried at Trinity. There will be a Celebration of Jack’s life at Trinity in the next few weeks. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Watkinson School or the Professor John H. Chatfield ’64 Scholarship Fund at Trinity College.”


Lecture: Education and Civil Rights in the 21st Century


On Tuesday, Sept. 23rd, Trinity College’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and La Voz Latina hosted Pedro Noguera, the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University, who in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month spoke on Education and Civil Rights in the 21st Century. This event, which is co-sponsored by the History, Educational Studies, Political Science, Sociology, American Studies and International Studies departments.

Here are some reflections from first year students who attended this eye-opening talk:

“Professor Noguera highlighted and brought to my attention many key points and issues pertaining to our education system that I myself have struggled through in my experience as a student in the American system. There key generalized revisions in the professor suggested that our leaders and lawmakers make, but also specific advice for teachers and principals at the local level. Perhaps the most important point in the entire conversation, however, was that education for everyone benefits us all in greater ways than education solely for a privileged few” — Theo Pesiridis, Class of 2018

“Before hearing Professor Noguera talk, I had imagined him speaking in regards to the “wrong” about education and the ruthless results in education. In a way, I imagined him talking about that failures in the education system, but in actuality, Noguera mentioned successes throughout the country…In the end, he challenged the audience into going out into the community and being that small token of difference. He stated in his closing arguments: “It’s all about will”. This shows us that if we want the change in the education system, we must be willing to make the transformation.” — Giselle Galan, Class 2018

“Racial segregation does exist in the United States of America and can’t be ignored.” — Abdi Noor, Class of 2018

“While the civil rights movement is no longer the proprietor of headline news come the 21st century, education has taken over as the civil rights issue of our time…Professor Noguera, who has been studying how to improve schools for many years, pointed out how, for many of the school systems that were failing, there were schools populated by mostly white students, which received far more funding. This idea of providing schools that are the most well off with further funds is not only backwards, but is the driving the problem farther from its solution.” — Jonah Meltzer, Class 2018

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.