Category Archives: American History

A Conversation With Associate Academic Dean, Emeritus, J. Ronald Spencer

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Professor and Associate Academic Dean, Emeritus, J. Ronald Spencer

Editor; History Major 

Professor and Associate Academic Dean, Emeritus, J. Ronald Spencer ’64 has long been a fixture of Trinity College and for more than forty years taught the history of the Civil War, among other topics, in the Trinity College History Department.

While at Trinity, Spencer studied history and took a class colloquially referred to as from “Christ to Khrushchev.” Spencer notes that during his early years as a history major, United States history was relatively weak in comparison to the European canon. Spencer recalls that that changed when former Professor Edward “Ted” Sloan, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, a graduate of Harvard and Yale, arrived on the campus.

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Lecture Recap: African Americans & Classical Education after the Civil War

 

By Tess Meagher ’20

Editor; History Major

In coordination with the History Department, the Trinity College Classics department hosted its annual Moore Lecture on November Ninth during common hour. The lecture, entitled “African American Intellectuals and the Study of Ancient Greek After the Civil War,” was given by guest lecturer Michele Valerie Ronnick. The lecture dealt specifically with historical African American scholars, mostly during the era of 1850-1950, who had an impact on the study of classics and/or on the way African Americans were educated in classics during this time period.

Professor Ronnick began the talk with an explanation of the importance of Greek and Latin in nineteenth-century western culture, specifically the American education system. She said that beginning around the same time as the American Revolution, there was a debate as to how useful the prerequisite of Greek and Latin for further education was. Among the founding fathers, there was a group of anti-classicists who said there was no place in the new republic for the study of dead languages. However, this group was in disagreement with other founding fathers who believed in the studies of the classics as necessary. The disagreement wasn’t resolved here and continued to affect the education system until the twentieth century.
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Senior Thesis Profile: Christopher Bulfinch

 

 

 

 

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

Editor; History Major

About the Thesis Writer: Christopher Bulfinch ’18 is a senior history major and thesis writer. Chris came to Trinity knowing that he wanted to study history, but did not declare until the spring of his sophomore year. He has studied a myriad of topics from within the history department, but takes a particular interest in subjects of Americana. However, one of his favorite courses falls outside of this realm: “Living on the Margins of Modern Japan,” taught by Jeffery Bayliss, is a course he highly enjoyed and encourages prospective or current history majors to take.
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American Periodicals: History on a Page

Written By: Tess Meagher (History Class of 2020)

Want to see original publications of American authors, not in books, but in periodicals? Interested in understanding the media culture of a time period? All of this and more is available at the new Watkinson Library exhibit. The Watkinson Library at Trinity College currently has Easy Vehicles and Knowledge for an Enlightened and Free People: American Periodicals in the Watkinson, 1750-1950 on exhibit. The exhibition will be in the Watkinson from now until June 15, 2018. The exhibit was curated by Leonard Banco, M.D., who, though a guest curator, is a trustee of the Watkinson. The exhibition features the hundreds of american periodicals the Watkinson has in its collection. Dr. Banco has divided these periodicals into the categories of general interest, music, women, religion, politics, and literature for easier research into the exhibit. At the exhibit are pamphlets containing summaries of the works featured that both students and faculty can take to further interests or research.

I found the exhibit especially compelling as a history student. Standing in the Watkinson and see many, clearly old, periodicals spread around and opened to carefully picked pages meant to pique your interest is curiosity candy. From seeing first editions of famous works, to learning about medical practices and theories of different time periods in America, to viewing election coverage from the nineteenth century, the exhibit offers a window into American history that is unique because it is all primary sources. History students should take advantage of this exhibit. Wandering around may just give you a new area of historical interest, or  at the very least feed an old one. Not only history students should visit, however. Because the exhibit is curated into subtopics, students from nearly all majors from English, to biology can find something interesting here.

The History of Elm Trees at Trinity

By Brendan W. Clark ’21

History Major

Neath the Ashes: Revisiting the Veracity of Trinity’s Alma Matter in the Present Day
Alumni and present students of Trinity alike will recall fondly their jovial experiences of youth whenever the refrain of Trinity’s alma matter ‘Neath the Elms is heard at various college events: “No more shall we meet, our classmates to greet, / ‘Neath the elms of our old Trinity.” The tune, first set to words by Augustus P. Burgwin, Class of 1882, is still a centerpiece of tradition amongst Trinity students and stands as a bulwark against the changing landscape of Trinity in the 21st century.

Indeed, all may be surprised to know that the majority, save a few stragglers, of those familiar elms referenced in the tune were gone by the early 1970s. Before that matter can be addressed, however, the history of the trees which became eponymous with the song must first be examined.

First in 1880 and thereafter in 1883, the Trustees allocated funds and authorized the planting of several rows of English elm trees on the Quad. The location of these earliest rows can be ascertained by the location of the trees which currently stand parallel to Seabury and Jarvis and also the rows of trees that project outward from Northam Towers.

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A Response to the 2017 Wassong Lecture: “Trigger Crimes & Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic in America”

By Callie Prince (History ’17)

Paul H. Robinson, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Paul H. Robinson, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

This past week I attended the 2017 Wassong Lecture in European and American Art, Culture, and History, a lecture organized every year by the interdisciplinary studies department. I was excited to hear the lecture from Paul H. Robinson who is a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. His long list of accomplishments would extend beyond the length of this post, as he has been prolific and diversified in his work. The topic of his lecture was “Trigger Crimes & Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic in America”. A brief synopsis written by Robinson describing the work behind his lecture, posed the main question as, “Why do some tragedies produce broad outrage while others, often of a very similar nature, do not? Why do some outrages produce reform while others, often with greater claims to outrageousness, do not?”
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History Department’s Senior Thesis Presentations 2016-2017

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This academic year, the History Department has nine honor thesis writers. Elizabeth, Sedona, Callie, Dylan, Elm, Chelsey, Eleanor, Seth and Andrew will be presenting on their research on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The presentations will take place at Seabury Hall 215 (Trinity College), starting at 9:00 a.m. History Thesis Writers, History Majors, members of the History Department, and members of the Trinity and Hartford community are invited and encouraged to attend this special event. A five minute Q+A will follow each presentation. For the full schedule, continue reading….
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A Historic Tour of Hartford: A Bucket List

By: Chelsey Crabbe (History ‘17)
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As a senior inching towards graduation, I’m realizing that my friends and I still have not fully experienced Hartford. There are restaurants, events, and places still to be discovered in these shorts weeks leading up to the 21st of May. Specifically, my interest in history has largely been under-utilized within the Hartford context having never been to the Mark Twain House and many other historic locations. Trinity students never realize until the very end that Hartford does indeed have it…I’m not exactly sure what “it” is, but there is a certain charm to this place I’ve called home for four years. Especially in terms of history, Hartford was once an “it” town, a booming insurance capital, a place of both industry and creative, attracting literary giants like good ol’ Samuel Clemens. Therefore, I’ve decided to compile a bucket place of places to explore before my time here in Hartford is up. Hopefully, younger Trinity students will follow along and explore Hartford before they, too, are seniors nearing graduation.
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D.B. Cooper and the Hijacking of Northwest Airlines flight 305

By: James Barret (History ’17)

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For my final paper in ‘HIST 344: America’s Most Wanted’ taught by Professor Greenberg (a course that all history majors should take), I will be writing about D.B Cooper’s infamous hijacking of Northwest Airlines flight 305 and extortion of $200,000. Although the Cooper case has many different elements, one that I will likely not be able to address in my paper due to the parameters of the assignment is the aftermath of the hijacking. The way I see it, the general public’s fascination with Cooper comes down to two major questions: Who was this man? And perhaps more importantly, did he survive his skydive into a cold rainy night somewhere in the woods north of Portland, Oregon? I will certainly work to answer these questions, or at the very least put together a guess in the final paper. But a third question has been bugging me lately and it is much more abstract. What exactly does the world gain from a story like Cooper’s? And furthermore, what would happen if there became definitive proof as to who this man was and what happened to him? Similar questions have been asked before, specifically by The New York Times Geoffrey Gray. Gray and I reach similar conclusions but differ slightly, I see Cooper as interesting because all the options are still on the table. Gray believes that Cooper enthusiasts will lose their drive if they know what all went down.

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“My Senior Thesis and its Portrayal in Pop Culture”

Chelsey Crabbe ‘17

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I am a senior Thesis writer whose topic has been portrayed within a Hollywood movie, a scenario that even clouded my own judgment after watching the film. I am researching the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA), a military unit attributed with protecting and salvaging Europe’s greatest cultural treasures against the Nazi regime during World War II. My focus is on the subsequent cultural restitution, or return, that occurred after the war as the Allies found themselves with troves of Nazi loot. I found this topic to be quite fascinating since I am passionate about cultural heritage, a fan of Art History, and a student needing to satisfy her European interests with a topic that had some sources in English. Therefore, I chose to tell the story of the Monuments Men, the full story, and not just the one that would attract moviegoers.
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