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Who Are We?

Department Staff:
Jeffrey Bayliss, Dept. Chair
Gigi St. Peter, Admin. Assistant
Blog Editors:
Brendan W. Clark ’21
Prof. Sean Cocco
Prof. Seth Markle
Prof. Luis Figueroa-Martínez
Campus Address:
Seabury Hall T–127
Postal Address:
History Department
Trinity College
300 Summit Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Telephone & Fax:
Phone: (860) 297.2397
Fax: (860) 297.5111

Where Do Historians Work? A Look at the Data

“Based on the ground-breaking “The Many Careers of History PhDs,” the AHA has gathered data from more than 30 departments that grant history PhDs. Using this information, we have created the only interactive, discipline-specific, and cross-institutional database of career outcomes for PhDs. The data from each program represents a snapshot of the employment of a 10-year cohort (2004–13) of graduates. The AHA plans to continually update that underlying data to expand the number of departments included and to provide data useful to our members. Use the database to get a fine-grained sense of the range of careers open to history PhDs (using the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Standard Occupational Classification system, or SOC) and to compare program outcomes by field of study, geographic location, gender, date of graduation and more. For information about the methodology used in gathering this data, please see About the Data” For more information, go HERE.

History Professor Receives Prestigious Teaching Award

Prof. Reagan-Lefebvre being honored (photograph by Kevin Lacy; trinity flicker)
Prof. Reagan-Lefebvre being honored (photograph by Kevin Lacy; trinity flicker)

It is becoming apparent that the Trinity History Department is an incubator of teaching talent. At the 2016 Trinity College Graduation Ceremony held this past May, another historian (3 in 11 years) was honored.  Jennifer M. Regan-Lefebvre, Assistant Professor of History, received the Dean Arthur H. Hughes Award for Achievement in Teaching, an award that recognizes excellence in teaching by junior members of the Faculty.


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

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


BBC News: The History of the Future in 10 Images

“The BBC’s What If? season explores visions of the future through subjects such as health, war and technology. But how did artists and dreamers from the past imagine the modern world? 1. More police officers – equipped with personal flying machines – was Punch cartoonist Charles Harrison’s vision of the future. His 1901 illustration, strangely titled Increased Activity Of Police: A possibility of the very near future, came with the caption, “Now then, thirty miles an hour won’t do up here! I’ve timed you with my aneroid barometrical check clock and you’ll have to come down to the station!” The officer’s unlucky subjects were speeding in a flying machine – a popular theme explored by future-gazers. 2. Leonardo da Vinci sketched an early design for a helicopter – which he called the Aerial Screw – in the 1480s. Roughly sketched on paper, his diagram includes notes to explain how his flying machine would work. In his annotations he wrote: “I believe that if this mechanism is well made with starched linen cloth and if it is spun rapidly, the screw will… rise up high into the air.” According to The National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, the screw has a five-metre diameter and is made of reed, linen cloth and wire. His machine was never made, but Da Vinci’s plan was that the shaft would be spun by four men as they stood on the central platform and pushed the bars in front of them with their hands.” (Full Article with Images HERE)