Major in History
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” — William Faulkner
As a history major, you will uncover insights and perspectives from the past to better understand the present. Through working directly with artifacts of the past — from letters exchanged during the Holocaust to the genealogical records of a local African-American community — history will come alive in your hands.
You will collaborate with professors and peers to develop a deep understanding of the past across eras, cultures, and societies. At the same time, you will master critical skills — persuasive writing, interpreting data, and giving compelling presentations, among others — that will prepare you for a successful career in any field. Our graduates have worked in education, libraries, museums, business, medicine, law, social justice, and the military.
Why Study History at Clark?
- Research and analyze historical events with faculty known for their extensive work in the fields of U.S., European, and global history — including Holocaust and genocide studies, African-American history, the history of the Atlantic world, and the history of women and gender.
- Complete exciting internships and research projects at archives and museums in the U.S. and abroad — from the Worcester Historical Museum and the Worcester Art Museum to the Smithsonian Institution and the British Museum in London.
- Experience United States history through original documents and real-life scenarios made possible by our close ties with Worcester’s prestigious American Antiquarian Society and Old Sturbridge Village in nearby Sturbridge, Mass.
- Understand the complex world in which we live by studying how it came to be.
Recent Clark grad works with US ambassador, Congressional delegation
Historian: Ottoman leaders ‘spoke openly’ of how to exterminate population
Your Will. Your Way.
The Major Path
Your faculty adviser will work with you to design a history program that fits your interests and goals. All history majors are required to take ten history courses, along with two related non-history courses, distributed as follows:
- The course Writing History, to gain familiarly with different types of historical writing and the issues involved in researching and writing historical studies
- One course each in United States, European, and global history
- One course devoted primarily to the period before 1800
- Five courses in your chosen area of specialization, which may be a geographic specialization in U.S., European, or global History, or a thematic specialization that is comparative or transnational in its approach
- A senior-year capstone course, designed to bring together all you have learned in your specialization; this requirement can also be fulfilled by entering the honors program and writing a thesis
- Two courses outside the History Department in fields related to your area of specialization
Qualified students are eligible for election to Phi Alpha Theta, the National Honor Society in history. Students inducted into the honor society plan events like film screenings and trips to historic sites.
George A. Billias American History Prize
This award was established by Clark alumni Michael and Lisa Klein Leffell to honor Professor Billias and the undergraduate student who has written the best essay in American history.
H. Donaldson Jordan Essay Prize
The H. Donaldson Jordan Prize is awarded to an undergraduate student for the best essay on a historical topic.
H. Donaldson Jordan Prize for Excellence in History Outside the Classroom
Paul Lucas European History Prize
This award was established by Clark alumni Michael and Lisa Klein Leffell to honor Professor Lucas and the undergraduate student who has written the best essay in European history.
Skills you will learn include:
- Research: how to find primary and secondary sources, and how to frame research questions
- Analysis: learn what constitutes valid historical evidence, how to analyze that evidence, and the arguments made by historians to construct your own arguments
- Quantitative data management and time management: how to manage quantitative information and organize research projects to complete them on time
- Strong writing: synthesize material and learn to develop your ideas to express them clearly, a key skill for any future job
- Understanding our world: learn how the present has come to be, and gain insight into the workings of modern society, culture, politics, and the economy
During your junior year, you might be accepted into the history honors program. Joining the program means you’ll work closely with a professor to create a thesis on a topic of your choice. Examples of recent honors thesis topics are:
- “I Went Down Exactly to Where People Were”: Women in the Palestinian Nationalist Movement, 1987-2005
- Washed Ashore: Black American Whalemen at Home and Abroad
- The Political Role of Public Opinion in the Soviet-Afghan War
- Confronting the Past: The Holocaust as Narrated Through Facing History and Ourselves
- Women Push to Adapt Judaism as Seen Within Jewish Cookbooks, 1889-1935
The LEEP difference
An education merging knowledge, action, and impact
With Liberal Education and Effective Practice, lessons begin in the classroom but never end there. Your learning includes world and workplace experiences that forge your skills and shape your path.
We’ve Got It Covered
Pirates and Smugglers in the Atlantic World
Explore the history of piracy and privateering in Atlantic waters — especially the Caribbean, and how these practices served as a means for northern Europeans to seize and smuggle American crops and precious metals.
African American History to 1865
Immerse yourself in the diverse and complex history of African Americans in the U. S. until the end of the Civil War, especially the events and issues they confronted during their struggle for equality and freedom.
History through the Novel
Quality fiction can provide meaningful access to the past. Step back into U.S. history, from just before the Civil War into the 1930s, via novels whose authors painted a vivid, visceral sense of the American scene.
History of Sexuality from the Enlightenment to the Present
Investigate how past societies determined which sexual behaviors were licit or illicit, and the institutions and individuals responsible for the regulation, repression, and occasional encouragement of the practices.
9/11 in Fact and Fiction
How do Americans assess the events of 9/11? You’ll visit Ground Zero, take oral histories, read and watch depictions of the events, and place them in historical context to make sense of conflicting memories.
Explore what this department has to offer