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News and Events

History Department Newsletter Fall 2017

The inaugural department newsletter, available as a PDF download: History Newsletter Fall 2017. Alumni are welcome to contact us with updates for inclusion in future editions.


Faculty in the News

Lee Bernstein appears in the recent issue of Smithsonian Magazine.  He was interviewed for a feature story on the 60th anniversary of organized crime's "Apalachin Conference." His research on organized crime was published in The Greatest Menace: Organized Crime in Cold War America, which came out in paperback in 2009 with University of Massachusetts Press.

In more local news, the Fall Newsletter from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences prominently features the history department's teaching and scholarship contributions. Teacher of the Year Meg Devlin O'Sullivan's work on the Senior Seminar in History was the focus of a presentation she gave in the Faculty Development Center. It also is the basis of an article appearing in Teaching History. The newsletter's description of her experience teaching the seminar and overseeing students who would present their research at a history conference can be read here.

The newsletter also highlighted an interdisciplinary teaching collaboration between Department Chair Heather Morrison and two faculty in the Music Department. The students in her "Youth Culture in Europe" freshman seminar were taught about the Romantic era in music and the desire among youth to experience the sublime in the arts through their combined efforts. The background students received before being required to attend an evening Beethoven concert is discussed in this article.

Finally, the College's updates on recent publications by faculty shows the strength of our department's scholarship. See the inclusion of Professors Lee Bernstein, Louis Roper, and Heather Morrison in this list.


Careers In History

Recent New Paltz alumni and History majors will share their own experiences and offer practical suggestions and insights in an opening panel session followed by a Q&A discussion forum.
Thursday, April 13, 2017 • 6:00–7:00 p.m.
Old Main 1907 Room • SUNY New Paltz

Panelists include:

Gregory S. Bailey graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 2010 with a Master degree in Adolescent Education: Social Studies. He was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award in History. In addition to classroom teaching, Greg helped to create and manage an online learning program and currently works as a Technology Resource Specialist supporting English Language Learners across New York State.

Shannon Butler has worked in historic sites for over 10 years. After completing her BA at SUNY New Paltz in History in 2014, she earned an MA at SUNY Albany.  She currently serves as a Park Ranger of Interpretation at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site in Hyde Park.  Shannon Butler has also interpreted the Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston and has done archival work for The Saugerties Historical Society. She is currently working on a book about the Delano family.

Richie Rosencrans, born in Newburgh NY, is a 2004 graduate who majored in History and English. He then explored the US for a while, returned to the Hudson Valley, and landed at the Gomez Mill House Historic Site. As Visitor Services Coordinator he organizes the annual program series; researches, interprets, and presents the Site’s history; promotes the Site at regional events; and facilitates site maintenance. 

Ashley Trainor, is Collections Manager (2016-) and Registrar/Curatorial Assistant (2014-2016) at Historic Huguenot Street. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 2014 with a major in History and a minor in Anthropology.


The 2016 Election in Historical Perspective

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 • 5:00–6:30 p.m.
LC 102 • SUNY New Paltz

Are there historical precedents for the 2016 election? How might a look at the past help us understand the election, the divisions it revealed, and how we might respond? The History Department at SUNY New Paltz will hold an informal conversation for students and other community members on the 2016 Election. The goal of the forum is to create a space to discuss the election in relation to past and present historical contexts. If you would like to discuss the election of 2016, please join us!


Trails of Tears and Freedom: Slavery, Migration, and Emancipation in the Southwest Borderlands, 1830–1887

A talk by Nakia Parker
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 4:00–5:00 p.m.
Honors Center • SUNY New Paltz

Nakia Parker is a Ph.D. student in History at the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her undergraduate degree in history at SUNY New Paltz, where she received department honors and graduated summa cum laude. Her research interests include Native American slaveholding and captivity practices in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas during the nineteenth century, gender, antebellum Southern history, and memory studies. Last year, she was elected the National Graduate Student Representative for the Association of Black Women Historians. In March 2015, she was awarded a C.M. Caldwell Memorial Award for Excellence in Historical Research by the Texas State Historical Association for her paper “Bold, Bad Notorious” Hal Geiger: Politics, Violence, and Defiance in Reconstruction Era East Texas.”


Gerald Sorin: Celebrating 50 Years of History at New Paltz

Thursday, May 5, 2016 • 5 p.m.
Sojourner Truth Library Atrium • SUNY New Paltz

A celebration of 50 years of the work of an American and Jewish historian, writer, intellectual, and university professor

From 1965 through 2016, Gerald Sorin’s work as a contributing member of the history department, university community, and broader New Paltz community has been remarkable. Embodying teaching, research, and service, Dr. Sorin continues to make a mark on history graduates and the community of ideas.

We will be hosting a panel to celebrate his work as a New Paltz professor.

Welcoming remarks by President Donald Christian and Interim Provost Stella Deen.
Introductions by Andrew Evans, Chair of the History Department
Deborah Dash Moore, “Gerald Sorin’s Moral Vision”
Mark Lapping (Class of ’67), “Gerald Sorin and Mentorship”
William Strongin, “Gerald Sorin’s Service to Jewish Studies and the Community”
Gerald Sorin, “Reflections on a Career”

Reception to Follow
R.S.V.P. at provost@newpaltz.edu


Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society and Speaker Series

Dr. Paul Paskoff, Class of '70, on "The Folly of Conventional Wisdom"

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 • 5 p.m.
Jacobson Faculty Tower 1010 • SUNY New Paltz

The evening before the Sorin celebration, the History department will hold its annual reception honoring our students as part of the Phi Alpha Theta honors society induction and speaker series. To further celebrate Gerald Sorin’s 50th anniversary of work on campus and our graduates, we invited a speaker who began his undergraduate career at New Paltz fifty years agoPaul Paskoff would go on to complete a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University and enjoyed a long career as a Professor of American Economic History at Louisiana State University.  He credits his interest in his field to Professor Sorin’s early influence.  We invite you attend this event celebrating our departmental community, our students’ and graduates’ work to develop as historians, and this alumni’s distinguished career and continuing intellectual contributions to American History.

5 p.m. Welcome reception and Induction of new Phi Alpha Theta Members by History Faculty

5:30 p.m. Paul Paskoff, “The Folly of Conventional Wisdom, or New Answers to Some Old Questions about the Civil War”

Abstract: Conventional wisdom about the past is not always reliable.  That, at least, has been my experience in the course of doing historical research and writing.  Three points of historical consensus I’ve encountered are: 1) the federal government played at best only a negligible role in stimulating economic growth before the Civil War; 2) the Civil War visited massive physical destruction upon the South; and 3) the Civil War was a “rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight.”  I must admit that when I began my research into these questions, I subscribed to the conventional wisdom concerning each.  I no longer do.


Can Reading Make You Sick? The History of Pathological Books

A talk by Dr. James Kennaway, Medical Historian at Newcastle University

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 • 3 p.m.
Jacobson Faculty Tower 1010

Reading books might seem like a harmless pastime, but for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there was a huge amount of medical concern about its impact. Serious study could lead to the "diseases of the learned" and novels could, it seems, over-stimulate the minds and nerves of young ladies, leading to immorality, sickness and death. For many years more doctors spent more time writing about this than drug addiction. Come to my talk for a thousand excuses never to do your homework again.