Department History, 1875-present

Project Background

The History of the History Department project was started in 2004. I began with Casey Jarchow's, Carleton: The First Century, but his data ended in 1964. To update Casey's info and post it, Ann May, Registrar's Office, send me the course lists since 1996-97 (when the Carleton catalogs were first posted electronically). I obtained older course lists from past college catalogs. Faculty members, student office assistants Patrick Phelps-McKeown '08, David Harrisville, '09, and Lauren Nakamura, '10, other alumni, relatives of past faculty and staff members also gathered and sent photos and information. Majors lists were created by Carla Thomas and Tony Pierre in Alumni Information Systems; the most recent ones are from Ann May. Information unavailable electronically was collected from past college catalogs and cross-checked with old phone directories, Algol yearbooks, department files, and continuing help from Eric Hillemann, Archives.

An interview with Professor emeritus William F. Woehrlin gives an excellent overview of the History Department changes that took place during the years 1962-1993.

Note:  Please see the history of the Classics department to visit our past Greek and Roman historians.

Alphabetical List of History Department Members, 1875-present

Chronological List of History Department Members, 1875-present

Photo Galleries, Faculty lists, and Course Lists, 1875-present (searchable pdf files)

The following historical information about our department until 1964 is by Casey Jarchow from Carleton: The First Century; from 1965-present is the chronology of tenure-track faculty members, and a list of the most recent department chairs.

1875 - History department was the Department of History and Political Science.  In 1875 Carleton added to its faculty John Bates Clark who for four years was to devote himself to the teaching of "political economy and history" the faint beginnings of what was to become one of the most significant departments in the College.” John Bates Clark later became professor of political economy at Columbia for many years, and was the author of such books as The Philosophy of Wealth and The Distribution of Wealth which were widely influential in both Europe and America.

The next significant teacher in this field was Charles H. Cooper who in 1883 had come from Dartmouth where he had earned B.A. and M.A. degrees and had been a tutor. By 1891 he was professor of history and political science, the sole instructor in the department. Professor Cooper was zealous in building up the offerings in his field; in 1895 he added international law to earlier courses in American history and politics. Two years later beginning courses in sociology and economics were announced. In 1898, when at the age of 43 Professor Cooper accepted a position as presi­dent of the State Normal School at Mankato, Minnesota, George H. Alden '91 succeeded him. Dr. Alden spent four years at Carleton, 1899 to 1903, and subsequently became professor of history, dean, and acting president of Willamette University, Salem, Oregon.

1916 - Department of Economics is separated from the Department of History Shortly after the turn of the century, significant changes developed in the joint department. "Political Science" was dropped and the title blossomed as the "Department of History and Economics." A new professor, Dr. Ezra Thayer Towne joined the faculty in 1903 and shifted the emphasis from American politics to the study of European and medieval his­tory. His natural inclination, however, was toward the social sciences, particularly economics. This bent led to the separation of the two main fields. Early in 1913, it was announced in the catalog that: "In September Professor Towne will have charge of the Department of Economics and Political Science. Professor Thorstenberg will have charge of the Department of History." Dr. Herman J. Thorstenberg was a member of the staff of the Department of History from 1913 to 1917. Four years later Dr. Towne left Carleton to go to the University of North Dakota where he was head of the Department of Economics and Political Science and later dean of the School of Commerce.

The New Separate History Department. The new separate department was firmly established in 1916 under the chairmanship of (James) Howard Robinson who rapidly developed it into one of the most important departments in the College. Courses in history multiplied and concepts of history widened. New fields of study included Latin America, the Near and Far East. American, English, and European history received increasing emphasis. Dr. Robinson soon became recognized as an author who happily combined unusual talents for both research and writing. While at Carleton he published a highly regarded book, The Development of the British Empire. After eight productive years, he moved to Miami University in Ohio to be professor of history and later dean. He went on to teach at Ohio State and at Oberlin where he remained until his retirement in the early 1960s.

By 1920 the department included both history and government, which in effect reintroduced political science to its earlier favored position. The emphasis on this phase of history led in that year to the appointment of one of the College's most talented and versatile professors, David Bryn-Jones. A native of Wales, trained in the University College of North Wales in both theology and political science, he was equally at home in the pulpit and the classroom. Although nominally a professor of economics, his dom­inating interest was in contemporary relations among world powers. His brilliant lectures in this field foreshadowed the development of a separate department. That, however, was to be in the future. In 1925 the College conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, at a time when he was sharing his professorial duties with regular preaching at Trinity Baptist Church, Minneapolis, of which he became full‑time minister in 1927.

Another teacher of history to join the staff in the early 1920s was Keith Clark, who added 18 years of color to the campus under three department chairmen. Miss Clark had already made her mark as a free‑lance writer and journalist when, in 1923, she came to Carleton to stimulate her classes in history and political science. As an author, she had dashed off alliteratively titled travel books: Spell of Spain and Spell of Scotland. The March 24, 1926 Carletonian reports about her European trip planned for the summer of 1927. She had been appointed Carleton's delegate by President Donald Cowling to travel to Europe where she had a very full schedule. She attended the Anglo-American historical meeting at the University of London. She was also chosen as part of the group of American Association of University Women who attended the international meeting of the AAUW federation in Amsterdam; she was also part of a group of professors to attend the International Lowland missions as a guest of the Carnegie Endowment for International peace; then she went to the Hague as an observer of meetings of International Courts of Justice and Arbitration, and finally, gave lectures at the Geneva Institute of International Relations. She was very active and conducted round table discussions for the League of Women Voters, and spoke publicly on suffrage (Carletonian Oct. 13, 1929).In 1931, determined to devote her entire energies to scholarly pursuits, she satisfied the requirements for the Ph.D. degree at Columbia. She wrote a thesis on communications, which cost her tedious years of preparation and to which she invariably referred with characteristic vigor as "that damned dissertation." Dr. Keith Clark was something of a Carleton legend.  She taught in Japan in 1937. She entertained students in her home, participated in many clubs and organizations, and In many able students she instilled a serious interest in history; not a few came to hold responsible academic and diplomatic posts.

When Dr. Clyde A. Duniway retired in 1937 at the age of 70, he had been chairman of the Department of History for 13 years. His immensely productive life before he settled at Carleton had included a history pro­fessorship at Stanford University in California and successive presidencies: at the University of Montana, the University of Wyoming, and Colorado College. His personal interest was in American history, and around that center the work of his department revolved.

Dr. Bryn-Jones acted as chairman of the Department of History for one year, 1937‑1938. Then Dr. Nelson Vance Russell began an eight‑year reign which terminated when he was called to the presidency of Carroll College in Wisconsin in 1946. Earlier he had served for three years as Chief of the Division of Records in the Library of the National Archives, Washington, D.C. Even more pointedly than his immediate predecessors, Professor Russell had a predilection for the history of the United States, his favorite courses dealing with representative American historians and American foreign relations.

Lucile Dahl Deen (Mrs. Victor E. Pinkham) '25, trained in the undergraduate classes of Keith Clark and with a Ph.D. from Radcliffe, began teaching history courses at the College in 1934, to continue with marked success until her sudden death in 1960. Succeeding Dr. Russell, she re­mained in the administrative position as head of the department from 1946 to 196o. In 1951 Lucile D. Deen and Victor E. Pinkham were married, and for the next nine years both continued as members of the same staff. Mrs. Pinkham was a specialist in 16th and 17th century European history. In this field she made a significant contribution to scholarship in her major book dealing with the part played in the English Revolution of 1688 by William of Orange.' (Lucile Deen Pinkham, William III and the Respectable Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1954). Under her chairmanship, the offerings of the department broadened to include, in addition to the history of Western Europe, new courses in United States history and the history of Latin America. Associate Professor Victor E. Pinkham, a native of South Africa, taught history for a quarter of a century preceding his retirement in 1962, making a particular contribution in his courses dealing with South America. For many years he was also rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Northfield.

In the spring of 1946, Merrill E. Jarchow became simultaneously associate professor of history and associate Dean of Men. The Minnesota Historical Society in 1949 published his The Earth Brought Forth, a history of agriculture in Minnesota during pioneer days. Dr. Jarchow taught occasionally during his time at Carleton, but said that his chief identification with the College was in the Office of the Dean of Men.

The Department of History came into the capable hands of Carlton C. Qualey in 1946 from a position at Swarthmore. Of Norwegian descent, and a graduate of neighboring St. Olaf College with a Columbia Ph.D., he possessed a lifelong interest in the history of immigrations, especially those from the north of Europe to the American Middle West. He wrote Norwegian Settlement in the United States. Under his chairmanship, the department moved toward a selective topical approach, and there was a steady increase in the number of students majoring in history and continuing in graduate work.

Associated with Dr. Qualey was Dr. Catherine E. Boyd, Radcliffe, and further study abroad. During her 19 years at Carleton, she made a special contribution in her courses in French and Italian history, in which she was an acknowledged authority. Her book on tithes and parishes in the Italy of the Middle Ages won a coveted award from the American Historical Association. In 1966 Professor Boyd left the College to join the staff of the history department at the University of Wisconsin. Catherine E. Boyd wrote, Tithes and Parishes in Medieval Italy: The Historical Roots of a Modern Problem, Cornell University Press, 1952.

1961-1962 was a big year at the college: it changed from the semester system to the trimester system. Course numbers changed from three numbers to two numbers, and there was no longer a Division of Departments Organizational chart, with a Chair of each division. It should be reasonable to assume that Divisional meetings of academic departments would have been eliminated at this time as well.

In 1962 William F. Woehrlin (Bill) joined the History department faculty as a specialist in the history of the Soviet Union. He was a member of the department for thirty years (1962-1993). When Bill retired in 1993 Adeeb Khalid became our Russian historian with a special interest in Central Asia and the Middle East.

In 1963-1964 the History department received its first administrative support, a shared Leighton Hall secretary, Mrs. Margaret Carlson, who was secretary to all of the faculty with offices of Leighton Hall for one year.

Carl Dorian Weiner came to the college in 1964, an Early Modern Europeanist with a specialty in French History. He was Chair on various occasions, the most recent 1995-96.

The History department was given its own part-time secretary, Dian Ring, in 1964-1965. She was replaced in 1965-1966 by Elizabeth (Betty) Maguire, who stayed through 1967.

The year 1966 was an enormous year of change for the History department: John C. Perry (East Asianist), Philip Niles (Medievalist) and Diethelm Prowe (Modern Europeanist with a specialty in German history) joined the full-time faculty. Donald Bailey and Eugene Manning were temporary hires the same year.

Robert Elliott Bonner joined the department in 1967. He was chair from 1983-1986, and in fall, 1988-1989. He also had a three-year interlude as Dean of Students, 1992-1995. He redirected his focus from British history to the American West the last few years of his teaching and he continues to teach in retirement in the American Studies Department.

Theresa (Terry) Basquin joined the department in 1967 and was the department secretary until 1975. In addition, Terry was the special assistant to the Chair of Asian Studies, John C. Perry, and, as noted earlier, a History department member.

Carlton Qualey retired in 1968. John C. Perry replaced him as Chair from 1968-1973, when Bill Woehrlin took over the department until 1977.

When Terry Basquin left in 1975, Ann Sullivan became the History department secretary. She remained with the department for ten years.

The three-year rotating chairmanships began following Bill Woehrlin’s time as Chair, in the fall of 1977. Philip Niles was Chair from 1977-1979. He retired from the college to move to Oregon in 1999.

Diethelm Prowe was Chair from 1980-1983, and again during 1998-99.

Eleanor Zelliot came to Carleton in 1969 and remained until 1997. She continues to advise and assist students, write recommendations, and offers useful and helpful information about travel in South Asia. She served as Chair from 1988-1992. She has always been a very strong advocate for the need to recognize the importance of South Asian History in the global picture and especially in the History curriculum. She was replaced by Yasmin Saikia from 1997-99, who was offered a new position at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Manu Bhagavan took over until Parna Sengupta accepted the position in 2000.

Two Americanists, Clifford E. Clark, Jr., and Kirk Jeffrey joined the History faculty in 1970.

John C. Perry was replaced by Chang-tai Hung in 1980. Professor Chang-tai Hung stayed at Carleton for eighteen years, leaving to accept at position at the University of Hong Kong in 1998. Professor Seungjoo Yoon accepted our East Asian history position in 1999.

The St. Olaf trade began in 1978. St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges shared two half-time professors, one in Latin American History and one in African Historian. John Tutino was the Latin American History professor hired by St. Olaf. Ray Kea was the African history professor hired by Carleton. In 1989 Jeane Hunter DeLaney replaced John Tutino who left Northfield to join the faculty at Georgetown University. In 1991 Jamie Monson replaced Ray Kea when he joined the faculty at the University of California, Riverside. The St. Olaf trade ended in 2003 and Jamie Monson became Carleton's full-time African historian. Jeane DeLaney remained at St. Olaf, and a new full-time Latin American history position was created at Carleton. Andrew Fisher joined our faculty as our new Latin American historian in 2003.

In 1986, Administrative Assistant Anne Sullivan left the History department to move to Pennsylvania with her husband Dan when he became President of Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He is currently President of St. Lawrence University, Canada. Nikki Lamberty accepted the position in 1986, which was half-time, and continued to work the other half-time upstairs in the Classics, Religion, and Philosophy departments until 1990. In 1990 the History department was granted a full-time administrative assistant because of the hard work of Eleanor Zelliot, Chair, and Steven Galovich, the Associate Dean at that time. It was justified because in 1988 two additional tenure-track positions had been created and filled, and the History department required additional administrative support.

The two positions were Women's History and African American History. Molly Ladd-Taylor and Harry McKinley Williams joined the faculty in 1989-90. In 1993 Adeeb Khalid became our Russian historian with a special interest in Central Asia and the Middle East, when Bill Woehrlin retired (see 1962 info). Molly Ladd-Taylor accepted a position at the University of Toronto in 1994 and was replaced by Annette Igra.

Susannah Ottaway became our Early Modern European historian in 1998, combining British (Robert Bonner's original specialty) and French History when Carl Weiner retired in 2004.

Philip Niles became Professor Emeritus of History after thirty-three years of service to Carleton College in 1999, and returned to his home, Portland, Oregon. His new book, Beauty of the City: A.E. Doyle, Portland's Architect was published by the Oregon State University Press early in November, 2008.

Victoria Morse and William North, a married couple, both medieval historians, accepted Philip Niles' position jointly. They have continued in the tradition of Professor Niles to foster great interest in Medieval history at Carleton with a very popular Medieval and Renaissance Studies interdisciplinary concentration. Professor North also serves as Director of European Studies, another interdisciplinary field. They were both tenured in 2008.

In 2000, Serena Zabin became our first Early American historian, first as a two-year Mellon Fellow. She accepted the position as our first full-time tenure-track Early Americanist in 2002-03.

Robert Bonner changed fields from British History to the American West in 1997. Although he officially retired from the History department in 2001, he continued post-retirement teaching in American Environmental History and American Studies until 2007.

In 2006, George Vrtis accepted a newly created shared American Environmental History and ENTS position.

Both Professors Kirk Jeffrey and Diethelm Prowe retired in 2007-08. Professor Prowe was also editor of the German Studies Review, the scholarly journal associated with the international German Studies Association from 2002-2012. In 2008 Parna Sengupta left our South Asian history position to become the Assistant Director of the Introduction to the Humanities department (IHUM) at Stanford.

In 2008-09 David Tompkins became our new Modern European historian and Jamie Monson joined the History department at Macalester and later moved to Michigan State University where she became the Director of African American Studies.

Brendan LaRocque joined the department in 2009 during the search for a new South Asianist and has been a visiting Assistant Professor during 2012-13, 2015-16, and 2016-17.

In 2010-11 John Thabiti Willis became our new Africanist.

Amna Khalid joined us in 2011-12 as our new South Asianist.

In 2012-13 we had two visiting professors: Brendan LaRocque returned to teach South Asian history in the fall and Brian Horrigan of the Minnesota Historical Society offered a class on Public History in the Spring.

In 2013-14 two visiting professors came to the History department: Nancy Jacobs, Brown University, Distinguished Benedict professor who taught two classes in African history, and Tamara Feinstein, UW, Madison, Visiting Assistant Professor, who taught two classes in Latin American history.

Our 2014-15 History department faculty included Clifford Clark, Andrew Fisher, Annette Igra, Adeeb Khalid, Amna Khalid (on leave), Victoria Morse, Bill North, Susannah Ottaway, David Tompkins, George Vrtis, Harry Williams, Thabiti Willis, Seungjoo Yoon, Serena Zabin.

In 2015-16 Clifford Clark and Martha Paas (Economic historian) retired. In addition to the regular faculty, Brendan LaRocque, South Asia, and Austin Mason (Digital Humanities and Anglo-Saxon history) also taught.

In 2016-17, Brendan LaRocque and Austin Mason continued, and we welcomed Tony Adler '06, (Science and Technology), Ellen Manovich (Modern U.S. History), and Janet Polasky '73, Distinguished Benedict Professor (Early Modern Europe).

In 2017-18, Austin Mason (Digitial Humanities and Anglo-Saxon history) and Tony Adler '06 (Science and Technology) remained, and Luis Herran Avila (Latin America) joined us. Andrew Fisher will serve as an Associate Dean of the College from 2017-2020. Spring term brought Clarence Walker, Distinguished Benedict Professor (African American History).

In 2018-19, Luis Herran Avila accepted a new position at the U of New Mexico. He was replaced by Elena McGrath (Latin America) while Andrew Fisher continues to serve as an Associate Dean of the College. We also added a two-year post-doctoral Fellow, Tyran Steward (African American history).

Most recent History Department Chairs:

Robert Bonner 1983-1986
Clifford Clark 1986-1989
Eleanor Zelliot 1989-1992
Kirk Jeffrey 1992-1995
Carl Weiner 1995-1996
Kirk Jeffrey 1996-1997
Carl Weiner 1997-1998
Diethelm Prowe 1998-1999
Harry Williams 1999-2001
Adeeb Khalid 2001-2004
Jamie Monson, 2004-2008
Annette Igra, 2008-2011
Susannah Ottaway, 2011-2014
William North, Fall/Winter 2014-2015
Adeeb Khalid, Spring 2015
William North, 2015-2016
William North, Fall/Winter 2016-2017 & 2nd 5 wks Spring 2017
Annette Igra, 1st 5 wks Spring 2017
Seungjoo Yoon, 2017-2020


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