Department Chair:
Pablo Mitchell

Administrative Assistant:
Kathy King

Department Email:

Phone: 440 775 8520
Fax: 440 775 6910

Rice Hall 316
10 North Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Office Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8:00-4:30

Alumni and Faculty News

Alumni and Faculty News

ALUMNI NEWS: Obies Make Good-- Actually, Obies Make Amazing!

Josh Piker

Just in time for his 25th reunion, Josh Piker, OC '89, has been named the new editor of the William and Mary Quarterly, the premier scholarly journal in Early American history.  (It's the Americanist equivalent of Past and Present on the prestige scale.)  

As part of the deal, Josh will move from the University of Oklahoma to take a joint position at the College of William and Mary and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, VA.  


Ben Weber

Ben Weber did honors in 2007, and is now ABD in American history at Harvard.

From David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Knopf, 2014)

"Benjamin David Weber has brilliantly compared Thome's massive handwritten manuscript with the published book, showing that Theodore Dwight Weld edited the work in a way that deemphasized religion and moral suasion and focused on the the economic superiority of free labor within a context of laissez-faire individualism and harmony of interests. with southern slaveholding readers clearly in mind, Weld welcomes the passages that demonstrated 'the safety and profitability for the master and new mechanisms of discipline focused on inculcating inward self-control and industriousness.' The issue of the freed slaves' incentives to work had been especially crucial in Britain. But, given Weld's pragmatism, this also meant the deletion of Thome's paragraphs noting the great desire of some workers to escape field labor and describing the way Antigua restricted the blacks' employment options in order to keep sufficient field labor on the estates.... (pp.275-6)

...While Weber shows that Thome and Kimball's work helped change the meaning of immediatism for American abolitionists -- and some nonabolitionist northerners like Governor Edward Everett of Massachusettes wrote that Thome and Kimball's evidence 'sealed the fate of slavery throughout the civilized world' -- it was British Quaker Joseph John Gurney who directly conveyed a positive view of British emancipation to America's most prominent leaders in Washington, in 1840." (p.27

note 44, p.397: "Benjamin David Weber, "Emancipation in the West Indies: Thome and Kimball's Interpretation and the Shift in American Antislavery Discourse, 1834-1840" (essay written as candidate for honors in history at Oberlin College, Professor Carol Lasser, Advisor, Spring 2007), 7-23. I am much indebted to this brilliant and highly original essay. a published version can be seen in "Emancipation in the West Indies and the Freedom to Toil: Manual Labor and Moral Redemption in Transatlantic Discourse," Journal of the Oxford University History Society 6, no.1, (Feb, 2009). 

Reid Palmer

I write with the joyous news that one of our present honors students, Reid Palmer, has been awarded a 5-year Chancellor's Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin to enter their Ph.D. program in History.


Jason Bent

During the summer of 2012 I travelled to Delhi, India to conduct research and collect materials for my senior thesis in South Asian History.  The Artz Grant was absolutely essential in making the trip to Delhi possible, and without the funds I could never have pursued a topic that relied primarily upon archival research in India.  During my time in Delhi I not only had the opportunity to collect primary sources for my thesis, I was also able to engage with the scholarly community in the city.  The experience of attending lectures and meeting with scholars in the field led me to significantly alter my topic from the broad issue of the integration of the Princely States of India, to a more focused study on land reform and democratization in the North Indian state of Rajasthan.  Furthermore, my experience sifting through the vast array of sources in the National Archives of India and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library helped me better understand the archival research process that professional historians rely upon.  The Artz Grant helped provide one of the most rewarding experiences of my career at Oberlin.  I would highly recommend that future honors students continue to use the grant in order to visit the archives they need, wherever in the world they may be located!


Kaela Sanborn Hum

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship is a two year program that includes a $3,500 summer stipend for summer research, $1,600 stipend for part-time work during the academic year, up to 3 credit hours each semester for project research, and up to $10,000 repayment of Stafford and Perkins undergrad student loans. The purpose of the fellowship is to address the underrepresentation of faculty of color in American educational institutions by giving research opportunities and support to students of minority racial and ethnic groups pursuing PhDs and graduate school.

My project proposal is examining radical Asian American organizing that happened from 1960-1980 specifically in New York and California. I am particularly interested in these two areas because they have urban epicenters that were the basis of major Asian enclave communities where local, grassroots activism was occurring. I want to explore questions such as where does the term "Asian American" originate? What were the critical issues of the Yellow Power movement? How did Asian community organizers work and collaborate with activists from the Young Lords and the Black Panthers?And finally, how did movements such as the Third World Liberation Front, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the Revolutionary Left movement in Chile etc. influence and/or lend a transnational framework affecting ethnic organizing in the United States?


 Leonard V. Smith
 Frederick B. Artz Professor

 In the Spring of 2015, Professor Smith will be a visiting scholar at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University.

Jiyul Kim Publishes

July 10, 2014

Visiting Assistant Professor of History Jiyul Kim published an article entitled "Strategic Culture of the Republic of Korea" in the journal Contemporary Security Policy. The article explores the interaction between Korean foreign policy and Korean culture, a subject that he has taught for the last three years at Oberlin.

Steve Volk Presents at European Association for American Studies

April 30, 2014

Steve Volk, professor of history, gave a talk entitled "The Border Murders as Palimpsest: The Historiography of 'Feminicide' in Ciudad Juárez" at the 60th Anniversary Conference of the European Association for American Studies in The Hague, Netherlands, on April 4, 2014.

Shelley Lee, Rick Baldoz, and Harrod Suarez Participate in Conference

April 30, 2014

Associate Professor of History and Comparative American Studies Shelley Lee, Assistant Professor of Sociology Rick Baldoz, and Assistant Professor of English Harrod Suarez participated in the Association for Asian American Studies annual meeting held in San Francisco, April 16 to 19. This is the largest association for scholars of the interdisciplinary field of Asian American studies.

Lee presented new research in a paper titled, “Koreagate: Race, Gender, and the Return of the Yellow Peril in 1970s America,” and participated in a state-of-the-field roundtable discussion on Asian American history. Baldoz participated in a pedagogy roundtable discussion titled, “Teaching Asian American Studies: Strategies, Trajectories, and Philosophies.” Suarez presented his research in a paper titled, “The Maternal Diaspora in Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son.”

Shulamit Magnus Wins Translation Prize

May 3, 2013

Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History Shulamit S. Magnus has been awarded the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s Translation Prize for volume two of her unabridged translation and critical edition of Pauline Wengeroff’s Memoirs of a Grandmother. Volume one won the National Jewish Book Award in 2010; volume two is in press (Stanford University Press). Magnus is on sabbatical this academic year in Israel, where she is teaching a course, Theories and Practice of Feminist Judaism, in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on as part of her Lady Davis Fellowship. She recently learned that she has been offered a book contract by Littman Press, Oxford, for her new book, A Woman's Life: Pauline Wengeroff and Memoirs of a Grandmother.