History at Bryn Mawr is about questioning and explaining how the past has been constructed, understood, and made into what we call "history." Our courses challenge students to actively participate in interpreting and making history, rather than merely reading and reflecting about the past.
History faculty members conduct research and teach in and across a variety of fields. Our courses stress the development and circulation of ideas, cultures, and institutions, not just the accumulation of data about particular events. Students learn how to use and evaluate primary sources. Our class discussions are engaging, and most courses emphasize critical writing rather than examinations. Starting in 2017-18, departmental events (ranging from community-wide film screenings and discussions to public lectures) will be organized around a theme. The theme selected for this inaugural year is “disruption(s)."
We work closely with our colleagues in Special Collections, and have access to excellent collections relating to the study of the classics in both Art and Artifacts and Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Students play a vital role in the department, serving as representatives of the major and organizing social and academic activities outside the classroom. Essay prizes, established in honor of alumnae Elizabeth Duane Gillespie '03 and Helen Taft Manning '57, are awarded annually by the department faculty in recognition of outstanding essays involving original research.
Some of our department alumnae have gone on to distinguished academic careers, including Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust '68. Many others have pursued interests and careers in a wide range of fields, including, but not limited to:
- Library science
- Government and public affairs
- Faculty and administration in higher education
- Primary and secondary education