Departmental Awards Celebration Tuesday April 28th


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UCCS History Students Visit Western Museum of Mining and Industry

caseyUCCS students visit Western Museum of Mining and Industry, Feb. 9

On Feb. 9, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) students from the 19th Century American History course (taught by History Department Lecturer Casey Pearce) pose in front of the 35-ton Corliss steam engine at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI). During their museum visit, the students learned about the development of steam power, an energy source that powered the Industrial Revolution from the 18th to 20th centuries and is still used today. The students learned that steam was initially used to create a vacuum in a condenser, used to draw down one side of a beam engine. Eventually steam engines were developed that created mechanical energy from steam pressurizing a piston up and down in a piston chamber, which then rotated an axle and flywheel. A belt on the steam engine flywheel transferred the energy to the flywheel on the machine needing power. Museum staff operated a number of steam engines demonstrating this transfer of power principle. Information on upcoming events at the museum is at Photo by David Futey.

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Student Senior Thesis Published!

lizturnerLiz Turner, an outstanding recent graduate of the UCCS History Department, is having her Senior Thesis published in IEEE A & E Systems Magazine. The thesis is entitled “Women Air Force Service Pilots: An Army Air Corps Experiment.” Turner’s work made the cover, and they are running it as a two-part series in the January and February issues. Congratulations to Ms. Turner, and to her Senior Thesis supervisor, Barbara Headle.

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Preserving Colorado Springs Memories

Today features another great piece about the work of History Department Instructor Leah Davis-Witherow, whose “day job” is to be curator at the Pioneers Museum. Leah is involved in preserving the history and memories of each neighborhood in Colorado Springs, and this piece describes her work in more detail. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Every one of us, every house, every street, every neighborhood is an important part of our collective story,” she said.

Of course, I completely understand. I’ve spent most of the last 35 years telling the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. Typically, many can’t fathom why I want to meet them and tell their stories.

Anyway, in response to that column, readers started sending in their photos and histories. And Witherow hopes readers will send more.

“I was gone over Christmas and when I came back I started getting all these photos. It’s like I received a Christmas present with these photographs.”

For example, she was tickled to learn of efforts in Ivywild by Linda Johnson and Molly Merry to collect old photos, take contemporary photos, record oral histories of longtime residents and write a history book of the neighborhood south of downtown Colorado Springs.

And she’s equally enthused about other folks who responded to her request.

“We are getting fantastic images of distinct neighborhoods,” she said. “We’re thrilled.”

She especially likes the before-and-after photos some have sent.

“Historians and geographers are always interested in showing change over time,” she said, noting that in 50 years, all the photos of current life will be historic. “Over time, the change can be dramatic. It’s terribly exciting to see. We’d really like before-and-after photos.

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UCCS History Alumni News: New Books, Publications, and Radio Broadcasts

Happy 2015 from the UCCS History Department.

We wanted to start out this year by noting some recent accomplishments of a couple of our recent graduates.

Kyle Miller was a student in our BA and MA programs, and now teaches middle school locally. He has recently authored the book Cnut: Rise of a Viking WArriorWe asked Kyle to describe his book, and here’s what he sent back:

My book is entitled Cnut: Rise of a Viking Warrior. It is about a teenager who grew up in Wessex, but was of Viking descent. Once he reconnected with his people, he learns their culture and it replaces his own. As he learns, he joins them in raids and in adventures across the sea.

 The inspiration for this book was my middle school students. They enjoyed the stories I told in class and they thought I should do an historical fiction work. I decided on the Vikings because of their current popularity because of the television series, as well as the popularity of the lessons I teach on Vikings among my students. While the main character is fictional, some of the people are historical figures, and several of the events are actual events. The research process for the book was a great experience; however, the editing and publishing process was definitely tedious and time consuming. In the end, everything was worth it once the final product was in my hand. I am currently working on the second book in the four part series and still loving the research and the writing!

Ludlow minersSecondly, our M.A. graduate Captain Adam Morgan was recently appointed as the official historian of the Colorado National Guard. Morgan has been involved in a number of projects with his new assignment, including dealing with two of the most difficult issues of Colorado history, the Sand Creek Massacre and the Ludlow Massacre (1864 and 1914).

Morgan recently appeared on the special one-hour documentary on the  Ludlow Massacre which aired on the excellent locally-produced KRCC program Wish We Were Here. The program, entitled “Ludlow and Its Legacy,” is a moving portrait of the events at Ludlow and their aftermath, featuring voices of major historians such as Thomas Andrews, poets such as Dave Mason, and our own Captain Morgan. Morgan has also recently authored a searching and sensitive essay about Sand Creek and Ludlow and their relationship to the Colorado National Guard. See “Ludlow, Sand Creek: Could They Happen Again?

Congratulations to Kyle and Adam for their accomplishments in presenting history, in a variety of formats and genres, to broad public audiences.

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Wunderli Scholarships: Now Open for Application In Your Student Portal

The History Department is delighted to announce a NEW scholarship program for all undergraduate History majors, and graduate students: The Wunderli scholarships. Applications are NOW OPEN to apply for this scholarship, through your student portal. The deadline for the application is March 1. Scholarships will be given in amounts UP TO $5000 for the next school year. Please see the information below, or go here to the UCCS scholarship page for more information.

Wunderli Scholarship


The Wunderli Scholarships, named after the Department’s esteemed Professor Emeritus of Medieval History, provides support for undergraduate History majors and graduate students in our M.A. program. It is funded by a generous bequest from Judith Price (1944-2012), a long-time Instructor in Asian History in the Department. We seek especially to assist students whose financial burdens may interfere with the pursuit of a degree in history, as well as students with a record of extraordinary accomplishment. Awards may vary from $1,000 to $5,000 for the academic year. Student must demonstrate financial need by competing the FAFSA no later than March 1.

Application Requirements

The following requirements must be submitted via the UCCS Scholarship Application in the portal.

  • Special Essay

Special Essay Topic

Address each topic below in less than 1,000 words total:

  • Describe where you are at in your History program, what courses you have taken in the History Department, and when you plan to graduate.
  • Describe your current total financial picture in terms of paying for your college education/graduate degree. Please list all sources of support û from parents, family, significant other, other scholarships and fellowships you may be receiving, student grants and loans, and any other financial means of support that you currently rely on to pay for your education. Preference for this scholarship is for students with limited sources of external support.
  • Describe your career to date at UCCS; why you are a History major or pursuing a graduate degree in History?
  • How would being a recipient of this scholarship assist you in achieving your goals in our program?
  • How would being a scholarship recipient alleviate you from other financial burdens û student loans, long work hours, etc. û that might hinder you from achieving your goals as a History student?
  • If you are a graduate student, please indicate what you hope to accomplish with your M.A. degree.

Award Status

Applicants will be notified of scholarship results in the beginning of May.

Application Procedures

If you think you are eligible for this scholarship and would like to apply, log in to the UCCS Scholarship Application.



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Habits of Mind

Paul Harvey

I have just completed another Senior Thesis course with a group of 16 very game and able students who produced some wonderful works of history based on original research. Sometimes other department heads and people at other institutions have asked me, “why do you make all your majors do a SEnior Thesis? Shouldn’t that be for the Honors students”?

The answer, I think, is beautifully explained in this piece by renowned historians James Grossman and Anthony Grafton, entitled “Habits of Mind: Why College Students Who Do Serious Historical Research Become Independent, Analytical Thinkers.”  Here is a brief excerpt, which I hope will entice you to read all of it. And this is a good place to send anyone to who questions the values of work that we do in the Humanities, and specifically in History:

Why do we teach these students—fresh, bright young undergraduates—to do research? Why take people who are forming themselves, who should be thinking about life, death, and the universe, and send them off to an archive full of dusty documents and ask them to tell us something new about the impact of the Civil War in a country town in Pennsylvania or Virginia, or the formation of Anglo-Norman kingship, or the situation of slaves in the Old South?

The answer is so simple that we sometimes forget to give it, but it matters. We teach students to do research because it’s one powerful way to teach them to understand and appreciate the past on its own terms, while at the same time finding meaning in the past that is rooted in the student’s own intellect and perspective. Classrooms and assigned readings are necessary to provide context: everyone needs to have an outline in mind, if only to have something to take apart; and everyone needs to know how to create those outlines and query them constructively. Reading monographs and articles is vital, too. To get past the big, generalized stories, you have to see how professional scholars have formed arguments, debated one another, and refined theories in light of the evidence.

But the most direct and powerful way to grasp the value of historical thinking is through engagement with the archive—or its equivalent in an era when oral history and documentary photography can create new sources, and digital databases can make them available to anyone with a computer. The nature of archives varies as widely as the world itself. They can be collections of documents or data sets, maps or charts, books with marginal notes scrawled in them that let you look over the shoulders of dead readers, or a diary that lets you look over the shoulder of a dead midwife. What matters is that the student develops a question and then identifies the particular archive, the set of sources, where it can be answered.

Why do this? Partly because it’s the only way for a student to get past being a passive consumer and critic and to become a creator, someone who reads other historians in the light of having tried to do what they do. Partly because it’s the way that historians help students master skills that are not specific to history. When students do research, they learn to think through problems, weigh evidence, construct arguments, and then criticize those arguments and strip them down and make them better—and finally to write them up in cogent, forceful prose, using the evidence deftly and economically to make their arguments and push them home.

The best defense for research, however, is that it’s in the archive where one forms a scholarly self—a self that, when all goes well, is intolerant of weak arguments and loose citation and all other forms of shoddy craftsmanship; a self that doesn’t accept a thesis without asking what assumptions and evidence it rests on; a self that doesn’t have a lot of patience with simpleminded formulas and knows an observation from an opinion and an opinion from an argument.

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