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History

Available as a major or minor

History is one of the three most popular majors at Roanoke College.

When you study history you gain strong research, critical thinking, and writing skills through extensive projects and one-on-one work with professors. Roanoke's History Department boasts as many tenured professors as some large state institutions. They teach everything from Latin American and African history to European and public history. 

At Roanoke, you'll get to experience history firsthand. You'll search for artifacts during archaeological digs and intern with Virginia's Department of Historical Resources. You'll have opportunities to study in England, Germany, Argentina, South Africa, and many other places through Roanoke's May Term history classes and another study abroad opportunities.

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hand on a book

Curriculum & Courses

HIST 213: Age of Alexander the Great
HIST 246: The Holocaust
HIST 273: Latin American Revolutions 
HIST 277: American Tourist in Rome (May Term course in Italy)
HIST 284: Modern Middle East

Student standing in front of records for the Center for Studying the Structures of Race

Student Experiences

A history major, Daniel channeled his love for folk music into his academic work, which opened the door to earning a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Scotland.

Tyler Merrill pictured outside the museum

An internship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum meant Tyler Merrill spent his fall days in downtown Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from the National Mall.  Along with other participants in the Lutheran College Washington Semester program, he took classes, went on weekly field trips and volunteered with non-profit organizations. The Holocaust Museum was of particular interest to Merrill, a history major with plans to teach high school, coach a swimming team and possibly enter law school a little later in life.

Merrill says his most memorable experience in the nation's capital was volunteering as an advocate for homeless and runaway youths. "D.C. has wonderful programs for the homeless," he says. "It's phenomenal...I was left with a passion for getting involved and doing my part to help right some wrongs."

What Makes Roanoke Different?

“What I love most about Roanoke's history department is the interaction you have with professors and the passion they have for teaching and the subjects they teach.”

John Stang '12

Learn by Doing

  • Homecoming Day

    On Homecoming Day, the Society puts on a series of events to honor first president David F. Bittle. The event begins with a parade to the cemetery to meet Bittle face-to-face, and concludes on the back quad with a bonfire.

    Students in the cemetery on the Hill
  • Homecoming Bash

    After the sun sets on Homcoming  Day, the Society celebrates Bittle's Birthday. The karaoke performances of students and faculty make it a night to remember.

    Students at a bonfire
  • History Through the Lens

    The Historical Society hosts a film series every year, with faculty introducing films dealing with, or from, the past. 

    Students watching a movie hosted by the Historical Society
  • Historical Dress-up Day

    Each year on Founder's Day, the Living History Lab helps faculty, staff and students dress for a particular era in time. 

  • Departmental Colloquia

    Every semester, the Historical Society hosts a series of events designed to promote historical understanding and the career prospects of our students.  

    President Maxey giving a speech at a history department event
  • Spring Picnic

    Each year at the end of the spring semester, the department and the Historical Society host a picnic for our students on the department's deck.

    Students at the spring picnic

Careers & Outcomes

Logos of The Met, GE, U.S. Air Force, Smithsonian Institution and Lockheed Martin

Faculty

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Dr. Jesse Bucher teaching a lecture

Professor Jesse Bucher's research and teaching interests include modern Africa, South Africa, East Africa, world history, history of the Atlantic World, postcolonial studies and environmental history.

Photo of Dr. Jason Hawke speaking to a group

Professor Jason Hawke teaches the history of the Ancient Mediterranean World and Classical Latin. His research interests include ancient law, tyranny and democracy, and numeracy.

Photo of Professor Miller giving a lecture

Professor Mark Miller's teaching fields include the U.S. in colonial and Civil War periods. Professor Miller likes to take advantage of local resources, from battlefields to newspaper archives, in teaching his courses. He is the author of Dear Old Roanoke, a history of Roanoke College, and is currently researching southern colleges and the coming of the Civil War.

Photo of Professor Rob Willingham with a student by a portrait

Professor Rob Willingham's scholarship includes the history of German Jews, with an emphasis on the postwar lives of Jews in East Germany. He joined the History department at Roanoke in 2004, and has been nominated for the exemplary teaching award multiple times, winning in 2009. He has taught classes on modern Europe, the Holocaust, the Middle East, and the politics of memorialization.

Photo of Professor Whitney Leeson

Professor Whitney Leeson's research and teaching interests include economic anthropology, historical archaeology, gift exchange, medieval France, kinship and marriage, and New World contact and colonization. She is also the associate book review editor and secretary for the Sixteenth Century Journal, and book review editor for the Coordinating Council of Women in History.

Professor Michael Hakkenburg talking with students

A specialist in early modern Europe, Professor Michael Hakkenberg's teaching fields include the Renaissance and the Reformation; his research interests focus on the history of the Netherlands during the Reformation. Professor Hakkenberg, a Dutch speaker, frequently travels to the Netherlands. He also enjoys teaching a May term course in Italy on the Renaissance.

Professor Mary Henold talking with students

Professor Mary Henold's areas of expertise include 19th and 20th century United States, women's and gender history, American Catholicism, advertising and consumer culture, and urban and suburban history. Professor Henold is currently researching how moderate Catholic "women in the pews" responded to both the Second Vatican Council and the Women's Liberation Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.