Student News & Activities

There are a wide range of clubs and opportunities available to our History students. Here you can find out more about joining the History Club and Phi Alpha Theta, checking out study abroad options, and participating as a judge in the annual History Day competition. This page also features recent activities and accomplishments of our current undergraduates.



rusty wallace

History Seniors Rusty Wallace (right) and John Nesbitt (lelft) presented their research at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference at SUNY Brockport on April 10th. They presented their website, "Lost Dunkirk," which they (and other students) developed last fall semester for Prof. Litwicki's HIST 396 - Digital History & Humanities. You can see their project by clicking on this link.

Congratulations to 2014 SSED graduate, Dylan Penner, who was offered a position at Silver Creek teaching Iroquois History! After graduating from Fredonia, Dylan moved back to the Buffalo area and substituted at school districts with at risk students, working at charter schools like the Enterprise Charter School, the Charter School for Applied Technologies, and the Health Science Charter School. He was offered a job in South Carolina, but turned it down after deciding that he wanted to remain in New York. He applied for the Native American Studies position at Silver Creek in December and, after an interview, was offered the job in January. Dylan anticipates that, in addition to teaching Iroquois history, he will be expanding his course offerings to include teaching "Native American Culture in Film." Looking into the future, he plans to get his Masters degree in Special Education and an advanced certificate in Educational Technology and New Literacies. We wish him much success!!



slavery conference

Mikel Pierce presents his research on Islam and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

On Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, Fredonia’s History Honors Capstone Seminar hosted a conference showcasing their own research on Atlantic slavery entitled, “A Forgotten Agency: Evolution, Resistance, and Rebellion in Atlantic Slavery.” In all, ten students presented their research on a wide variety of topics during three sessions: Slave Resistance and the Maintenance of Slavery, Slave Rebellion and Revolution, and the Evolution of Slavery. Faculty members Steve Fabian, Eric Meringer, and Joni Pobedinsky moderated the sessions and the presenters responded to audience questions at the conclusion of each session. Following the student sessions at 5:00 p.m., Prof. Olatunji Ojo of Brock University presented the keynote address, “John Dasalu: A Nineteenth-Century Trans-Atlantic Odyssey from Slavery to Freedom.” The conference ended with a reception and the students and several faculty took Prof. Ojo to dinner. The conference was a great success and all who attended and participated increased their understanding of Atlantic slavery and enjoyed themselves.


alonzo cushing

1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing

It isn’t every day a Fredonia student is invited to the White House. As a public history intern at the McClurg Museum in Westfield this semester, history major Charles Johnson has had the opportunity to see the national impact of local history. He has been digitizing the letters and papers of Naval Cmdr. William Barker Cushing, a Civil War hero best known for sinking a Confederate ship. Cushing, the subject of a recent biography by History Prof. Emeritus Julian McQuiston, was one of Fredonia’s Cushing brothers, who are well known for their military exploits. A descendant of the Cushings provided the museum with funds for the digitization project. Cushing’s brother, Alonzo Cushing, recently received the Medal of Honor, and John Paul Wolfe, the McClurg’s curator, was instrumental in locating the closest relative to accept this medal. Because of this, both Mr. Wolfe and Charles were invited to the White House ceremony; unfortunately, due to the cost and short notice, Charles was unable to attend. There is yet another Fredonia link to this story: History and Social Studies alumnus Jordan Nicholson, who is a member of Sen. Charles Schumer’s staff, played a role in making this ceremony happen.



Dr. Straus' HIST 201 students at OSCAR

On Thursday, May 1st, History and SSED majors participated in the 16th Annual Original Student Research and Creativity Exposition (OSCAR) held in the Williams Center. Using poster boards, students from Dr. Emily Straus' honors Doing History (HIST 201) course presented on themes inspired by the landmark Brown vs Board of Education decision; Dr. Nancy Hagedorn's students examined subjects from their Indians and Europeans in Early American History class; and HIST 495 senior capstone students answered questions about their research undertaken in Dr. Eric Meringer's Oral History and Dr. Jennifer Hildebrand's Black Women and Gender classes.


Chris Malone presents his senior capstone research

HIST 201 student Jordan Reed examined how political and social climates affected the shaping and interpretation of affirmative action in the United States. Asked why he chose his topic, he responded “many people seem to focus on the leaders’ views of affirmative action and how that shaped their policies, but I wanted to focus on how the context of the time shaped the issues.” Reed found it a challenge to distill “something as complex as the political culture of a time, with multiple players and events … into a poster that is supposed to be easily read and understood”; however, he walked away from his OSCAR experience with “a better g of how to present historical ideas to the public” as well as an introduction to a new medium of presenting research.


Jordan Reed

ETHN 389 student Sarah Creighton “explored the evolution of Indian-European economic relationships in early America … As a part of (this) topic, I included information on cultural symbolism of trade goods, trade beads, trade silver, the fur trade, and wampum …”. She chose her topic because she has “always been interested in how the Indians placed different values to European trade goods instead of monetary values …” Like Reed, Creighton also found it challenging condensing a lot of information into a presentation that did not overwhelm or confuse the non-specialist. They learned a valuable skill in bridging the gap between academic and mainstream audiences.


Sarah Creighton

Students overall had a positive impression of their OSCAR experience. Creighton “thought OSCAR was a fun way to showcase the talent and experiences of Fredonia students from many different disciplines. Everyone was incredibly friendly and respectful of each other’s accomplishments and projects.” Her classmate, Chad Szymkowiak, noted the exposition was “a nice recognition of hard work, too.” Creighton quipped that the OSCAR acronym could also be interpreted as “Our Students Care About Research.”


Conflicts and Crises in African History

499 conferenceLaura Hirst presents her research on the history of the African Union.

Senior students in Professor Fabian's Honors Capstone (HIST 499) course organized a public conference to present their research on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 in the Williams Center. Aside from researching, writing, and practicing their oral presentations, students worked together to organize their own conference program and publicity; have the event catered; invite a guest speaker, local photojournalist Brendan Bannon, to give the opening presentation; and raise the funds to make it all happen. The event was a great success and provided students with the experience of event planning, fundraising, teamwork, and public speaking. It also gave them an intimate experience with the world of the historian and public engagement.

499 conference2Jeff Schmidt presents his research on Hollywood perceptions of African conflicts.



Students in Prof. Litwicki's 2012 Honors Capstone Seminar: Local History conducted research in local archives and museums. They published their final essays in a book, which revealsects of the rich history of Chautauqua County. Topics range from the industries that dominated Dunkirk, to the reformers whose progressive ideas shaped national politics, to the experiences of county residents during three different wars. Copies of the book were donated to local historical institutions.


The published authors from Prof. Litwicki's HIST 499 Honors Capstone.

substituted at school districts with at risk students (Charter schools -- Enterprise Charter School, Charter School for Applied Technologies and Health Science Charter School.) I also continued job searching, and was offered in South Carolina but ultimately decided I wanted to stay in New York.

History Department Office

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