In 1962, nearly a decade after the landmark Supreme court case Brown v. Board of Education, Florida State University officially changed its admittance policy and opened its doors to African American students. In 2002, on the anniversary of this pivotal moment, the sitting University President Talbot D’Alemberte commissioned a commemorative monument. The Integration Statue was completed and unveiled near Legacy Walk in January of 2004. It depicts three of the institution’s first African American students symbolizing “Books, Bats, and Beauty.”

Justin Vos, a doctoral candidate, in post-Civil War US history, seeks to investigate the role of the Dutch ethnic community and its relationship with North American Christianity, especially post-World War II evangelicalism. Justin contents that the Dutch ethnic community’s specific understanding of Christianity, stemming from their long-term cohesion as a transnational ethnic group, allowed them to influence late-twentieth century developments in both evangelicalism and mainline Christianity.

Justin will set out to connect three areas of research: the specific development of the Dutch-American community in the late 20th century; the broader evolution of European immigrant ethnicity in North America; and the evolving relationship between the Dutch American religious community and American Christianity at large. Examining the Dutch community will allow for the intertwining of ethnic and religious development, nuancing the history of American evangelicalism and conservative white Christianity.

Daria Willis didn’t set out to make history, she set out to study it. But the lessons she learned from the past while earning her doctorate in history at Florida State University, and the mindset she developed through the strong women she idolized along the way, helped to vault her higher than she could have imagined.

In July, Willis became the first African American president of Everett Community College. At age 34, she’s also the youngest college president in the state of Washington. Her present role revolves around people, and Willis credits her extensive education as preparation for the position.

“History is the study of people. And that’s what I deal with every day,” she said.

Being a college president is anything but predictable. Willis’s days often begin at four or five in the morning and lead into meetings on and off campus. In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities, she regularly faces the new and unexpected challenges that come with running a school for more than 19,000 students. She, however, enjoys that each day is different.

Alberto Perez-Rueda, a Master’s student in Public History,  created and designed this exhibition of swords and fencing that just opened at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts.  The exhibit covers a timeline from 1645-2015, and shows swords as weapons of war and dueling, objects of power, and equipment for sport.  Alberto also explored the gendered nature of sword fighting over the centuries.  The items in the exhibit come from his own personal collection as well as other repositories within Florida State University, including Special Collections and the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience.

Ever since he was a child, Alberto Perez-Rueda has been fascinated by swords and fencing.  When asked how his interest was sparked, he remembered “I used to watch a lot of Zorro on TV.”  He is a member of the FSU Fencing Club, and even wears his mustache in the manner of Alfred Hutton (1839-1910), one of the great fencing masters of the past.

To find out, Marina Ortiz, doctoral candidate in History, went to a lecture by Sarah Milligan, head of the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program. Organized by FSU’s Art History Department, Milligan spoke on oral history and community engagement last Friday.

Sarah Milligan, currently at Oklahoma State University, demonstrated the complexities of oral history in practice by drawing on the Chilocco History Project. Oral historians and Native American groups with ties to the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School collaborated closely to share authority for the making of their history. In narrating the Chilocco Project, Milligan explained the importance of assessing the motivations of participants, in order to balance experiential retellings of events with the need for being scholarly. Sarah Milligan emphasized that honesty, transparency, and intentionality were at the heart of oral history.

You think you know FSU?

History major Robert Gonzalez will take you on a brief tour of Florida State’s history.

169 years ago, today, the Florida Legislature voted to establish two institutions of learning, the West and the East Florida Seminaries. The two seminaries were to be situated on either side of the Suwannee River. The 1851 law left the specific locations to the best offer. In 1854, to claim the west seminary for itself, the Tallahassee City Council constructed a new school building. Very late in 1856, Tallahassee’s “Florida Institute” became one of the seminaries.

Over the next 50 years, the seminary morphed into Florida’s first liberal arts college and then, early on in the twentieth century, into an all-white women’s school. After WWII, a flood of men returned to Florida, straining the state’s university system. In 1947, Florida went back to a coeducational system. The first African American undergraduate student was admitted in 1962.

Since then, FSU has expanded in size -  to about 1,600 acres, in scope – nearly 300 degree programs with 18 colleges and schools, and houses the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. It also won 14 national athletic championships, and is the only college in the country with a Big Top circus tent. To cap it all – it is now a top 20 public university. Then as now the institution has striven to provide the very best in teaching, research, and achievement while fostering a community of free inquiry and diversity.

Paul M. Renfro studies United States history since 1945, with specific interests in gender/sexuality, the carceral state, and childhood and the family. Before arriving at FSU, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. His book, Stranger Danger: Family Values, Childhood, and the American Carceral State, will be published by Oxford University Press in June 2020, and his coedited anthology Growing Up America: Youth and Politics since 1945, is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press in December 2019. Renfro’s other scholarship has been published in Feminist Studies, Enterprise & Society, Southern Cultures, American Quarterly, and Disability Studies Quarterly. His popular writing has appeared in Dissent, the Washington Post, and Atlanta Studies.

Prof. Katherine Mooney will use the Edith and Richard French Fellowship from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University to study the movement of women into male-dominated professions between the Civil War and World War II. Read more at Arts & Science News.

FSU News wrote about Prof. Annika Culver's new course on North Korea. Read the story here.



The department is proud to congratulate John Cable, winner of the Martin-Vegue Dissertation fellowship, and Taylor Tobias, winner of the Walbolt Dissertation Fellowship for Fall 2019. Each will receive funding for a semester to support research and/or the writing of their dissertations. 

Congratulations to John and Taylor!