News and Features

The Department of History at Florida State University is pleased to announce Ryan André Brasseaux, dean of Davenport College at Yale University, will deliver the 2021 James P. Jones Distinguished Lecture in American History.

In the 1960s, Black students began enrolling at Florida State University. Their presence challenged the prevailing racism in the student body and administration and began a permanent change in university life. After Southern states ignored or worked around Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to enforce desegregation.

The desegregation of schools, public transport, and public areas in America began in the 1950s. Integration faced significant pushback. College students across America participated in various forms of protest. In Tallahassee sit-ins became an important way to protest. 

In the decade after World War II, Tallahassee was a segregated town. This segregation included the seating arrangements of passengers on city buses: white people sat in the front, and Black people had to sit in the back. The Civil Rights Movement protesting such laws in Southern states began in 1954, and in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus. Five months later, two women took similar action in Tallahassee.

Over the forty years of my career in business, I have interviewed and subsequently hired several PhDs to work in our company.  Even though their areas of study had little, if anything, to do with our business.  In two cases, they ended up becoming equity partners and retired after having very successful careers. 

My degree in History directly led me to my career in museums and cultural institutions. When I came to Florida State as an undergraduate, my initial major was actually Environmental Studies, as part of the Geography department. I had taken an AP course on Human Geography in high school and was interested in studying cultures and their interactions around the world. I soon came to realize that this was the wrong major for me and requested a transfer to History, where I could still study those themes!

Last summer, Emma Davis, a History & French junior, got accepted for a Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship with the National Cemetery Association (NCA). “I heard about the VSFS program through the History Department and decided to apply. I have been doing internships since I came to FSU which helped me in applying for the NCA.”  Emma is one of three interns working for that department this year. VSFS internships are by nature remote/ virtual. They are offered by a range of federal government agencies.

For graduate students going stir crazy in Tallahassee, my experiences can serve as a cautionary tale or a note of (chaotic) inspiration. After living in Tallahassee for three years, I was itching to get away. The climate was heaps and bounds too hot and humid for this northeasterner, and I missed the mountains and valleys of Upstate New York.

Beatrice Dain and Jacob Bloch both applied for and were awarded IDEA grants in spring 2020. Below they describe how they crafted their successful applications.


Applying to IDEA Grant can be daunting – you need to write a project proposal and personal statement, compile a budget, and request 2 letters of recommendation. But before you get caught up in the components of the application, it is important to take a step back and think about what you are interested in studying.

There are a few things you need to know about me: I did almost everything wrong, but I did a few things right and that made all the difference. I studied Middle East history under Peter Garretson beginning in January 2002. I earned three degrees from FSU (BA 2001, MA 2004, PhD 2011) and one from the University of Arizona (MA 2006). August 2020 I applied for promotion to Full Professor.