September with the History Department

3 Oct

Forrest Hall: 

“Memorials like this say that certain lives don’t matter.” – Dr. Pippa Holloway

The school year started off with great controversy surrounding Forrest Hall, named for CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest. This summer students began campaigning to rename the building. The first week of school a public demonstration was held on campus and the faculty of the History Department, along with AGSH and MTSU’s chapter of SAA, have made public their support to change the name. A committee has been created to examine the issue and make a decision regarding the building’s name. The committee will be chaired by Dr. Derek Frisby, a member of the MTSU Veterans Memorial Committee. Below are some news articles and pieces written by mtsu history students concerning the issue of Forrest Hall.




Middle Tennessee State University president, Dr. Sidney McPhee, announces the formation of committee to determine the fate of Forrest Hall during the March to Change the Name of Forrest Hall on Aug. 27 (Sarah Taylor)

Constitution Day

This year constitution day was held on September 17, 2015. Like usual, students read allowed the constitution throughout campus but this year MTSU hosted a special panel on the Voting Rights Act at 50 featuring legendary civil rights activists the Rev. James Lawson and the Rev. C.T. Vivian. Students gathered to hear the panel and Aleia Brown, a doctoral history student, was the moderator.





American Association for State and Local History Conference

Several students and faculty attended and presented at the State and Local History Conference this September.

  • “Visitors Talk Back: Analyses of Talk-Back Boards @ Seminary Ridge Museum & Women’s Rights National Historical Park,” Josh Howard
  • “Transcending Time: Place and the Development of Community,” Lane Tilner and Caleb Knies

Association for the Study of African American Life and History Annual Meeting

Many MTSU history students and faculty presented at this year’s ASALH Conference

  • “Subjected to still greater punishment”: Testimonial Incapacity as a Collateral Consequence of Criminal Conviction in the 19th Century South – Dr. Pippa Holloway
  • Panel Session: Materials, Memory, Place: The Public History of the Black Freedom Struggle, Chair- Dr. Thomas Bynum, Commentator- Dr. Louis Woods
    • “War people, that is how we must be”: Quilting the Black Freedom Struggle – Aleia M Brown
    • In the Shadows of Freedom: Contextualizing 18th and 19th Century Charleston Slave Badges – Torren Gatson
    • Saving the world, Slaying Monsters and Adventures: How African American women are craving a space in science fiction and fantasy – Marquita Reed
    • We Were There: Examining Place, Race, and Memory in New Town – Tiffany Momon

Make sure to look out for a special post in October about the The 12th biennial MTSU multi-disciplinary International Holocaust Studies Conference!

This school year is coming to an end, but the history department isn’t slowing down!

1 May

This school year is coming to an end and its been a great year for this history department.

Here are some recent highlights!


Many of our graduate students had the opportunity to attend the National Council on Public History’s annual meeting and some of our students and professors even presented!!

Here are some photos from the 4 day conference held in Nashville:







Presenters include:

Poster Sessions:

“A United Neighborhood:” Exploring an African American Community and Century Home – Lindsay Hagar

Altering the Narrative: Giving Voice to Childhood on Jekyll Island – Caleb Knies and Olivia Tilner

Building a Cornerstone: Interpreting Place in the Development of Community – Kayla Elizabeth Pressley and Erica Bettross

Contesting Narratives: The African American Heritage Society of Maury County Tennessee – Jaryn Abdallah

Story, Space, and Place: Developing Interpretation of the Franklin Battlefield through Spatial Technology – Rachel Finch and Thomas Flagel


Making Space for Activists: Public History in the Age of Ferguson – Aleia Brown, Joshua Crutchfield, Ashley Bouknight

Public History in the Age of Anthropogenic Climate Change: Edging Towards a New Reality – Dr. Rebecca Conard

Triangulation: Joining Scholarship, Primary Sources, and Spatial Visualization to Map the African American Landscape of the Civil War – Dr. Susan Knowles, Zada Law, Ken Middleton, and Lydia Simpson

Grassroots Public History Activism: Adding the Names of Black Union Soldiers to the War Monument in an Old Southern Town – Dr. Martha Norkunas

Unbounded Partnerships: Community Based Preservation – Aleia Brown Brad Miller and Ginna Foster

Working Groups

Free, Separate, Uncertain: Can Public History Play? – Josh Howard

Public History as Digital History as Public History – Dr. Susan Knowles

After the Administrative History: What Next? – Angela Sirna

Teaching Public History through International Collaborations – Elizabeth Catte


Graduate student Erica Bettross won an Award of Commendation for Best Educational Programming at the 2015 Tennessee Association of Museums Conference

museum project web

CMS Exhibit: A Legacy of Learning

Dr. Martin’s Essentials of Museum Management class has partnered with Central Magnet School, located in Murfreesboro, to create an exhibit including all the school sites located on the campus. These educational sites include: Union University, The Tennessee College for Women, Linebaugh Library, Central High School, Central Middle School and currently Central Magnet School. Grad students have worked tirelessly all semester in preparation for the May 1st Exhibit Opening located at the Central Magnet School Campus (701 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN) from 5-8pm.

Here are some photos from the work they have been doing this semester:







Make sure to come out and support those who have worked on the exhibit at the opening on May 1!


Dr. Martin’s Class at the Exhibit Opening


News from the History Department – February 2015

28 Feb

Even with the crazy weather conditions February was still a busy month for the History Department!!

Department Rivalry 

The Department had its annual Grad Student vs. Faculty Bowling Tournament! The history faculty claimed victory and redemption from last years loss.


MTSU coordinated several events for Black History month

History Day: Leadership and Legacy in History

Friday February 27th MTSU hosted the The Middle Tennessee District History Day Competition

Faculty and Students participated as volunteers and judges for the event.


AGSH Bake Sale



Saturday February 29th 9 of MTSU’s history graduate and undergraduate students presented at the 2015 Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference:


“Patently Revolutionary: How Starr Piano’s successful challenge of Victor Talking Machine Company’s Patent led to the Birth of the Modern Record Industry and the Recording of American Music” Charlie Dahan

“Der Fuhrer Speaks: The Rhetoric of hatred in Adolf Hitler’s Germany” Shaun York

“From Lincoln to King to Obama: The Reinvention of the Gettysburg Address” Kathryn Slover

“Politics of Piety and Duty in Classical Athens” Laura Darnell

“The Desperate Drive for Perfection: Changing Beauty Ideals of the 1920’s” Kelsey Lamkin

“E.T. Wickham: The Intersection of Family and Preservation” Brittany Wickham Walker

“Built for the Living: African American Funeral Homes across Tennessee, 1880’-1960’s” Brad Miller

“To Whatever End: German Involvement in the Holocaust” J. Ethan Holden

“Judenfrei: An Analysis of the Development of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question” Tyler Golden

Geography 4540 Class Trip to New Mexico

24 Nov

There were apparently some issues with the previous video so here is a new version of the Geography 4540 Class Trip to New Mexico!

The class is a 4540 Geography of Indigenous Peoples course taught by Dr. Doug Heffington. The trips was for eight days and seven nights. The class visited several Native American sites.

Which version of history should we be teaching?

3 Nov

The debate about U.S. History curriculum in public schools has been a hot debate in recent news, particularly the proposed changes to curriculum in Jefferson County, Colorado. According to the proposal “Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.” An article from the Huffington Post calls it an attempt to “erase significant chunks of our nations’ history.” What is the point of teaching history if you are going to exclude important pieces of America’s past? As I’m sure most historians, like myself, would agree it is absurd to teach an incomplete history to students, especially about their own country. Historians are not the only people in outrage. There have been teacher sit outs and even students have walked out of classes to protest. If the students are demanding an honest version of American history why shouldn’t we give it to them? If they are not able to learn about critical (and sometimes controversial) subjects in American history how can we expect them to learn to think critically about history. They will not only end up leaving high school ill prepared for what college history classes have to teach but they are being cheated out of a real education of America’s past.

We The People Constitution___Flag

If you are interested in further reading, here are a few articles on the controversy in Jefferson County.

The History Department is Back in Action!!!

17 Oct

Hello fellow history students! My name is Kathryn Slover and I am the History Department’s social media graduate assistant. I’m sure its apparent from our lack of posts that the department blog has been out of commission for a while. We are finally back in action! We will be sharing department news, interviews, movie reviews of our favorite “historically accurate” films, and will hopefully have some guest bloggers! We hope you all follow the blog and stay up to date on the latest history news.

If you are interested in posting an interview, being a guest blogger or have a topic suggestion please contact me at

History Students and Faculty Attend Phi Alpha Theta Conference

26 Feb

Dr. Mark Doyle chairing a session.

On February 22, students and faculty from the History Department attended the Phi Alpha Theta conference at Tennessee Technology University in Cookeville, Tn. 

Matthew Holder won third place for best undergraduate paper with his presentation “‘T’ is a nice art, as much intellectual as moral”: The Moral Imperative of Historical Study.”

Elaura Highfield won first place for best graduate student paper with her presentation “John Hope Franklin, African American Historical Scholarship, and African American History as Cultural Property.”

PhD students Liz Lambert, Dallas Hanbury, and Josh Howard.


Matthew Holder presenting his paper.


Elaura Highfield presenting her paper




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