American Historical Association Features the Millsaps College Department of History
Millsaps history majors study the variety of human experiences, ranging from the United States and Europe to many other parts of the world. Professors encourage the free exchange of ideas and interpretations. Together we understand that the really important historical questions – the “why” questions – have no single right answer, but that all interpretations must be judged on the basis of the evidence that is offered to support them. By learning how to analyze and write about the past, history majors make a positive contribution to classes in other disciplines, too, including the arts, science, and business.
As a history major at Millsaps, you will learn side-by-side with distinguished faculty who have achieved national recognition as teachers and scholars. Two have been recognized as the state professor of the year by the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching, while three have been awarded the state’s Humanities Teacher Award. Professors are especially noted for their teaching about the history of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Professors mentor student activities, such as our active chapter of the history honorary, Phi Alpha Theta, while facilitating numerous student internships off-campus. Faculty members either direct or are involved in study-abroad programs in England, Ghana, and Vietnam. A generous gift of one million dollars from the parents of a recent graduate enables the department to support select students who wish to participate in summer internships or in the British Studies at Oxford program.
Millsaps history majors are employed in a variety of fields. Some have gone on to find jobs in fields directly related to history. Many graduates now teach students in middle schools and high schools – our department has a close working relationship with the Millsaps education department, which helps to place history majors as student teachers in Jackson-area schools. Four recent history majors now work in historical preservation and restoration (in both the private sector and public sector), while two recent graduates now work for a national firm that assesses history education. Other common career paths include law and public policy. Three recent graduates have gone on to work on Capitol Hill. One, who holds a graduate degree in public policy from Johns Hopkins, helps to lead a non-profit for women in Mississippi, while another – a graduate of Harvard Law School – defends death-row inmates in Texas. Others have become prominent doctors, journalists, and clergy members. Several have started their own businesses, including one recent graduate who sells historical clothing. History majors have pursued a variety of graduate degrees, ranging from the M.A. and Ph.D. in history, to professional degrees such as the J.D. , M.D. , M.Ed. , and M.B.A. Noted graduates include David Donald, Professor of History at Harvard University; Randall Pinkston, CBS News Senior Correspondent; and Rev. Luther Ott, founder of Jackson’s Stewpot Ministries.
You will learn about history in a variety of settings, all of which emphasize close work together with professors. The department expects that students will engage in one internship for credit at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, located near campus, where we have a close working relationship with curators and archivists. Students have also worked with mentors at other approved sites. In the senior year, student writing and research skills are assessed through an original essay, as well as through a written and oral comprehensive examination that asks general questions for which students have had extensive preparation. Comprehensive examinations, original research papers, and off-campus internships, are all considered to be “high-impact practices” by the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Millsaps history majors have the same competencies as those recommended by the Tuning Project of the American Historical Association. Students are prepared for their examinations during their course work, internships, and studies abroad, by learning the ways in which historians analyze the past. Students develop a disciplined, skeptical outlook on the world. They become familiar with making arguments from evidence and context. They understand the dynamics of change over time, while appreciating the complexity of the human experience. They develop a body of historical knowledge that is both broad and deep. They are able to gather, sift, summarize, order, and argue about evidence. They also understand that there may be a variety of possible interpretations and that these may be debated in respectful discourse.