Department of History College of Arts and Sciences
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News about the Department of History and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni

Archives of History Happenings are available for:

The department periodically publishes a newsletter.

For upcoming events, consult the Event Calendar.

History Happenings


Taylor Richardson receives Outstanding Alumnus Award from Arts and Sciences chapter of the Alumni Association

CAS alumni honorees 

[24 April 2015] The College of Arts and Sciences chapter of the Alumni Association conveyed several Outstanding Alumni Awards and a Friend of the College Award this afternoon at a luncheon. Among them was Taylor Richardson, who graduated in 1962 as a history major. He is shown above (center) with others who were honored (Dean Tom Nenon stands proudly behind them). He is also shown below with Dr Aram Goudsouzian, chair of the Department of History.

Taylor Richardson and Dr Aram GoudsouzianMr Richardson worked for a variety of Fortune 500 companies. He has been president of the University of Memphis Foundation and the Highland Hundred and has served on the university’s Board of Visitors. He received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997. He and his wife Mary Beth, who has an MA in anthropology from the university, have been generous supporters of the university, with an annual scholarship for students from their native Lake County, Tennessee. Recently they made a gift for the History Educational Resource Center, which opened in August 2014 in Mitchell Hall.


Dr Dennis Laumann and Dr Andrew Daily receive Faculty Research Grants

[22 April 2015] The university today announced fifteen recipients of Faculty Research Grants for 2015. Two of the grants are to members of the Department of History: Dr Dennis Laumann and Dr Andrew Daily.

Dr Daily will use his funds for the final research on his project After Negritude: The Cultural Politics of Place in Postwar France and the Antilles. Dr Laumann’s award will support his new project, to be co-authored with Dr Kofi Baku of the University of Ghana, entitled A History of Ghana in the World


Dr Suzanne Onstine delivers Legacy of Egypt lecture

[17 April 2015] Speaking on “A Living Legacy: Theban Tomb 16 and the Reuse of the Tombs of the Nobles at Thebes," Dr Suzanne Onstine delivered the twelfth annual Legacy of Egypt lecture this evening. 

Pa-nehsy and Ta-renutTheban Tomb 16 began in the 19th Dynasty as the tomb of Pa-nehsy and his wife Ta-renut but was used for about a thousand years thereafter as burial sites for others, and in modern times was invaded by tomb robbers in search of valuable metals or objects that could be sold. 

Dr Onstine has been responsible for excavations of Theban Tomb 16 since 2008 and regularly takes Egyptology graduate students to do work there. A detailed report of the 2012-2013 season may be found in the departmental newsletter for September 2013 and a report from the 2014-2015 season our article of 22 January 2015. Dr Onstine also has a blog about Theban Tomb 16.


Three doctoral students present their prospectuses for dissertations

[17 April 2015] All the prospectuses for dissertations presented this afternoon centered various aspects of the history of Memphis. Rita Hall (below, left) began with “The Memphis Zoo: From Natch to Now”; Vanessa Welshans (below, center) made a presentation on “The Home Front in Memphis, Tennessee: Before, During, and After World War II, 1941-1945”; and Wendy Clark (below, right) concluded with “Currents of Change: The Relationship between Memphians and the Mississippi River, 1820-1880.”

Prospectus presentations, April 2015


Wendi Thomas writes about Study Abroad trip to Cuba led by Dr Dennis Laumann

[16 April 2015] Wendi Thomas, a former columnist for the Commercial Appeal, now writes for the Memphis Flyer. Today’s issue has as its cover story Cuba, Si!, which tells of her visit to Cuba when she accompanied a Study Abroad trip during March led by Dr Dennis Laumann.

Dr Laumann smoking a Cuban cigarMs Thomas writes about her experience at length, in sections dedicated to cars, cigars, cuisine, art, and history. The cars were mostly 1950s-vintage and described as “museums on wheels” because the only original parts were the bodies, and owners and drivers had to be magicians to keep them going. There is a photograph of Dr Laumann smoking one of the hand-rolled cigars for which Cuba is famous (reproduced here with the permission of Ms Thomas).

Ms Thomas was highly impressed with the quality of Cuban rum (“the smoothest rum I've ever tasted”) and coffee, but found the food, with rare exceptions, disappointing. The section on art described and illustrated many found objects (such as bathtubs inscribed with political poems) in the alley of the Callejón de Hamel, devoted to Afro-Cuban culture, art, and music. 

The literacy museum

She reported that the travelers were most impressed with the Museo Nacional de la Campaña Alfabetización, the national literacy museum (the group’s bus driver had, as a young man, been a volunteer worker for the museum). The adult illiteracy rate in Cuba today is reported to be less than 0.2% — the corresponding rate for the U.S. is 14%. (The photo of the museum is reproduced with the permission of Ms Thomas.)

The Memphis Flyer is a free publication and issues may be found at numerous locations in Memphis. The entire current issue is available online as a PDF document; the story is found on pages 19-23. The article alone is also available in HTML, and the photographs are larger in this version than in the PDF.

Dr Laumann had led a Study Abroad trip to Cuba during the winter break of 2012-2013 and wrote an article about it for the departmental newsletter for March 2013. The trip that Ms Thomas wrote about was one of the first Memphis groups to visit Cuba after President Obama announced that diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba would resume for the first time in more than fifty years.


Dr Peter Brand is one of twelve notable scholars in university’s branding initiative

Peter Brand banner[14 April 2015] As part of the university’s new branding initiative, it is featuring twelve notable scholars on a series of banners on display on Central Avenue. Among them is our very own Peter Brand.

Dr Brand is a Dunavant University Professor, an adjunct professor of the Institute of Egyptian Art and Architecture, and head of the epigraphy team that is recording inscriptions at the Karnak Great Hypostyle Hall in Luxor.

Another part of the branding initiative was the placement of an electronic billboard about the Department of History at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and White Station Road (see our article of 3 March 2015).






West Tennessee History Day students win further honors at Tennessee History Day

[13 April 2015] Middle-school and high-school students who won first or second place in West Tennessee History Day competition, held here on 21 February 2015, advanced to the statewide competition in Nashville on Saturday, and eight projects placed third, three placed second, and four placed first. No district in the state exceeded that total of prize winners. First- and second-place finishers now advance automatically to the national contest, which takes place in June at the University of Maryland-College Park. Third-place finishers are the alternates.

[ADDENDUM: 16 April 2015] Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State, has long been a strong supporter of Tennessee History Day. Today he published a complete list of the winners of the state competition in Nashville.


Department has banquet for Phi Alpha Theta induction and departmental awards

Dr Laurie Green lecturing

[10 April 2015] Dr Laurie Green, associate professor of history at the University of Texas-Austin, spoke on “From Mississippi to Memphis: Racial Injustice and the Politics of Hunger in the Era of the Sanitation Strike” today at the annual Phi Alpha Theta induction and Department of History honors awards. Dr Green won the 2008 Philip Taft Labor History Book Award for her book Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle.

Following Dr Green’s lecture Dr Andrew Daily and Amanda Lee Savage, faculty advisors, and Tannie Arnsdorf, secretary, conducted the induction ceremony for new members of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honorary organization for history. The new members are Victoria Dowdy, Seth Harden, Jerry Venable, Cody Lee Fletcher, Roy Smith II, Katherine Mary Hanna, Brad A. Baird II, Justin Pickard, Allison Maria Heirigs, Derek Copper, Taylor Hopkins, Benjamin J. Woodford, Kyle Holley, Allison Benoit, Samantha Traylor, Janet Towater Wickers, Chloe Gabrielle Russell, Aragon C. Etzel, and Allen Bowers.


Dr Aram Goudsouzian, chair of the department, assisted by Amanda Lee Savage, presided over the awards to undergraduate and graduate students.

The award recipients for 2014-2015 were:

  • Bob Baker Scholarship: Jennifer Amber Humes, Steven Turner
  • Belle McWilliams Scholarship: Seth Andrew Harden, Grace White
  • Janann M. Sherman Undergraduate Award for the Study of Women’s History: Allison Amanda Benoit
  • Paul R. Coppock Scholarship: Jeremy Stitts
  • Tennessee Historical Commission Award: Lillian Gardner Page
  • Major L. Wilson Undergraduate Paper Prize: Lillian Gardner Page
  • Major L. Wilson Graduate Paper Prize: Scott Roth
  • Internship: Angela Jean Porritt
  • National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Tennessee American History Scholarship 2015: Troy Hallsell
  • Most Outstanding Graduate Assistant Instructor: Dustin Peasley
  • Most Outstanding Part-Time Instructor Award: Dr Rachel Mittelman

The award recipients of 2015-2016 were:

  • Dr Dalvan M. Coger and Dr Greta M. Coger Fellowship in History: Genevieve AnnMarie Donovan
  • Ruth and Harry Woodbury Graduate Fellowship for the Study of Southern History: Troy Hallsell
  • Dr Peggy Jemison Bodine Fellowship: Maria R. Carlenius
  • Dr William R. and Helen Lucile Gillaspie Scholarship: Isabel Machado
  • One-Year Dissertation Fellowship: Micki Yvonne Kaleta
  • Semester Dissertation Writing Fellowship: Wendy J. Clark (Fall 2015), Amber Anna Colvin (Spring 2016)

Some of the recipients of awards are shown below. First row: Jeremy Stitts, Lillian Page; second row: Troy Hallsell, Genevieve Donovan; third row: Isabel Machado, MIcki Kaleta

Jeremy Stitts Lillian Page
Troy Hallsell Genevieve Donovan
Isabel Machado Micki Kaleta

Following the banquet, Dr Green met with students in the History Educational Resource Center for informal discussion.

Informal discussion in the HERC


Graduate students awarded funding for research and conferences for summer 2015

[9 April 2015] The Graduate Awards Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of Summer 2015 research and conference funding: 

  • Wendy Clark, research in Nashville
  • Jeffery Jones, research in Pennsylvania
  • Andrea Ringer, research in New York
  • Isabel Machado Wildberger, research in Mobile, Alabama, and institute participation in Berkeley, California


Dr Daryl Carter receives research grant and service award

[1 April 2015] The Dirksen Congressional Center in Pekin, Illinois, has awarded Dr Daryl A. Carter, associate professor of history and graduate coordinator of the Department of History at East Tennessee University, a grant of $3,500 at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at The University of Tennessee-Knoxville for research in the late senator’s papers.

Dr Daryl CarterHe will also be honored with the Service Award of the College of Arts and Sciences at East Tennessee at a faculty meeting later in April, and be recommended for the University Service Award to be made in August.

Dr Carter received his PhD in history from The University of Memphis in May 2011 under the direction of Dr Aram Goudsouzian, completing a dissertation entitled “President Bill Clinton, African Americans, and the Politics of Race and Class.” In 2013, he was named as a Maxine Smith Fellow by the Tennessee Board of Regents.


Dr Beverly Bond is keynote speaker for concluding event in Women’s History Month

Abigail Kellett's story of Deborah Sampson Gannett[31 March 2015] Women’s History Month 2015 at The University of Memphis ended, as it had begun, with extensive participation by members of the Department of History. Dr Beverly Bond was the keynote speaker for the event, and Dr Christine Eisel introduced the portion on “Weaving Women’s Stories" near its conclusion.

The opening highlight was Campus School student Abigail Kellett reading her illustrated story of Deborah Sampson (later Gannett), who disguised herself as a man so that she could enlist in the Continental Army. While she read, her story was displayed on the screen so that the audience could see her text and illustrations. The picture  at the right shows the page on which she discussed Paul Revere’s support of Deborah Sampson’s petition to be awarded a pension for her service.

During her keynote address Dr Bond spoke about three Tennessee women who are the subjects of essays in the two volumes that she and Dr Sarah Wilkerson Freeman have edited. While she told the stories of the women, three dancers —Jill Nee, Trinica Goods, and Angelina Cearra Clark, under the direction of Jazmin Miller — interpreted the stories. Dr Bond concluded her address with a tribute to her aunt, Mrs. Jeraldine Sanderlin, whom she described as the “matriarch” of the family and who celebrated her 85th birthday this month.

Dr Bond and dancers interpreting her narrative

The first volume of Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times was published in 2009 and the second volume will be released in July 2015. Both are under the imprint of the University of Georgia Press (images of both volumes are shown above at the base of the podium).

Tribute to Janann Sherman

The full texts of tributes to women in “Weaving Women’s Stories" were printed in the program for the event. During the portion of the event introduced by Dr Eisel the names of the honorees were displayed on a screen along with three words chosen to summarize the printed tributes. Shown at the left is the visual tribute to our former chair, Dr Janann Sherman. Several women from the Department of History were honored along with Dr Sherman, and several members of the department paid tribute to others.


Dr Danielle McGuire delivers Belle McWilliams Lecture in U.S. History

[26 March 2015] Dr Danielle McGuire, assistant professor of history at Wayne State University, delivered the Belle McWilliams Lecture in U.S. History for 2014-2015 this evening, speaking on the topic “To Gain Title to Our Bodies: Black Women and the Long Civil Rights Movement.” The lecture was based on her book At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance—A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power, published by Knopf in 2010 and issued as a Vintage paperback in 2011. The lecture was also an event of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities, co-sponsored by the Center for Research on Women, African and African American Studies, and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change.

Book coverDr McGuire’s lecture both began and ended with stories about Recy Taylor, a black woman from Abbeville, Alabama, who in 1944 was kidnapped and gang-raped by a group of white men. Assisting in a national protest movement, Rosa Parks made an investigation for the NAACP and helped to establish a national protest movement named the Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor.  The charges against the men were dismissed after a jury deliberated for five minutes. This happened when Martin Luther King Jr. was still in high school.

In 1949, in Montgomery, Alabama, charges of raping Gertude Perkins by two uniformed policemen resulted in no indictment. But the incident had the effect of politicizing black ministers such as Solomon Seay. In 1951 Sam Green, who ran a grocery store in Montgomery, raped Gertrude Perkins, one of his employees. As part of the protest, black women led a boycott that resulted in the closing of the store. Black women also organized a bus boycott in protest against bus drivers' abuse of black passengers. Montgomery was not unique. Protests of violence against black women occurred in other places, but Dr McGuire did not give details of them.

So the familiar story of Rosa Parks beginning the protests because her feet were tired was not the real beginning of the movement by black women to secure their rights, Dr McGuire stated. Violence against black women, particularly sexual violence, had its roots in the colonial period when laws and customs regarded the children of slave women as slaves and prohibited interracial marriage while permitting sexual exploitation of black women by white men.

Dr Danielle McGuire lecturing

During Reconstruction, claims that black men were raping white women led to many lynchings of black men, fueled by the image of the "black beast rapist," and white southern political leaders of later generations claimed that integrationists were really interested in miscegenation or amalgamation of the races. One was quoted as saying, "They don't want rights. They want your women."

The conviction and sentencing of white men in 1959 for raping Betty Jean Owens in Tallahassee, Florida, was a real milestone for black women. It was followed by similar convictions in North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. The overturning by the Supreme Court in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia of laws forbidding interracial marriage removed the last vestige of slavery to fall, Dr McGuire said.

The trial in Washington, North Carolina, in 1974 of Joan Little on charges of first-degree murder involved the issue of whether black women could use violence themselves to guard against sexual assault. She was accused of being a "black Jezebel" who enticed a white jailer to have sex with her and then killing him with an ice pick that she had smuggled into her cell. Rosa Parks, who had moved to Detroit shortly after the bus boycott in Montgomery, was part of a protest movement. The jury unanimously acquitted Ms Little of the charges, accepting her account that she had managed to wrestle the ice pick away from the jailer who was demanding sexual favors and threatening her with death if she did not oblige. 

Dr McGuire ended the formal part of her lecture by noting that she had met with Recy Taylor on Inauguration Day in 2011. She asked Ms Taylor if she had ever thought a black man could be elected president of the United States. "Not in my lifetime," Ms Taylor had replied. In May 2011 the Alabama House of Representatives apologized for the state's failure to prosecute the men charged with her rape in 1944, and several Abbeville leaders also apologized. Ms Taylor said that she had not expected that to happen either. Later in the year she visited the White House and attended a forum on Rosa Parks.

Dr McGuire's book in 2011 won the Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council and the Frederick Jackson Turner Book Award from the  Organization of American Historians. It also received honorable mention for the Darlene Clark Hine Book Award of the OAH.

The Belle McWilliams Lecture Series began in 1980 with a bequest from Major Benjamin Schultze and his sister Ms Louise Fellows. They named the fund in honor of Miss Belle McWilliams, their aunt and guardian, “who for 40 years taught American History in the Memphis Public School system.” Besides the lecture series, the fund supports the Belle McWilliams Scholarships and other activities of the department.

[ADDENDUM: 27 March 2015] As a bonus, Dr McGuire chatted informally with students and faculty members in the History Educational Resource Center this afternoon.

Dr McGuire chatting informally



Harvard University Press to release Dr Catherine Phipps’ book on Japanese ports in early April

Book cover[23 March 2015] Dr Catherine Phipps’ book, Empire on the Waterfront: Japan’s Ports and Power, 1858-1899, will be published on 6 April 2015 by Harvard University Press in its Harvard East Asian Monographs series. It is available now for pre-order from the press and commercial bookstores.

Through an in-depth assessment of the port of Moji in northern Kyushu, this study examines a largely unacknowledged system of “special trading ports” that operated under full Japanese jurisdiction in the shadow of the better-known treaty ports. By allowing Japan to circumvent conditions imposed on treaty ports, the special trading ports were key to achieving autonomy and regional power.


Gawker publishes Dr Chris Johnson’s essay, “The Unauthorized Biography of a Black Cop”

[23 March 2015] The blog Gawker publishes several sections, one of which is True Stories, devoted to first-person accounts of real-life events, published on Saturdays. This weekend it featured an essay by Dr Chris Johnson entitled “The Unauthorized Biography of a Black Cop."

This is the story of the remarkable man he identifies only as “Dad" (he gives the name of only one person in the entire essay), who worked as a prison guard and police officer in New York, whom he characterizes as “my uncle by blood, my guardian, my hero and my archenemy, the man who took me in when everyone else wanted to flush me down the toilet” and later in the essay as “my blood uncle—my futurefather—now my father, my only father, and for most of my life, my father and mother and sometime-friend.”


Dr Sarah Potter wins Distinguished Teaching Award from the Alumni Association

Dr Sarah Potter

[20 March 2015] The Department of History has another winner of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award, with Dr Sarah Potter being announced today as one of the four faculty members at The University of Memphis to receive the award for this year at a luncheon for them and their guests to be held in April.

No details at available at this time. We will add further information as it becomes available.

[ADDENDUM: 14 April 2015]: No further information was ever made public. Dr Potter received the award at a luncheon held today in the Center View Room of the University Center, according to a news item on the university’s website.


Dr Beverly Tsacoyanis speaks at Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch

[20 March 2015] Dr Beverly Tsacoyanis spoke this afternoon at the Spring 2015 Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch, presenting information about mental illness and treatment in early twentieth-century Syria and Lebanon, the subject of her dissertation at Washington University in Saint Louis and for which she is preparing a book-length monograph.

Phi Alpha Theta pizza lunch at the HERCHer sources — drawn from medical records, correspondence, and ethnographic studies from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and centered around the Ibn Sina Hospital in Damascus and the Lebanon Hospital for the Insane at Asfouriyeh, near Beirut — revealed that practitioners of a variety of healing systems operated in contested spaces. Most ordinary people of the time preferred to turn to local practices that imbued healing with religiously and culturally significant meaning (in Christian and Jewish as well as Muslim communities). While western-trained doctors insisted that insanity was a physical disease, many persons in the community believed that it and other diseases could be caused by evil spirits (and cured by good spirits). Moreover, doctors were in the public mind often regarded as unwelcome agents of Westernization and as Protestant proselytizers.

In past years the pizza lunches have generally been held in the auditorium of Mitchell Hall, but this session was held in the more informal setting of the History Educational Resource Center (the HERC) in 147 Mitchell Hall.


Dr Sarah Potter facilitates discussion of book by Dr Danielle McGuire at CROW Book Salon

Book cover

[18 March 2015] As part of this year’s Women’s History Month at The University of Memphis, Dr Danielle McGuire will lecture in the Belle McWilliams Lecture Series on 26 March on “To Gain Title to Our Bodies: Black Women and the Long Civil Rights Movement,” based on her book At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance.

This afternoon in a Book Salon sponsored by the Center for Research on Women, and also an event of Women’s History Month, Dr Sarah Potter was the facilitator for discussion of selected portions of the book. 


Dr Janann Sherman interviewed in documentary about the women’s national air derby of 1929

Phoebe Omlie in 1929

[17 March 2015] Phoebe Omlie was one of the twenty women who competed in August 1929 in the first women’s national air derby (dubbed the “Powder Puff Derby” by Will Rogers). Dr Janann Sherman, our former chair (now retired), is the expert on Phoebe Omlie, having published Walking on Air: The Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie in 2011 and having helped James Kakarides in the campaign to get the new control tower at Memphis International Airport named for Phoebe and her husband Vernon.

Dr Sherman appeared this morning on WKNO2 in a documentary by Heather Taylor, speaking about Phoebe Omlie, along with others speaking about other participants in the derby. The documentary, entitled Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby, received the Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame and yesterday received an award for best historical feature film at the Gutsy Gals Inspire Me Film Festival. It is being shown by PBS affiliates nationwide at various times and is available as a DVD.

Phoebe Omlie was recently inducted into the Women In Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame. Dr Sherman wrote a brief article about her for the organization’s newsletter.


Dr Aram Goudsouzian’s book on the Meredith march wins McLemore Prize from the Mississippi Historical Society

Dr Aram Goudsouzian receiving the McLemore Award

[10 March 2015] Dr Aram Goudsouzian’s book Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear won the McLemore Book Prize from the Mississippi Historical Society this past weekend as the most distinguished scholarly book on a topic in Mississippi history or biography published in 2014. The photo shows him accepting the award from Dr Robert Fleegler, a historian at the University of Mississsippi-Southaven and a member of the Book Award Committee. The presentation was made at a meeting of the Mississippi Historical Society in Corinth over the weekend.

Book coverThe McLemore Prize memorializes Richard A. McLemore, former president of the Mississippi Historical Society and former director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and his wife, Nannie Pitts McLemore, also a former president of the Society. In addition to the certificate shown above, the prize carries a monetary award.

The book was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in February 2014 and has received numerous favorable reviews. For more information about it, including extracts from the reviews, visit the website for the book and read the interview with Dr Goudsouzian in the February 2014 issue of the departmental newsletter, History Happenings.


Department of History participates in official opening event of Women’s History Month

Artwork at Women's History Month opening

[4 March 2015] Women’s History Month at The University of Memphis opened officially this morning and continued into the afternoon in the atrium of the University Center with extensive participation by the Department of History. Dr Chrystal Goudsouzian organized the event. The second level of the atrium was decorated with the artwork created by student Meredith Lones (shown above).

One of the principal exhibits (shown below) on Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives invited visitors to write remarks to complete the expression “Women’s Lives Matter Because . . ." (The Facebook page for the event has photos of many of those who participated.) Various organizations set up booths to promote their activities; one of them (shown below) was selling teeshirts. 

Weaving booth
Weaving strips T-shirt booth


Volume co-edited by Dr Susan O’Donovan wins award for documentary editing

Book cover[4 March 2015] The Freedmen and Southern Society Project was established in 1976 to capture the essence of the profound social revolution effected by emancipation by depicting the drama of emancipation in the words of the participants: liberated slaves and defeated slaveholders, soldiers and civilians, common folk and the elite, Northerners and Southerners.

The project’s editors have been transcribing, organizing, and annotating resources from the National Archives of the United States and to date have published six of the projected nine volumes of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867. (Four volumes prepared for general readers and classroom use have also been published.)

Susan O’Donovan is one of the editors. The volume Land and Labor, 1866–1867, one on which Dr O’Donovan worked, has won the 2015 Thomas Jefferson Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government. The prize is awarded every two years for documentary editing. It is the fourth of the six volumes in the series to win this prestigious honor.


Dr Christine Eisel speaks at opening of Libraries’ exhibition

[3 March 2015] Dr Christine Eisel spoke this evening at the opening of the University of Memphis Libraries’ exhibition “Woven Into Words: Tennessee Women Making History.” Her presentation was  “Lessons Learned in the Archives" and dealt with the online women’s history project her students are building using the Libraries’ special collections.

The exhibition, held on the fourth floor of McWherter Library, consists of documents and images from the University Libraries' departments of Special Collections and Government Publications. Guests can explore several display cases that illustrate the impact of women such as Roberta Church, Elizabeth Meriwether, Sister Hughetta Snowden, Cornelia Crenshaw, and Maxine Smith, and highlight government documents relating to women’s suffrage and political history.


University billboard advertises the Department of History

Brand billboard

[3 March 2015] The University of Memphis has erected an electronic billboard at Poplar Avenue and White Station Road that advertises the Department of History. The billboard contains the new branding symbol for the university in the lower right-hand corner.

The intersection is heavily traveled. Poplar Avenue is also U.S. route 72 and Tennessee route 57 and is one of the main east-west streets in the city, and White Station Road is one of the main north-south streets in east Memphis.


Dr Aram Goudsouzian leads viewing and discussion of Freedom Riders

[25 February 2015] Dr Aram Goudsouzian led a discussion this evening at the National Civil Rights Museum of the documentary Freedom Riders in connection with Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle. This was part of a series of scholar-led film viewings and dicussions. The documentary dealt with the Freedom Rides of 1961 that were a pivotal moment in the long civil rights struggle that redefined America. Based on Raymond Arsenault’s recent book, it offers an inside look at the brave band of activists who challenged segregation in the Deep South.


Dr William Campbell speaks in Humanities Brown Bag Series for faculty

[24 February 2015] Dr William Campbell spoke this afternoon in the Humanities Brown Bag Series for faculty sponsored by the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities. His topic was “The Legalities of Exploitation: Treaty-Making in Native America,” how the protocols and precedents established by negotiations immediately following the American Revolution remain important to rulings and arguments today. Dr Campbell is under contract by the National Parks Service to revisit and reinterpret the terms and means of a number of late-eighteenth-century treaties, Dr. Campbell will explore some of these themes and aspects as he discusses most recent research.


Department publishes February 2015 issue of History Happenings newsletter

Miniature of newsletter cover[24 February 2015] The February 2015 issue of History Happenings, the newsletter of the Department of History, is now online as a PDF document

The issue contains the following articles:


Department hosts largest West Tennessee History Day ever

[21 February 2015] The weather was a worrisome factor all week, since The University of Memphis had closed for four days, including yesterday, because of snow and ice. Today was a rather unpleasant day also, with a cold, blowing rain but the front that moved through the area during the early morning hours brought enough warmth with it to melt most of the ice and snow and allow West Tennessee History Day to proceed today as scheduled, in the University Center, Mitchell Hall, and the Michael Rose Theatre.

Dr Curt Fields and Jimmy OgleDr Susan O’Donovan reported that it was the largest West Tennessee Day ever, with 421 students involved in various projects such as written papers, websites, documentaries, performances, and exhibits. Judging, which was done by volunteers from the university and the community, began at 9 o’clock and concluded shortly before the awards ceremony at 3 pm in the auditorium of the University Center. Dr O’Donovan called on Shelby County Historian Jimmy Ogle to make introductory remarks and to introduce Dr Curt Fields, chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission. (Mr Ogle remarked that Dr Fields often plays the role of General U. S. Grant in Civil War reenactments.)They were joined shortly by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Dr Aram Goudsouzian, chair of the Department of History, who helped to distribute medals to the winners.

It was not only students who received honors. The Shelby County Historical Society makes an annual award (named in honor of Ed Williams, a former Shelby County Historian) to a "teacher of the year." The recipient this year (in absentia) was Dr Mark Janzen, one of our PhD alumni in Egyptology from 2013 and who now teaches U.S. history, world history, and advanced placement U.S. history at First Assembly Christian School.

Students who won first- and second-place prizes in today’s competition are eligible to participate in Tennessee History Day to be held in Nashville on 11 April 2015, and third-place winners are alternates. In addition, first-place winners will be further honored at an awards ceremony to be held by the Shelby County Historical Commission on 5 August. Here are some of the winners receiving their medals:

Winners 01 Winners 04
Winners 03 Winners 02

At the conclusion of the awards Mayor Luttrell, who had been a history major himself, exhorted the students to continue their pursuit of historical knowledge. To judge from the number of persons who attended the events and packed the auditorium to near-capacity, he might be said to have been “preaching to the choir.” Here are some of them on the way out:

Crowd exiting the awards ceremony


Dr Susan O’Donovan leads viewing and discussion of The Abolitionists

 [19 February 2015] Dr Susan O’Donovan led a discussion this evening at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library of the documentary The Abolitionists in connection with Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle. This was part of a series of scholar-led film viewings and dicussions. The documentary dealt with the struggles of the men and women to end slavery in the period before the Civil War.


Dr Beverly Bond leads viewing and discussion of The Loving Story

[12 February 2015] In the series of scholar-led film viewings and discussions in connection with Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, Dr Beverly Bond this evening led discussion of The Loving Story. The documentary dealt with the interracial marriage of Richard and MIldred Loving in Virginia, the conviction under the state’s law against miscegenation, and the unanimous Supreme Court decision (1967) that led to the overturning of such laws throughout the United States.

The event was held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.


Jeffery Jones and Scott Frizzell present dissertation prospectuses

[6 February 2015] Jeffery Jones and Scott Frizzell presented prospectuses for their dissertations this afternoon at the first prospectus session of the Spring 2015 semester. Mr Jones (below left) proposes a dissertation on General Benjamin O. Davis, the first black Army officer to achieve the rank of general. Mr Frizzell (below right) will study busing and school desegregation in Memphis, Tennessee.

Jeffery Jones Scott Frizzell


Dr Sheena Harris speaks at opening event for Black History Month at LeMoyne-Owen

[5 February 2015] Dr Sheena Harris was the speaker Wednesday evening for the opening event in Black History Month at LeMoyne-Owen College, speaking on the topic of how reality shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta shape viewers’ perceptions of African- Americans.

The perceptions are not very encouraging, according to Dr Harris, not very different from the freak shows of the 19th century that presented the stereotype of black women as “docile and subservient but also exotic and oversexualized.” That image was so prevalent that elite black women such as Ida B. Wells and Margaret Murray Washington (the wife of Booker T. Washington) felt the responsibility of black elite women to help in the uplifting of the race. Today, she maintained, those ideas are being overshadowed by “the glitz and glam of rising popular culture.” 

Dr Harris is a graduate of our PhD program, having received her degree in 2012 with a dissertation on the life and times of Margaret Murray Washington, with Dr Beverly Bond as major professor. She is now an assistant professor of history at Tuskegee Institute.


Dr Aram Goudsouzian speaks about the Meredith March Against Fear at historical society meeting

[2 February 2015] At the February meeting of the West Tennessee Historical Society this evening, Dr Aram Goudsouzian spoke on the theme of his book Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear.


U of M faculty members to lead viewing and discussion of films for Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle

Poster for the event

[30 January 2015] Dr Earnestine Jenkins, associate professor of art history, will join with Dr Beverly Bond, Dr Susan O’Donovan, and Dr Aram Goudsouzian of the Department of History in a series of film viewings and discussions during February in connection with Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle, a project brought to Memphis by the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the American Library Association.

All the events will be held on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 pm; two will be at the National Civil Rights Museum and two will be at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library:

  • 5 February, National Civil Rights Museum: Slavery by Another Name, led by Dr Jenkins
  • 12 February, Meeting Rooms A-C, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library: The Loving Story, led by Dr Bond
  • 19 February, Meeting Rooms A-C, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library: The Abolitionists, led by Dr O’Donovan
  • 26 February, National Civil Rights Museum: Freedom Riders, led by Dr Goudsouzian


Theban Tomb 16 team reports on the current excavation season

Visitors at Theban Tomb 16

[22 January 2015] Dr Suzanne Onstine reports from Luxor, Egypt, that having worked for three weeks the team that is excavating Theban Tomb 16 has reached the halfway point in this season’s excavations. The 19th-Dynasty tomb is the burial site for Pahnesy and his wife Tarenu, priest and priestess. Dr Onstine has been responsible for excavation there since 2008 (a detailed report of the 2012-2013 season may be found in the departmental newsletter for September 2013).

The physical anthropology team has analysed thousands of bones and has discovered several lovely funerary objects like shabtis (funerary figures) and amulets. The rest of the burial equipment is in a very ruined state—all the coffins and bodies were smashed into small pieces during the looting of the tomb in the 20th century. The project, however, is happy with the amount of data that can be secured from the broken remains, and all kinds of pathologies and mummification techniques have been found.

U of M team at Theban Tomb 16The x-ray machine that was supposed to be used during this season is still sitting in the Cairo airport awaiting customs clearance, so those investigations will have to wait until a later season as the radiologist, Rosa Dinares, had to return to Spain to her “real job.” Dr Onstine remarked that the team is very fortunate to have specialists like Rosa, Jesus Herrerin (physical anthropologist), and Miguel Sanchez (pathologist), willing to devote their vacation days to research at TT16.  

The team was able to show off the tomb to the Karnak team in that team’s final days of work (see a report from the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project earlier this month). A further update on TT16 is promised at the end of the season.

The large photograph above is of Dr Onstine explaining some information about the tomb to a group of visitors. The small photograph at the left is of the Memphis team members: Dustin Peasley, Dr Onstine, Virginia Reckard, and Elizabeth Warkentin (kneeling).


Dr Darin Stephanov receives academic appointments in Finland

Dr Darin Stephanov making prospectus presentation[13 January 2015] Dr Darin Stephanov has recently been named a post-doctoral researcher at the Academy of Finland Project “Political Power in the Early Modern European and Islamic Worlds,” and coordinator of the Nordic Exploratory Workshops “Eurasian Empires, Public Space/Sphere, and Collective Identities at the Threshold of Modernity” at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.  He is the author of “Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839) and the First Shift in Modern Ruler Visibility in the Ottoman Empire,” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 1:1-2 (2014), among other articles.

Dr Stephanov received his PhD at The University of Memphis in 2012. His dissertation was “Minorities, Majorities, and the Monarch: Nationalizing Effects of the Late Ottoman Royal Public Ceremonies, 1808-1908,” with Dr Kent Schull as major professor. While a student he won one of the first-ever awards for making the best prospectus presentation. He did postdoctoral research in Finland and was a Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies during 2012-2014.


Dr Aram Goudsouzian participates in historians' assessments of President Obama’s legacy

[12 January 2015] Dr Aram Goudsouzian was one of 53 historians chosen by New York magazine to make assessments of the legacy of Barack Obama. Each historian was asked by respond to 15 questions. In its general article on the online site the magazine chose from the full assessments brief quotations that it found most thought-provoking.

Magazine coverIn the category "What We Will Remember?" it included Dr Goudsouzian’s contention that it would be the recent executive action on immigration: “According to one poll, almost 90 percent of registered Latino voters support the measure. The number of Hispanics in the United States is projected to double by 2060, which means that one-third of the nation’s population will be Hispanic. Obama’s executive action may not only help stabilize the country’s Latino population but also cement much of its loyalty to the Democratic Party.”

In the category “The Most Lasting Image?" it included Dr Goudsouzian’s judgment that it was “When Joe Wilson yelled You lie! during the 2009 State of the Union: a cheap, nasty, and disrespectful moment and a depressing emblem of the era in which Obama has governed.

The magazine published the complete text of all the responses in separate articles; Dr Goudsouzian’s response may be bound at


Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project filmed by CNN for its series “Inside Africa”

Andrew Shilling at Karnak[1 January 2015] CNN International recently visited Dr Peter Brand and his students who are working on the field mission of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project in Luxor, Egypt, and did extensive filming of the Hypostyle Hall for the first part of its weekly program “Inside Africa” that is seen around the world.The crew spoke with doctoral student Andrew Shilling and shot footage of him when he was upon the scaffolding recording inscriptions.

This part, which is narrated by CNN’s Ian Lee and deals with the Nile as the lifeblood of Egypt’s civilization and concentrates on the ancient capital at Thebes (modern Luxor), has been posted to the Internet at Beginning at about 3:08, the show depicts the Karnak Hypostyle Hall and how it has been used in movies such as James Bond’s “They Spy Who Loved Me” and more recently “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” It then speaks about how the University of Memphis is working there, “uncovering the mysteries” of Ancient Egypt, and Mr Shilling is shown doing his work on the scaffolding, beginning at 3:52.

Dr Brand reported today that the field season is going very well and that he will be returning to Memphis on 15 January with most of the students. Another senior doctoral student, Ms Erika Feleg, will continue to work at Karnak along with the project’s photographer until 31 March. 

This season’s field work was made possible by the project’s fifth consecutive grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and its first grant from the American Research Center in Egypt’s Egyptian Antiquities Fund, which in turn is funded by the US-AID program from the State Department. 

You may find more information about the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project on its website and on its Facebook page. (The Facebook page has an item about the project’s participating in the celebrations arranged for this year’s solstice at Karnak on 21 December, which it described as "magnificent!")

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Last Updated: 4/24/15