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Your studies will cultivate an understanding of the present that is informed by history. Expect to write extensively: Your courses will help you develop sophisticated writing and speaking skills. You also will hone an ability to think critically about complex issues and events of the past. And you’ll learn to conduct research, maybe even collaborating with a professor during the summer.

About the Major

At Hamilton, history is a passionate struggle to understand the human past. Whether you are tracing the spread of Buddhism from India to Japan or exploring the intertwining of peoples and economies across the Atlantic world, the study of history is about understanding people, cultures and places as they change through time.

The professors at Hamilton will teach you that history is not irrelevant – that it is in fact a living enterprise with tangible consequences for civic life and citizenship in the 21st century.

Jacob Sheetz-Willard ’12 — history major

Hamilton history grads have moved on to careers in teaching, law, medicine, journalism, public policy and many other fields.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Congressman, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Director of Education & Interpretation, National Museum of American History
  • Editor, New York Post
  • Environmental Policy Analyst, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Physician, Texas Oncology
  • Professor of Military History, U.S. Army
  • Executive Director, JPMorgan Chase Bank
  • Director, Information Technology, RBS Global Banking & Markets
  • Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Contact Information


History Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4404 315-859-4649 history@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Murder, Civil War, and Opera 100F


Ivan the Terrible murdered his heir, and left Russia to face economic collapse and mass hunger without a stable government. Then things got really bad. Did Boris Godunov murder Tsarevich Dmitri? Was the First False Dmitri for real? Only Pushkin knew for sure, but it took Modest Musorgsky to wrap it up in the greatest Russian opera of all time. This course will explore the relationships between history, art and national identity in Russia. Writing-intensive.

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Europe and its Empires, 1500-1960 104S


A survey of European exploration, imperial expansion and post-colonial society. Examines European debates over the principles and objectives of imperialism in the Americas, the Pacific and Africa. Illuminates changing views toward culture, economics, race, gender and nationality. Stress upon basic skills in the interpretation of historical texts and writing. Writing-intensive.

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An Introduction to the History of the United States, 1492-1861 110F


Introduction to U.S. history and the exploration and settlement of British North America, the encounter between Europeans and Native Americans, the colonial era, the American Revolution, the Federalist Era, and 19th-century U.S. history including the growing national division over slavery, concluding with the onset of the Civil War.

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Black Metropolis 125F


This course considers the urban and transnational dimensions of African-American history in the twentieth century, with stops in Chicago, New York, Dakar, and Paris. Drawing on a wide range of secondary and primary source material, course discussions consider the history of domestic and diasporic migration, the Harlem Renaissance, gospel and jazz, civil rights and anticolonialism, urban sociology, Black Power, and global tourism. Writing-intensive.

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South Africa: From Colonialism to Democracy 178F


South African history from the Dutch settlement in 1652 to the development of a multiracial democracy after 1994. Reading and discussions will focus on the colonial experience of South Africa, emphasizing issues of labor, race, and gender. These issues will be explored through the experiences of indigenous peoples, migrant laborers, the 'coloured' community, Afrikaners, and British settlers. Then we will examine how civil rights activists attempted to bridge the divides of South Africa, while struggling against the brutal oppression of the segregationist apartheid regime.

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The American Founding: Ideals and Reality 229


An intensive analysis of the philosophical ideals of the Founding Era (1763-1800) and their uneven realization. Social histories of various races, genders and classes will help illuminate the inherent ambiguities, weaknesses, strengths and legacies of the social and political philosophies of late 18th-century America.

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