About the Department
By teaching what people have done in the past, history illuminates the human condition and helps us to understand the present.
The History Program at Notre Dame teaches students to analyze sources and use them to interpret past events and conditions. You will develop sensitivity to historical context, multiple causation and change over time. In doing so, you learn analytical and writing skills that are essential for law school, graduate study and a variety of occupations.
The history major occurs in the context of a joint department. The disciplines of history and political science link the humanities and the social sciences. Historians and political scientists share interests in government, politics, social and economic interactions, civic participation and international relations. Together, the two disciplines help our students develop a wide perspective on human society and its institutions, past and present.
There is much overlap in the interests of historians and political scientists, but the historian is typically interested in the reconstruction of unique past events, while the political scientist seeks generalizations and is oriented more to the present than to the past. These two disciplines teach students skills of interpretation, perception and organization and prepare them for a wide variety of career options.
The Department of History in the News
Two Notre Dame of Maryland University history professors have toiled among faded and nearly forgotten documents and court cases for 15 years, trying to illuminate the shocking story of the sexual assault of women by Union soldiers during the Civil War and the response by the military justice system.
They will travel to The Hague, Netherlands, next month, where they will present a lecture on the subject, “Dangerous Liaisons: Working Women and Sexual Justice in the American Civil War,” before a meeting of the European Association for American Studies.
The project brought together Charles F. Ritter, who during his 45-year career was a professor and department chair at Notre Dame until retiring in 2012, and E. Susan Barber, his former student who is now a faculty member.