In the early years of Davidson’s history, history courses were taught by professors of the Latin and Greek departments.
Most of the early history classes were mainly recitations of Latin and Greek passages (what we would think of as Classics).
However, the college soon recognized the need for more modern history courses and history eventually became its own department around 1910.
By the 1920s, most of the history courses offered concentrated more on Europe and the United States. In the 1930s, two iconic history professors, J.M. McConnell and Thomas Lingle, died suddenly, leaving the college without history professors. To recover from this loss, the college hired Frontis Johnston and J. Alexander McGeachy to teach history, and they both stayed until 1977.
By the 1950s, the history department was teaching seventy-two hours of courses, including a western civilization course that was required of all freshmen. The mission of the history department is to liberate its students from the parochialism of time, place, and circumstance.
Since the 1960s, the history department has offered its majors a chance to participate in the Kendrick K. Kelley Program for honors. Commonly known as the Kelley program, students are given the chance to research and write about a topic of their choice during their senior year. Grants are given out to assist students with their research, and each year, one student receives the Kelley Award in History.
In 2010-2011, the History department lists 89 courses in the catalog. There are currently thirteen professors in the department: Professors Robin Barnes, Jonathan Berkey (Chair), Peter Krentz, Ralph Levering, Sally McMillen, Job Thomas, and John Wertheimer; Associate Professors Daniel Aldridge, Vivien Dietz, Michael Guasco, and Jane Mangan; and Assistant Professors Thomas Pegelow Kaplan and Patricia Tilburg
“1910 Courses in History.” Davidson College Catalog. 1910.
Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Briarpatch Press, 1988.
“History Department.” Davidsoniana File. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
“History Department Mission Statement.” History Department. <http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x26259.xml>.
“The Kendrick K. Kelley Program.” History Department. <http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x15976.xml>.
Photograph of 2010 Award Winners. Bill Giduz.
Author: Sarah Adams, ’10
Date: July 2010
Cite as: Adams, Sarah, “History Department” Davidson
Encyclopedia, July 2010