History Matters.
Department of History faculty and staff group photo.

In this Issue:

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With gifts from alumni and friends, we can access crucial resources to enhance our department and support students, research projects and new programs.

Department of History faculty and staff in Fall 2023.

Letter from the Chair

Greetings from Park Hall! As you will see in this year’s History Matters, the department has been very busy over the past year, welcoming new colleagues, recognizing the achievements of our students, and planning new programs to further enliven our curriculum and co-curricular activities. Most absorbing for me as chair is our participation in UB’s Disciplinary Excellence initiative, launched by our Provost in response to the state’s increased investment in SUNY over the past two years. The Provost asked every UB department to determine how new resources could be used to heighten its visibility, strengthen its research profile, and attract excellent students. Our department put forward a proposal to build on our strengths in the history of science, health, and disability. We are coordinating in this area with several other departments around UB. Our proposal was successful, and we have been authorized to hire three professors to support this Disciplinary Excellence initiative. The searches are underway now, and I hope to be able to report in this space next year that they all achieved their aims.

Prof. Kristin Stapleton.

Kristin Stapleton
Professor and Chair

Department News

Inaugural Francis J. and Shirley A. Wozniak Lectureship in History

Written by Claire S. Schen, Chair of the Speakers Committee, 2023-2024

The Department of History is delighted to announce the first annual Francis J. and Shirley A. Wozniak Lectureship in History to be held on April 5, 2024. Wanting to make a difference in the University at Buffalo community and remembering the faculty who had fostered a creative and challenging learning environment, Mr. and Mrs. Wozniak endowed the Lectureship through a planned bequest. They intended to benefit students and faculty with their generous gift, and the Department’s first speaker embodies the Wozniaks’ goal of furthering the development of students and faculty. Professor David Nirenberg, the Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, will lecture in April 2024. The Institute he directs is a renowned center of historical research and intellectual inquiry, where some UB faculty have spent productive research leaves. Further, Professor Nirenberg is a gifted and prolific historian of the relations of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in medieval Europe and the Mediterranean region. Through his historical inquiry, he engages topics that resonate in our contemporary times, such as racism, anti-Semitism, and Christian-Muslim relations. His work has engaged undergraduate and graduate students in many of the classes taught in the Department of History. The Department is grateful for the Wozniaks’ bequest and their desire to foster awareness by enabling us to bring an internationally recognized scholar and public intellectual to campus. The talk will be open to the public. We hope all those interested will attend and will send out details early in 2024.

Francis Wozniak graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University at Buffalo with a degree in History after serving in the US Army Air Corps in World War II. Shirley Wozniak was a graduate of the Albright Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Longtime residents of New York State, they retired to Fredonia, near their hometowns, and passed in 2018. The Department of History acknowledges the generosity they have shown to students and faculty. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the other graduates and former faculty who have generously supported the Department in its research and teaching endeavors.

Frank Wozniak.

Frank Wozniak

Shirley Wozniak.

Shirley Wozniak

Faculty News

Headshots of Pablo Mitchell, Zhongtian Han and Christy Garrison-Harrison.

The Thomas B. Lockwood Professor of Latinx History Pablo Mitchell (left), Visiting Assistant Professor Zhongtian Han (middle) and Distinguished Visiting Scholar Christy Garrison-Harrison.

Meet the New Faculty

The department is excited to introduce two new faculty members, Pablo Mitchell, PhD Thomas B. Lockwood Professor of Latinx History, and Zhongtian Han, PhD Visiting Assistant Professor.

We're also excited to welcome Distinguished Visiting Scholar Christy Garrison-Harrison, PhD.

Prof. Tamara Thornton Retires

Written by Prof. Carole Emberton

This year we bid a fond farewell to Professor Tamara Thornton, who retired after thirty-one years in the department.

Her colleagues will also miss her good humor and wisdom. We wish her well on her new ventures, which include a book on the history of globes. We look forward to its publication in the near future!

Tamara Thornton wearing commencement regalia speaking, standing in front of a podium.

Prof. Tamara Thornton was the 2023 Department of History Graduation Commencement Speaker.

Faculty dressed in regalia before commencement.

Department of History faculty before Spring 2023 Commencement.

Faculty Features

Learn more about our faculty members’ special projects!

Student News

History Honors seminar went out for the Annual History Dinner at Fuji Grill in November (picture) with David Herzberg and Cari Castee.

Alumni News

Alumni Spotlight

David Strittmatter, PhD 2018

Hometown: Monticello, IA

David Strittmatter was a few years out from finishing his MA at St. Andrew’s University and working in Boca Raton, FL, when he decided to take on the challenge of a PhD. Initially, he wanted to research a topic related to golf and got in contact with Prof. Pat McDevitt at UB. Prof. McDevitt responded enthusiastically to David’s inquiry, and this set David on his path to UB. David spent 5 years at UB, an experience he says he greatly enjoyed. Once he finished his PhD he was ready to embark on an interesting career path. David is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Ohio Northern University, a position that when he graduated he did not envision himself holding. David wanted to pursue a career in public history, perhaps a curatorial position and maybe somewhere down the line become a museum director. With his abiding interest in public history and the UK, he also did not foresee the interesting twists his career would take.

David Strittmatter.

However, after a last-minute job application over summer 2018, David landed a different career path - a one-year Visiting Assistant Professor position at Washington and Jefferson College, which led to him applying for another Visiting Assistant Professorship at Ohio Northern which led to a permanent position at Ohio Northern. At both schools, David taught in small History departments and, therefore taught a variety of classes and subjects. His favorite topics are ones that center on public history and European history. One of David’s classes, World War Memory in Normandy & the Western Front, even goes abroad to learn about the world wars on site! He also teaches on subjects close to his initial research interests such as Tudor/Stuart England and Heritage Preservation.

David did not forget about his interest in public history. Though this was not the course he envisioned, David ended up combining his new career path with the one he thought he would have. He teaches several public history courses and currently has a fascinating ongoing public history project in the works that grew out of one of his courses: Kent State Oral History Guardsmen Project. “The Kent State Guardsmen Oral History Project seeks to record and document the perspective of the National Guardsmen in the narrative and memory of the Kent State shootings in May 1970. The voice curiously absent in the tragic event is that of the Ohio Army National Guardsmen, and this project hopes to address that void.” For David this is a particularly special project as not only is it local to his university, but it has also made him think about his career and interest in historical memory studies in a new way as it is a very different topic from what he normally researches. In fact, this is only one of David’s local public History projects. As he continues to settle into life at Ohio Northern, he and his students find more local projects such as the recent approval of an Ohio Historical Marker for Ray Brown, a star pitcher in the Negro Leagues who was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame!   

He recently published his book "Memory, Heritage, and Preservation in 20th-Century England."

Alumni Updates

Plesur Roundtable.

Plesur Roundtable entitled “Doing the Work: Amplifying Marginalized Voices and Stories,” featuring Dr. Robert Caldwell, Dr. Shanleigh Corrallo ’20, Dawnavyn James, and Dr. Averill Earls ’15 (via Zoom).

Kristin Stapleton poses for a group photo with four alums.

Department Chair Kristin Stapleton gathers with UB History graduate alumni Xuening Kong, Guangzhi Huang (American Studies), Xiangli Ding, and Qiong Liu at the annual American Historical Association meeting in Philadelphia in January 2023.

Averill Earls (PhD '16) was awarded the North American Conference on British Studies Gale Digital Scholar Lab Fellowship. Dr. Earls is now an Assistant Professor of History at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.

Molly Giblin (BA '03 and MA '05) was named Director of Programs for Princeton in Asia.

Seymour (Sy) Gitin ('56), Emeritus Dorot Director and Professor of Archaeology at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, published "Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavations 1994–1996, Field IV Upper and Field V, The Elite Zone Part 1: Iron Age IIC Temple Complex 650."

Phillip Guingona (PhD '15) created a curricular module called “Unsovereign Space,” published by the History for the 21st Century Project. The module helps teachers and their students explore how studying the governances and mapping of colonial spaces across time can help us consider how we navigate and regulate outer space and cyberspace in the 21st century. Guingona and the directors of the H21 Project presented the new module in Pittsburgh in June 2023, at a meeting of the World History Association.

Alexandra Prince (PhD '20) is an assistant professor of Religious Studies at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, where she has been a Visiting Assistant Professor.

Violetta Ravagnoli, (PhD '15) contributed an essay on teaching about East Asian via graphic history books in the fall 2022 edition of the World History Bulletin, a publication of the World History Association.

Paul Rodell (MA '82 and PhD '92), Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Georgia Southern University, recently co-edited, Special Report the Global South and Ukraine which broadens the discussion beyond its usual European/Global North focus.

Greg Witkowski (PhD '04) published an edited collection entitled Hoosier Philanthropy: A State History of Giving.

Give to the Department of History

Thank you for your support of the Department of History! With the support of alumni and friends, we can access vital resources to enhance our department and provide support for students, research projects, and programs. We are grateful for your generosity.

You can support your department and help to provide for our students by making a gift online.