Illinois State University
Illinois State University
Jump over the site's masthead's navigation bar.

Spotlight - Department of History, Illinois State University Spotlight

History Department Internship available now for Fall 2015 and Spring 2016

internshipWe are looking for a student editor for the department newsletter that is published early summer.  It is mailed to alumni, donors and retirees and posted on the department website.  This internship provides an opportunity to do research and interviews and write draft copy.  The best candidate should be a history or history-social sciences education major, have an interest in newsletter creation, be able to conduct productive interviews and be comfortable working independently.  Photography skills are desirable.  an interest in historical writing is a plus, but not required.  While some of the work needs to be done this fall, the bulk of the work will be during spring semester.  This unpaid Internship will earn 3 hours credit in the spring.

If you are interested, contact Linda Spencer at or 438-5689.

News - Department of History, Illinois State University News

Lincoln Class visits Springfield

Professor Dan Stump once again took students in his Lincoln class to Springfield to visit the tomb, the museum, the Old State House and Lincoln’s Home. Our donors make these field trips possible. Thank you!

f16 springfield lincoln

f16 springfield tomb

f16 springfield group

2015 Fall Speaker Series

Historian John David Smith

Soldiering for Freedom author

John David Smith photo

Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation, and Black Union Troops

7 p.m.

Thursday, October 8

Bone Student Center Prairie Room

Sponsored by the Department of History, the Office of the President, the McLean County Museum of History, the Harold K. Sage Foundation and the Illinois State University Foundation Fund

logoThe Illinois State University Department of History, McLean County Museum of History and the Regional Office of Education #17 invite you to attend the 2016 free history symposium for all secondary teachers.  Students & Future Teachers are also welcome.

Friday, January 29, 2016   at the McLean County Museum of History

For more information or to register  go to:

To submit a presentation proposal:

Dr. Mark Wyman, History Department emeriti professor…

lectured on Racial Segregation in Normal Bloomington for the Town of Normal 150 Celebration.

Gathering of historians after the Wyman lecture (2)

Several emeriti faculty and alumni participated in and attended the events.  Pictured here are Dr. Marsha Young, Dr. Sandra Harmon, Dr. Mark Plummer, Dr. Mark Wyman, Dr. Paul Holsinger, Dr. Teri Ryburn, Jess Ray MS ’95, Dr. John Freed.

For more information on Dr. Wyman’s talk:

Lessoff named a Spring 2016 Obama Fellow…

… the Transnational Institute for American Studies (the future Obama Institute) at  Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

Lessoff headshot

The fellowship raises the research profile of both the department and institution while fostering ISU’s international ties.  As with his Fulbrights, visiting professorship at Bielefeld University, and other appointments abroad, the Obama Fellowship signifies Alan’s international stature and will result in fruitful research collaboration.  congratulations to Alan on earning a fellowship named after a guy who was 2 years behind him at Columbia!!


Student Teaching Abroad in England: Brighton University-Eastbourne

Blogs from student teachers in the field.

Time to Say Goodbye

My time in England is coming to an end. I still cannot believe I will be getting on airplane in less than a week to go back home and graduate from college. I have no idea where the time has gone. I feel like I just got off the plane last week. Now I have to say my goodbyes to all of the wonderful people I met and to England.

I had to say my goodbyes on Friday to the staff members and students at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy. I found it very hard to leave the school. The staff members and students were wonderful the entire time I was there. I felt welcomed by the staff the moment I walked in the front door. When I first arrived at the school, I was very nervous and scared because I was teaching younger students in a new school system. I knew this prior to even going on the trip, but it did not mean I was not nervous. The first couple of weeks I felt like I had a panicked looked on my face the entire time. Early on, I made a lot of mistakes especially with the younger students. I was not sure how I should approach teaching them because I never taught them before. When I first helped with the older students in Geography and History, I had to do a crash course in the curriculum information. This was especially true for geography because of the different approach taken in the curriculum. The beginning struggles were well worth it because I got to experience a lot in the classroom that led to me growing as teacher. I got to observe and work with students at all academic levels. This led to me being exposed to many different teaching methods. I got to participate in a local history project where students interviewed alumni from the school. The interviews will be recorded and will be stored in a local archive. This was an amazing project for the younger students because they got to do history instead of learning about it. I also helped students prepare a geographical case study on a current event in England. This only scratches the surface on all of the positive experiences I had at BACA. Overall, I am really glad I had the early struggles because they led to the best teaching experiences I had so far. I feel like over the last ten weeks I was able to grow a lot as a teacher.

The main reason I grew so much as a teacher is because of the staff members at the school. They helped me so much with my teaching methods. Anytime I had questions or concerns, they were more than willing to sit down with me. Many times we would just have a simple conversation about education in general. I gained so much knowledge about teaching from them. I am forever grateful to the staff members and the school because I have so much more to bring into the classroom.

This trip did not only change me as a teacher, but also as a person. I never traveled outside of the United States. I just never had the opportunity until now to experience the world. I am currently trying to fit all of my clothing and stuff I collected over the last ten weeks in my suitcase, which is reminding me of everything I experienced while traveling in England and Europe. I was able to travel all around England, which allowed me to see its rich history. Over spring break, I had the opportunity to go to Berlin, Venice, Rome and London. I experienced so much over spring break from seeing the Berlin Wall to the Tower of London. Last weekend, I got to travel to Paris, which I always wanted to do as a child. I included a picture of the Eiffel Tower. (I took like about a thousand photos.) I really cannot say I did not experience a lot on this trip. From all of the traveling, I have new perspective on the world. I also will need to make a new bucket list because I pretty much crossed everything off.

goodbye 1

goodbye 2

At the top of the Eiffel Tower. (I took the lift. :) )

Before I say my final goodbye on the blog, I wanted to say one final thing. This trip was the scariest decision of my life. I really did not know what to expect getting on the airplane. Each day I am here, I am so happy I made the choice because I learned so much about what it means to be a teacher. I also changed a lot as a person because of my experiences while traveling. I am defiantly not the same person that got on the plane ten weeks ago.


Kerry G.

The British Way

Our time in England is nearly over with.  We leave for America next Wednesday and graduate Friday.  I thought that since I am here for education I should dedicate a blog to my experience as a teacher in England.

School’s in Session

The educational system in England is different from our own.  There are four different types of schools one can attend throughout their life.  The first being primary school.  Primary school starts at the age of four where the children attend reception.  This is the English version of kindergarten except for a year earlier.  Next students move through Years 1-6.  Instead of saying grade levels they call it year levels.  Their year levels are one above our grade levels.  For example, Year 2 would be first grade.  After primary school, students move onto secondary school.  Secondary school includes Years 7-11 (grades 6-10).  I am teaching at a secondary school in Eastbourne.  After secondary school students can chose to more onto college until they are eighteen.  Some students chose to take this time of to work or travel.  Finally the students will move onto University.  Students are expected to wear uniforms at the primary and secondary levels.  Most uniforms consist of a blazer and a tie.  Bishop Bell allows the Year 11s to wear a different uniform.  During Year 10, the students vote for which color they want their uniform to be.  The current Year 11s have purple jumpers (sweaters) and polo shirts.  Next year, the Year 11s will have grey uniforms.  In England, teachers are called Miss or Sir when the students do not know the teachers name or in general. It is nice not to be called Mrs. Student Teacher (one of my students in Illinois Called me this), but it is weird not to be called by your name.  Most of the students can’t even remember their teachers names because they call everybody miss or sir.

Test Anxiety

GCSEs are very important to the English school system.  Students spend the majority of their secondary school experience preparing for these tests.  Students move through Key Stage levels.  Secondary school consists of Key Stage levels three and four.  Once students hit Key Stage four (Year 9 at bishop Bell or Year 10 at other schools), the students have to choose which subjects they will be tested on. The students have to take math (s), English, and science as one of their subjects.  Students will take several mock exams during the course of Key Stage three as well as practice exam questions for homework and in class.  The history exams are all essay questions and are all timed.  There are three different history exams the Year 11s will take in May and June with each being a different topic.  History students are expected to know a great amount of factual detail (such as the month and year of all events) as well as being able to prioritize, have developed explanations, and making connections.  If students do well on their exams, they have the choice of moving onto Key Stage 6 which is college.  Some schools have included the college program.  I feel that the exams place a great amount of pressure on the students at such a young age..

Lost in Translation

Despite the fact that both countries speak English, there is a difference in the way we talk and write.  I always have to double check when I am correcting a student’s spelling.  We each have different words for simple things.  For instance, I saw a sign which said, “Please place your rubbish in the bin.”  This was probably the most British sign I have seen while I have been here,  Translation: Please throw your trash in the garbage can.  They also call bins boxes.  One time I told the students to put their books back in the bin.  Now, their books hold all of their academic work and their notes.  My students  reacted in horror because they thought I had told them to throw their books in the garbage can.  The game is referred to as Chinese whisper in England.  A period at the end of the sentence is called a full stop.  Other words are the same, but are pronounced differently such as squirrel and jaguar.

Here to Learn

My time at Bishop Bell has definitely been a learning experience.  I had seven different classes, four different topics to plan for. Plus, some of the topics I had to research to make sure I was giving my students the right information.  I also taught an age group which I have never taught before, 6th graders.  Although I am middle level endorsed, I do not have the experience of teaching students that young.  My experience at Bishop Bell allowed me to figure out what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to teaching 11 year olds.  I also learned more about providing meaningful feedback to my students.  Bishop Bell uses the SIR system.  The teacher writes a strength and an improvement for the student.  The student is then expected to revise their work.  The students can see what they did well and what they need to improve upon for each assignment.  The students also take this feedback to improve their work even though it is not for a grade.


I have to talk a little about our weekend trip to Paris with the University of Brighton.  We were allowed to miss school last Friday to start our journey to Paris at 5:30 in the morning.  We took the ferry boat across the channel where we saw the White Cliffs of Dover.  We arrived in Paris around 4:30 European time (we jumped ahead an hour). After checking into our hotel, the group headed down to the Eiffel Tower which was only a few blocks away.  Mary and Becca (our Brighton advisors) had arranged a boat tour along the river for us that evening.  The tour took us under 22 different bridges with one being the famous lock bridge.  I had the chance to see Notre Dame and the Palace of Justice.  As someone who loves the Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I was ecstatic.  We finished the night at a French restaurant.


The City of Lights!

The next day was very busy.  In the morning, we visited Napoleon’s tomb before heading to the Eiffel Tower.  We rode the lift to the very top of the tower to see the entire view of Paris.  Afterwards, Mary and Becca took us on a bus tour through the city.  We saw the Assembly, the Palace of Justice, the Moulin Rouge, the Opera (home of the phantom of the opera), Notre Dame (we were able to go inside), and finally ending at the Louvre.  When we arrived at the Louvre, we were able to go off on our own.  My group decided to go look for the Mona Lisa.  Next, we headed to the catacombs.  The catacombs had a very eerie feeling to them and made me uncomfortable.  for dinner, we went to a restaurant called Indiana, which served American food.  (We might have been getting a little homesick after 10 weeks.)  Afterwards, we sat in the Eiffel Tower Park and watched to thower twinkle show for the rest of the night.

city of lights 1

View from the Eiffel Tower

 city of lights 2

Let them eat cake!

For our last day in France, we went to the Palace of Versailles.  Versailles is one of those places that I have always wanted to visit; however, I felt a bit underwhelmed when we entered the palace.  The outside seemed much grander than the inside.  I have a feeling that the palace would have been much more beautiful during the Sun King’s reign as well as when Marie Antoinette lived there.  We did take a selfie in the hall of Mirrors.  After the palace, we walked around the actual city of Versailles and found a wonderful food market.  I tried some very nasty tasting cheese at that market.  Then we hopped back on the bus to make our long journey back to Eastbourne.

let them eat cake

I cannot believe that we only have one week left in England before we return home.  It seems like yesterday when we were boarding our flight.  Time has flown far too quickly, but I do miss home.  I still have my birthday to celebrate this weekend and then off to London for a few days before coming home to graduate next FRIDAY!!


Nicole L.

This is what dreams are made of….

Hello! The past two weeks have been crazy for us teaching in England. We had our Easter of Spring Break which lasted two weeks. The week before break, my students were wild with excitement for the holiday since many of them travel with their families. One of my students was going to Turkey with his family. We did some traveling as well during our holiday. It was hard going back to school on the 13th and having to teach after spending two weeks relaxing, but we love teaching so it’s not so bad. Observe the lovely ankle brace I am wearing in all of my pictures as I tell you about our travels to Germany and Italy.

When it rains it snows

I travelled with a group of four girls: Stephanie (one of my roommates), Lauren and Katie (who are twins). Our first stop was Berlin. Our flight there was very rocky, and the family behind me took turns throwing up. It was raining when we landed, but after being in England for five weeks we were used to rain. We decided to just explore the city on our first day. Parts of the city reminded us of Chicago. It was interesting to see the differences between East and West Berlin. We made our way to Check Point Charlie which was a US military boarder control during the Cold War. There is an arch way from the Berlin Wall near the check point as well. We continued to walk along the streets of Berlin where we saw lots of street art. We stumbled upon another part of the Wall where it is tradition to place gum on the wall. We continued our journey and found more monuments and memorials such as the Holocaust Memorial. From a far it looks like a bunch of stone slabs, but once you walk into it, it has a very powerful feeling. The memorial is dedicated to the Jews who died during the holocaust. The design represents the seemingly ordered Nazi society that was actually filled with chaos and deception.

april 1

Our group in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall

Ciao Bella

Italy is absolutely beautiful. It was in the upper 70’s and sunny when we arrived in Rome. A far cry from the snow and wind we experienced in Berlin. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast that was only three blocks away from the Vatican City. We could hear the holy week masses from our rooms. We decided to visit the Vatican on our first full day in Rome. We walked past St. Peter’s Basilica when the Pope was giving Holy Thursday mass. It was unreal to see the Pope orating a Triduum mass. (The Triduum is the three days before Easter.) We were greeted by several vendors trying to sell us guided tours. Tip: if you have a student ID it is only 8 EUROS to get into the museums. Selfie stick vendors are also popular in Italy. I have been to the Vatican museum once before in High School, but it was nice taking my time to explore all parts of the museum. We spent a couple of hours wondering around the museum. Our second day was exploring Rome on foot. We walked to the Pantheon which is the oldest full standing structure in Rome. The Pantheon used to be a Roman temple, but now it has been converted into a church. It is my favorite place to visit in Rome because of its design. The builders purposefully created a hole in the sealing to allow all of the elements to enter. During certain times of the day, a stream of light will come it and land on the altar. We made our way to Trevi Fountain which was unfortunately under construction. Our last stop was the Spanish Steps. Our last day in Rome we went to the Roman Forum and the Colloseum. We loved exploring ancient Rome walking through Caesar Augustus’s gardens. We even made friends with a seagull.

 april 2

Selfie at the Roman Forum

 april 3

Sistine Chapel


I’m all about that Duomo

Our next stop was Florence. On Easter we took a train through the Italy country side to the city of Florence in the Tuscany region of Italy. We only had a day and a half to explore the city. We spent our only full day exploring the Duomo in the heart of the city. First, was the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore have been here before, but this time I had the chance to explore the whole cathedral. Below the cathedral is the original church alter and parts of the original Roman wall. After standing in line for 2 ½ hours, we climbed to the top of the dome where we could see the entire city of Florence and the mountains in the background. After our climb, we stopped for lunch and gelato (of course!) and made our way to the shopping district of Florence. We had to make a stop at the Disney store since we are all Disney fans. We also explored the shops native to Florence. Stephanie and I spent some time people watching. We went home early to pack for our journey to Venice the next day.

april 4

View of the Duomo from our hostile


Island Hopping

Venice is my favorite city in Italy (that I have been to). I only spent a day on the island when I travelled with my choir in high school. We spent the first part of the day exploring San Marco Square. The basilica in the square is where Saint Mark (one of the four writers of the New Testament) is buried. Saint Mark burial on the island was crucial to Venice becoming a republic after the barbarian invasions near the end of the Roman Empire. The palace that surrounds the square was built by Napoleon after he conquered the island. However, he only ended up living there for two days.  After visiting the Basilica we crossed the square to San Macro’s Campanile. Unlike the Duomo, we took a lift to the top of the tower where we could see the entire city. While we were in the tower, a bell started ringing. Each bell in the tower rings for a different occasion: executions, session of the Senate, council meetings, beginning and end of the work day. The one we saw was called the Nona which sounds midday. On our second day we went on a walking tour of the city where we learned a great deal of history. (We also saw the hotel George Clooney frequents.) Our tour concluded with a gondola ride down the Grand Canal. We saw a young German man purpose to his girlfriend on the boat in front of us. We ended the day by the Rialto Bridge eating gelato. We returned home Friday the 10th to celebrate Stephanie’s birthday in Eastbourne with the rest of the group. The weekend was spent relaxing with our host family and preparing our lessons. We only have three weeks left in England before we come home and graduate. Time is going quickly, but we still have our field trip to Paris before returning to Illinois.

april 5

The Grand Canal at night


Nicole L.

Faculty Publications


See faculty publications for a full list of recent publications.

What can you do with a History Major?

More information on careers also available at American Historical Association, ISU Career Center, and Pre-Law Advisement Center

Email History

Department of History
Normal, Il 61790-4420
Phone: (309) 438-5641
Fax: (309) 438-5607

Site design by Institutional Web Support Services & CAS-IT LILT © 2010. Designer: Jacob DeGeal, Amanda Smith, Victor Stuber, and Jordan Cullen. Information Architecture: Julie Prianos, Alex Skorpinski, and Jonathan Davis. Programming: Binoy Edathiparambil, Manikanta Panati, Prashant Jain, Badriram Rajagopalan, and Jordan Thompson