Introduction Letter

Dear Prospective and Newly Admitted History Majors, 

 I would like to extend a warm welcome to you and tell you about a bit about our department.  I feel unbelievably fortunate to teach in this department.  My colleagues are first-rate teachers, scholars, and human beings, our students are intellectually agile, creative and critical thinkers who are actively engaged in transforming their world.  Our department as a whole is marked by the sense of a strong, close intellectual community.

 Gender Trouble in the Middle East, The History of American Conservatism, Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, The Rise of Socialism, American Immigration History, Asian Environmental History, and Slave Narratives – this partial list of our classes gives you a sense of the creativity, range, and dynamism of our department.  History at Willamette engages you in thinking deeply about the historical significance of human existence across a broad range of geographic areas and disciplinary approaches. Our strengths are in American, European, East Asian, and Middle Eastern history.  The faculty members teach courses with a range of historical approaches unusually broad for a small liberal arts college, including gender and oral history approaches, social and cultural history, intellectual history, and political and economic history.

I believe the greatest strength of our department is the dual combination of small classes and a phenomenal teaching faculty. A “big” class in History is thirty students (and these are rare -- most are under twenty) and our faculty members are regularly awarded recognition for teaching excellence. In addition, History faculty members participate in student-faculty collaborative research programs at Willamette, such as the LARC and the Carson Grant programs.  All History majors complete a senior capstone research experience working one on one with a faculty mentor.  Thus, your experience studying History at Willamette will be marked by study and significant research experiences conducted within the context of small classes and close relationships with faculty mentors who are highly respected teachers and scholars in their fields.

In addition, our majors take advantage of Willamette’s unusually wide range of opportunities for civic engagement and global exploration. Located literally across the street from the Oregon State Capitol, Willamette offers extensive internship opportunities. Recently historians-in-training have worked not only at the State Capitol, the Governor’s Office, and in various capacities in legislative branches and agencies, but also for the Willamette Heritage Center, the State Archives, the State Prison, the City of Salem, Chemawa Indian School, and Willamette’s own superior art museum, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art – to name a few. Many of our students spend time abroad and we encourage connection between academic study and international experience. Most recently, History majors have spent one semester to a full year in Morocco, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Turkey, China, and locations across Central and South America.

 We invite you to access our Facebook and Tumblr pages to learn more about the current work of History Majors at Willamette, the success of recent History alums, internships, and a wide range of news and information about the our thriving department.

 I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our program. Please feel free to email me, eeisenbe@willamette.edu.  When you visit, come sit in on one of our classes and introduce yourself to my colleagues and me in Eaton Hall.

Best regards,
Dr. Ellen Eisenberg
Dwight & Margaret Lear Professor of American History & History Department Chair
Willamette University
E: eeisenbe@willamette.edu