Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pittsburgh Day of Giving: Remember the Block House

Emily Hoover, who recently graduated from our Graduate Public History Program, currently works as the curator at the Fort Pitt Block House here in Pittsburgh. {You may remember Emily from Dr. Blatz's recent guest blog post about the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.}

She has a very important message for us:

To the Friends of the Fort Pitt Block House:
Mark your calendars now for Wednesday, October 3, 2012 for The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Day of Giving. Gifts made to the Fort Pitt Block House on the Day of Giving will be eligible to receive a portion of the $750,000 in matching funds offered by the Pittsburgh Foundation. Support for the Block House can be increased simply by making a gift at the right time and place - October 3rd at www.pittsburghgives.org!

PittsburghGives is a resource of The Pittsburgh Foundation, designed to provide detailed information to donors on nonprofits in Western Pennsylvania. You'll find in-depth information about the Fort Pitt Block House, our mission, programs, leadership and finances in our portrait on the site. Check it out.
{See below for} further instructions and information on the Day of Giving process. Please pass this message along to other Friends of the Block House. Help us spread the word about this great way to give to the City of Pittsburgh's oldest architectural landmark!


Sincerely,
Emily Hoover, Curator
Fort Pitt Block House

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Student Spotlight! History Major Gannam Rifkah


We're proud of our students here in the Department of History. They continue to dazzle us, inspire us, and remind us that hard work, determination, and passion can carry a person a long way. And so we thought, why not feature these incredible students on our blog? 

Meet junior History major Gannam Rifkah. He's a double major in History and Political Science. And he's double-jointed. (Bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?)

Gannam Rifkah (second from right in striped tie) with his brothers and cousin

1. Where is your hometown?
I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but currently reside in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. It may be better to put Altoona, Pennsylvania, as it is more recognizable and five minutes away.

2. Why did you choose Duquesne?

If I'm being a 100% honest Penn State was my first choice, but my parents preferred me to go somewhere in Pittsburgh to be close to my older brother. Thus, as I strive to be different I could not choose the same school as my brother, Pitt, so I decided on Duquesne. I really like the campus, its location, and small yet big feel. Also, a month after my acceptance I got invited to the Honors College, and I knew I made the right choice.

3. Why did you become a History major?

I became a History major because I felt it would be a great supplement to my political science degree. My history education in elementary school was non-existant as we learned geography and the history I took at high school was lackluster at its best. Therefore, I found to be a respectable Liberal Arts student, and citizen of the world I should bolster my history credentials. While my interest in history began as a supplement to my knowledge and political science degree, it truly has become my favorite focus (I'm also a english and philosophy double minor) and I hope to use any extra credits I have towards history.


4. What has been your favorite History class during your time here and why?
My favorite history class has to be The American Revolution. I have always been obsessed with the Founding Fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson, and amazed that America was lucky enough to find itself in a revolution with such a smart and extraordinary stock of leaders. Usually a country will have a single great leader during a time period, such as Winston Churchill or Robespierre, but America had George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams, and James Madison to name a few. Another reason that American Revolution was my favorite class was due to the teacher Dr. Holly Mayer. Dr. Mayer challenged her students as I have never been challenged before. Her enthusiasm for the subject was contagious and I even voluntarily finished the 800 page book she assigned. Dr. Mayer also planned a class at the Fort Pitt Museum which was an amazing experience. I came out of her class a better writer, student, and more educated individual.

5. What are some things you've been involved with (or are currently involved with) while a student at Duquesne?
I am involved in numerous honors societies. These include the Integrated Honors Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, Lambda Sigma, Phi Eta Sigma, and Mortar Board. I do not only join these societies for my resume but become an active member. I was Vice President of Lambda Sigma, and hope to run for executive board in Pi Sigma Alpha and Mortar Board once they are up and running for the school year. 


6. Tell us an interesting fact about you that most people might not know.
I am double jointed in both my arms, and am a dual American and Syrian citizen.

7. What's something interesting that you've done in the past year?

In the past year I've moved out of my house of twelve years into a new house which I am obsessed with.

8. What's your favorite thing about Pittsburgh?

I hope it's not too unprofessional to say the nightlife. I come from a small town in central Pennsylvania so it's nice to have a variety of things to do every night besides cow tipping.

9. Tell us your favorite movie.
My favorite movie is Coach Carter.

10. Tell us your favorite book.

My favorite book is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

11. If you hadn't chosen History as your major, what would you have chosen?

Political Science is my other degree. I probably would have chosen to be a Business major. You can ask my manager at Dollar General back home, I am fascinated by the day-to-day developments of the business, and I sass her when she doesn't update the papers in the back room to show the development of our customer satisfaction and profits.

12. What is something you love about Duquesne?
The greenery of the campus. Being in the city you expect grey and smog, but Duquesne has lots of grass, trees, and flowers.

13. What are your plans after graduation?
Attend law school and find my way into public service someway somehow.

14. Any advice for our current History Majors?
Do it. Even if it's as a minor, it's worth it. Job placement is up to you, not the major. If you want to find a job with a history degree, you can.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Graduate Assistant Spotlight: Brian Kutzley

Each fall semester, we get three new graduate assistants in our department. You've already met Aaron O'Data and Meghan Hall, who have been featured in our Graduate Assistant Spotlight Series. Last, but certainly not least, we'd like you to get to know Brian Kutzley, one of our new graduate students in the Historical Studies Program.
THE BASICS:
Undergraduate Institution:

Bowling Green State University
Undergraduate Major:

History and Political Science 

Hometown:
Worthington, OH
THE NITTY GRITTY:

Favorite Movie:
Independence Day

Favorite Historical Period:

Enlightenment
Extracurricular Activities in College:
Fencing, marching band, disc golf, ballroom dance, chess club, politics

Little Known Fact About You:
I collect chess sets, knives and swords

What area of history are you focusing on in your graduate career here at Duquesne University?

Global History with an emphasis on comparative intellectual trends in the 18th and 19th centuries
What are some of the responsibilities you will have as a graduate assistant here in the department?  Who are the faculty members you’ll be assisting?
Dr. Dosemeci and Dr. Rishel, lots of scanning and monitoring blackboard, grading, a presentation or two...

How do you like Pittsburgh?
Kind of miss the country, but it's pretty cool to have so much stuff within walking distance

What are your plans (or your dreams) for after you finish your M.A.?
Hopefully going on to a PhD program with an eventual goal of being a professor, but I haven't ruled out teaching high school again

What is one of the things you’re most excited to experience here at Duquesne/in Pittsburgh?

Cheap activities with the Outdoor Adventure Program, especially white-water rafting and snowboarding

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Guest Blogger: Dr. Perry Blatz and Rivers of Steel

We're pleased to have our very own Dr. Perry Blatz contribute to our blog as Guest Blogger! Here he talks about the value of Rivers of Steel and its association with our graduate Public History program:

For more than thirty years, Duquesne’s Department of History has worked closely with a variety of community organizations through its program in public history. As part of their master’s degree studies in preserving and interpreting history for audiences beyond the classroom, our graduate students take internships for credit with historical organizations across the region. Duquesne graduate students have interned with Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area since it began as the Steel Industry Heritage Task Force some twenty-five years ago. That initiative sought to preserve the history of the steel industry in southwestern Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the closure of numerous mills in the 1970s and early 1980s, most notably the massive mill at Homestead. Its closure marked the end of a century of employing much of the surrounding community and providing steel used around the world.

Rivers of Steel administers several historic structures. They include its headquarters in the Bost Building on Eighth Avenue in Homestead, the nearby Pump House at the edge of the Waterfront shopping center, and, across the Monongahela River in Rankin and Swissvale, the Carrie Furnaces. These are the only two remaining 92-foot high blast furnaces that survive from a complex that transformed raw materials into iron from 1907 until 1978. The Bost Building and Pump House were central locations in the “Battle of Homestead,” one of the most bitter labor disputes in American history. It began when Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick refused to agree to terms with the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. It became bloody when local citizens fought with private detectives brought to the Carnegie Steel Company plant to enable the company to employ strikebreakers in the mill. That battle on July 6, 1892, resulted in ten deaths, the summoning of the state militia, and the decline of the union. To commemorate that history and tell the world about the many ways the steel industry has shaped this region, the Task Force transformed itself into one of the nation’s first national heritage areas in 1996, and the Bost Building and Carrie Furnaces have since been recognized as National Historic Landmarks. As a national heritage area, Rivers of Steel’s work extends well beyond these sites to preserve the history of the steel industry and its people across the eight counties of southwestern Pennsylvania.

For nearly fifteen years, Duquesne graduate students have worked with Ron Baraff, director of museum collections and archives at Rivers of Steel.
Ron Baraff
Ron received his master’s degree in history from Duquesne’s public history program in 1998 and began work for Rivers of Steel soon thereafter. Since then, many interns have benefited from working with Ron and from the variety of experiences available to them at Rivers of Steel. As Ron puts it: “Interns have been an integral part of our work. I don’t think we would be where we are presently without all of their help. It is an organically reciprocal relationship. The interns are able to work in ‘real life’ situations on projects that further their education, and Rivers of Steel is enriched through the exuberance, breadth of life experiences, and viewpoints that the interns bring to the organization. We value their time and expertise, and work hard to make their experience here meaningful.”
Ron Baraff
Emily Hoover, who graduated from Duquesne’s public history program in 2011 and has served since then as curator of the Fort Pitt Block House, Pittsburgh’s oldest historic structure, worked on various projects during her museum internship at Rivers of Steel.
Emily Hoover at the Fort Pitt Block House
Emily offered the following reflections on her experience: “I really enjoyed my time as an intern with Rivers of Steel. Because the museum collections and archives staff there is smaller compared to other organizations, I learned first-hand that a curator’s job can often include a wide range of responsibilities. At Rivers of Steel that work included planning educational programs, developing informational publications, and assisting with public relations. All of this activity was done in addition to preserving artifacts, archiving papers, and cataloging collections. As the curator and sole employee of the Fort Pitt Block House, a small museum and historic site, I now perform many of these same duties myself. Internships are meant to provide students with professional and ‘real-life’ skills for the future. My internship at Rivers of Steel enabled me to do exactly that–-to take what I learned and observed and apply it to my current position.”

Rivers of Steel’s current focus is on gathering public support to transform the 38-acre site along the Monongahela that includes the Carrie Furnaces and the Pump House into a National Historic Park. Since 2007 the organization has offered the truly one-of-a-kind experience of “hard-hat tours” of the Furnaces to the public. As that work moves forward, it can only add to the varied opportunities that Rivers of Steel has provided for public history graduate students at Duquesne.
--Perry Blatz

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Graduate Assistant Spotlight: Meghan Hall

We're excited to continue our Graduate Assistant Spotlight series this year with Public History graduate student Meghan Hall. You can check out other posts about our graduate students here.



THE BASICS:
Undergraduate Institution:
Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pa
Undergraduate Major:
History
Hometown:
Alexandria, Pa
THE NITTY GRITTY:
Favorite Movie:
Beauty and the Beast
Favorite Historical Period:
Middle Ages - specically England
Extracurricular Activities in College:
cheerleading; President's Office Assistant
Little Known Fact About You:
I was a cheerleader for 14 years. Most people do not believe me because I do not look like the stereotypical cheerleader.
What area of history are you focusing on in your graduate career here at Duquesne University?
I am in the Public history program so we do not necessarily have to focus on a specific area, but I will base most of my classes around European and British history.
What are some of the responsibilities you will have as a graduate assistant here in the department?  Who are the faculty members you’ll be assisting?
I will be working for Dr. Hyland and Dr.Coohill. I will be grading undergraduate exams as well as assisting the professors in their research. Dr. Hyland focuses on early American architecture while Dr. Coohill has interests in British history.
How do you like Pittsburgh?
I love Pittsburgh so far. I come from a very rural area (think more deer than people) so Pittsburgh is the "big" city to me. I lived in Oakland for a summer when I was a teenager and the city is even better than I remember it. I am a long time Steelers and Pens fan so I am fitting right in with the other sports crazies of Pittsburgh.
What are your plans (or your dreams) for after you finish your M.A.?
I would love to work in the archives or collections of a history museum. My ultimate dream is to work in a British museum or archive for a couple years because many of the items are so much older than most of the items found in the U.S. I studied in England as an undergrad and absolutely loved it so if I could combine my interests in public history with England, that would be ideal.
What is one of the things you’re most excited to experience here at Duquesne/in Pittsburgh?
At Duquesne, I am really looking forward to the internships that are a part of our program. I'm really excited to gain experience and get hands-on training. As for the rest of Pittsburgh, though I have been a fan for life, I have never been to a Steelers or Pens game in their home stadiums. I went to my first Pirates game [recently], so I am really looking forward to being consumed in the sports culture that thrives in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our Very Own Tom White: Capturing Tales of Area's Outlaws



We're always thrilled to tell you about the noteworthy things that our faculty, staff, and students are up to in the Department of History. Our adjunct history lecturer, Tom White, is no exception. As University Archivist and noted author, Tom is often up to something new and exciting.

From the Duquesne Times:


The stories of the region’s notorious bandits, robbers and outlaws have been captured in the book, Gangs and Outlaws of Western Pennsylvania, co-authored by Thomas White, University archivist and curator. 


Tom White, Duquesne University Archivist

White relates stories that detail notable crimes that have occurred throughout the area from 1817 to 1941, including the first-ever armored car heist.

In 1927, Paul Jaworski and The Flathead Gang set up homemade landmines on Brightwood Road in Bethel Park, then rushed to the disabled Brinks armored car to carry away $104,000–today’s equivalent of $1.3 million. They were captured, but involved in a shoot-’em-up jailbreak after their arrest.
White also relates the tales of the Biddle Boys, whose relationship with the warden’s wife aided in their escape and was told in the 1980s movie Mrs. Soffel; the Cooley Gang, who terrorized Fayette County at the turn of the 19th century; and Pennsylvania’s own Bonnie and Clyde—Irene and Glenn, who met the electric chair in 1931.

“The book would interest readers who like crime stories and those who follow local history,” said White, who also is a history lecturer in the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts and former archivist for the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.

The 132-page softback, White’s sixth book, was published by The History Press and is available for $19.99.

White is also the author of Forgotten Tales of Philadelphia, Forgotten Tales of Pittsburgh, Ghosts of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Legends and Lore of Western Pennsylvania and Forgotten Tales of Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Senior Spotlight: Kevin Spillane

We're excited to announce that we're starting a new series here on our blog: the Senior Spotlight Series. Each week we'll feature a senior History or Art History Major who will be preparing to go off into the world after this academic year to use all the skills he or she has learned during the four years of college spent with us in the Department of History at Duquesne University.

First up is Kevin Spillane.




1. Where is your hometown?
Yorktown Heights, NY

2. Why did you choose Duquesne?
I choose Duquesne University because of the unique combination of having an attractive secluded suburban campus while being located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.  It has the best of both worlds.

3. Why did you become a History major?
I became a history major because I have always had a genuine interest in the past and learning about how the world and the human civilization have progressed over time.  I think it is fascinating to explore the countless events and people who have shaped our world and the impact certain actions still have on us today.  Also, no matter how much you learn about the past, history is made everyday and the learning never stops!

4. Did you have a favorite History class during your time at Duquesne? If so, which one, and what did you like about it?
American Frontiers taught by Dr. Matthew Hyland my sophomore year.  It was interesting to learn about how the United States expanded westward and the trials and tribulations people endured in making America what it is today.  I gained a newfound respect for the frontiersmen who took the ultimate risk and sacrifice to move west into the unknown simply trying to start fresh or become rich and the ingenuity by these people to ensure their success.  It truly defined the concept of risk-reward and the course took a unique approach to learning about the frontier, a sometimes forgotten about subject in American history.

5. What are some things you've been involved with (or are currently involved with) while a student at Duquesne?
Delta Chi Fraternity, Red and Blue Crew, Navy ROTC, and Intramurals.


6. Tell us an interesting fact about you that most people might not know.
Last summer I spent 22 days on board the Los Angeles Class Submarine USS Montpelier in the Atlantic Ocean.  This past summer I spent 45 days underwater on the USS Nebraska.  After 45 days of not seeing any sunlight we finally pulled into the Puget Sound so myself and the fellow eight midshipmen on board with me could depart so we could go back to college.  However as I climbed the ladder to exit the hatch my eyes had a difficult time adjusting to the actual sunlight and I nearly walked right off the boat into the ocean because I was literally temporarily blinded as my eyes took a second to adjust.  Thankfully someone grabbed me and yelled “Spillane!” and sent me in the right direction.

7. What's something interesting that you've done in the past year?
This past summer I spent 45 days underwater on a United States Ohio Class Submarine located out of Bangor, Washington.  I met the USS Nebraska in Pearl Harbor and spent nearly 7 weeks silently patrolling the Pacific Ocean as nuclear deterrent protecting American assets both foreign and domestic.  It was a special and humbling experience to witness firsthand the technology, capabilities, and firepower the United States Navy has to offer and to serve with people who are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to protecting this great nation.

8. What's your favorite thing about Pittsburgh?
I enjoy the convenience of having all sorts of attractions in such a close proximity to one another.  The North Shore has the stadiums where you can watch Steelers games at various restaurants or see an affordable Pirates Game.  Downtown has countless stores to window shop or just stroll around if the weather is nice.  Southside is always busy with people of all ages and has several parks to play football or basketball.  There isn’t anything Pittsburgh doesn’t offer and even once you think you’ve seen it all some hidden gem is still out there waiting.

9. Tell us your favorite movie.
Saving Private Ryan.

10. Tell us your favorite book.
With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge.

11. If you hadn't chosen History as your major, what would you have chosen?
International Relations.

12. What is something you'll miss about Duquesne once you graduate?
The quality of people.  Everyone I have met: students, faculty, professors, and aids have all been nice, intelligent, welcoming, and truly care about both your learning and college experience.  I have been blessed to form lifelong relationships with both friends and professors but I will miss the ability to continue to meet more people in the Duquesne family upon graduation.

13. Any advice for our current History Majors?
My advice would be to stay focused and work hard and your efforts will pay off.  At times throughout my college career I have been frustrated with the workload or material because it can be overwhelming however there are plenty of people willing to help and who genuinely care about your success.  The professors are all beyond helpful and enjoy watching you learn so utilize your resources, absorb as much information as you can, and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Calls for Papers: Graduate History Conference at Louisiana State University*




*You can visit the website for this conference here.

Attention Graduate Students! You can receive funding to attend a conference! Your paper must already be accepted for presentation at a conference in order to receive funding. For more information, see Laura in the main History office (603 COLH).

Graduate Assistant Spotlight: Aaron O'Data


Each fall, the History Department awards graduate assistantship positions to outstanding students, providing for them full tuition, a modest stipend, and the opportunity to engage in research and other scholarly activities under the supervision of a faculty member. 

We're excited to continue our Graduate Assistant Spotlight series this year. We'd like to start off with Public History graduate student and assistant Aaron O'Data.


THE BASICS:
Undergraduate Institution:
Geneva College


Undergraduate Major:
History

Hometown:
Rochester Pennsylvania/Watertown New York
THE NITTY GRITTY:
Favorite Movie:
The Postman
with Kevin Costner
Favorite Historical Period:
I would probably have to say that I am most interested in ancient and medieval Europe. That is immediately followed by early America and the era of growth of European states in the 18th century.
Extracurricular Activities in College:
I was a member and eventually president of the Geneva College History Club. I also participated in forming and trying out Geneva's new history internship with the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation.
Little Known Fact About You:
I really enjoy the Yankee Candle store.
What area of history are you focusing on in your graduate career here at Duquesne University?
I am focusing on Public History and I will be taking the archive and museum studies route.
What are some of the responsibilities you will have as a graduate assistant here in the department?  Who are the faculty members you’ll be assisting?
I am assigned to work with Dr. Elaine and Dr. Jotham Parsons, but at the moment I will be working with Dr. Elaine Parsons. I will be assisting her by reading and categorizing a collection of newspaper articles from 1868 until 1872 pertaining to the Ku Klux Klan.
How do you like Pittsburgh?
I love it. I have always lived or at least had family close to Pittsburgh and have ventured in many times for various reasons. I have seen some other cities around the country and none can compare to Pittsburgh. I mean, we have Primanti Brothers. What else do I need to say?
What are your plans (or your dreams) for after you finish your M.A.?
I would love to end up in a museum or archive somewhere along the East Coast. Interacting directly with artifacts is something I have loved doing since I started at Geneva and I hope to continue to be able to do that.
What is one of the things you’re most excited to experience here at Duquesne/in Pittsburgh?
I am pretty excited to go to Light Up Night in a couple months. It is normally right around my birthday so it adds to the whole experience.