Summer conference on Fields of Conflict

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center here in Mashantucket, CT will be hosting the upcoming International Fields of Conflict Conference taking place the week of September 26-30, 2018. Fields of Conflict is a week-long, world renowned gathering of archaeologists, historians, students and vocational metal detectorists where presenters share the latest research regarding military history and battlefield archaeology.

They are currently soliciting undergraduate and graduate student to submit posters related to military history/conflict archaeology topics for inclusion in the conference. Conference Registration is also open at this time.

Click on the links below for details:

Pequot Museum FOC 2018 Student Posters

Pequot Museum FOC 2018 Registration

Congratulations to our New Honors Students

The History department once again recognized our outstanding majors by awarding them membership in a select group: Phi Alpha Theta, class of 2018. This History Honors society only welcomes the best junior and senior history majors, and our Eastern chapter hosted a dinner in their honor on April 5th. The event, which included a solemn candle-lighting ritual that probably dates back to the Freemasons, is a celebration of all the hard work and effort that these students have put into their studies. We expect big things of them in the future!

Honors inductees (left to right): Kenneth (Matt) Pulk, Taryn McCabe, Michael Theriault, Theresa Johnson, Christopher Ladd, banner with Ouroboros, Chelsea Dahmer, Cameron Noel, Erik Rosati, Gerry Denardi, Erica Davidson. Not pictured: Ryan Bridges, Sarah Brihan, Harrison Brooks, Michael Byne, Katerina Mazzacane.

At the same ceremony, this year’s Victoria Soto award was awarded to Taryn McCabe.

Taryn McCabe, winner of the 2018 Victoria Soto Award

Congratulations to all!


CSU History Conference at Western

In what has become an annual affair, the History Departments at Southern, Central, Eastern, and Western gathered for a now annual conference of students and faculty.  This year, the newly renamed CSU History Departments Conference convened at the Westside Campus of WCSU on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Despite the long drive from Willimantic to Danbury, Eastern was well-represented. Senior history major Ryan Bridges presented his paper, “Trump and Taylor: Not Quite Rough and Ready Presidents,” while next door, senior history major Vanessa Hill presented her paper, “Religion, Gender, and Culture: The Black American Experience.”  Through careful maneuvering, however, students and faculty managed to hear both papers.  Meanwhile, Joe White was asked to participate in a roundtable discussion on undergraduate research among history majors.  After lunch, Dr. Bradley Davis co-facilitated a lively roundtable on “New Directions in Vietnamese History: Recent Work from Three CSU Historians.”

Student presenters Joe White, Ryan Bridges, and Vanessa Hill

Dr. Meznar commented: “Once again Eastern students impressed with the high quality of their research and the professionalism of their presentations.  A special thank you to Dr. Thomas Balcerski for his many roles, including faculty mentor, photographer, and van driver.”

The Eastern Contingent. Sanderce Sweeney, Dr. Joan Meznar, Joe White, Ryan Bridges, Vanessa Hill, Sharifa Lowen, Margaret Conroy, and Dr. Thomas Balcerski. Not Pictured: Dr. Bradley Davis.


All left having learned something new and with the hope that the conference would reconvene next year (at Southern).

Digital History Lab now operational

It’s taken a few years, but Eastern’s History department is proud to finally have our very own Digital History Lab. What’s a Digital History Lab, you ask? It’s a room with computers and specialized software reserved for History faculty and majors, it’s located in Webb 408, and it will be the centerpiece for the department’s efforts to incorporate more digital tools into our curriculum. We already offered the first section of HIS 386: Introduction to Digital History last fall, and will make it a regularly-scheduled course starting in Fall 2019. In the meantime, you can look forward to an increasing number of fancy maps and visualizations in your courses. So stay tuned.

A YouTube video showing the lab in action can be seen here.

Eastern students visit Amistad Center in Hartford

On Sunday, 12 November 2017, students from Dr. Balcerski’s HIS 322: African-American History from 1877 visited the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture in Hartford.  The Amistad Center, which is housed in Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Arts, offers a multi-disciplinary collection of fine art, photography, historical artifacts, memorabilia, and rare books that document the African American experience (to learn more, check out


The Amistad Center visitors—Dr. Balcerski, Aylin Dilone, Ryan Bridges, Maggie Conroy, Nora MacKay, and Alexis Buck—explore the “30 for 30: Art, Agency, Legacy” exhibit, including the recently acquired portrait of singer Marian Anderson.

During their visit, students learned about the African-American experience, from the colonial era to the present, that formed the “30 for 30: Art, Agency, Legacy.”  Students examined the legacies of African-American artists and collectors, including the special exhibitions, “From the Collection: Lewis Watts” and “Art from Archive: Work by Lewis Watts and Pablo Delano.”  A lively discussion ensued on the importance of museum spaces in primary school education.

 In addition, Dr. Balcerski and students browsed the Amistad Center Library and Museum Gift Shop and obtained rare items pertaining to African-American history and culture in Connecticut to add to the Eastern Library.  All students left with a greater appreciation of the valuable contribution of African Americans to the vibrant world of the arts in the region.

Congratulations to Phi Alpha Theta Presenters

Over the winter break two senior history majors attended the 2018 Biennial Convention for Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, in the beautiful city of New Orleans. Both students, Alexa Potter and Adam Murphy, presented individual research projects. The students had the opportunity to share their respective projects on panels with fellow historians from across the country, gaining valuable feedback to improve their research. Alexa had this to say about the conference, “Presenting at a convention of this size was very valuable as an undergrad. I gained insight in the art of coherently presenting research in a way that captures the audience as well as challenges them. The Q&A portion provided very useful feedback on my paper along with future ideas to explore.”

Alexa presented a paper coming from her honors thesis titled “There Must be Something in the Water: The Industrial Pollution of the Naugatuck River, 1850-1930.” Adam, presented his paper which originated from his senior seminar, “A Professor’s Experience in Indonesia: Examining the Partnership Between University of Kentucky and Bogor Agricultural College 1957-1966.” He adds, “I received such valuable information from attending presentations of other historians. I attended presentations on a variety of topics including U.S-Congo diplomatic relations and Vietnam war protest music. Additionally, I attended a “how to” panel about growing successful student journals.”

In addition to attending academic panels, the students found time to appreciate local history of New Orleans, like the French Quarter, as well as trying local foods like the variety of seafood and ‘po’boys’. Alexa mentions, “The location of the convention in New Orleans provided a beautiful and historical backdrop to the four days of presentations.” Adam adds, “This experience has shown me the importance of recognizing student research and allowing them to partake in experiences like these. I would like to thank Eastern CT State University for the continued effort to make this a priority. I would encourage any student to take advantage of opportunities big and small to present their research.” Similarly, Alexa says, “I am honored to be a part of Phi Alpha Theta, and additionally, thankful to my advisors and Eastern for allowing me this opportunity.”

Adam Murphy and Alexa Potter, Phi Alpha Theta scholar-students