History majors Cassie Epes and Dana Meyer at the Undergraduate Poster Session








The recent annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA), in Chicago over January 3-6, 2018, brought two firsts – for the first time, two students, Dana Meyer and Cassie Epes, presented posters at the Undergraduate Poster Session. In addition, three members of the department’s faculty attended: Professor Thomas Balcerski presented a paper as part of a panel, Dr. Anna Kirchmann both presented a paper and chaired a panel, and Dr. Joan Meznar attended several panels pertaining to teaching and career preparation. 

The Undergraduate Poster session took place in the afternoon of Saturday, January 5. History major Dana Meyer presented his paper, “Connecticut Revolutionary War Deserters: An Experiment in Digital History,” while Cassie Epes presented her poster, “A Willing Audience: The Brown Book and the Enduring Power of Conspiracy Theory.” Both students received many questions and comments during the session. In addition, both students attended multiple panels and learned about possible careers in history. 

The department’s faculty were also active. On Friday January 4, Prof. Kirchmann chaired a panel organized by the Polish   American Historical Association (PHA), an affiliate of the AHA, titled “Conflicted Loyalties and/or Pragmatism.”  On Saturday January 5, Prof. Kirchmann also presented her paper, “Urban Renewal and the Response of American Ethnic Groups, 1949–74,” as part of a PHA and AHA panel titled, “American Ethnics in the Post-World War II Decades.” Also on Saturday, Prof. Balcerski organized and participated in a panel titled, “Writing Early Queer Lives: Authorial and Biographical Imperatives before 1900.” The panel was a joint-session with the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History. Finally, Dr. Meznar attended several panels on teaching the World History survey, and also one on careers for History PhDs outside of academia. 

Prof. Balcerski and history majors Cassie Epes and Dana Meyer at the Hilton Palmer House Hotel




Overall, the conference was a great success.  The department looks forward to the next annual meeting in New York in January 2020. 





**Editor’s Addendum (1/8/19)- In their path-breaking original research that led to the Undergraduate Poster Session, Dana worked closely with Dr. Tucker and Dr. Ostwald, while Cassie benefitted from the mentorship of Dr. Moore.**


Professor Emerita Katie Lynch, a long-time member of the Department of History and former Chair, passed away in 2015. This year her book on Liang Shuming appeared posthumously with Brill Publishing. 

Liang Shuming 梁焕鼎 1893-1988


According to the publishers, “In Liang Shuming and the Populist Alternative in China, Catherine Lynch offers an alternative understanding of Liang Shuming’s work. While the current work on Liang suggests a connection to other Asian philosophical traditions (like Confucianism and Buddhism), this new work argues that Liang’s work is an important part of the evolution of the modern Chinese thought and examines the role of populist ideas in the development of Liang’s thinking. In addition to Liang’s writings, this reading of Liang relies on lengthy interviews the author completed with Liang as well as with people associated with Liang. This book adds a new perspective based on access the author had to Liang while he was still alive.”


For catalogue entry and ordering information, see link below: 




The History department co-sponsored a talk, on November 12, 2018, by Mr. Mofidul Hoque, the founder of the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. 

Mr. Mofidul Hoque


Titled “The Forgotten Genocide of Bangladesh in 1971: Lessons for the Future,” the presentation highlighted the role of the Liberation War Museum in preserving memory of atrocities that have either been ignored or forgotten.

The museum has collected more than 50,000 oral history accounts by those who survived the Bangladeshi genocide. While these accounts serve to correct the historical record, they also commemorate the heroism and resilience of the Bangladeshi people.


Eastern History major Gerry Denardi has secured a position as a historian with the United States Department of the Navy, which he will begin upon graduating Eastern in May.  

Gerry is anticipating putting his History degree to good use right away: “…as a historian for the Naval Department I will engage in the study of potentially historic sites and render my opinions as to the historical value in order to determine if they are worthy of preservation or restoration. In that capacity, I will have the opportunity to plan and carry out historical research projects and conduct historical studies adjacent with archeologists and anthropologists in order to develop hypotheses necessary to explain the significance of the site and its relationship to the Navy.” 




Sergeant Denardi

Gerry served in the United States Army for eleven years from 2005-2016, as an Infantryman with the 1st Infantry Division and the 4th Infantry Division where he retired at the rank of Staff Sergeant. He deployed to Iraq twice; once to Baghdad and once to Basra and deployed to Afghanistan twice; once to the Kunar valley and once to Kandahar City. He has been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Bronze Star Medal. 





Reflecting on his career thus far, he noted, “my prior service, experience, security clearance, and academic performance here at Eastern greatly attributed to my success in finding a job that aligns with my comfort zone (working for the government).”


Eastern History major Raven Dillon wrote a terrific press release about Professor Frye’s recent book talk. Raven has a special interest in Native American history and hopes to pursue a master’s degree in history after Eastern.  

For the full text of Raven’s press release on Professor Frye’s talk, follow the link below: 



Over November 10-11, 2018, students and faculty from the History Department traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to visit the national military park.  The students, enrolled in either Dr. Tucker’s Civil War & Reconstruction class or Dr. Balcerski’s Antebellum America, left Eastern in two Student Government vans at 7am and arrived in Gettysburg by 1:45pm. Then, the fun began! 


The students attending included (in order from left to right): Kat Mazzacane, Jordan Butler, Omar Abdelsame, Allen Horn, Ailyn Dilone, Brianna Alessio, Jacquelin Bessette, Uriya Simeon, Cheyenne West, Zack Dubois, Gerry Denardi, Cassie Eppes, Dana Meyer, Dianiley Deslandes, Jacquelin Bessette, Olivia Barki, and Margaret Conroy (not pictured).



First stop—the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitors for orientation to the battlefield. We learned that a direct lineal of Joshua Chamberlain (ME-20th Regiment) was leading special tours for Veterans’ Day.   


Students pause for a much happier photo at Devil’s Den. Students pictured: Allen Horn, Omar Abdelsame, Jacquelin Bessette, Ailyn Dilone, Uriya Simeon, Olivia Barki, Dianiley Deslandes, and Margaret Conroy.











After the Visitor’s Center, the group went to the famous Little Round Top, where the Union lines held on the second day of fighting.  Next, the students headed down the hill to Devil’s Den.  This unusual rock formation witnessed fierce fighting on day 2 of the battle.  After the battle, photographer Alexander Gardiner staged some of his most famous photographs among these rocks. 

The last stop on Saturday was the Wheatfield. The Wheatfield has been described as the bloodiest square mile of fighting in American history. There, students paid tribute to the all-Irish 20th Connecticut Volunteer regiment. 

At the Wheatfield, student Gerri Denardi explains how to load a Civil War era cannon to students Margaret Conroy and Zack Dubois.










The next day, the morning tour started with Culp’s Hill. At the lookout tower at Culp’s Hill, the group viewed the entire battlefield.  Confederate forces twice attacked the Union’s rear lines here, but they were unable to break through.   

Students pictured: (standing): Cassie Eppes, Allen Horn, Omar Abdelsame, Kat Mazzacane, Jacquelin Bessette, Olivia Barki, Margart Conroy, Dianiley Deslandes, and Uriya Simeon; (kneeling): Cheyenne West, Brianna Alessio, Dana Meyer, Ailyn Dilone, and Zach Dubois

Pictured here: Cheyenne West pays respects to the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, mustered out of Bridgeport.



Dr. Balcerski and Dr. Tucker lay a flower at the memorial to the 5th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, mustered out of Hartford.









Special attention was paid to finding the monuments to Connecticut regiments.  As part of the trip, students laid flowers on the monuments of the various Connecticut regiments to fight in the battle of Gettysburg.   




From there, some students went shopping in town, while others visited the site of Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg Address” at the Soldiers National Cemetery.  By 1:45pm, the two vans were back on the road, returning to campus by 8:45pm. 

Overall, the trip was a great success.  Special thanks to drivers Gerri Denardi and Dr. Balcerski and most especially to Dr. Tucker for organizing the trip, feeding the troops, and ensuring every detail was perfect. 

History Majors at the AHA (January 3-6, 2019)

Two current Eastern History majors, Cassie Epes and Dana Meyer, are on the program for the 2019 annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago in January. Dana will share the results of a recent digital history project that examines desertion in Revolutionary Connecticut and Cassie will present her work on conspiracy theories in Nazi Germany. You can find full descriptions from the AHA Program below. 

Dana Meyer and Cassie Epes during the recent History Department trip to Gettysburg

As poster presenters, Cassie and Dana will each participate in the premier national convention for historians as two of a very select group of undergraduate researchers.  

For more on the AHA, check out www.historians.org. 

(From the AHA Program)  

A Willing Audience: The Brown Book of the Reichstag Fire and Hitler Terror and the Enduring Power of Conspiracy Theory 

Saturday, January 5, 2019 

Stevens C Prefunction (Hilton Chicago) 

Cassie Epes, Eastern Connecticut State University 

Cassie Epes 

Eastern Connecticut State University 

October 22, 2018 

A Willing Audience: 

The Brown Book and the Enduring Power of Conspiracy Theory 

On February 27, 1933, the German parliamentary building known as the Reichstag, went up in flames in Berlin. The fire, which was almost immediately determined to be arson, is widely considered to be one of the pivotal moments of the Nazi party’s rise to power. In August of the same year, a book was published in Paris by a group of communist writers that had fled from Germany fearing political persecution. The book, The Brown Book of the Reichstag Fire and Hitler Terror, weaved an intricate web of political conspirators, sex, drugs, and treason. Based almost entirely on forged documents and conjectures, the Brown Book, as it became known, was more than just a book. It was a skillfully orchestrated and persuasively written counterconspiracy that incriminated the Nazis as the party responsible for the arson. The focus of this poster is not on the Nazi rise to power or the fire that preceded it, rather it demonstrates the innate power of conspiracy theory and its ability to influence public opinion and historical memory, despite a palpable absence of logic and truth. 

This poster addresses the effects that the Brown Book had on the concept of Nazism and Hitler’s rise to power throughout the pre-and post-war period. It also examines the dangers of widely circulated unsourced information and propaganda, as well as the effects of foreign involvement in sensitive political affairs. This project draws upon newspaper articles and trial transcripts printed in the United States as well as Great Britain to demonstrate how the Reichstag fire was presented to people around the world. The book was exceptionally compelling to international populations, but no country appreciated the value of the fiction turned truth more than the Germans themselves. While the Brown Bookconceptualized the Germans as victims of political terror, the reality was that popular support had put the Nazi’s into a position of power, not the Reichstag fire. Translated into over twenty languages and published in more than fifty editions, the erroneous information presented in the Brown Book became dangerously influential both inside and outside of Germany, shaping the way that the world viewed Nazism for over thirty years. 

Connecticut Revolutionary War Deserters: An Experiment in Digital History 

Saturday, January 5, 2019 

Stevens C Prefunction (Hilton Chicago) 

 Dana Meyer, Eastern Connecticut State University 

Desertion is commonplace in war. Historians have tried to ascertain motive and estimate how many soldiers deserted during any given war. However, the numbers used to document desertion rates in secondary studies are often faulty, incomplete, or unsubstantiated. Applying digital tools to Connecticut Revolutionary War desertion provides a preliminary answer to this question. The combination of Muster Roll records along with transcribed newspaper Desertion Ads humanizes the individual deserter, while providing answers to quantifiable inquiries and exposing new research questions. 

Until now, the newspaper ads and the Muster Rolls have remained independent primary sources for Revolutionary War desertion. Muster Rolls from the Adjunct Generals Office provided the raw data required to validate my statistical findings. Using the Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the I. War of the Revolution, II. War of 1812, III. Mexican War, I compiled a list of Deserters from 1775-1783. This list formed the foundation of my relational database which includes approximately 1400 deserters, and more than 50 searchable attribute fields to analyze historical queries. Combining this with the Deserter Advertisements adds a new dimension to understanding desertion rates. The collation of Deserter Ads allows a quantitative method of counting soldiers from each individual ad and adding them to the Muster Roll total. Most significant of the findings, are the additional names of soldiers not included in the Muster Roll. The discrepancies between the Deserter Ads and the Muster Roll leaves many research questions to be answered. 

The lack of a dedicated historical study to Revolutionary War desertion in Connecticut incited my interest in compiling a database to explain a history that is incomprehensible without the tools of digital history. I have been able to help clarify and identify who the Connecticut deserters were and discover why they left the military. My research and methodology represent a step toward combining the quantitative and the qualitative approach needed to offer a new vantage point to contextualize the written material historians rely indiscriminately upon. This poster will explain the digital methods used, the sources consulted, and the conclusions reached.


On October 24, 2018, the History faculty met with representatives of the three local museums: Mark Granville, President of the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum, Dr. Jamie Eves, Executive Director of the Mill Museum and Town Historian, Paula Sullivan, Board Member from the Mill Museum, and Dr. Bob Horrocks, President of the Windham Historical Society from the Jillson House Museum. Dr. Jamel Ostwald, Dr. Anna Kirchmann, and Dr. Tom Balcerski introduced the guests to the Digital History Lab and its potential for collaboration between the museums and the Department of History. 

Group brainstorms digital collaboration between Eastern’s History Department and local museums.

(L-R) Bob Horrocks, Jamel Ostwald, Mark Granville, Ania Kirchmann, Paula Sullivan, Jamie Eves








During the meeting, Dr. Ostwald, who heads the DHL, demonstrated the available hardware and software, and showcased examples of digital history projects which can be pursued by the museums and the department. Among those, Omeka with its online exhibit potential, and ideas for a digital Windham history project garnered the most attention. Dr. Kirchmann reviewed the rules for the History Department internship program, as students’ involvement will be at the heart of the collaboration. “Our history majors will have a chance to learn hands-on skills and gain professional experience, which will be very marketable, and at the same time they will provide valuable service to the local community,” Kirchmann said. The group will reconvene in the Spring semester to continue the conversation.




ECSU student Dana Meyer presents research at NEHA

(L-R) Sanderce Sweeney, Margaret Conroy, Armando Ramirez, Allen Horn, Dana Meyer, Omar Abdelsame, Dr. Meznar, Cassie Epes, Dr. Balcerski

On Saturday, October 27, Dana Meyer ’19 presented a paper titled “Digital History and the Historian: Connecticut Revolutionary War Deserters,” at the Autumn 2018 meeting of the New England Historical Association at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus.  Dr. Thomas Balcerski was also on the program, speaking on “The Bachelor President and His First Lady.”  Cheering them on were Eastern students Omar Abdelsame, Margaret Conroy, Cassie Epes, Allen Horn, Armando Ramirez, Sanderce Sweeney, and Dr. Joan Meznar, Chair of the History Department.