What’s New in the History Department

New History Scholarship available!

UIS alumnus Mr. Richard Raymond has endowed the new Center for Lincoln Studies with its first scholarship, specifically aimed at helping UIS History M.A. Students. For more information on Mr. Raymond and the scholarship, see the official announcement from the UIS Office of Advancement.

Dr. Bertaina leads Study Abroad Trip to Rome and Malta, Summer 2017


A group of 15 UIS students recently visited the Ancient Roman Colosseum in Italy as part of a 13-day study abroad trip to Rome and Malta. Students learned about the history of both countries and visited sites, such as The Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. Learn more about studying abroad at UIS.

UIS Department of History conducts inaugural History Harvest!

hh_2016_team_photoThe Harvest was a great success! See the results, at the online archive and exhibit.

On October 22, 2016, students from Dr. Devin Hunter’s undergraduate Public History class and Dr. Ken Owen’s graduate History and Digital Media class invited members of the public to place themselves in the historical record– to bring and share any and all political memorabilia from the past: letters, photographs, diaries, buttons, bumper stickers, along with their stories. After digitally “harvesting” these materials,  students created an online, free-to-access archive that presents and preserves the artifacts. The goal of this History Harvest was to democratize and widen our understanding of the electoral process. Though elections are celebrated as giving voice to the people, all too often our historical understanding of elections is dominated by campaign managers and political elites.  By collecting information on the historical memories of the local electorate, the UIS History Harvest provided a unique insight into how ordinary citizens in central Illinois have participated in and remembered the democratic process.

The UIS History Harvest is part of a national movement connecting communities and universities through the practice of local history. More background on the national movement can be found here.

The 2016 History Harvest received considerable media attention:
Springfield Journal-Register: “UIS ‘Harvesting’ Political Memorabilia for Website
Springfield Journal-Register: “Lincoln Ax, FDR Letter Brought to UIS History Harvest”
WICS Channel 20: “UIS History Harvest Takes Place

Dr. Michael Burlingame attends commissioning of the U.S.S. Illinois

burlingame_uss_illinoisDr. Burlingame, the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS, attended the commissioning of the U.S.S. Illinois, a new fast-attack submarine. First Lady, Michelle Obama, the boat’s sponsor, spoke at the commissioning.

Dr. Peter Shapinsky leads study abroad trip to Japan

nikko_kannon_templetoshogugundam_uis_studentsThis past summer, Dr. Peter Shapinsky,  Department Chair and Associate Professor of History, led a group of UIS students to Japan as part of the annual exchange between the University of Illinois, Springfield and the Ashikaga Institute of Technology–UIS Global Experience: Ashikaga, Japan. During a two-and-a-half week sojourn in Ashikaga,  Japan (Springfield’s sister city), as well as Tokyo, students experienced everyday life in home stays, explored the range of Japanese history from ancient burial mounds to medieval castles to postmodern Tokyo, studied Japanese language, and engaged in traditional cultural pursuits. They then applied what they learned in Japan and integrated it with independent research projects. In doing so, they received academic credit applicable for ECCE global awareness, engagement experience, and some major coursework. History faculty members help to give students a global perspective at UIS.

UIS Unveils “The Young Lawyer.”

20160510_115219Today UIS welcomes a new sculpture of a smiling young Lincoln crafted by George Lundeen. History Department faculty members Dr. Holly Kent and Dr. Michael Burlingame helped bring this beautiful sculpture to our campus. Dr. Kent served as a member of the sculpture advisory board and Dr. Burlingame advised Mr. Lundeen on Lincoln’s personality, traits, and history. Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Act on July 2, 1862 which provided the resources for creating the University of Illinois. In 1867, University of Illinois was established  for the “purpose of fostering access to higher education for the working people” a continuing goal of UIS.


UIS Community Event: Master class on Lincoln, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights.

Dr. Michael Burlingame lecture "Lincoln & Reconstruction" master class.
Dr. Michael Burlingame lecture “Lincoln & Reconstruction” master class.

Dr. Michael Burlingame, Chancellor Naomi Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, presented a preview of his 2016 Lincoln Legacy Lecture to his master class and the UIS community on April 20th. Dr. Burlingame framed the problem as follows:

“The Reconstruction period after the Civil War saw a valiant attempt to make the promise implicit in the Emancipation a living reality. How and why did it fail in the nineteenth century, but laid the ground work for the Civil Rights Movement of the twentieth century?”

The full Lincoln Legacy Lecture will be October 20, 2016 featuring Dr. Burlingame and guest lectures Dr. Allen Guelzo from Gettysburg College and Dr. Brooks Simpson from University of Arizona.


Historic Environmental Preservation Class Hosts IHPA’s Amy HathawayHIS 505 IHPA Amy Hathaway 2-18-2016

In February, 2016, Amy Hathaway, National Register and Survey Specialist for the  Illinois Historic Preservation Agency visited Dr. Devin Hunter’s Graduate Public History course, HIS: 505. Hathaway provided practical and technical knowledge for students to apply in their final projects for their Historic Environmental Preservation class and in their future historical careers. The final project will require the graduate students to either draft a National Register nomination of a property of their choice, or on behalf of the IHPA they will revise an old nomination of a well-known Springfield historic property



Graduate Students Collaborate with Illinois Executive Mansion

Dr. Devin Hunter’s Material Culture class visited the Illinois Executive Mansion on September 16, 2015. The Graduate students are collaborating with the Executive Mansion to accurately identify, classify, analyze, and interpret artifacts owned and displayed in the Governor’s Mansion. Their reports are being shared with the Executive Mansion staff.


Exec Mansion 2015 pic1


Ken Owen Hosts Monthly Podcast on Early American History

Dr. Ken Owen hosts a monthly podcast on subjects relating to early American History. A few subjects covered recently include: “The Constitution,” “Thomas Paine and Common Sense” and “Teaching the U.S. History Survey.” Click here to find the podcasts and discover why they get rave reviews!

The JuntoCast is part of a group blog named after Benjamin Franklin’s self-improvement club for aspiring gentlemen: The Junto.

Check out Dr. Owen’s contributions to the blog.

Visit The Junto website. 

Michael Burlingame: How Journalists Covered Abraham Lincoln

Dr. Michael Burlingame, the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield discusses “How Journalists Covered Abraham Lincoln”.



Bill Siles studies urbanization and western migration

University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of History Bill Siles studies urbanization and western migration during the late 1700s and early 1800s.



Peter Shapinsky researches ancient Japanese pirates

Assistant Professor of History Peter Shapinsky researches Japanese pirates from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. His research is unique because it allows historians to understand Japanese history from the perspective of the sea. While pirates were often labeled as violent criminals, they also helped to establish trade routes, transport goods and provide protection.