Why study history at Vassar? Knowledge of history opens a window onto the past, helping us comprehend the complexities of life in remote and recent periods. At the same time history provides a vital perspective on current events and issues, illuminating the impact of the past on the world today.

The study of history at Vassar develops a range of skills that can be applied not only to further study but also to a wide variety of careers. Students learn how to track down reliable sources of information, then how to make sense of complex documents and varying viewpoints. In an age of information overload, these tools are more essential than ever. Read more


Headshot of Lydia Murdoch.

Professor of History Lydia Murdoch is awarded an NEH Fellowship to undertake research for her book project, Children as Medical Subjects and the Early-Nineteenth-Century Global Spread of the First Smallpox Vaccines, which investigates the particular contributions of children to early nineteenth-century vaccination through microhistories of the London Foundling Hospital and East India Company programs in South Asia.

Headshot of Amitava Kumar

Amitava Kumar, Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, is author of My Beloved Life, a new novel published by Penguin Random House, that traces a fictional life through 20th-century India.

Image: headshot

Allison Puglisi, Assistant Professor of History, received a fellowship from the Suzy Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College for academic year 2024–2025 for her project entitled “Redefining Residency: Black Environmental Thought in New Orleans,” which will focus on how housing activists, particularly Black women, laid the groundwork for modern Black environmental organizing.

Headshot of Mita Choudhury.

Mita Choudhury, Professor and Chair of History on the Evalyn Clark Chair, has been awarded a Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) fellowship to support her book-length project The Silent Chain: History and Reckoning in the Catholic Church.

The Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

President Elizabeth Bradley welcomed new Poughkeepsie Mayor Yvonne Flowers, Town Supervisor (and Vassar history professor on leave) Rebecca Edwards, and others to reflect on the Legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a campus gathering.

Person sitting at a table on a porch in the shade with a laptop, writing pad and a book smiling

More than 30 Vassar students conducted humanities research projects under the auspices of the College’s Ford Scholars program.

Headshot of Ashanti Shih

Ashanti Shih, Assistant Professor of History, is a 2023 Sinnott Award recipient. Ashanti’s scholarly work, which brings issues of race and indigeneity into dialogue with histories of science and environment, will focus on the colonial histories and legacies of the Arboretum’s vast collections of temperate woody plants from North America and East Asia.

Images in slideshow

  1. Mathieu Le Nain (French, 1607–1677), The Painter’s Studio, Date: Nd, Oil on canvas, Purchase: Matthew Vassar Fund, Photo credit: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
  2. Janet Nipi Ikuutaq (Inuit [Baker Lake/Qamani’tuaq], born 1935), Detail: Jealous Owl, 2000, Woodblock and stencil on paper, Gift from the Edward J. Guarino Collection in honor of Karen Merritt & Len Skovira, Photo credit: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
  3. U.S. Marine Sergeant Bruce Allen Atwell, Combat photographs from Hue, Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive, Black & white photograph, 1968
  4. Migita Toshihide (Japanese, 1863–1925), A Sailor of our Warship Sazanami Jumped onto the Deck of a Russian Ship. With a Thundering Cry “Hey You!” He Cut at the Enemy Captain and Kicked Him into the Water. —in the Sea Battle near Port Arthur, March 10, 1904, 1904, Color woodblock print: oban tate-e triptych, Gift of Frances Beatty Adler, class of 1970, and Allen Adler, Photo credit: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
  5. U.S. Marine Sergeant Bruce Allen Atwell, Combat photographs from Hue, Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive, Black & white photograph, 1968
  6. Judson Smith (American, 1880–1962), View of Poughkeepsie in 1840, Competition Sketch for Mural, Unrealized, Post Office, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1938/1939, Tempera & graphite on brown paperboard, Gift of the Judson Smith Family, Photo credit: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
  7. Lewis Wickes Hine (American, 1874–1940), At Work in a Garment Factory, NY, 1931, Gelatin silver print, Gift of Alverta Van Dusen Lewis, Photo credit: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center