photo of a collection of photos and maps and opened books


History majors at Reed develop a broad range of analytical skills in order to better understand the legacy—conscious or unconscious—that each present has inherited from its past, as well as the many perspectives one can have on those legacies.

The department offers courses that cover a wide range of periods and areas of study. Rather than focusing on specific coverage of conventional fields, the program exposes students to the diversity of approaches to studying the past, including social, intellectual, economic, cultural, gender, legal, and imperial, with the aim of developing students’ abilities to conduct independent inquiry and fashion their own analytical and critical interpretations of the past.

Faculty areas of research include, among others, revolutionary-era France and Europe; colonial, revolutionary, and nineteenth-century America; Middle Eastern and Ottoman history; United States women’s history; environmental history; Native American history; modern Europe, Latin America, China, Japan, and Russia; and the history of science.

History majors develop the skills to analyze and interpret textual, visual, aural, and other sources; the capacity to develop and critique interpretations and arguments; and the ability to read, write, and speak effectively. These skills carry over to a variety of fields upon graduation. In addition, Reed ranks number two in colleges and universities that send students to graduate and professional programs in history.

“Immersing myself in history at Reed rekindled my sense of wonder, brought me joy and humor, connected me to the people whose worlds I have inherited, and drove me to create work that fills me with pride.” SHIR LEV BACH ’21

Alumni profile

David Kerry ’20

PhD Candidate, Yale University

photo of David Kerry

David Kerry ’20 is a PhD student at Yale University, where he is studying the history of federal Indian policy and United States foreign affairs. His current focus is on exploring the global origins and effects of the Indian New Deal, with a particular focus on how American colonial officials drew upon and influenced their peers in European colonial administrations. David is currently a graduate fellow at the Beinecke Library and is an active member of the NYU-Yale Sovereignty Project, a group that promotes Native American legal sovereignty, for which he has contributed to two Supreme Court briefs.

David says, “My time at Reed was profoundly influenced by the generosity and skill of the history faculty. I was always encouraged to pursue my interests and found the diversity of geographic and thematic training among the professors to be one of the department’s greatest strengths. They enthusiastically support new ideas and research, even in areas distinct from their own specialties. This allows students to think across subfields and leads to research that is much more reflective and meaningful.”

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Related fields

History courses like the History of Science; Making Race; and Water and the American West have close ties with the fields of science, anthropology, environmental studies, and literature. Established interdisciplinary programs in American studies, history-literature, and environmental studies allow for innovative areas of study and a wide range of careers after graduation.

Graduate Study

Schools most-frequently attended by Reed history alumni
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Chicago
  • Columbia University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Washington
  • Princeton University
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Northwestern University
  • Stanford University

Recent Senior Thesis Titles

“Out on the Trail: Queer Representations of Wilderness, Morality, and Fantasy, 1950–1979”
Lauren Mondroski ’21

“Growth and Its Discontents: Portland and the Problem with Good Planning”
Joe Yalowitz ’20

“Cooperation and Conflict in SinoSpanish Manila, 1639–1663”
Patrick Stein ’19

“World Bank Water Policy: Development, Neoliberalism, and Water Privatization in Chile and Bolivia”
Luke Maskarinec ’18

“‘We Are an Endangered Species’: Labor, Land, and the Decline of the Pacific Northwest Lumber Communities”
Brian Click ’16

“‘Satan Vomitted up a Set of Reptiles’: Men, Midwives, Medicine, and the Monopolization of American Childbirth, 1800–1980”
Rebecca Garry ’16

“Exhibition Matters: Reconsidering the Conditions of Reception in the History of Early American Movie-Going, 1905–1926”
Joshua Brown ’15

“1836: Rivière, Foucault: 1973”
Mimi Howard ’15

What Do Alumni Do?

Research Assistant
NYU Law School
Henry Hartwell ’20

JD Candidate
Harvard Law School
Sasha Peters ’15

Host and Reporter
Planet Money, NPR
Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi ’14

Senior Transportation Planner
Alma Siulagi ’14

Oregon Department of Justice
Luke Stanton ’02

Senior Humanitarian Advisor
United States Mission to the UN, Department of State
Sam Vigersky ’02

Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs
University of Louisville
Lisa Björkman ’00