At its opening in 1892, the State Normal and Industrial School featured a Department of English and History. The department was led by Edwin Alderman. The following year, however, the two subjects were split into separate departments, with Lucy Robertson leading the Department of History. Coursework in the department included and emphasis on Greek and Roman history, medieval history, English history, and U.S. history.
In 1909, Walter Clinton Jackson was hired as head of the department. His specialty was American history and race relations. He claimed to have tought the first college course in the South on race relations. In 1913, Harriet Elliott was hired as an assistant professor in the History Department. She was very vocal and active in campaigning for women’s suffrage, a controversial subject at the time.
The name of the department was expanded to the Department of History and Political Science in 1919, and within that department, students were able to major in either history or political science. This organization would last until 1970 when the history and political science split into two separate departments — the Department of History and the Department of Political Science.
The department established its master’s degree program in 1963. A Ph.D. was added in 2004.
Department of History (and Department of History and Political Science) Heads/Chairs:
- Edwin Aldernman (1892-1893, Department of English and History)
- Lucy Owen Robertson (1893-1900)
- William C. Smith (1900-1909)
- Walter Clinton Jackson (1909-1932)
- Benjamin Kendrick (1932-1945)
- Clarence D. Johns (1945-1950)
- Louise B. Alexander (1950-1955, acting head)
- Richard N. Current (1955-1960)
- Richard Bardolph (1960-1978)
- Ann Pottinger Saab (1978-1984)
- Allen W. Trelease (1984-1993)
- Steven F. Lawson (1993-1999)
- William A. Link (1999-2005)
- Charles C. Bolton (2005-2015)
- James A. Anderson (2015-)