Life has been busy since I left Marquette . . . Part VI of Alumni@Work

After a few months’ hiatus, this post continues our series of reports from our far-flung PhD alums, who we asked to get us caught up on what they’ve been doing and reflect on their lives as historians.
Ann Ostendorf earned her PhD from Marquette in 2009 and has taught at Gonzaga University in Spokane ever since. She is currently an associate professor, and author of Sounds American: National Identity and the Music Cultures of the Lower Mississippi River Valley, 1800-1860 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011).

“Life changes after tenure.” At least that is what the AVP told me when she called at 7:45pm on Tuesday, May 19th while I was eating soyrizo tacoostendorf_anns with homemade guacamole. Not that I was worried. I had already been promoted to Associate Professor last spring, so tenure should be pretty cut and dry, right? I can’t remember anything else she said to me during that phone call except that “life changes after tenure.” What was going to change? I’ve been pondering this ever since. While cleaning my house (top to bottom, drawers and closets), as I’ve intensified my yoga practice, as I’ve gardened various plots all over town. While going for hikes, while visiting family, while having lunch with all those people I always just wanted to have time to talk to. What could she mean? What would change? I asked my non-tenured friends what they thought she could mean. “Less service work?” one suggested. I thought it must be something more—something deeper, more profound. It seems I’ve got some free time to figure this out.   I’ll be on sabbatical all next year. I’ve got research projects I plan on completing and others I plan on starting. I’ve got projects for the school I’ll continue to move forward with. Sure, I won’t be teaching, but this other stuff will keep me plenty occupied, right? What’s going to change? I’d love to hear from you if you know. I want to be ready for the big change—wouldn’t want to miss it!

Daryl Webb received his PhD from Marquette in 2007; his dissertation was on “Milwaukee Children in the Great Depression.” He is an assistant professor at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.

I have found teaching history at a small liberal arts college both challenging and very rewarding. The biggest challenge is the balancing all of the many responsibilities. Working at a teaching centered institution it is hard to find the right balance between researchwebb and teaching. While I am required to be a strong teacher, I also must produce scholarship. It is a difficult to find the time to create strong classes and publishable scholarship. The other challenge in teaching a small liberal arts college is all the topic you must master or more accurately stated fake mastery over. In my eight years teaching in the my small department, I have taught twenty different courses on a wide ranging topics from children’s history and colonial history to course on the Twentieth Century America, history of American religion and Asian civ. Despite these challenges, I still take great joy in teaching and working with students. There is tremendous reward in teaching a great class, helping students understand and enjoy the past, and watching young people grow intellectually. It is truly a great gig.

Kathy Callahan received her PhD from Marquette in 2006. She is associate professor and chair of the history department at Murray State University in Kentucky. Her primary research interest is women in early modern (1500-1815) England and Scotland. She has published articles in the Journal for the Study of British Cultures, The Journal of Social History, and The London Journal on women and crime in late eighteenth-century London. She is currently researching the life and activities of Anna Scott, Duchess of Buccleuch of Scotland. 

Life has been busy since I left Marquette. I’ve had two tenure-track jobs, made two moves, and researched, taught, and traveled extensively in Europe and visited China twice, as well.

I now teach at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. I’m the British historian and also teach world history nearly every semester. The students here are fabulous which makes teaching so enjoyable. They are friendly, engaging, and, fFac-CallahanKor the most part, eager to learn. We have several graduates who pursue graduate degrees. In fact, one will be at Marquette in fall 2015! I was recently named Department Chair, so I am slowly shifting into new responsibilities. Wow! The new position challenges me in new ways every day. Dr. Marten, how have you done the job so long?

I began my teaching career at UWM; once I finished my PhD I took a tenure-track position at UW-Stout in 2006. UW-Stout didn’t have a history program so I wasn’t teaching British history, nor did they have a graduate program. My move to Murray State in 2009 gave me the chance to do all three: work with majors, teach British history, and work with students in our masters degree program.

One of the other things I have been involved extensively at Murray State is education abroad. My interest in this started because of my two fellowships I received while at Marquette: the Smith Family Fellowship and the Raynor Fellowship, both which afforded me the opportunity to live in London as I conducted research for my dissertation. Living in London provided me with not only research opportunities, but important cultural opportunities as well. Not long after I finished my PhD, I received a Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship that took me to China for a month. I’ve taken students to Scotland, taught for two semesters there, and have traveled to London for a spring break education abroad program focused on London as an imperial city. My current research is on a Scottish Duchess, so those trips to Scotland have paid off! Recently, I traveled with three MSU faculty members to Qingdao, China where I helped them build their own study abroad programs at our partner school, Qingdao Agricultural University. I’ll spend part of the fall semester with our program in Regensburg, Germany. Education abroad provides students with experiential learning activities that cannot be obtained in the traditional classroom.

In the big scheme of things, my career has been much like I thought it would be. Since I had a ten-year career in higher ed. as an administrator before I began grad school, I had a good idea of what to expect. The most challenging thing for me was my tenure process. I had to produce two additional articles in three years at MSU. I made it, but it wasn’t easy; thank goodness for my dissertation! Balancing teaching and research was easier because of my experience as a teaching assistant at Marquette. I don’t have a book yet, but I am particularly proud of my article published in the Journal of Social History.

Certainly, the profession has challenges. Heralding the humanities remains high on my priority list as department chair. As the emphasis on STEM education continues, we must work with our students to help them articulate what they’ve learned as history majors and how their skills can be transferring to a countless number of careers. Our department will be focusing on the development of more experiential learning opportunities for our students as a way to help them better understand their skills and talents in preparation for their futures.

A Series of Fortunate Events: Navigating the Eighteenth-Century World with George Galphin


Bryan Rindfleisch, our new assistant professor of American colonial and Native American history, is currently revising his dissertation, “’Possessed of the most Extensive Trade, Connexions, and Influence’: The Atlantic Intimacies of an Eighteenth-Century Indian Trader,” which he finished last year at the University of Oklahoma. He recently posted a piece about his research on Rindfleisch_000a blog written by young historians of early America called “The Junta.” The site features essays, discussion threads, podcasts, and other forms of scholarly debate on a wide variety of historical and historiographical issues. Read Bryan’s blog post—as well as recent pieces on women’s history, Canada, the American Revolution, digital history, and myriad other topics—at

Graduate Students on the Road: Casper Grants Fund Graduate Student Research Travel

Edited by Lezlie Knox.  This past summer the History Department awarded research grants to four graduate students thanks to a generous endowment provided through the Casper Fund.

Casper Dissertation Fellowships support advanced doctoral students who need to travel to research collections needed for dissertation research. Casper Research Grants support travel for early-career doctoral students who are beginning to plan their dissertation project or for MA students who intend to pursue a doctoral degree and are working on a project requiring travel to collections.

Below, the 2015 Casper fellows describe their projects and results, beginning with the two Dissertation Fellows and followed by the two MA students who earned Casper Research Grants.

Matthew Douglas, ABD, “The Huguenot Experience: Gender, Violence, and the Courts in Nîmes from 1685 until 1788” (Julius Ruff, Director)

As a scholar working on religious toleration within the city of Nîmes, my interests drew me to pamphlets published concerning the religious conflict down at the Newberry library in Chicago. One of the most fascinating set of pamphlets I came across concerned the reception of the Bagarre de Nîmes (1790). This “brawl” featured a massacre of Catholics by Protestants. The blatant violence was another example of continued religious tensions between the groups. Hundreds of conservative Catholics came into Nîmes in mid-June for votes concerning local governance. With the Catholics arriving to vote for their conservative candidates, Protestants moved in from the surrounding areas and eventually mdouglasassacred hundreds who opposed the new Revolutionary electoral measures (namely the election of Protestants to office). In a pamphlet entitled Le Fanatisme Écrasé (Fanaticism Crushed), the Protestant author detailed how Catholic fanaticism had been eliminated from the city as a result of the violence. For my own research, I found it intriguing that the idea of labeling a religious group as fanatics had come full-circle. Catholics who arrested Protestants after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes had always referred to Protestants as either religionnaires or as phanatiques. Now, after civil rights had been granted to Protestants with the Edict of Toleration of 1788, Protestants now thought that conservative Catholics were the fanatics. The trips provided me hundreds of excellent pamphlets that now form parts of the second, third, and fourth chapters of my dissertation. This pamphlet and others concerning post 1789 religious conflict in France speak to cyclical tensions of violence and toleration that my dissertation traces in Nîmes from 1685 onwards. The period between 1685 until 1702 remained rather tolerant, while the years of the Camisard Revolt (1702-1715) were especially bloody. Outside of the cases popularized by Voltaire against Protestants, the years from 1715 until 1788 tended to have less overt violence. The violence returned with the outbreak of the Revolution, and long held religious grudges returned to the surface once Protestants had attained full recognition and civil rights.

Michael Pulido, ABD, “Transmitting a Revolution: Nationalism and the 1953 East German Uprising,” (directed by Julius Ruff and Peter Staudenmaier)

My research into the origins of the 1953 East German Uprising took me to Dresden, Germany, in 2013 where I completed a good bit of my research for a localized study. Unfortunately, German archives do not let researchers take pictures, which limited the amount of material through which I could sift. I complained loudly, but of course only to fellow researchers and friends back in Milwaukee who are probably pretty sick of hearing about it. Flash forward to 2015, and my archive now offers cheap self-service copying, which, combined with the Casper Summer funds and a weak Euro, meant an extra month or so in Dresden to do check sources and examine some new documents.

My dissertation examines the means by which opponents undermined the socialist regime of East Germany in the early 1950s. I’m especially interested in rumor-mongering, leaflets, and foreign radio listenership. RIAS (Radio in the American Sector), the most popular “enemypulido station” in East Germany, continuously critiqued the socialists’ plans and advocated for a united Germany while linking East and West Germans in an alternative public sphere. I spent much of my time collecting evidence of local listenership and other “enemy activity” leading up to the 1953 Uprising. I also spent a week or so researching the postwar construction of the local radio and loudspeaker systems (for the socialist regime to blast its slogans in public spaces) and efforts to counter foreign broadcasting. (Translation of passage on image: (RIAS wants to turn Germans against Germans with its lies.”)

Patrick Bethel, MA student

I used this research funding to examine the Parliamentary Paper Collection at the Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, in order to further research the Irish Orphan Emigrant Scheme, a government program set up in 1848 in order to transport orphaned females from Irish workhouses to the Australian colonies. To this end, I examined reports generated by employees of the Irish Poor Law Board, the body charged with managing the workhouse system in Ireland, during their visits to the various workhouses across the country. To my surprise, I found relatively few mentions of the program, despite its relatively widespread adoption during its roughly 18 months of existence. However, out of the mentions of the program that I was able to find, one, from the Donegal workhouse stood out as an example of how the systems of aid during the Famine period were collapsing under the weight of challenges they had not been designed to face.

The Board of Guardians of the Donegal workhouse sent a letter to their superiors in Dublin on the 27th of March 1848 expressing their desire to enroll as many women as possible in the program and requesting that an inspector be sent to them to evaluate the bethelwomen who had volunteered. On April 8th, the Dublin Board received a second letter, stating that the Donegal board had re-emulated the cost of enrolling in the program and had decided that their finances could not support the expense. Lastly, on May 1st, they reversed the decision of April 8th, as they had been able to collect delinquent local taxes in the interim period. This anecdote, and the data regarding workhouse admittances, will allow me to re-work the portion of my seminar paper dealing with the workhouse situation, which had been based on secondary literature, to incorporate the primary source material that I was able to find during my research trip.

Ashley Meddaugh, MA Student

I travelled to the Newberry Library this summer to examine their collection of French Revolution pamphlets to expand upon my research project from Dr. Hay’s gender seminar last spring. That paper focused on the journey of an English aristocrat to Paris and Switzerland in 1791, and most of the information I included about the Revolution in that paper came from secondary sources. Since this project will be edited and revised into my Master’s thesis, I wanted to include as many primary documents as possible, and the resources at the Newberry have allowed me to do this. The pamphlets I looked at included a good number of petitions to the National Assembly from 1791, as well as speeches made by the representatives on the question of whether to try Louis XVI. One document was published by the Department de Paris, and detailed the Flight to Varennes from the National Assembly’s point of view.

The best find, however, came near the end of day on my final visit to the Newberry. I requested first edition works by Frances Burney and Anna Seward, both of whom were the focus of my undergraduate research project. At the end of Anna Seward’s meddaughLouisa, was the signature of the author herself. Already feeling like I just seen the autograph of a celebrity, I found an unpublished poem from Seward to a close friend, at the end of the Llongallen Vale. Even though I started this trip believing I was just looking into materials for one project, I ended up walking away with a renewed interest in this earlier project that I now hope to expand after (hopefully!) more trips to the Newberry.

The Story Behind “Victor’s Desk”

If you’ve been in the History Department’s “new” office (perhaps now that we’ve occupied the space for more than a year, it’s less the “new” office than just the “office”), you’ve no doubt noticed the big, oak, roll-top desk that dominates the room.  We display new books and articles by current faculty and former and current graduate students (not to mention the trophy commemorating the winner of our annual kickball game between students and faculty).  But the desk has a long and notable history of its own–and you can read about it in this new story on Marquette’s website:  Enjoy!

What Colleen Did on Summer Vacation

The first day of classes looms ahead, and we all are wondering where the summer went. Some of us had time for vacations, others worked most of the summer—many probably wish there were a few more weeks before we get back to classes (on either side of the lectern!).

Colleen Fessler, a history major who will graduate in Fall 2015, worked (she’s one of the student workers in the history department office) and studied, like most Marquette students. But she was also as one of a half dozen young people selected for the Saint Patrick’s Centre of Northern Ireland’s Young Ambassador program (, which is designed to connect Americans with Northern Irish culture and to encourage them to conduct original research about some aspect of that culture.

Colleen reflected on the experience on her blog, “A Young Ambassador’s Journey Through Northern Ireland.”  You can read more about her and her journey at But here’s a brief excerpt:

The beautiful new dome atop the Victoria’s Square shopping centre is yet another testament to the progress Belfast and Northern Ireland has made since the troubles considering it is made entirely out of glass, allowing for a breathtaking 360 view of the city. Any type of construction across Northern Ireland throughout the past few decades never considered the use of glass because the fear of petrol bombs, IRA or Paramilitary/UVF attacks destroying the glass was all too real, so the fact that the city has confidence in building all glass buildings & domes is very significant in a change of times.


The Ulster Museum also had a wonderfully powerful exhibit called “Silent Testimony” dedicated to the Troubles created by a local artist. The exhibit consisted of large 3-D type portraits (oil on canvas) of people who experienced extreme personal losses, accompanied by a personal statement of their own story. The room was filled from wall to wall with these personal testaments and only offers a glimpse into what the people of Northern Ireland experienced during this time of their history.

Find out more about the project, Colleen, and Northern Ireland, on Colleen’s blog.

Fr. Francis Paul Prucha, SJ: A Reminiscence

Phil Naylor has been a professor of history at MU for many years. But in the 1970s he was a graduate student here. During that time he came to know the late Fr. Paul Prucha very well. In honor of Father Prucha’s death last week, Phil offers this recollection.

When my dissertation director, Dr. David Gardinier, and I planned my semester schedule as a first-year doctoral student, he told me that I should take Father Prucha’s seminar in the American West. As a doctoral punk, I responded that “it’s not in my field” and that I was already taking the mandatory Philosophy of History course also taught by Father Prucha. (Wasn’t one course with rigorous Father Prucha enough?!) My director’s response was terse but included an inscrutable smile: “It would be good for you.” Dr. Gardinier was absolutely correct. Philosophy of History became one of my favorite courses. In particular, I also learned a lot in the American West seminar about editing documents as I studied Ute Indian treaties of the 1860s and the roles played particularly by Chief Ouray and Kit Carson. Indeed, I began to compare French colonial policies in Algeria with US-American Indian relations. These courses led to enduring friendships with my peers and especially my professor.

Fr. Francis Paul Prucha, SJ, 1921-2015.

Fr. Francis Paul Prucha, SJ, 1921-2015.

I also began to learn more about Father Prucha’s interests, especially in art. (Father also had keen interests in architecture and design and was quite impressed by the History Department’s new offices in Sensenbrenner Hall.) He loved abstraction and especially Stuart Davis’s composition of forms and color. We have some of Father Prucha’s Stuart Davis paper cut copies in Sensenbrenner Hall (third floor). (When he prepared to move from the Jesuit Residence to Saint Camillus, he was going to throw them away. I asked if I could have them. He agreed.) When I traveled I would bring him brochures from art museums, a favorite being the Phillips Collection, which he visited often when researching in Washington, D.C.

My wife Kitty and I particularly enjoyed Father Prucha’s two-year tenure as Gasson Professor at Boston College in the 1980s, when I taught at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. We listened to his public lectures and enjoyed dinners with Father and his friends. I nominated Father Prucha for an honorary degree from Merrimack College; one of the co-recipients was Michael Dukakis.

Several weeks ago, Athan Theoharis and I visited Father. We found him in good spirits and, yes, his wit was sharp too. I’ve learned from Rose Petranech, an ex-MU administrator and great friend of Father’s, that he continued to exercise his wit with the Saint Camillus staff until he “fell asleep,” to use the expression of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Father Prucha’s exceptional discourse and practice in class impressed and inspired. (His classes were carefully crafted; every word meant something.) Beyond academics, I also picture a nonagenarian meticulously and patiently creating complex

Two of Fr. Prucha's polyhedrons, now displayed in the history department.

Two of Fr. Prucha’s polyhedrons, now displayed in the history department.

polyhedrons to decorate his apartment and his community and to give as gifts. As other students of his can attest, it was such a privilege to have Father Prucha as a professor and friend—an inimitable experience.

The History Department and University Archives organized a celebration on 19 May 2011, held at the Francis Paul Prucha, S.J. Reading Room in the Raynor Library to celebrate several of Father Prucha’s milestones: his 90th birthday; the 70th anniversary of his graduation from River Falls State Teachers College; the 60th anniversary of his entering the Jesuit Order; and the 50th anniversary as a member of the Department of History.

These were my remarks at that time:

Thank you for joining University Archives and the Department of History in our celebration of Father Francis Paul Prucha of the Society of Jesus, Pulitzer Prize nominee, author of twenty-plus books, teaching award winner, holder of numerous honorary degrees, honored as one of Wisconsin’s great literary figures by the Milwaukee Public Library. He is Marquette University’s greatest historian.

To those of us who were privileged to be his students, he set unattainable standards of scholarly and teaching excellence. Nevertheless, what made Father such a great professor is that he inspired us and, of course, still does, often in subtle and not too subtle ways, to reach those standards. He expected us and expects us to try. Quoting Henri-Irenée Marrou, a philosopher of history highly admired by Father Prucha, we learned that “history is a struggle of the mind, an adventure.”

Many graduate students had, however, a pathological fear of Father Prucha. I never did. Indeed, I discovered a man who was willing to critique, yet encourage, my photography and who enjoyed discussing art. Indeed, I would discover him in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum on Sunday mornings. Of course, I also observed his exercise of his wit. We are not talking about a dry wit, but one which is Saharan in its aridity. There was also another side to Father Prucha that I witnessed. We coincidentally visited a mutual friend who was hospitalized. When the patient mentioned how much he liked Father Prucha’s sweater, Father took it off and gave it to him.

I know that many of you have similar stories to tell. But because of Father Prucha, I danced with Ute Indians in Colorado, paid special attention to Stuart Davis’s abstract art, and wrote books that I hoped he would admire. Typically, he photocopied a page of my recent book surveying North African history and marked it up informing me that I had over-quoted. I loved it. It was perfect. It had to be, because it was and is Prucha.

Wrapping Up 2014-2015: Journeys, Real and Virtual

blofThe purpose of “Historians@Work” is to offer a sense of the kinds of journeys we historians undertake as scholars and teachers. In what will probably be the last blog post before classes begin again in August, I’m going to provide a small sampler of the stories that appears in the 2014-2015 department newsletter, which is now online and will be mailed to thousands of MU alums this week.

As always, many of our “journeys” were actually journeys! Since the last newsletter, MU historians have traveled conducted research or attended conferences all over the world, including Cuba, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, and Panama.

Several members of the department completed journeys from idea to print with the publication of books.

Kristen Foster’s efforts to help her students travel back in time through vivid lectures, meaningful discussions, and high standards earned her Marquette’s highest honor: the Award for Excellence in Teaching. She joined a dozen other members of the department to win the award over the last fifty years—more than any other department on campus.

Two colleagues—John Krugler and Tom Jablonsky—entered a new phase of their life journeys by retiring, while two new colleagues—Brian Rindfleisch and Jenn Finn—started the next phases of their professional journeys and two PhD students—Karalee Surface and Bethany Harding–finished their dissertations.

Finally, the faculty and students in the department traveled to video when we made a movie about the department’s people and programs—“History Matters.” It can be viewed on Youtube at

It’s been a great year. Read more about it in the 2015 Newsletter at  Enjoy your summers!  Jim Marten, Chair, History Department

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 51 other followers


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers