UNH Annual History Day

The UNH History Department's Second Annual History Day

The UNH History Department welcomes History and Social Studies teachers from across New Hampshire and beyond to join us for a day of professional development. Participants will have the opportunity to choose among numerous topics, including immigration, pandemics, world history, ancient writing systems, slavery and capitalism, the Second World War, and traditional modes of clothing making in the region. Sessions are geared toward providing new knowledge and materials that you can take directly to the classroom.  

 View more information about the sessions on the What You Will Learn" and "Agenda" tabs.

What You Will Learn


The UNH History Department's Second Annual History Day

The Onassis Refinery Project at 50, Professor Kurk Dorsey

In 1973-74, Aristotle Onassis developed a plan to build an oil refining complex connecting the Isles of Shoals to the Oyster River in Durham.  A legend has grown up around that proposal of the efforts of people in Durham to defeat the proposal and protect their town's landscape.  While there is much truth in that story, it leaves out important concepts about what gets protected and what gets used and why.  We will take a look back at the Onassis refinery project with 50 years of separation to analyze the dispute and think about ways we could apply it to challenges in the 2020s.

Landscapes of Early U.S. Capitalism: Linking the History of Industrialization, Slavery, and Indigenous Dispossession, Professor Jessica Lepler

Across the Granite State, iconic brick and stone buildings that once housed textile factories dot the landscape. These historic structures provide physical evidence of New Hampshire’s connection to the cotton boom that transformed the early U.S. economy in the first half of the nineteenth century. Many U.S. history textbooks, however, divide pre-1860s Northern, Southern, and Western history into separate chapters. This provides a false sense that the histories of industrialization, slavery, and the dispossession of Indigenous people are separate stories that apply to separate regions.

The goal of this seminar will be to bring these regional pasts together into one history of early U.S. Capitalism that will help New Hampshire’s teachers tie local history to larger national narratives. In this seminar, we will review recent scholarship on the interconnections between Northern, Southern, and Western history in the first half of the nineteenth century. We will experiment with primary sources to develop activities and assignments that attendees can bring back to their classrooms. And we will discuss the opportunities and challenges of bringing this content to New Hampshire’s classrooms.

A Truly Global War:  World War II beyond the European and Pacific Theaters, Professor Molly Dorsey

Whether you teach US, European, or world history, World War II has a place in history classes about the modern era.  The events, peoples, and resources of Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America often are lost in accounts of the conflict, yet lessons and experiences about the war in those regions offers new ways to view topics such as environmental history, total war, and discrimination as well as lenses through which to see the western and non-western interactions.  Come discuss characteristics of the war effort in some of the areas of the world less-frequently studied in US classrooms. 

Growing Flax, Processing Linen, and Making Clothes: A New Hampshire Fiber Staple for a Sustainable Future, Professor Kimberly Alexander

This year-long project examines the growing and processing of flax into linen for clothing and domestic goods in early America. It is both archival and experiential -- drawing on newspapers, documents, letters, diaries, and almanacs, as well as surviving textiles made by those living in New Hampshire during the late 17th through early 19th centuries. The project examines the home production and consumption of textiles via sale, trade, and barter. Thus far, this research has connected at least half a dozen homespun linen items to their makers, thereby restoring their voices and stories to the historic record. The #TeamFlax students were engaged in all aspects of growing flax from sowing to harvest.  Processing flax into linen was a family-- and often, community -- endeavor. Frequently crossing traditional gender roles, women, men, children, and extended family kinship groups, as well as the rural enslaved, took part in preparation of this household staple. The unrecorded thousands of hours of work cutting, retting, braking, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and sewing small clothes, bed linens, and all manner of domestic items contributed greatly to the family’s financial stability, particularly before the mid-19th century growth of the textile factory/industrial complex. As part of this New Hampshire History Day talk, participants will have an opportunity to brake, scutch and comb flax for processing into linen, and discuss strategies for integrating this topic into classroom teaching.

Dark Ages, Feudalism, and Other Myths We Teach Our Students, Professor David Bachrach

The barbarians conquered the Roman Empire, brought an end to civilization, and paved the way for a new political form, that is feudalism, which dominated Europe until the rise of cities sometime in the twelfth century. The medieval world was controlled by feudal lords and their knights, often in shining armor, working in conjunction with The Church, oppressing the vast majority of people, who lived in the countryside as serfs. It was not until The Renaissance of the fifteenth century that Europe regained some measure of the technological and cultural achievements of Rome. This is an old story, it is the story that is contained up to the present day in most social studies textbooks, and this story is ABSOLUTELY WRONG IN BOTH DETAIL AND CONCEPTION! Come hear how it really was in the centuries after the Roman general Odovacer, working for the East Roman Emperor Zeno deposed an illegitimate ruler on the imperial throne in Rome in 476.

Immigration Act of 1924:  New Directions in Migration History, Professor Lucy Salyer

One hundred years ago, the United States passed the Immigration Act of 1924, a law that dramatically reduced immigration to the United States. The law established quotas based on nationalities, favoring immigrants from Northern and Western Europe, and excluded all future Asian immigrants.  The centennial of the 1924 act provides a good opportunity to consider the policy’s significance and impact, especially in evaluating the well-known phrase that the United States is “a nation of immigrants.”  In practice, observes scholar Aristide Zolberg, the US has been a “nation of immigrants, to be sure, but not just any immigrants.”   

Using the 1924 law as our anchor, this seminar will explore what such policies reveal about the United States – its politics, economics, and culture.  In addressing that question, this seminar will highlight major shifts in the study of immigration over the past 25 years.  Since the 1950s, US immigration history has been centered on the immigrant experience, investigating migration patterns, the creation of immigrant and ethnic communities, the incorporation of immigrants, among other topics.  Beginning in the late 1990s, a new path of inquiry – what we might call the “gatekeeping school” – arose, focusing more squarely on the creation and enforcement of immigration and citizenship policies.  Whom has the nation welcomed, and why?  How has the machinery of “gatekeeping” developed since the 1880s with the passage of the Chinese exclusion laws?  What has been the impact of such policies on American law and institutions – and on immigrants?  We will use primary sources (cartoons, speeches, laws) – and perhaps play a game or two -- to explore those questions and share ideas about how to bring a historical perspective to bear on current immigration debates.

Teaching World History in the 21st Century, Professor Michael Leese

Recent developments in world history have moved the focus from the European and American world to the middle of Eurasia and the Indian Ocean. This seminar discusses how one can retain the important content and lessons from traditional approaches to global history while refocusing the perspective onto the most significant military, religious, and technological developments of the premodern world that led to the rise of the modern world.

In this seminar, we will discuss various approaches to designing the overall framework of a World History course, as well as strategies for zooming in on important moments in time to incorporate a combination of depth and breadth of content. Methodological issues for interpreting premodern primary sources will be covered as well, focusing on a few selected short source excerpts from Europe, the Middle East, and China. The opportunities and challenges of integrating such material into the classroom will be the focus of a final open discussion, in which we will also consider the merits of textbooks and documentaries, as well as other media for teaching World History.

Ancient Writing Systems, Professor Greg McMahon

In this workshop we will learn about cuneiform, the oldest known form of writing, developed by the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago. This will include a discussion of the three possible ways of structuring a writing system, the development of cuneiform from pictographic to abstract symbols, and the adoption of this earliest writing system by later Mesopotamians and eventually by the Hittites. After learning the basics of this system, we will form clay tablets and write out a text in cuneiform.

Paper Pandemics:  Building a History of New York's 1832 Cholera Epidemic from the New York Evening Post, Professor Elizabeth Mellyn

This workshop traces the emergence, epidemic, and disappearance of cholera in New York City from June through August of 1832 in the pages of one of the city's premier daily newspapers, the New York Evening Post. 


Travel & Site Information


The UNH History Department's Second Annual History Day



The UNH History Department's Second Annual History Day

Please see the "What You Will Learn" tab for descriptions of each session.

7:45-8:30: Breakfast and check-in on third floor of Horton Hall, included with registration 

8:30-9:30: Session 1 - The Onassis Refinery Project at 50, Professor Kurk Dorsey 

9:30-9:45: coffee break, third floor of Horton Hall 

9:45-11:15: Session 2 

Choose from:

  • Landscapes of Early U.S Capitalism: Linking the History of Industrialization, Slavery, and Indigenous Dispossession, Professor Jess Lepler
  • Growing Flax, Processing Linen and Making Clothes: A New Hampshire Fiber Staple for a Sustainable Future,  Professor Kimberly Alexander
  • A Truly Global War: World War II Beyond the European and Pacific Theaters, Professor Molly Dorsey

11:15-11:30: break

11:30-12:30 Session 3 -The Dark Ages, Feudalism, and Other Myths We Teach Our Students, Professor David Bachrach

12:30-1:30: Lunch in Holloway Commons, included with registration 

1:30-3:00: Session 4 

Choose from:

  • Immigration Act of 1924: New Directions in Migration History, Professor Lucy Salyer
  • Teaching World History in the 21st Century,   Professor Michael Leese
  • Ancient Writing Systems, Professor Greg McMahon
  • Paper Pandemics: Building a History of New York's 1832 Cholera Epicemic from the New York Evening Post, Professor Elizabeth Mellyn
This course is currently unavailable.