BGSU History MA Explores Digital Storytelling and Spatial History

Rob Carlock earned an MA in History and a Graduate Certificate in Public History from BGSU in May 2019.  This fall, he will enter his second year in the PhD Program in History at George Mason University.


Bowling Green State University was my home for 6 years as I worked my way through my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. I then left Ohio to pursue a PhD in history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, sadly leaving behind a support network and family I had built during my time there. It has certainly been a challenge, especially since my first year has been synchronous online learning due to COVID-19. Although I have yet to meet my peers and faculty in-person, I was able to connect with many of them and begin to forge new relationships. With my peers, my connection is definitely a sense of unity that we are tackling such a daunting task together; with the faculty, my connection is a sense of confidence and support as they encourage me to continue identifying and expanding on my interests. 

For the most part, the transition to a new degree program was seamless. Graduate seminars feel the same: challenging and rewarding. What was really new was the topics I could explore. I applied to George Mason University for their reputation as a leader in digital history. In my first semester I was already immersed in the topic, taking an introductory course that exposed me to various forms of digital history such as digital storytelling, data visualization, network mapping, and historical GIS. In this course, I created a GIS map that visualized the proportions of enslaved people in counties that General William Sherman marched through during his Carolinas Campaign. 

My second semester allowed me to delve into seminars on digital storytelling and spatial history, introducing me further to subfields of applied and spatial history. I have decided to turn these into my minor fields, delving deep into new methodologies as well as ways to interpret and visualize historical data. I was able to produce a roughly 20 minute documentary-type interactive video in my storytelling seminar, where I learned to create videos from start to finish:

https://video.eko.com/v/Vo1oWx?autoplay=true

I am excited to continue this journey and delve into my new interests. In the upcoming semesters I am beginning my comprehensive exam readings. As an Americanist, I have to read roughly 50 books each on early, middle, and modern American. It will certainly be a challenge, but I feel prepared. With the lessons I learned during my time at BGSU and the peer network I will be working with on these readings, I feel like I will get through it relatively unscathed. My only words of caution are this: beware burnout. Especially with the unique transition I faced this year, it was difficult at times to remain motivated. I have two tips for managing this. First, make sure to really hone in on what you are most interested in, as that will keep you motivated. After discovering various aspects of digital history I truly enjoyed, doing the work became a breeze. Second, don’t be afraid to give yourself space to breathe. I dropped one of my courses early on in the spring semester because I already felt an overwhelming amount of pressure. Make sure you are progressing in your degree, but don’t push yourself to a point where you lose focus on what you enjoy doing. 

All in all, if you enjoy graduate school, a PhD can be enjoyable. If you find a program where you can explore your interests and discover yourself, you will excel. It is certainly a lot of work, especially after your coursework is completed. But if you love doing research and discovering new ways to discover, interpret, and share history, a PhD program is a fantastic journey. 


Not Just Another BGSU Alumnus

Author: Brittany Von Kamp, recent graduate from the History M.A. program

Beyond Truman: Robert H. Ferrell and Crafting the Past (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020)

When pursuing a publisher for his book manuscript Beyond Truman: Robert H. Ferrell and Crafting the Past (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020), author Dr. Douglas Dixon responded with a laugh—that several editors rejected the book’s thrust, saying: “Nobody cares about historians.” Dixon explained that this was a major hurdle in getting the book to readers who, in fact, do care about the challenges faced by past masters in doing history.  What challenged Ferrell, as the field evolved into the twenty-first century was postmodernism, the New Left, and social and cultural history.  Though Dixon feels Ferrell is an important person to study, the book is much more than merely a study of this important presidential, diplomatic, and military historian, though his biography is central to it. Instead, the author had to find a way to make Ferrell’s world larger than the historian himself, to fit Ferrell into the larger historical narrative – a task that many historians face as they write about their own research. In the end, Dixon says that “the book is not just about Ferrell; it’s about the larger culture of history and doing history,” particularly in the last half of the twentieth century to the present day.

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Nationalism, Newspapers, and Public Opinion in the Civil War: The Cincinnati Daily Commercial, 1864 to 1865

Author: Kasandra Fager, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST3265, Civil War.

In a great national crisis like ours, unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable, almost indispensable, and yet no approach to such unanimity is attainable, unless some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority, simply because it is the will of the majority.

“President’s Message,” Cincinnati Daily Commercial, page 1, 1864
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The Damage Propaganda Can Cause

Author: Jack Abel, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST4804, Seminar in Diplomatic and Military History .

The Korean War was the first major conflict in what became known as the Cold War following the conclusion of WWII. The basis of this conflict was the ideological struggle between the two major world powers, the United States which was a capitalist-based economy and the Soviet Union which was a communist-based economy. The war was not a struggle between the two countries head on but was fought with proxy nations who shared similar ideologies with the major powers.

The use of stereotypes towards an opposing force has been a tactic throughout most of human history. Stereotypes have been used to portray the opposite side in a conflict to the civilian people. A racial stereotype, in its basic definition, is when one group takes a characteristic of another group and over dramatize it to make the other side seem almost sub-human. This process is known as othering. Othering is when a person or a group of people view another group in a certain which aims to alienate them or separate them from the larger group.

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A Mother’s War: An Ohioan Woman and Her Struggle With the Korean War

Author: Cody Johnston, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST4804, Seminar in Diplomatic and Military History.

“Air Mail to Glenn Hefner, January 1952”  
MS-858 Hefner Family Papers Box 4, Folder 1

The Korean War was the first time that the Cold War turned hot. This was due to the increasing tensions between the Capitalist and Communist superpowers of the world after WWII. In fact, this war is one of many firsts. The Korean War is the first proxy war that the United States engaged in. It was the first time that the United Nations (UN) had held a role in a military capacity. These were unprecedented times. Marred by the numerous and complex geopolitics of Asia during the 1950’s, coupled with fears of the conflict escalating to a nuclear holocaust, the Korean War is one that was controversial from the outset. Despite the fear of communism spreading across the United States, the American public did not have much support for the Korean War and it’s goal of containing communism.

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Globalization’s Past and Future

Author: Journey Martin, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST4805, Seminar in Political and Economic History. 
A map showing the routes and dates of significant European explorations during the 15th and 16th centuries. Source: Students of History

“Globalization” is a popular topic in political discussions today. Countries today face the growing pains of an increasingly interconnected world. More than ever politicians and theorists debate what a globalized world and global economy should look like in the 21st century. When facing the challenges and crises of increasing globalization, it may be beneficial to observe the history of organized and long-distance trade. The Silk Road (and its maritime partner) is well known to those who have studied world history, as is the European expansion and colonization of the 17th and 18th centuries. Were these prior examples of “world-economies?” Has globalization taken place prior to these centuries? Historians have competing theories on how the modern world-economic system was developed.

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The Power of Religion: How Women Prospered in Patriarchal Rome

Author: Kaitlin Osborne, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST4413, Roman Social & Cultural History.

Limestone plaque of magistrae of Bona Dea from Aquileia (Civico Museuo di Storia ed Arte Trieste).
Transcription: Aninia M (arci) f (ilia) Magna et / Seia Ionis et Cornelia Ephyre / magistrae B (onae) D (eae) / porticum restituerunt et / aediculam Fonionis
Translation: Aninia Magna, daughter of Marcus, Seia Ionis and Cornelia Ephyre, superintendents (magistrae) of the cult of Bona Dea, restored the portico and shrine of Fonio.
Accessed from http://lupa.at/15995.

“Was religion important to the average Roman woman?” Better yet – “Were women important to the practice of religion?” These questions might appear to invoke a simple answer, but that is unfortunately not the case. You might find yourself asking “Why?” Well, that is because there is only a limited amount of available information about the life of women in Rome, especially in regard to specific themes such as religion. This problem is only worsened by the fact that much of ancient and modern scholarship was written by and about men, which obviously presents its own set of biased issues. What we do know is therefore drawn upon a mix of epigraphic (inscriptions such as those found on public memorials and tombs) and literary sources from the ancient world that only begin to shed light on women’s religious participation in both the private and public realms of ancient Roman society. With that in mind, the cultural and historical significance of women’s lives and experiences in ancient Rome, especially in regard to religion, really cannot be overstated. This article thus presents a brief discussion on the positive impact of religion on women’s lives as well as the importance of women’s religious participation and involvement.

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An Indentured Servant in the Midst of the American Revolution: the Story of John Harrower

Patrick C. Cook, History senior and History Society Vice President

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History
Harrower’s itinerary drawn on Robert Sayer’s “A New Map, or Chart in Mercators Projection, of The Western or Atlantic Ocean with Part of Europe, Africa and America” (London, 1757). Accessed from raremaps.com.

The following is a condensed version of John Harrower’s story, a Scottish indentured servant living in Virginia at the time of the American Revolution. Today he is remembered as an indentured servant who kept an extensive personal journal during his time in Virginia. Upon first inspection, one may not notice the peculiarities in his writing. Though the further one may read, they may come to understand that Harrower’s experience was unique and valuable to further study. People of high status would treat Harrower as a friend rather than a servant in the colonies, due to his significant educational and social skills.  These skills distinguished him from his fellow indentured servants. Harrower’s ability to write poetry and prose, speak in a gentlemanly fashion, and conduct himself properly among the elite all ensured him greater social mobility than the average servant.

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Ragnarök: A story of how the world ends, and why we keep coming back to it

By Max Daugherty, History senior.
This is a public presentation produced in HIST4001, Professional Practices in History.
A modern painting of Ragnarök, from the See U in History youtube channel.https://www.ancient-origins.net/sites/default/files/field/image/Ragnarok-illustration.jpg

“What will the end of the world look like?” It’s an uneasy question, but most of us have thought it. Today, we may draw on modern popular culture to think about it and imagine zombies overrunning the world. We may draw on scientific predictions or science fiction and imagine natural disasters one after the other. Or we may gain inspiration in prophecies about Judgement Day. All these answers have one thing in common: they are stories that encode the experience, wisdom and feeling of a culture and pass it on from one generation to another, and sometimes one place to another, one culture to another. This article is about one of these stories that survived the test of time. This story begins in ancient Scandinavia or what is now known as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

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The Vinland Map: A Saga of Fraud

By Jacob Branstiter. Jacob had been president of the History Society in 2019-20. He plans to earn a Master’s Degree in archival studies or a related field, in order to pursue a career in archiving.

This is a public presentation produced in HIST4001, Professional Practices in History.

This project recounts one of the most heated scholarly debates of recent times, the question of the authenticity of the Vinland Map. From its origins in the hands of manuscript thief Enzo Ferrajoli, to its fraud revealed at the hands of independent researcher John Paul Floyd, this map’s legacy is forever marked by its infamy. This infamy stands as a cautionary tale to all researchers of the dangers of scholarly isolation, evidence suppression, and unknown provenance.

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