Chair Statement

Welcome to the Department of History at Howard University!

headshot of an African American woman, medium brown hair, smiling.

We are extremely proud of the rich legacy and tradition within this department. When you engage us, you will do so knowing that some very significant scholars of History have passed through this department since its founding in 1913 -- either as students or faculty, including Carter G. Woodson, Charles H. Wesley, Rayford W. Logan, Merz Tate, John Hope Franklin, and Lorraine A. Williams, to name just a few.

Our current professors continue the History Department’s legacy. Many have achieved national and international distinction in their fields of research, led national historical organizations, served on the Pulitzer Prize Committee, won major book awards, organized colloquium series and conferences, earned local, state, regional, and federal grants, made major contributions in Public History, appeared on C-Span and in documentaries. In fact, one of our historians, Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, has even produced her own documentary, Freedom Bags.

Our undergraduate, MA, and PhD programs reflect tremendous depth and breadth. We have strengths in traditional fields such as 19th and 20th century U.S., African American, and African History; our African Diaspora and Public History programs further enhance these strengths. Many are not aware that Howard was not only a pioneer in African history, but one of our own faculty, Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) Joseph E. Harris, created the African Diaspora field.

This department was the first in the country to begin training students in this field. Time has only made us much stronger in this area, with current scholars who specialize in the history of Africa, Brazil, Caribbean, Latin America, and the black Pacific. Our Public History program has placed students in internships at the National Archives, all of the Smithsonian museums, National Parks Service, and Capitol Hill. Many of these internships have led to career placements after graduation. We are also proud to say that Howard is the very first university to begin holding classes at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Those trained in our classrooms have gone on to make a profound impact on the community, society, and the world. Just a few notable History alumni include, Ta-Nehisi CoatesMary Francis BerryJelani CobbBernice Johnson ReagonTerri McMillanAnanda LewisDorothy Porter WesleyJohn FlemingTurkiya L. Lowe, and Kenvi Phillips. We have shaped and produced many notable historians including John Blassingame, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Joseph E. Harris, and most recently, Talithia LeFlouria. There are not many departments in the country with as deep an intellectual tradition.

Those considering a degree in history should know that we train students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, superior researchers, powerful writers, and influential speakers. We prepare students for a number of exciting careers in law, politics, education, government, foreign service, public history, public service, journalism, and research.

A degree from Howard University’s Department of History means that you have been given a solid intellectual foundation steeped in the richness of our past. It means that when you graduate, you will be poised for leadership, empowered to act, and inspired to engage.

Choose History at Howard.

Kay Wright Lewis, Associate Professor of History and Interim Chair.