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Department of History

If you enjoy the study of the past, you've found a home in the Department of History at SUNY Potsdam.

We offer a broad range of courses from the Ancient World to the present, and across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

We invite you to follow the links to learn more about our program, faculty, and students.  Find out what new and exciting opportunities await you as you pursue a degree in history.

On the Road in Libbie’s World

SUNY Potsdam Department of History Chair Dr. Libbie Freed explored five countries in Central Asia and brought her students along with her virtually on a trip to discover the history and modern remnants of the famed Silk Road trade route.

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Tabitha Brown '20

It’s never too late to go back to school. Just ask Tabitha Brown who is back in college after a 25-year hiatus. After raising a family and homeschooling her children, she decided it was time to complete her bachelor’s degree—starting the same year her daughter went off to college. Brown excelled as a non-traditional student in SUNY Potsdam’s Department of History where she delved into local history projects to explore Northern New York’s past.

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Shannon Mattice ’19

Shannon Mattice ’19, a history major with a minor in women’s studies, examined a variety of unique history topics as an undergraduate student—everything from the use of smallpox as a biological weapon to opium addiction in China. As a presidential scholar, she conducted research on the role of women in the New Netherlands.

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Austin Raetz ’18

Austin Raetz, a history major at the College, graduated summa cum laude and was then accepted into the prestigious graduate program in History at Cornell University. What’s equally impressive was his passion and personal connection to his field of study, as he examined sexuality and gender roles through a historical lens.

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Katelyn Legacy '16

In high school, Katelyn Legacy ’16 wanted nothing to do with history, but that all changed when she arrived at SUNY Potsdam her freshman year. It all started when she took a history class with Dr. M.J. Heisey. “I really bonded with her. She kind of took me under her wing. The whole history department was wonderful,” Legacy said.

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Alexis Michael '18

As one of 21 students working on independent research projects through the Presidential Scholars Program this year, Alexis Michael ’18, a double major in archaeology and history, took aim at an experiment that could change archaeologists’ theories about when Indigenous populations first used the bow and arrow in Eastern North America.

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Mahala Nyberg ’18

As a SUNY Potsdam Presidential Scholar, Mahala Nyberg ’18 worked extensively on a project focused on the life of WWII Veteran Donald Waful. She is now a senior and wrapping up a challenging course load with a double major in history and archaeological studies.

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Axel Fair-Schulz

Associate Professor of History Dr. Axel Fair-Schulz--who grew up in East Germany during the Cold War and traveled to many Eastern bloc countries during his youth--co-edited a book titled "East Germany Historians Since Reunification: A Discipline Transformed," that was recently published by SUNY Press.

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Confronting Our Nation's Past

The Department of History supports the recent statement (PDF) issued by the American Historical Association (AHA) against racial violence in the United States. We join with the 90 scholarly societies that have co-signed this statement to date that "It is past time for Americans to confront our nation's past, using insights from history to inform our actions as we work to create a more just society."