Department of History
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
HSS is the cornerstone of St. Mary's liberal arts and Marianist education. With more than 20 disciplines to choose from, this is the largest school on campus.
About the History Department
In the Department of History at St. Mary’s, students hone critical thinking, reading, writing and analytical skills that prepare them for success in many fields. Equipped with a broad perspective of the human experience, History majors go on to pursue careers in law, medicine, military, politics, education, journalism, international relations and business.
Public History Projects
Alongside dedicated faculty mentors, students studying Public History at St. Mary’s have the opportunity to produce public history exhibits and projects that have an impact on St. Mary’s University, our city, Texas, the U.S. and around the world. By engaging in hands-on work, our students gain the perspective and skills to take their academic knowledge and apply it to real-life scenarios and questions to uplift and tell our collective story.
Projects and research opportunities have allowed St. Mary’s students to screen their student films at the Tobin Center for the the Performing Arts and a sesquicentennial commemoration of the execution of Adrian Vidal in the Rio Grande Valley, among others.
Some highlighted projects include:
Henry B. González Project
St. Mary’s undergraduate students partnered with the School of Law to commemorate the centennial of Honorable Henry B. González’ birth by making a documentary film about his life and lifework (37 years representing Texas in the U.S. Congress). Contributors included Senator Reed, Leader Pelosi, Congressman Castro and former HUD Secretary Cisneros. Students discovered Congressman González’ FBI file, which documented death threats and attempts on his life, unknown even to his family. The year-long project culminated in a big celebration that reunited the family, staff, friends and constituents in their respect and affection for the late Congressman.
Santa Anna Leg Repatriation Project
25 St. Mary’s students were mobilized on a 1,000-mile trek from the Alamo to the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield to repatriate the prosthetic leg of Mexican General Santa Anna to Mexico. The students efforts and their journey produced a front-page article on the Wall Street Journal in November 2016 bringing this project to national prominence. While the quest to repatriate General Anna’s leg continues, we look forward to the evolution of this project and the involvement of our students. In fact, following the northern trek of our students, a Boston-based professional filmmaker is at work on a documentary film about the quest and the project recently was selected as a finalist for Latino PBS funding.
St. Mary’s students helped a French village find the descendants of an American fighter pilot whose memory they had been honoring for over 70 years. Lt. Joseph Rosar had come to liberate them from the Nazis, but had crashed and died on impact in their town, Orsan. They had saved a scrap of his parachute to return to his family. Thanks to St. Mary’s students, the mayor and people of Orsan hosted his niece in a ceremony where they gave her the parachute and she gave them the American flag that had draped his coffin. The students, many of whom belong to military families, were moved and honored.
WWI Centennial Project and Micro-Documentary Films
The World War I Centennial Commission, appointed by former President Obama, granted permission for St. Mary’s students to emblazon their World War I micro-documentary films with the official WWICC logo. The link to those films, housed in our YouTube channel, has been posted on the websites of the Texas WWICC and other WWI centennial organizations.
St. Mary’s students contribute to digital and physical exhibits in museums throughout Texas, the U.S., and France. These museums include: the Kelsay Bass Museum in Rio Grande City, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. and the Franco-Americaine friendship museum in France. In Spring 2018, they launched a major collaboration with the Bullock Texas State History Museum to contribute to its “Texas Story Project.”
For more information on these research projects, please contact the Department of History. To discuss how you can work with faculty at the graduate student level, please contact Lindsey Passenger Wieck, Director of the Public History Graduate Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org.