History Department at St. Mary’s

In the Department of History at St. Mary’s, students hone critical thinking, research, 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.

All history classes have a component of research, composition, synthesis and presentation to develop critical, creative and writing skills. Each year senior students present their theses at national scholarly research conferences.

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 Performing Arts and a sesquicentennial commemoration of the execution of Adrian Vidal in the Rio Grande Valley, among others.

Highlighted Projects

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 Harry Reed, House Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Joaquin Castro, and former HUD Secretary Henry 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.

Henry B. González Project
Lt. Joseph Rosar in his military uniform

St. Mary’s students helped a French village find the descendants of an American fighter pilot whose memory they had been honoring for more than 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.

Rosar Project
Andre Grajeda helps create a Day of the Dead altar to Lincoln and is interviewed by media.

In 2016, 25 St. Mary’s students mobilized on a 1,000-mile journey 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 published a documentary film about the quest and the project was selected as a finalist for Latino PBS funding.

Santa Anna Leg Repatriation Project

Many St. Mary’s Public History students have had the opportunity to work with the ScoutSA program at the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation (OHP). The first link shows digital projects created with our graduate students in partnership with the OHP’S Dr. Jenny Hay. The second link provides a reflection by graduate Alicia A. Guzman on her internship with the OHP.  

SCOUT SA Projects

In Spring 2018, St. Mary’s students launched a major collaboration with the Bullock Texas State History Museum to contribute to its “Texas Story Project.”

Texas Story Project

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.

WWI Centennial 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.

Academic Programs in the Department of History


Master of Arts in Public History

Graduate Certificate for Dual Credit Teaching in U.S. History

Mexican American Studies

Graduate Certificate in Public History

Back to top