The study of history challenges students to explore a variety of sources as they gain a greater understanding of the past. The College's expansive history curriculum spans a wide range of periods and developments around the world.
Gettysburg College also offers a Civil War Era Studies minor and a variety of special student opportunities unique to the History Department.
"In my first years studying history at Gettysburg College, I had buried my head in books and scholarly articles that attempted to reconstruct the past. I learned about history primarily through the words of other academics. My experience with archival materials was limited. I was a student of history, but not a historian. When I joined The Peirs Project, I was finally able to do history. Jack’s letters, though seemingly frozen in time, give us the opportunity to continuously nuance our interpretation of the First World War. In many ways, Jack fits the narrative that historians have established over time. But because we have the ability to study his words, we are also able to treat him as an individual actor in climactic historical events as opposed to a victim of circumstances. We have in Jack a man whose cynical sense of humor, boyish fascination with planes, tanks, and cars, and love of the material comforts of his upper-middle-class world are as integral to his personality as his commitment to patriotic duty and leadership are. He was a war hero, but he was also a finicky and funny man who had a tendency to refer to his men as his “lambs” and his nieces as “the infants.” There are so many things about Jack that I admire: he loved his family, and when he wrote to them of his combat experiences, he was honest but tight-lipped, careful never to upset them. He knew how to lead. There are also things about Jack that I do not necessarily admire. He never could see past his own experience. He believed in the class system. Jack’s complexity is a continual reminder to me that I cannot generalize, sugarcoat, or demonize the past. As a historian, I have a responsibility to acknowledge its complexity. The past was not just a conglomerate of violent conflicts and statistics and laws. The past was human." Meghan O’Donnell ’18 #WorldWarI #firstworldwar #Firstworldwarcentenary #history #historicalresearch #studentresearch @jackpeirs