Indiana University Bloomington

Department History

Note: Last updated in March 2014


If the modern study of history had a passport, likely it would be German, or at least as German as Leopold von Ranke. Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that the first holder of PhD in History to teach at Indiana University arrived on campus in in 1886, a Virginian by the name of Richard Dabney, recently returned from study in Heidelberg. IU President David Jordan had invited Woodrow Wilson to teach at Indiana, but Prof. Wilson instead took a position at Princeton before suggesting Dabney. Unfortunately, Dabney soon fell out with President Jordan and accepted an appointment at the University of Virginia. His replacement can claim the title of founder of history at IU - James Woodburn. Himself a graduate of Indiana University (class of 1873), a native of Bloomington, and holder of a PhD in History granted in 1890 from Johns Hopkins University, his arrival to teach at IU was the start of a long and prolific career.

Woodburn, second from left
In a picture dated ca. 1890 of then graduate student Woodburn at Johns Hopkins [second from left], one can read an aphorism of the time that still remains for many today: History is past Politics and Politics present History. There are many historians (and one assumes political scientists) that may disagree with this statement, but perhaps this picture can stand in part as evidence for Woodburn's foundation of the joint Department of History and Political Science, over which he presided from 1895 until 1924, nearly thirty years.

"The aims of the Department,” stated in 1904, “are not merely to teach the facts of history and government, but to inculcate the spirit of criticism and habits of independent thought and work; and in no way, it is believed, can this be done so well as by early introducing the student to research work among the sources, under the guidance of trained instructors."
In popularity, the History Department was second in those early years only to the English Department. However, Indiana University remained a bachelor-degree-granting institution for several decades. Moreover, the emphasis was decidedly Western European, English, and American History -- a uniform focus that remained until the 1950s. Post-war American universities experienced a sea change in terms of American global dominance with the acquisition of knowledge (history and languages particularly) that came with it. Even so, concerns of security and the threat of the Cold War inspired the largest growth in the department, occurring in the fields of Russian and Eastern European History. The changes wrought in the 1950s remain largely in effect today.

James H. Madison, "Department of History: Past to Present, 2010 Edition"

History Department Staff

The office receptionist, Sara Skinner, answers the general information line and directs all general inquiries in the office; schedules make-up exams, handles rosters and evaluation forms; and monitors the checkout of maps, slides, transparencies, and overhead projectors.

The graduate secretary is Alexia Bock. She schedules appointments for and assists the Director of Graduate Studies (except for admissions and placement). Her work includes maintenance of student records, field reviews, qualifying exams, advisory committees, AI/grader appointments, and dissertation defenses. She also distributes the AI/CA paychecks each month.

Nick Roberts is the graduate admissions and placement secretary. In addition to coordinating the graduate admissions process, he handles all placement file requests and publishes the monthly placement newsletter. In addition, Blake processes travel paperwork for faculty and graduate students.

Blake Harvey is secretary to the department chair, Professor Peter Guardino. His responsibilities include scheduling appointments for the chair, processing payroll.

Nancy Ashley processes the faculty’s course book orders and reserves classrooms for make-up exams, course review sessions, extra discussions and meetings.

Becky Bryant is the administrative assistant/office manager for the department. She is principal assistant to the chair, oversees the general work flow of the office, supervises the staff, manages budget, personnel and payroll records, processes student awards, organizes the schedule of classes, coordinates for history courses, oversees the history website and publishes Monday Morning, the weekly departmental newsletter for faculty and graduate students.

Administrative Staff

Peter Guardino, Department Chair
Wendy Gamber, Director of Graduate Studies
Arlene Diaz, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Jim Basore, Undergraduate Academic Counselor



Celestina Savonius-Wroth
Associate Libarian, Arts and Humanities
Libarian for History, Religious Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science
(812) 855-1336


Akram Khabibullaev

Librarian for Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Central Eurasian Studies

Area Studies Librarian, Room 905 in Wells Library

(812) 855-9885