History asks fundamental questions about the nature of change over time. History is our collective memory; studying the past reveals the enormous complexity of the human experience and highlights the contingency of our contemporary world. Because no contemporary political, cultural, or economic issue can be understood outside of its historical context, History offers an ideal foundation for students interested in law, medicine, international relations, public policy, and women’s studies, as well as an intellectual complement for students pursuing science and engineering. Indeed, the history major at CWRU, as nationally, is traditionally one of the preferred preparatory paths for admission to law school. Thinking historically means learning how to frame complex problems, sift through multifaceted evidence, and develop carefully argued writing. Our students carry these skills far beyond graduation, pursuing careers in the professions, business, government, as well as advanced doctoral study.

Our department has a long and prestigious tradition that stretches back to the origins of Western Reserve University in 1826. Today, our faculty specialize in a range of thematic and regional subjects. We have a strong tradition in the study of social, cultural, legal, policy, and political history, which together constitutes a major component of our graduate program. Our other focus of graduate study—the history of science, technology, the environment, and medicine (STEM)—has its roots in Case’s pioneering graduate program in the history of technology in the late 1950s (the first of its kind in the United States), as well as its role in founding the Society for the History of Technology. Our department also maintains a strong international focus with faculty who specialize in European, Asian, African, and Latin American history.

photo of John Grabowski

John Grabowski Mentioned in Bloomberg Article on Cuyahoga River

In a recent Bloomberg article, "Cleveland Looks to an Unlikely Savior: a Long-Neglected River," John Grabowski, the Krieger-Mueller Joint Professor in History, described the “dirty” history of the Cuyahoga River: jobs and pollution. “We lost that which made the city great but polluted it,” Grabowski says. Click here to read...

Noël M. Voltz and John Bickers Awarded an Inaugural Higher Learning Grant by the Mellon Foundation

Professors Noël M. Voltz and John Bickers are embarking on a three-year journey to provide a more accurate and comprehensive narrative of Black and Native American political life in the United States before the modern Civil Rights movement. Their project, Native Americans and African Americans In and Out of...

Noël Voltz Discussed How Cleveland and St. John’s Episcopal Church became ‘Station Hope’ on the Underground Railroad

Noël Voltz, assistant professor of history at the College of Arts and Sciences, discussed Ohio City’s St. John’s Episcopal Church—recognized as the oldest consecrated church building in Cuyahoga County—and its role as a stop on the Underground Railroad…

Gillian Weiss awarded NEH Fellowship

Gillian Weiss, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, was awarded by The National Endowment for the Humanities a year-long fellowship by  to work on her book project, The Money Launderer’s Daughter: A Tunisian Woman and a Slave Rumor in the Early Modern Mediterranean. This study uses a tale of religious conversion transmitted by seemingly powerless Muslim galley slaves to summon an unfamiliar maritime world and to reflect on the possibilities and limits of writing history using hearsay…



Jonathan Sadowsky

Jonathan Sadowsky Column Featured in the Washington Post

Jonathan Sadowsky, the Department of History Chair and Theodore J. Castele Professor of Medical History in the Department of History, weighed in on Sen. John Fetterman’s (D-Pa.) treatment for depression in a column written for the Washington Post











David Hammack Featured in Newsday Article

David Hammack, the Hiram C. Haydn Professor of History Emeritus,  was featured in Newsday recently discussing the formation of modern-day New York City, the result of a massive merger 125 years ago, noting that the new metropolis meant colossal record-keeping headaches for the new city comptroller.