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History Provides a Glimpse Into Your Future

A student is more likely to leave Spelman College as a history graduate than enter as a history major.  Kathleen Phillips-Lewis associate professor and former chair of the Spelman department of history is OK with that premise. “For us, we start with a few, and we add majors as they go through their undergrad years,” she said.

Students often come into the College unaware of the range of opportunities available following undergraduate study of history.

“You can do anything with a history degree. History teaches some of the basic skills like how to do research and verify sources; how to document; how to read quickly and extract the central core of information; how to write and construct an argument,” Phillips-Lewis said.  In addition, it helps a student understand the dynamics of the world in which she lives, the role of the past in constructing the present and the future.

History Equals Transferable Skills

Able to develop transferable skills, history buffs and majors find career opportunities in law and education, Phillips-Lewis said, noting that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has an undergraduate degree in history.

Phillips-Lewis points out that a lot of Spelman grads go on to law or teaching careers.  “Others are archivists, librarians, curators,” she said. Some are pursuing careers on Wall Street, in the ministry, working in public history conservation and building preservation, international studies, women’s studies and other fields.

“Studying history gave me a context for the succession of events that shape our world.  Movement C happened because Event B occurred; Event B occurred because Person A made a specific impact,” said Andrea Jackson, C’2001, head of the Archives Research Center at the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center. 

“I became an archivist after I was encouraged to become a National Museums Fellow while a senior at Spelman. “Through critical thinking, analysis, and understanding of historical research methods, I was prepared and confident in pursuing graduate studies in the fields of history and archival management.”  They work in prestigious museums, presidential libraries, medicine, Phillips-Lewis said.

Spelman’s history department gains students as undergrads on campus, guides them especially in developing skills of analysis and inquiry, and provides them with opportunities during and after their Spelman years. The department hosts historical meetings and participates in off-campus conferences like the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, where its students present papers before judges. “We’re producing confident scholars and historians,” Phillips-Lewis said.

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The Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center

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