Department of History

The Department of History is a community of scholars committed to studying the past in all its diversity. Our award-winning faculty excels in teaching, research, and engagement. Our students are deeply involved in historical study in and out of the classroom, and our alumni use their historical studies in a wide variety of careers. Our undergraduate program offers a fascinating, flexible major that permits study of the broadest possible range of human experience, while our graduate programs support advanced study at both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels. Aspiring and current teachers advance their careers through our educator licensure program in history and social sciences.

Statement on the History of Racist Violence in the United States

The NIU History Department endorses the American Historical Association’s June 2020 statement urging a reckoning with the United States' deplorable record of violence against African Americans, a record that stretches back centuries. The killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers stands within this sordid national tradition of racist violence. It is past time for Americans to confront our nation's past, using insights from history to inform our actions as we work to create a more just society.


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In Memoriam

The History Department commemorates the life of George Spencer, who passed away on Jan. 19, 2021. After earning his Ph.D. from the University of California in 1967, Spencer spent his entire career at NIU before retiring in 2004. As a specialist in Indian history, he taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses on Asia, the United States, and global topics. Spencer also served as the History department chair for nine years. Taylor Atkins, remembers that "George was a warm and supportive colleague who made new colleagues feel welcome, took interest in their work and was eager to help. He was a storehouse of historical and institutional knowledge and unfailingly dedicated to the growth and strength of the NIU History department. He and his wife, Professor Emerita Elaine Spencer, were voracious travelers who brought their experiences into their classrooms." By teaching regularly for the Lifelong Learning Institute, Spencer continued to light up NIU classrooms with his first-person knowledge of the world even after his retirement. He will be missed by many. Read more about his decades-long commitment to NIU and his support for the History department.

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Department of History
Zulauf 715

Due to COVID-19, the History Department office in Zulauf 715 is closed. Faculty and staff are all working remotely and can be contacted by email.

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