Princeton University Department of History

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Princeton University Department of History
Princeton University square.jpg
Parent institution
Princeton University
DeanKeith Wailoo
Academic staff
Approximately 60 faculty members
StudentsApproximately 200 undergraduate students and 130 graduate students[1][2]

The Princeton University Department of History is an academic department at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. The department is one of the leading and most prestigious history departments in the country, offering coursework at the undergraduate and graduate levels in numerous fields and subfields.[4] The department is home to approximately 60 faculty members, many of whom teach courses in other departments as well. The 2018 U.S. News & World Report ranked the department as No. 1 in the United States, tied with Stanford University and Yale University, while the National Research Council ranked the department as No. 1 in the country for research and scholarship.[5][6]


Initial coursework for the history curriculum was established in 1871 with courses on the philosophy of history and political science.[7] The first faculty member to have the title of Professor of History was Charles Woodruff Shields, from 1869 to 1882. Eventual president Woodrow Wilson founded the Department of History, Politics, and Economics in 1904.[8] Winthrop More Daniels became the first chairman of the new Department.

Economics branched off in 1913, Politics in 1924.[9] Interest in the History in the Philosophy of Science emerged in the 1930s, making the now History of Science program one of the oldest in the country.[10] The program was officially established in the 1960s by Professor Charles Coulston Gillispie.

The department launched The Papers of Thomas Jefferson project in December 1943, which aims to prepare the "definitive scholarly edition of the correspondence and papers written by America's author of the Declaration of Independence and third president."[11] As of 2017, the program has published 43 volumes of documents written to or by Thomas Jefferson.[12]

Lawrence Stone, professor at University College and Corpus Christi College (Oxford University) joined the department in 1963 after two years at the Institute for Advanced Study. He served as chairman from 1967 to 1970 and was fundamental in its development as a highly regarded leader in the discipline.[13] The Lawrence Stone Lectures, annual lectures held at the university, are named in his honor.

In 1968, Shelby Cullom Davis, Class of '30, gave $5,000,000 to the department in order "to assure the continuance of excellence in scholarship and the teaching of history at Princeton University."[14][15] With these funds, the department established the Davis Center for Historical Studies. The center hosts weekly seminars, conferences, and a cohort of postgraduate students each year. In 1969, Dr. Nancy Weiss Malkiel became the first woman to join the Department of History.[16] The Davis Center eventually became one of the most innovative and influential centers for historical studies.[17]

In 2015, a $5,000,000 gift from John P. Birkelund, Class of '52, established the Program in History and the Practice of Diplomacy at the University. The interdisciplinary program combines coursework in history, politics, and other social sciences in order to aid in preparation "for careers in governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that preserve stability and improve lives around the world."[18]

Nine Princeton historians to date have served as president of the American Historical Association: William Milligan Sloane in 1911, Dana Carleton Munro in 1926, Thomas J. Wertenbaker in 1947, Julian P. Boyd in 1964, Robert Roswell Palmer in 1970, and Joseph Strayer in 1971, Gordon A. Craig in 1982, Natalie Zemon Davis in 1987, and Anthony Grafton in 2011.[19][20]


The Department of History offers a diverse array of coursework and opportunities for research. Students are able to take courses in other departments, such as Politics, Classics, East Asian Studies, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.


Undergraduate students who concentrate in History can earn an A.B. degree and are able to choose from over forty different undergraduate courses each year.[21][22] Additionally, undergraduates can showcase their research in the biannual publication of the Princeton Historical Review.[23] Like all undergraduates at Princeton, history concentrators are required to complete a senior thesis based on original research. The department awards the Stone / Davis Prize to students who have conducted a well researched projects using extensive archival sources.[24]


The graduate program in history prepares students for a career as professional researchers and historians. Each year, the department receives approximately 400 applications and enrolls a cohort of 20-25 students each year. Upon passing the requirements of the program, students are offered a Ph.D. in History or a Ph.D. in History of Science. Alumni of the program often progress to careers in academia, including at Harvard University, Yale University, or Stanford University, as well as in law, government, and business.[25] In the 2018-2019 academic year, approximately 8.6% of applicants were accepted into the program.[26] All graduate students are guaranteed full-tuition coverage and a five-year stipend. They also may earn additional funding from Princeton's Assistantships in Research and Assistantships in Instruction programs.


The Department of History is ranked consistently as one of the premier institutions for the study of history in the country and in the world. [27][28][29][30] U.S. News & World Report college rankings places the department at No. 1 in the United States.[31] The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the National Research Council rankings which ranks Princeton as No. 1 on its Research rank; No. 1 on its S-Rank for its scholars; and No. 2 on its R-Rank for its quality based on faculty reviews.[32] The Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranks the department at No. 7 in the world.[33]


The department maintains a number of affiliations with a number of centers and research institutes.

Shelby Cullom Davis Center[edit]

The Davis Center for Historical Studies, known also as the Shelby Cullom Davis Center, is designed to foster research on specific themes and topics through its weekly seminars, conferences, and workshops. Emphasis is placed on an interdisciplinary approach to studying the past in a multitude of geographical areas and periods.[38] Founded in 1869, the center offers a number of professorships and fellowships for leading scholars in the field.

Global History Lab[edit]

The Global History Lab allows scholars to discuss their research at monthly workshops, take courses in the discipline of global history, and conduct individual research projects with faculty. The program aims "to study the histories of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas in international perspectives."[39] The department has also created an edX-run massive open online course (MOOC).[40] The founding director of the Global History Lab is Jeremy Adelman, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History.

Center for Collaborative History[edit]

Founded in 2007, the Center for Collaborative History oversees the history department's working groups, workshops, research projects, and initiatives.[41]

Notable faculty[edit]

Faculty members are known for their scholarly achievements, teaching, and award-winning research. Five faculty members of the Department have won Macarthur "Genius Grants":[42]

Several people associated with the department have also won Pulitzer Prizes:

Additional faculty members include:

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Enrollment Statistics". Princeton University.
  2. ^ "University Enrollment Statistics". Princeton University.
  3. ^ "Best Graduate History Programs". U.S. News & World Report.
  4. ^ "Princeton University: Department of History".
  5. ^ "Best Graduate History Programs". U.S. News & World Report.
  6. ^ "Doctoral Programs by the Numbers". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  7. ^ Leitch, Alexander. "The Department of History". A Princeton Companion.
  8. ^ Leitch, Alexander. "The Department of History". A Princeton Companion.
  9. ^ Leitch, Alexander. "The Department of History". A Princeton Companion.
  10. ^ Leitch, Alexander. "Program in History and Philosophy of Science,". A Princeton Companion.
  11. ^ "Home". The Papers of Thomas Jefferson.
  12. ^ "Our Volumes". The Papers of Thomas Jefferson.
  13. ^ "Lawrence Stone, 79, Historian Of the Changing Social Order". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Leitch, Alexander. "A Princeton Companion".
  15. ^ "The Davis Center for Historical Studies".
  16. ^ "Nancy Weiss Malkiel Junior Faculty Fellows Announced". The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
  17. ^ "Stone, Lawrence". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  18. ^ "Birkelund gift funds new certificate program in history and diplomacy; Kotkin, Mullen to co-direct". Princeton University.
  19. ^ Leitch, Alexander. "The Department of History". A Princeton Companion.
  20. ^ "Birkelund Gift Funds New Certificate Program in History and Diplomacy; Kotkin and Mullen to Co-direct". History and the Practice of Diplomacy.
  21. ^ "Undergraduate".
  22. ^ "Undergraduate Courses".
  23. ^ "Princeton Historical Review".
  24. ^ "Stone / Davis Prize". Princeton University Department of History.
  25. ^ "Placement Upon Graduation".
  26. ^ "Admission Statistics". Princeton University, Graduate School.
  27. ^ "USA Today".
  28. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 - History".
  29. ^ "2018 Best History Colleges in the U.S."
  30. ^ "Graduate Program Rankings".
  31. ^ "Best Graduate History Programs". U.S. News and World Report.
  32. ^ "Doctoral Programs by the Numbers". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  33. ^ "World University Rankings 2018 by subject: arts and humanities".
  34. ^ "Shelby Cullom Davis Center".
  35. ^ "Global History Lab".
  36. ^ "Center for Collaborative History".
  37. ^ "Birkelund gift funds new certificate program in history and diplomacy; Kotkin, Mullen to co-direct". Princeton University.
  38. ^ "Shelby Cullom Davis Center". Princeton University Department of History.
  39. ^ "Global History Lab".
  40. ^ "Global History Lab". edX.
  41. ^ "Center for Collaborative History". Princeton University History Department.
  42. ^ Silk, Mark. "The Hot History Department". The New York Times.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°20′54″N 74°39′17″W / 40.34835°N 74.65467°W / 40.34835; -74.65467