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Dr. Linda Mitchell Interviewed by Washington Post on Introduction of Queen to Medieval Times

Medieval Times, a dinner theater experience loosely based on the 11th century Spanish court, featured a female ruler for the first time this year. Since its debut in the United States in 1983, the show, which includes a banquet, jousting, swordfights, and stunts on horseback, has been presided over by a king. This year, however, Doña Maria Isabella reigned.

Professor of History Linda Mitchell, who also serves as affiliate faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and as President of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, weighed in on this change in a recent Washington Post article. Check out her comments on women in the medieval world and the historical accuracy of Medieval Times here.

History Department Mourns Dr. Pellom McDaniels III

There are no words to express the sadness that we feel at the news of the sudden death of our friend and former colleague Dr. Pellom McDaniels III.  Pellom worked as an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City from 2007-2012.  He was loved universally by the faculty, students, and staff at UMKC.

It was a privilege and honor for us to work with Pellom.  He was larger than life and seemed to have boundless reserves of energy that he focused on his beloved family and his life’s work.  Although he was perhaps best known in Kansas City as a Chiefs defensive lineman, we most admired Pellom for his accomplishments as a scholar, an artist, a poet, and a community leader.  Beyond the roles he cherished most — being a father and a husband— it is through his academic and creative work that Pellom made his greatest impact.

Pellom was one of those rare individuals who successfully reinvented himself.  After an impressive career in professional sports, he redirected his energies to researching the histories of African Americans and other underrepresented people and bringing their experiences to the attention of broad public audiences.  He used sports and culture as a lens through which to focus on issues of race and masculinity.  His infectious enthusiasm for the past was an inspiration to both his students and the public audiences he reached through exhibits and public lectures.

While at UMKC, Pellom worked closely with students to curate two popular traveling exhibits – Bar-B-Que, Baseball, and Jazz: African American History and Life in Kansas City, Missouri, 1914-1938 and They Came to Fight: African Americans and the Great World War.  In 2013, he published The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy, a cultural biography of an enslaved Kentuckian who became one of the most famous jockeys of his time.  A talented visual artist and poet, Pellom conveyed the themes of his scholarship through a variety of artistic forms.  While in Kansas City, he started two successful community programs — Arts for Smarts and the Fish Out of Water Writing Club — to encourage children to engage in visual arts and writing.  He also served on the boards of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

Pellom was a fantastic colleague and a marvelous ambassador for UMKC and Kansas City.  In 2012, Pellom returned to Emory University in Atlanta, where he had earned his PhD in American Studies, to serve as the curator of African American collections at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library and as a faculty member in the African American Studies department.  He continued his efforts to share African American history and culture by building Emory’s African American collections, developing programming, and curating exhibits.

On behalf of all of the faculty, students, and staff associated with the UMKC History Department, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Navvab, Ellington, and Sofia as well as to Pellom’s extended family, Emory colleagues, friends, and former teammates.  Pellom was an exceptional husband, father, scholar, colleague, friend, and humanitarian.  He will be sorely missed.

History Department Wins Chancellor’s Community Engagement Award

The Department of History has been named the 2019 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement in recognition of its efforts to make engagement with the community a central aspect of its approach to student learning and scholarship. In his award letter, Chancellor Agrawal commended the department for “exemplifying the very best of UMKC’s values.”

The department has worked to establish relationships with cultural institutions and communities locally, regionally, and internationally and to produce and share historical knowledge. The department’s community outreach initiatives include, but are not limited to, partnering with local institutions on public programming for a variety of audiences; helping to disseminate the history of African American, German, Latinx, and LGBTQ communities among many others both in Kansas City and Missouri and more broadly; and generating new historical research about the region through public symposia and edited volumes.

History Department students and faculty will be honored at the Leaders in Learning Faculty Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. More information about the department’s work is available on its public engagement and community partners pages.

IPhD Student Matthew Reeves Defends Dissertation

The History Department is proud to announce that Matthew Reeves has successfully defended his interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation. Entitled “Making the Frontier’s Anatomical Engineers: Osteopathy, A. T. Still (1828-1917), his Acolytes and Patients,” his dissertation was written for a committee including Dr. Lynda Payne and Dr. Christopher Cantwell. Congratulations, Dr. Reeves!

Spring 2020 Graduate Annie Spencer to Attend Western Michigan University

The History Department is delighted to announce another student success. Annie Spencer will graduate this spring with a BA in English and History and an Emphasis in Classical, Medieval, and Early Modern Studies. Annie was accepted to a number of graduate programs in the US and UK and plans to attend Western Michigan University for an MA in Medieval Studies in the fall. Congratulations, Annie! We are so excited for you!

Statement of Solidarity from the History Department

The UMKC History Department stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We condemn the violence directed disproportionately at Black people in the US, and we applaud those willing to take action in support of the Black community against police brutality and systemic racism. Like so many other Americans, we are horrified by the deaths of Ryan Stokes, Cameron Lamb, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We recognize their deaths are part of a devastating historic pattern that has existed since the beginnings of European colonization and racially-based slavery.

UMKC historians are committed to researching and teaching the histories of systemic racism, oppression, and inequality in the United States and worldwide, while also amplifying the stories of resilience, resistance, and fights for human rights among diverse peoples. Our mission is to share these histories in order to better educate our students and the wider community about the historic roots of racism, injustice, and intolerance that confront our community, nation, and world today. We as historians have an obligation to learn from history. Every movement and push for greater equity, inclusion, and acceptance is a lesson learned and one we are committed to imparting to our students, colleagues, and community.

We know that merely having knowledge of our shared and often painful history will not solve systemic racism and inequality. We firmly believe, however, that unless we confront the harrowing aspects of our nation’s past and how they shape our present we cannot move toward a more equitable future. We urge you to continue to learn this history so it can inform your understanding of current events, as well as how constitutionally-protected protests and demands for social change are so vital to our duty as citizens of the US and the world. It is important that we stand together against white supremacy; anti-Blackness; racially-biased policing; disparities in health, housing, and education; and injustice in its many forms. As history has taught us, activists, allies, and bystanders have played a crucial role in tipping the arc toward equity and social justice.

We recognize that we have a lot of work to do. We will listen and engage in dialogues in an effort to better support you and improve the UMKC community. We are open to suggestions to help facilitate this conversation. We also plan to share resources to better understand the historical implications of this moment. We will send out a follow-up link with this information. In the meantime, we strongly recommend you read the American Historical Association’s statement on “The History of Racist Violence in the United States,” and the UMKC Libraries’ “Call to Action in Support of Racial Justice.”

UMKC History Alum Earns Merit Scholarship to MA Program at Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The UMKC History Department is proud to announce another alumni success. Makay Bergthold graduated magna cum laude in Fall 2019 with a BA in History and a minor in Classical and Ancient Studies. She has been accepted into the MA in the Bible and Ancient Near East program at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She also received a full tuition merit scholarship for the duration of the program. Congratulations, Makay, on this achievement!

Volume Coauthored by Dr. Andrew Bergerson Published in Paperback

In December 2018, Berghahn Books published RUPTURES IN THE EVERYDAY: Views of Modern Germany from the Ground in paperback. The lead authors of this jointly written work are UMKC Professor of History Andrew Stuart Bergerson and Leonard Schmieding.

Throughout the twentieth century, Germans underwent constant disruptions in their lives, and many struggled to integrate their experiences into coherent narratives. Ruptures in the Everyday brings together twenty-six interdisciplinary researchers in a collectively authored work of scholarship that explores how Germans conceived of the self, society, families, objects, institutions, policies, violence, and authority by investigating Alltageveryday life.