January 2022
The new SHED building being constructed, as seen from the Quarter Mile. Photo credit: T. Carroll
Happy New Year! We are back on campus in-person at RIT, and we’re watching with awe as the new classroom building, the Student Hall for Exploration and Development (the SHED), goes up a stone’s throw down the Quarter Mile from the College of Liberal Arts. 

We’re also shoveling out from Winter Storm Izzy and starting our spring semester off with a teaching workshop led by Associate Professor Dr. Corinna Schlombs. Faculty shared their course assignments and reflected on course design with the goal of ensuring that our history majors will graduate with the core competencies identified by the American Historical Association in its History Tuning Project as central to the discipline as well as to active citizenship. 

Students in my Oral History course are reading Dr. Lauren Warren Hill’s recently published Strike the Hammer: The Black Freedom Struggle in Rochester, NY, 1940-1970, in preparation for Hill’s visit to campus on January 27. In partnership with Rochester City Historian Christine Ridarsky, they are also editing transcripts from the Phyllis Wheatley Public Library Oral History Collection, interviews which were done with Black Rochester residents between 1978 and 1981, and exploring issues of the newly digitized Black newspaper, The Frederick Douglass Voice, published from 1933-1996. The goal is for the class to curate historical content for a prototype of an augmented reality exhibition being developed by Susan Lakin, Professor in the School of Photography, about the Clarissa St. neighborhood and Rochester’s African American history. 

—Dr. Tamar W. Carroll, Department Chair
Dr. Rebecca A.R. Edwards’ book, Deaf Players in Major League Baseball: A History, 1883 to the Present (McFarland, 2020) was declared a winner of a 2021 SABR Baseball Research Award. Presented by the Society for American Baseball Research, the award honors outstanding research projects completed during the preceding calendar year which have significantly expanded our knowledge or understanding of baseball. Eligible projects must be the product of original research or analysis and must significantly advance our knowledge of baseball. They must be characterized by factual accuracy and notable insight. A SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) reviewer declared that it “confronts the obstacles and challenges faced by deaf ballplayers striving for the major leagues, but also reveals how the deafness of those who broke through enhanced their abilities on the diamond, elevated their teammates, and enriched the game.”

Edwards credits teaching the “History of Baseball” at RIT on a campus with a vibrant deaf community for inspiring her to do more research on the history of deaf players in major league baseball.
In 2021, I published my book Interpreting the Mikado’s Empire: The Writings of William Elliot Griffis. For more than fifty years, Griffis (1843-1928) chronicled a rapidly changing Japan and its people. Hired to teach science in the provincial city of Fukui, he arrived there in 1871 and also began reporting on Japan in magazine essays for American audiences. Ultimately, Griffis was unequaled in the length of his literary career and the breadth of his work as an authority on Japan. Interpreting the Mikado’s Empire includes a biographical introduction and brings together for the first time his best writing. On January 8, 2022, I gave a talk on Griffis at an online conference sponsored by the University of Fukui and Rutgers University (his alma mater).

Also in 2021, I started work as the program director of the department’s new History B.S. degree. It is exciting to see the level of interest in history among RIT students, several of whom have taken this new opportunity to declare a history major or double-major.

—Dr. Joseph M. Henning
For more information or to be added to the Friends of the RIT History Department email list,å
contact Dr. Tamar Carroll at tamar.carroll@rit.edu.