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Wake Forest History

Faculty Trip Photos



Faculty in the News:

  • Historical discovery at MESDA:  Installations at a local museum have been newly parentidentified as rooms from the house in Edenton, N.C., where Harriet Jacobs lived. Jacobs is the author of "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." History professor Anthony Parent will bring the finding to light.  More » 
  • Students in Professor Michele Gillespie's America at Work class have just completed an oral history project in which they interviewed faculty and staff at Wake Forest University to record the varied work experience of over twenty members of the Wake Forest community.  To read more, see Wake at Work at
  • The US Embassy in Madrid, Spain, interviewed Reynolds Professor Paul D. Escott on his research regarding the Civil War.  You can access the interview at

In Memoriam:

Our department would like to honor the memory of Stephen Vella, native of Brooklyn, New York and Assistant Professor since 2006.  Stephen VellaWe will never forget his intellect, concerned and comforting gaze, and hearty laugh. He was 34.
Stephen started his term at Wake under the most unfortunate circumstances, newly diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. Yet he pursued the teacher-scholar ideal with courage and resolve.
Stephen received his AB from Princeton University, and his MA and Ph.D. from Yale University. His dissertation, “Gentlemanly Conquerors: The Domestication of the Indian Frontier and the Fashioning of Imperial British Identity, 1790-1850” (2006), was awarded Yale‟s distinguished John Addison Porter Dissertation Prize. An expert on the social and cultural history of eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury Great Britain and the British Empire in South Asia, Stephen brought an exciting array of new courses to the department, including two upper-level seminars “The British Empire” (HST 311) and “Rethinking British Cultural History, 1707-2007” (HST 390) and a First Year Seminar, “Visualizing Britain‟s Empire, c. 1600 to the present.” His gentle art of persuasion and mesmerizing intellect won the love, respect and admiration of his students. He also expanded the University‟s library collection in these areas, winning a Presidential Grant for the purchase of the British Online Database.
Stephen conducted research with sources in Bengali, French, Italian and Spanish as well as English. He asked how the loss of the thirteen American colonies and the building of a second empire in South Asia changed British identity. The central thrust of his analyses was to show how newspapers, particularly through their focus on imperial wars, served as the principal medium through which this altered sense of “British-ness” was constructed. While historians recognize the impact newspapers had on political, cultural, and social life in early nineteenth-century Britain, Stephen was the first to use them comprehensively, intelligently and fruitfully. He also aspired to touch and teach historians beyond his own field by venturing broader historical interpretations and attempting to capture the “proper form” of representing the past. He produced a number of fine articles and was in the process of completing his book manuscript while on leave in 2009-2010 before succumbing to his illness on January 30, 2010.
With funds from the College and individual contributions from colleagues in History and other departments of the college, the History Department has established the “Stephen Vella Memorial Fund” to commemorate his legacy. It will be given as a research grant to an exemplary student to visit archives to complete a senior thesis and/or honors thesis.

A Pictoral Tribute to Ed Hendricks


A Pictoral Tribute to J. Howell Smith

Dinner in Honor of Howell Smith at his Retirement



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Department of History, Wake Forest University, P.O. Box 7806, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
Department office: Tribble B-101
Phone: (336) 758.5501    Fax.(336)758.6130