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No. 1

Yesterday Today

Department of History FIU 2016-7

Contents 1

Chair’s Message


Faculty Profile


Faculty Books & Prizes


Featured Event


Undergraduate Program


Graduate Program


Alumni News



Chair’s Message Prof. Victor Uribe Welcome to the first issue of our new newsletter. It is our intention to share with you news about the historical profession, our faculty, alumni, and students. The profession, similar to other disciplines in the Humanities, is experiencing exciting times and new opportunities due to the growth of digital and audiovisual source materials, electronic journals, online classes and degrees, a strengthened public history field where historians seeking non-academic employment can thrive, and an increasing social urgency to not forget the past as we try to navigate the conflictive present and build a better future for those who will come next. The times are, at the same time, challenging because of a decline in the number of Humanities majors across the nation, legislative pressures to shorten time to degrees, lowering budgets for both public universities and state agencies supporting research in the Humanities, a controversial emphasis on accountability, in particular, through the quantitative measurement of “productivity.” Cont’d p. 13

Faculty Profile:

Prof. Okezi Otovo When I joined the FIU History faculty in 2012, I had high expectations. I anticipated a stimulating academic environment with innovative scholars and dedicated students. I expected to find a faculty committed to approaching the study of the past from various perspectives, through diverse voices, and in many parts of the world. The History Department confirmed my initial impressions and has proved a rigorous setting from which to teach and to learn. One of the aspects of our History Department that I deeply value is the high priority placed on faculty research. Research is a major strength of the department that we all take very seriously. My own research specialization focuses on modern Brazilian history, particularly the experiences of people of African descent and the myriad ways health and illness impact state and society. I share the results of my work many venues, including scholarly journals and book chapters. At FIU I found the right intellectual climate to advance my research agenda, culminating in the publication of my first book Progressive Mothers, Better Babies: Race, Public Health, and the State in Brazil, 1850-1945 (University of Texas Press, 2016). The book is a study of maternal and child health and welfare in Brazil following the abolition of slavery. I have published articles on related themes in the LusoBrazilian Review and Law and History Review as well as in a number of


outlets in Brazil. Here in Miami, I participate in community conversations about history, health, and racial and gender inequalities. I am fortunate that my roles as teacher, researcher, and mentor integrate successfully in this department. I think all the History faculty members feel very privileged to share the discipline with our students at FIU. For example, I teach a wide range of courses from introductory surveys to specialized advanced seminars, allowing me to bring my own research interests in race, gender, and social medicine to both the undergraduate and graduate classrooms. It is precisely in these areas where we are most challenged to destabilize our assumptions and consider structures and change over time rather than a simplistic presumption of Cont’d p. 13

Cont’d p. 7

My roles as teacher, researcher and mentor integrate successfully here

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Faculty research-

supported by prestigious national grants and fellowships - appears in our fields’ top journals such as The American Historical Review, and our faculty often win prizes for these pieces. We also regularly lend our expertise in popular media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. Keep up with these works on our website:

Faculty Books

Gwyn Davies and Jodi Magness. The 2003-2007 Excavations in the Late Roman Fort at Yotvata. Eisenbrauns. 2015. Sherry Johnson and James G. Cusik. Andrew Jackson in Florida, 1814-1821: Forging His Legacy. Florida Historical Society Press. 2016

Aurora Morcillo GĂłmez, ed. Memory and Cultural History of the Spanish Civil War: Realms of Oblivion.Brill, 2014; and En cuerpo y alma : ser mujer en tiempos de Franco. Siglo XXI. 2015. April Merleaux. Sugar and Civilization: American Empire and the Cultural Politics of Sweetness. University of North Carolina Press, 2015. 2016 Myrna F. Bernath Book Award, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations 3

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Okezi T. Otovo, Progressive Mothers, Better Babies: Race, Public Health, and the State in Brazil, 1850-1945. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016. Victor Uribe-Uran. Fatal Love: Spousal Killers, Law, and Punishment in the Late Colonial Spanish Atlantic. Stanford University Press, 2016. 2016 Murdo J. MacLeod Book Prize, sponsored by the Southern Historical Association, Latin American and Caribbean Section; 2016 Honorable Mention for the Alfred B. Thomas Book Award, sponsored by the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies.

Featured Event

Fragile Habitat Prof. April Merleaux, Project Director With a substantial grant from the Humanities in the Public Square initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, faculty and students have participated in stimulating conversations with the general public across Miami this year. The grant brings scholars and environmentalists together with public audiences for dialogue on pressing local issues. In Miami, residents already see evidence of rising sea levels, sunny-day flooding, and less predictable weather patterns. FIU researchers are frequently in the headlines for ecological, hydrological, engineering, design, and public education work. But what about the humanities? Historians also have an important role to play in discussions of climate change and sea level rise. The past can help us understand how we got to this moment, can offer stories about our connections to this unique and fragile landscape, and can guide us to identify shared values and beliefs. Even faculty who don’t think of themselves as environmental historians have enjoyed opportunities to engage with this initiative. For example, FIU historian Dr. Hilary Jones moderated an event at the Historic Hampton House featuring Dr. Edda Fields Black, a specialist in the environmental history of West African rice farmers. The program brought together a diverse cross-section of Miami residents to consider how the natural world shapes all of our lives. Dr. Jones points out that the site of her research, Saint Louis du Senegal has much in common with Miami. Both are islands vulnerable to rising seas. Jones says that “sites of remembrance such as Goree Island (Senegal) and Bance Island (Sierra Leone) are in danger of disappearing.”


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Undergraduate Program

Making Writing—and Succeeding— Easier: History Tutors Prof. Tovah Bender, Director of Undergraduate Studies The most important and successful step we have taken in the last several years to help our undergraduates is the establishment of the History Tutors, through the Writing in History Program.

With skilled undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral history tutors available 40 hours a week, in Fall 2016 we had over 250 visits to our Writing in History Program

Although we have offered some limited tutoring since 2013, the tutoring program really began in 2014-15. At that point, the department introduced two-year-long, funded, postdoctoral Writing in History Fellowships. The primary task of these fellows is to hire, train, and supervise tutors, who offer free tutoring to all students in history classes. The tutors are available for one-on-one hour-long sessions from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. The program has been remarkably successful and has grown rapidly. In Fall 2014, our first semester, we had a total of 78 visits; two years later, in Fall 2016, we had over 250! We have expanded from highly trained and skilled upper-level undergraduates and recent graduates to include graduate student who work as tutors as part of their funding package. Most recently, we launched an online component, allowing us to more fully reach students who attend visit in person. This success is largely due to the clear benefits of one-onone tutoring. Students schedule follow-up visits and recommend the program to their peers. Professors recognize the increased quality of student work and recommend—or even incentivize—visits to the tutors. 5

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Undergrad Program con’td

History Tutors, Con’td

What do the tutors do? Certainly they sit with students and work on the fundamentals of writing. They also help students with the processes leading to papers, such as library research or close reading of a text or on alternative assignments like annotated bibliographies, oral presentations, or exams. Tutors help with cover letters, personal statements, conference proposals and other types of professional writing. An extremely important skill of many of our tutors is that they can work in multiple languages—Spanish but also French and Portuguese—which is a huge advantage given our student body. In some cases, they conduct sessions entirely in a language other than English. In many cases, however, beginning with a few minutes of conversation in a student’s native language and making comparisons across languages can do a great deal to help those students who are struggling to master English, but also those whose biggest obstacle might be their anxiety about writing in what is to them a foreign language. The biggest benefit of the tutors is that they are, in many ways, just like our students. Students recognize them from around the department. They have taken—or are taking— many of the same classes, worked the same professors, and have struggled on the same assignments. In some cases, they are also writing in a non-native language. They are successful history students who themselves struggle with writing, and that helps students to believe that they too can become successful writers and history students. Image: Prof. Gywn Davies cracks up undergraduates Daniel Puig and Erin McNulty at an end-of-fall 2016 celebration.

Featured Undergraduate Student Rosabel Gomez (’16) There was no better experience than finishing my undergraduate year having completed an internship at the National Museum of American History. At NMAH I interned with the Graphic Arts Department, where one of my jobs was handling a collection of prints by Benjamin Miller in the paper conservation lab. The prints were made on Japanese kozo paper in the early 1920s and extremely fragile, and I worked at uploaded into the Smithsonian catalog system. It was a really gratifying experience working with amazing works of art and learning what collections management was like. The Smithsonian was filled with many amazing mentors and fellow interns. Cont’d p. 13 6

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Graduate Program

Department Awarded NEH PhD Career Grant “We want to give students the broadest opportunities for making a career doing something they love.” -Prof. Kenneth Lipartito

In 2015 FIU’s History Department was one of only 25 recipients nationwide awarded a Next Generation Ph.D Planning Grant. With this support FIU will join a number of other prominent universities, including Princeton, Duke, the University of California, Berkeley and others, in reconsidering the humanities Ph.D to open opportunities for graduates “beyond the academy.” Recognizing that graduates with humanities training offer a wealth of knowledge and skills in writing, analysis, and deep knowledge of many parts of the world, the NEH sponsored program at FIU will be looking to help history graduates secure employment in state, local and federal government, in business, in the nonprofit sector and other venues. “We want to give students the broadest opportunities for making a career doing something they love,” says Professor Kenneth Lipartito, the leader of the project. “There is no reason for students to feel they must choose between pursuing the study of something as important as history and having a job that can support them.” After a year of planning, Lipartito, co-PIs Profs. Jessica Alder and April Merleaux, as well as other committee members, will present their findings to the History Department, and hope to pursue a major a second, much larger grant from the NEH to


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Grad Program cont’d

Featured Graduate Student Jason Daniel, PhD Candidate Lydia Cabrera Award Recipient My dissertation, tentatively titled, “Contraband, Ship Construction, and Environmental Change in Cuba under the Early Spanish Bourbons, 1700-1762” examines how the expansion of shipbuilding activities in Havana affected the exploitation of quality timber (including early deforestation on the island) and the migration of skilled laborers to Cuba, amid the international political turmoil during the first half of the eighteenth century. Everyone who is or has been a graduate student understands the importance of adequate funding for research. I applied for the Lydia Cabrera Award because its design is to support scholars and publishers working on the history of Cuba prior to 1868. The committee accepts graduate student applications for consideration, and the award provides a significant amount of funds (up to $5,000) for research. I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for The Conference on Latin American History, the organization that presents the Lydia Cabrera Award as well as numerous other grants, and their efforts to support the research of graduate students and faculty. In my case, I will use the award to travel to Spain for a period of about six to eight weeks in order to visit the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, the Archivo General de Simancas in Simancas (near Valladolid), and multiple collections in Madrid. Image: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "The City and Harbour of Havana." New York Public Library Digital Collections.


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Eldon Brown (BA) I retired from Northwest Airlines in 2000, and took up writing. I have since published four novels and one non fiction work. I still live in Miami.

Alumni Today

Eric Brumfield ('07 Honors BA; '10 Honors MSES; '10 JD) After getting my history degree, I graduated with the first JD-MSES from FIU and I now own my own law firm, The Law Offices of Eric Scott Brumfield, Esq. I do Real Estate work in Miami, dealing with Probate, Bankruptcies, Closings, Title work and Litigation. David M. Callejo Perez (BA ‘93) and EdD (2000) with a history concentration (Darden Pyron Committee Member) is Associate Provost at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). He was previously the Carl A. Gerstacker Endowed Chair in Education and Chair, Human Subjects Institutional Review Board at SVSU. He has authored books eight on Civil Rights in the South, Urban Schools and Higher Education, over 100 peer-reviewed articles and refereed academic papers. Before coming to SVSU, David was Professor and Director of the Doctoral Program in Curriculum Studies at West Virginia University and Professor of Curriculum and Foundations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a Research Fellow at several Centers in the US and Latin America. David has also worked with over $8 million in evaluation and curriculum development projects on human systems in the US and abroad. He is married to an outstanding photographer, Emily; and the proud parent of three empowered women, Icie, Antonia, and Mazie.

We want to know what you are up to! Send updates to

Melanie Claros Rodriguez (BA ‘13) works full time for the Historic Stranahan House Museum in Fort Lauderdale where she was hired shortly after graduation. She began as an intern during her last semester at FIU, earned the title of Education Coordinator in 2014 and was recently promoted to Education and Programs Manager. In the winter of 2015, Melanie and her husband enjoyed a honeymoon in Peru, exploring the Machu Picchu ruins. The warm climate in Peru have shown the Rodriguez family that they belong in South Florida where the winters aren't as harsh. Michael S. Cugno Jr. (BA ’00) Sr. Systems Administrator NextEra Energy, Florida Power and Light where he spent 40 years in multiple IT roles. Mike's is an avid saltwater fisherman, boater, kayak and canoe enthusiast and Florida Master Naturalist. Eight years as a volunteer for Biscayne and Everglades national parks where he participates in various roles around canoe and kayak guiding and other various interpretation roles. Josh Daniels (BA ‘05) practices law in Boston at Goodwin, an international law firm with offices in 10 cities and 5 countries. He specializes in Appellate Litigation before state and federal appellate courts and administrative agencies, representing companies in a wide variety of sectors ranging from energy to financial services. Before joining Goodwin, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Judith A. Cowin (retired) of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Though he now lives in Massachusetts, he regularly returns to the Sunshine State to seek respite from the sometimes bitter northern climes.


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Erika Edwards (PhD ‘11) Works for University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she is an assistant professor of colonial Latin America. She has worked at the University for the past 6 years. She is currently finishing her manuscript, Hiding in Plain Sight: The Disappearance of the Black Population in Cordoba, Argentina 1776-1853. Her research has been supported by a Fulbright, Ford, UNC's faculty grants, and the AAUW. She has also been cited and consulted for the NYT, National Geographic, and La Voz del Interior and interviewed for, the government of the province of Cordoba, and Radio Diafar.

Alumni News con’td

Anna Marie Hernandez (BA ‘97) is a partner in the South Florida Litigation Group at Holland & Knight in Miami. She practices in the areas of commercial and real estate litigation and arbitration. Mrs. Hernandez served as the 2016 President of the Cuban American Bar Association, one of the largest minority voluntary bar associations in South Florida. She is happily married, a resident of Coral Gables, and still very much a history buff. Joseph Holbrook (PhD ’13) teaches Introduction to Religious Studies and World Religions for the FIU Religious Studies Department, and World and American History at BBC for the History Department. He also teaches introduction to the Social Sciences for Miami Dade College/Kendall and online classes for the MDC Virtual College. He recently taught Ancient Religions and Civilizations online in Spanish for a university in Colombia. He is currently developing a new course on the History of Genocide. He has several book manuscripts in progress and spends whatever free time he has between semesters working on a family farm in Ohio. Lisa Howe Since graduation in December 2015 I have taught as an adjunct at FIU and MDC teaching American and World history classes. I have received the Digital Public History Post-Doctoctoral Fellowship in the Department of History, FIU in September of 2016. Suzana G. Mehle MBA Administrator: South Miami Neurology, LLC, under our brand name First Choice Neurology for 9 years. In 2002, I established a Healthcare Consulting practice under Suzana G. Mehle & Associates.I spend my free time in Maine enjoying its coastal beauty. Andrea Miranda (BA ‘08, J.D. ‘12) works for boutique real estate law firm in North Bay Village, Florida. Having a History degree opened many doors in the legal world and provided her with great insight during law school. She is now considering returning to her true passion and becoming a legal historian by focusing on English common law and its effects on present American jurisprudence. Until then, she is closing deals and applying her writing skills in a world of business and entrepreneurship.

I can’t express how valuable

having some background in history and the humanities has been in terms of helping me to develop professionally. Almost all that lawyers do— particularly litigators—is parse text and write for the purpose of persuasion. -Joshua Daniels, BA



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Alexandra Ortiz (MA‘14) currently works for the International Benefits Office of the Social Security Administration in Baltimore, Maryland since October 2014. Hates winter with a passion and misses Florida and the beach every day, especially when there are 3 feet of snow outside. She would like to move to the DC area and get a position in foreign affairs and/or analysis because she misses using her research skills. Email:

Alumni News cont’d

Frances L. Ramos (MA’96) went on to receive her PhD and works as an associate professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she has spent the past 10 years. A specialist in colonial Mexico, she has authored an award-winning book, several peer-reviewed articles, and numerous book chapters in both Spanish and English. Professor Ramos is currently writing a monograph on efforts to retain Mexico, the Spanish Empire’s most lucrative viceroyalty, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713). Because her husband works in Miami, her family is “bi-coastal. Nancy Ramos I am very proud to inform you that I went to Cytology School and became a Cytotechnologist. Currently working at CBS Laboratory as the Pathology Manager. I love my career very much and I am very grateful to my teachers at FIU. Brian R. Rick (BA ’82) I have recently published a book about my father, Henry Rick, who served in Patton's 3rd Army during World War II. "Some of Dad's Stories" is now available on Amazon and Kindle: I also currently serve as a Communications Officer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, representing 14 counties in eastern North Carolina. My wife, Angela, and I currently live in Richlands, NC. Francis E. “Frank” Rodriguez (B.A. cum laude ‘95) serves as the Miami Office Managing Partner for Shutts & Bowen LLP, a full-service business law firm. In that role, Frank manages the Miami office with more than 100 lawyers. He oversaw the construction and move into the firm’s new Miami office and recruited about 40 lawyers to join the firm over the last two years. Frank maintains a busy tax practice that focuses on representing foreigners investing in the United States and U.S. persons investing abroad. He also assists financial institutions, borrowers, and real estate investors with state and local tax issues, including Florida documentary stamp tax and intangible tax issues. He actively volunteers at his daughters’ school and is on the FIU President’s Council. Matthew Sabatella (MA '15), Performs and records traditional American folk music with the Rambling String Band. As a singer, instrumentalist, performer, speaker, writer, and content curator, he illuminates the connection between music and the history of the United States. His mission is to share America’s rich musical heritage with others, both for the sheer love of the music and for its value in inspiring people to better understand each other and the country’s past, present, and future. He has released three albums of traditional music in the Ballad of America series and is currently writing his first book.


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Michelle Foster Sammartino (MA’16) left teaching after almost 25 years in the classroom and became Social Studies Instructional Specialist for Broward County Public Schools. She serves as both mentor and trainer to high school teachers throughout the district. Her FIU Public History studies went into action right after graduation when she delivered a women's suffrage history lecture for Historic Stranahan House Museum in August. Looking forward to guest curating a local history exhibit at the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts in Dania Beach in the Spring, she still maintains a dream of opening an environmental history museum in Park City, Utah in the future.

Alumni News cont’d

Kelly Feitosa de Barros Silva (BA; minor in PIR ’10) has spent the last 6 years as an Elementary School Librarian for Riviera Schools in Coral Gables, where she is extremely happy giving library classes to all students from PK-5th grade. She regularly includes historical themes during story time such as WWII or Greek History and uses different sources such as film to engage students which she learned from Dr. Frank Luca during her time at FIU. For the time being she will happily continue being a school librarian. Amanda Snyder (PhD ’13) now works at the University of Central Florida. She has very recently purchased a home and is excited to finally, officially, become a Florida resident. She has a book chapter appearing soon in the edited volume Torrid Zones from University of South Carolina press and continues the work with teaching writing that she began as an FIU postdoc. Rodney Earl Walton (MA ’01; PhD ’09) Following graduation he published the methodology chapter of his dissertation in an article. “Memories from the Edge of the Abyss: Evaluating the Oral Accounts of World War II Veterans” The Oral History Review 37, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2010): 18-34. The remainder of the dissertation was published in book form. Big Guns, Brave Men: Mobile Artillery Observers and the Battle for Okinawa (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2013). He works as a part-time adjunct for FIU teaching American and European history with an emphasis on military matters. When not teaching, he enjoys playing tennis and travel. In 2016 he returned to Vietnam for the first time in 43 years. Carolina Zumaglini (PhD, ‘14) After being awarded a Writing in History Program Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2015, Carolina moved back to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she works as an independent content editor for W. W. Norton & Company and an academic coach for Latin American students who desire to study abroad. She is in the process of opening her own academic consulting company, under the name Scholars, to promote international student exchange between Latin America and the world.


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Chair’s Message cont’d There is also a tight marketplace for our graduates, not to mention economic, political, and cultural threats of a more structural type at the global, national, regional, and local levels. Both opportunities and challenges shall provide us food for thought, reflection, and, ideally, for the tweaking of our vision and mission through a dialogue with and feedback from you. Ideally, “you” here means faculty colleagues, graduate, and undergraduate students and alumni in History and the Humanities in and out of FIU, as well as members of local, regional, national, and international public history communities, university administrators, and the community at large. With you, we hope to share and discuss the state of our field, highlight faculty and student publications and activities worthy of notice, and all of our accomplishments in areas such as external funding, entrepreneurship, the award of fellowships, civic engagement, internships, public presentations, and innovative teaching. We hope that as you learn more about what we do, you shall feel as excited and proud as we are about the state of our BA, MA, and PhD programs and about the exploits of faculty and students alike. We hope you 13

might even decide to support some of our endeavors and turn them into your endeavors too, for together we can certainly increase our chances for faculty and student success in a rapidly changing and forever competitive and exciting world, full of risks but full of promises too. We look forward to hearing your reactions and invite you to engage enthusiastically with us. Image: Prof. Victor Uribe

Featured Undergrad cont’d I now work at History Miami Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, which captures the rich history and uniqueness of Miami perfectly. I'm becoming a Museum Educator-- a thrilling experience. Education in a museum is very different from education in a typical classroom. We as educators try and make history a living entity. We strive to get our students to think critically about the "why" of situations, making it a forward thinking environment that looks to the future of education.

Otovo cont’d “inevitability.” While the past must be studied on its own terms, it is also vitally important for cultivating the ability to contextualize our own position in the world, and to conceive of alternatives and solutions to consequential social problems. In doing so, history students may connect their academic studies to other arenas of their lives and personal development, understanding the past (and present) as complex and contingent, rather than simple, linear, or predestined. By seeing the past from multiple perspectives and studying the experiences of everyday people and their relation to mainstream or dominant historical narratives, we can all conceive of ourselves as actors in the world. These are values I share with my colleagues in the History Department and one of many reasons why History at FIU is such a positive intellectual community.

[There is] an increasing social urgency not to forget the past as we face a conflictive present and try to build a better future -Chair Victor Uribe Yesterday Today n. 1

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To that end, our globally-renown

Giving in These Times


Debates about the best use of public funds for education swirl through social media, the press and government: Should monies flow





performance metrics? Should we focus on job training and building new

Consider giving directly to the History Department.

Designate “History”





dedicated teachers, and we are committed to providing student fellowships, expanding our digital activities, maintaining our writing program and more. We believe more than ever in the skills that History imparts and the values we nourish in the classroom. But, let’s be honest, times are what

at left)? Public universities, and

they are. History is not in STEM and


it’s not an athletic program. We




Humanities, are under increasing


pressure to demonstrate our value.

consider giving directly to History,

We in FIU’s History Department

selecting it as a designation at





hope that, as we respond, our







Your employer might match your gift!

DM 392, MMC Miami, FL 33199


modern facelift to old DM, shown

students—past, present, future.

FIU Department of History


Yesterday Today no 1 ('16-'17)  

Department of History Florida International University

Yesterday Today no 1 ('16-'17)  

Department of History Florida International University