History Department

  • Academic Division: The College
  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor of Arts
  • Academic Programs: Major
  • Course Offerings: Course Offerings

History examines the past through various lenses –– social, political and intellectual; textual and material –– enriching us as individuals and preparing us to engage the complexities and ambiguities of the contemporary world.  Join us!

Our department of a dozen faculty members offers a variety of courses and perspectives on the remote and recent histories of the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. It supports programs in Africana Studies, East Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Russian Area Studies, and Women and Gender Studies, and offers courses in the history of science. History courses emphasize careful reading and analysis of original sources in order to approach the past on its own terms. But we also stress that studying history is an interpretive process requiring attention to methods, theories, and scholarly debates. The training students receive in research skills, critical analysis, and expository writing prepares them to pursue careers in business, education, law, public service and a variety of other professions. The History major is compact enough that many students choose to double major, add a minor, or just sample broadly the rest of the W&L curriculum.


The Rockwell brothers: Paul (left) and Kiffin (right) in Paris in 1916, on the occasion of Paul’s wedding. Photo from the Paul Ayres Rockwell Collection, Special Collections & Archives, Washington and Lee University

Over There: Kiffin Rockwell, W&L's French Fighter Pilot

One hundred years ago this month, Sept. 23, 1916, a young man named Kiffin Rockwell became the first alumnus of Washington and Lee University to give his life during World War I — not as an American doughboy, as you might expect, but as a founding member of the French air squadron known as the Escadrille Americaine, or the Lafayette Escadrille.

Ted DeLaney, Washington and Lee University Professor of History

It's Real Simple, Ask a History Professor

Real Simple magazine, with its pages of healthy recipes, useful organizing tips and affordable beauty products, isn't necessarily the first publication where one might turn for wisdom from a historian. Appearances can be deceiving, however, because the editors were smart enough to ask Ted DeLaney, associate professor of history at Washington and Lee University, for a recommendation that's included in "5 U.S. Historic Sites Everyone Should Visit," an article in the June 2016 issue.

Faculty Focus: Ted DeLaney

Traveling Spring Term course blog: The Freedom Ride
Virtual Learning - The Freedom Ride

Traveling Spring Term course blog: The Art of Command During the American Civil War