Internship and Research Opportunities at Rokeby Museum

The Rokeby Museum, located in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, presents the important involvement of an abolitionist family, the Robinsons, in the Underground Railroad through exhibits in the historic house. The most recent exhibit, Free & Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont, highlights the story of two fugitives from slavery and their journey to freedom and shelter at Rokeby. The Robinsons lived in the house for four generations, and the farm is now a National Historic Landmark praised for its historical integrity and the important history it tells. Not only is the site beautifully preserved, the lasting artifacts portray the artistic talents of the family as well. Rokeby represents one story in the important abolitionist and social reform movement in 19th century America and more specifically, the Vermont experience during this era. More information on Rokeby can be found here.

Rokeby has many opportunities for Middlebury College students to get involved in including marketing, producing exhibits and programs, developing social media campaigns, fundraising activities, and cataloging collections. The majority of Rokeby’s primary documents are stored and cared for by Middlebury College’s Special Collections, and thus are easily accessible to students who wish to be involved in research work. However, students would also have access to the archives at Rokeby consisting of legal and account documents, diaries, books, papers, ephemera and photographs numbering over 15,000. For those interested in history, social reform movements, museum studies, and artifacts and primary documents related to 19th century America would find working at Rokeby Museum very rewarding. As the opportunities at Rokeby are diverse and open ended, students will have the opportunity to be proactive in their work, contribute their own ideas, and work closely with museum staff.

Rokeby is looking for students to get involved as soon as possible, with opportunities starting in the Spring semester and are ongoing as long as students are interested in being involved. This could be a summer internship, or even an opportunity for history majors to pursue research for their thesis. If interested, please contact the museum’s director, Catherine Brooks at, or Dean Leary at



Sue Bowen ’89, Senior Litigation Associate

By Drew Jacobs

I recently spoke with Sue Bowen, a former joint History and Political Science major at Middlebury who graduated in 1989. Upon graduation, Sue studied Law at Suffolk University in Boston. She is currently employed as a Senior Litigation Associate at Bruce & Kelley PC. Sue works as a defense attorney in medical malpractice cases, representing doctors and nurses accused of wrongdoing. Prior to her current position, Sue served in personal injury defense work, representing home and business owners sued for personal injuries. For example, if an individual fell off of a roof and suffered an injury, Sue would represent the homeowner. Her current day-to-day responsibilities include meeting with clients, analyzing documents, and making court appearances.

As a History and Political Science joint major at Middlebury, Sue believes that the skills she learned at Middlebury have prepared her well for work as a lawyer. Her current job requires ample reading and demands that she process a great deal of information. She then must uncover the key information and write a briefing. Her writing in Law is often complex and she believes that this skill– like her critical reading skills–was strengthened at Middlebury. Like her time as a History major at Middlebury, Sue must obtain information from a wide range of sources, distill the key information, and create a clear argument.

Sue spoke of her Senior Thesis as a work she specifically remembers while at Middlebury. Broadly, she wrote about the role the media has played in History. Her thesis study helped instill the reading, analysis, and writing skills demanded of a lawyer. Sue admitted that her primary interest at Middlebury was European History and Politics. While this specific information is no longer relevant to her day-to-day life, Sue utilizes the skills she developed as a History major every day in her work as a Lawyer.

Schuyler Coppedge ’95, Energy Capital Partners

By Drew Jacobs

I recently spoke with Schuyler Coppedge, a Middlebury history alumus from the class of 1995. He wrote his Junior Thesis on the Trail of Tears and his Senior Thesis on the Negro Baseball League in Pittsburgh as a vehicle for social change. Presently, Schuyler is a Partner at Energy Capital Partners in San Diego, a Private Equity firm investing in North American energy infrastructure. He spoke of his appreciation of his Middlebury education, despite not receiving any formal business training at Middlebury. After graduation, he enrolled in accounting classes and applied for positions on Wall Street. Due to his History background, he had to convince employers to take a risk on him. In interviews, he stressed the work ethic and critical thinking ability which his history major instilled in him.

After six years at JP Morgan Chase working in energy financing, Schuyler joined Energy Capital Partners. In his present role, he leads investments in energy companies and sits on the board of these companies. Ideally, his firm will later sell the companies for a profit once they’ve been improved. While Schuyler emphasized the need for financial acumen in his work, he stressed that the skills he learned at Middlebury were more valuable. First, he spoke to the critical thinking skills instilled in him from his history degree. He must digest a great deal of information about a given company and distill this information into a coherent plan for investment. Then, like in a history class, he must communicate his investment thesis both orally and in writing. He works to convince his fellow investors and partners at the company of his thinking. These abilities were strengthened by the discussions and essays at Middlebury. Schuyler’s ability to write clearly, a skill strengthened as a history major at Middlebury, is one of his greatest assets. He is constantly writing letters and documents, and is recognized as one of the top writers in his firm. In fact, one of his responsibilities is to train the younger analysts on how to write more clearly and coherently.


Ultimately, his education at Middlebury taught Schuyler how to respectfully debate with his peers when having a difference in opinion. This ability to debate and come to a resolution serves him well today. He explained how many of his colleagues are very skilled analyzing data and working in excel, yet struggle to explain their findings both verbally and in writing. Additionally, the ability to resolve conflicts within his own firm, or the companies which his firm has invested in, is a vital skill strengthened at Middlebury. The diversity of opinion and open communication in class strengthens this conflict resolution and ability to understand other points of view. Schuyler utilizes his ability to think critically, problem solve and clearly communicate in his daily work at Energy Capital Partners, all skills strengthened as a history major at Middlebury.

Penn History Review accepting written work for Spring 2018 issue!

The Penn History Review (PHR) Editorial Board is now accepting submissions for its Spring 2018 issue! The PHR is a biannual publication of the University of Pennsylvania History Department featuring undergraduate historical research. If you are proud of a piece of historical writing and would like to see it published, submit to the PHR! This semester, we will be accepting external submissions from undergraduates attending colleges and universities throughout the United States. Authors whose pieces are selected will work with our editorial board to prepare their articles for publication near the end of the semester. The PHR will be accepting submissions on a rolling basis through Friday, April 6th. We highly recommend submitting ASAP since papers will be reviewed and accepted on a first come, first serve basis. Papers must be at least twelve pages double-spaced, 12-point font, and distinguish between primary and secondary sources in a works cited page. Papers must also be submitted as Word documents rather than PDFs. You can view previous PHRs here: Please send all submissions and any questions you may have to We look forward to reading your work!

Sincerely, The PHR Editorial Board University of Pennsylvania

Rebecca Mitchell: Nietzsche’s Orphans

By Drew Jacobs

Published in 2016 by Professor Rebecca Mitchell, Nietzsche’s Orphans: Music, Metaphysics, and the Twilight of the Russian Empire won the W Bruce Lincoln Book Prize, given every two years for the best new book published on Russian History. An extension of Professor Mitchell’s PhD study, she spent an additional three years researching, expanding, and drafting this book. The work brought together her interests of music, history, and philosophy, all within Russia. In the novel, Mitchell examines the huge upheaval in revolutionary Russia from 1905-1917. Specifically, she studies the Russian peoples’ growing obsession with music and their conviction that the empire could be reunited through music. Her work draws on the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and his theory that music could be used to unify a people.

Mitchell’s book examines three different composers who each have the potential to be the unifying Orpheus. The Russian people, and Mitchell in her book, looked for a composer to create an image of Russianness to bring the empire together at this uncertain time. The first composer whom Mitchell examines, Aleksandr Scriabin, enjoyed a great following in Russia due to both his music and philosophies. He believed his music would bring about the end of the universe through a moment of pure ecstasy. In addition to this conviction, Scriabin believed himself to be God. His Russian followers saw him as a figure calling for the reunification of Russia, and more specifically a new Russia in the modern age. Mitchell began her study interested in Scriabin and why the Russian people would be so enamored with not only his music, but also his extremist philosophies at this perilous time in Russian history. She researched two other composers, Nikolai Medtner and Sergei Rachmaninoff, who were similarly celebrated at the time.

These visions of reunification through music collapsed with a growing national emphasis on ethnic Russianness, as well as the continuing atrocities of World War I. One of the composers was ethnically German, though he grew up in Russia, and saw his following decline with Germany’s fortunes during the First World War. Scriabin died in 1915, effectively halting the momentum of his philosophy and his followers. Without these composers to unite the Russian people, the Bolsheviks rise to power and commence the Soviet Union. The book highlights the changing ideas of national belonging in Russia and the huge consequences this ideology had on the Russian empire. Mitchell combines Russian history, music, and philosophy in this award-winning work.

Ian Barrow: The East India Company

By Taylor Rossini

This past week, I interviewed Professor Ian Barrow about his 2017 book The East India Company, 1600-1858: A Short History with Documents. As a student in Professor Barrow’s East India Company course this fall, I had the opportunity to read the text, a succinct and elegant work about the rise and fall of a trading-company-turned-imperial-enterprise.

The East India Company emerged from Professor Barrow’s course of the same name, which he had taught for several years preceding the conception of the book. Disappointed by the lack of affordable, available texts geared toward an undergraduate audience, Professor Barrow took it upon himself to write such a book. He explained, “I wanted something that I could use in my own class that I think would be useful for other professors teaching on similar subjects—South Asian history, imperial history, even of course on the East India Company, whether historians, economists, anthropologists, or political scientists.” Students played an essential role in the formation of The East India Company. Professor Barrow noted, “One of the great benefits of coming to a liberal arts college, more so I think than going to a university, is that there’s a close connection between what professors research and write about and what they teach. This is an example of how I wanted to improve my course, and therefore went to an extreme by writing a book; but I think it’s part of a pattern that you see over and over again in every department—that professors are using their research to teach better and using their teaching to improve their research and scholarship. It’s one of the things that makes coming to Middlebury in particular distinctive, rewarding from professors’ point of view, but also productive from the students’ perspective.” Professor Barrow identified this book among his proudest achievements as a scholar: “I think that’s the best piece that I’ve written, and it’s taken a long time to get there. It’s taken four years of undergraduate study, it’s taken eight years of graduate school, and then eighteen years of teaching and being a historian to have finally reached a point where I can claim to be a historian!”

While Professor Barrow’s first two books (Making History, Drawing Territory: British Mapping in India and Surveying and Mapping in Colonial Sri Lanka, 1800-1900) relied heavily on onsite archival research in both Britain and South Asia, The East India Company was completed largely from the comfort of Middlebury using digitized archives and inter-library loans. Professor Barrow suggests that such a trend is not uncommon among historians, whose early publications tend to rely on substantial archival research developed from doctoral work. Despite the remote research permitted by his current projects, he identifies archival work as one of the joys of being a historian, remarking, “There’s nothing more satisfying than coming across gems in the archives. You spend hours and hours and hours looking and reading and learning about people’s perspectives, getting a sense of the environment in which people live, getting the context, the specificity of their lives. There’s enormous pleasure in learning about the past in that fashion, and then coming across a treasure trove of documents that really substantiate the argument that you are already beginning to formulate. It’s exciting and something that you want to share with other people, and helps motivate you to continue to write and to publish.”

Professor Barrow harbored his love of history from an early age. He recalled, “I knew I wanted to study history when I was a little boy because I had always enjoyed going to castles. When I was six, seven, and eight years old, my mother would take me on trips to England and Wales where we would visit castles and the old country houses.” He attended high school in England at Haileybury, an institution that trained East India Company cadets in preparation for service in India. As an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, Professor Barrow studied history among other disciplines, but it was not until his final year that he decided to formally pursue history in graduate school. It was at that time that he began to explore South Asian history, an area that has held interest for his family for generations. He explained, “I had always had an interest in South Asia. My family had been connected to India because my mother is British, and her father was a businessman in India in the 1920s, and her uncle served in the army.” Before heading to Wesleyan, Professor Barrow had the opportunity to live in India in order to teach English, an experience that influenced his senior thesis, which explored the Partition of India in 1947. In it, he attempted to assign responsibility for the resulting violence among the central figures of Indian independence, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Lord Mountbatten. When asked about his conclusion, he responded, “I can’t actually remember my specific argument, but I think I tried to make it a little nuanced, and make it say they shared the blame—it was sort of a safe thesis in that way.” Coincidentally, Professor Barrow currently teaches a history seminar about this very topic, which examines Gandhi’s role in the long movement toward Indian independence.

Although he teaches a course on Gandhi, biography is a field that Professor Barrow has yet to explore in his own writing. He remarked, “I’m getting more and more interested in biography. I don’t think my next book is going to be a biography, but maybe the one after that will be a biography. It’s one aspect of history that I’m particularly interested in but I haven’t pursued in my own academic career. My first book was a book about ideas—it was an intellectual history. My second book was about an institution, and my third was on a company, the East India Company. The fourth book, which I’m just beginning now, is about a time period—the century leading up to independence—so it’s really about the heyday of British India, but also the creation and expression of different kinds of nationalism beginning in the 1880s and 1890s, going right through to the 1940s. That doesn’t leave room for a focused attention on individuals, but I think for my next book that’s something I’m very interested in doing.” He explained, as one might guess, the importance of subject when beginning a new project: “I’ve been sort of paralyzed this past year trying to figure out which direction to go because when you begin a book project, it’s a commitment for three, or four, or five, or even longer, years, and you have to really enjoy it. You have to know that it’s going to be feasible, and that it’s going to sustain you intellectually for many, many years.”

The interview concluded with the question, what do you hope students come away with having taken a course with you? Professor Barrow responded, “An appreciation for the nuance involved in understanding the past. There’s an expression, the first line of a very famous book from the 1950s, which says, “The past is another country.” I think that in studying the past, we must imagine ourselves travelling to another country, learning about different customs, learning about how to navigate the streets, learning about how to order anything—whether it’s a room for the night, or a beer, or food—learning how to send your children to school. All of this has to be relearnt when looking into the past because the society and the mores are so very different from today, and so I think it’s very important for us to recognize that it’s not an easy journey. It’s that that I think will enable students to gain an appreciation for difference in the world—not just difference in the past, but also difference between cultures, between families, between people. I think that’s a human skill that is very important in creating an educated and cosmopolitan individual. That’s ultimately what I’m hoping for.”