Student & Faculty Research


The O’Toole Library is the university library on the Jersey City campus. Students can utilize its collections and numerous databases (including the History Reference Center, JSTOR, and New York Times archives) for their research. In addition, students should look into the library’s Reciprocal Borrowing program in order to gain access to the many university libraries, historical societies, and museums in the NJ-NY metro area at their disposal.

The University Archives are not only available to students for institutional research, but History majors can work under the tutelage of the university archivist on projects to receive credit toward graduation.

Students in the Saint Peter's Archive

Our budding historians at work in the university archives, pictured here with University Archivist Mary Kinahan-Ockay.

The Internet Modern History Sourcebook from Fordham University is a large collection of primary sources online useful for students doing research.


Student Research

During their four years, students will participate in the Platt research seminar which introduces them to primary and secondary sources, as well as historical research methods. In the first semester of senior year, majors must take part in the Tuleja capstone seminar, during which students are expected to produce a significant research paper.

The Jerome Gillen (’66) Summer Internship Program

Inaugurated in 2017, the Jerome Gillen (’66) Summer Internship Program is a paid program which gives students the opportunity to work in a local New Jersey archive or museum where they will gain first-hand experiences working with historical archival materials. The internship is named for Dr. Jerome Gillen, who dedicated many years of service to the University and History department.

Additionally, the department helps students secure external internship opportunities in various cultural, government, academic, and business institutions throughout the tri-state area to give them a glimpse into the numerous career opportunities available to History majors. In the past, majors have interned at the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center at the Newark Public Library, The New Jersey Room at the Jersey City Public Library, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, and the New-York Historical Society to name a few.

History Teaching Practicum for Credit

Open to History majors matriculated in Saint Peter’s University Caulfield School of Education, the History Teaching Practicum offers students an opportunity to gain practical classroom experience teaching a history course at SPU. Student responsibilities involve locating appropriate primary source materials for core history courses.  In the fall semester the materials will relate to the Western Tradition course. In the spring semester the materials will relate to the modern world history course. Students will develop lesson plans to accompany their sources and, when appropriate, will lead class periods based on their lesson plans. A member of the History Department will guide and assess the student’s work in this area. This allows experience in developing appropriate lesson plans, historical research skills, and how to effectively utilize teaching strategies and techniques. Students taking part in the History Teaching Practicum register for a tutorial for 3 course credits.

The Annual Sawczuk Conference

The Sawczuk Conference affords those who practice history (faculty and students alike) a forum consisting of the campus community and invited guests to present their research. The conference is named in honor of Konstantyn Sawczuk (’56), who as department chairman, instituted the conference as an annual event.

Honors Theses

Patrick W. Farrell ’19, “Colonial Structures & Post-Independence Authoritarianism in Zimbabwe,” with Dr. John W. Johnson, Jr.

Aminata Hughes ’16, “Strange Fruit and Southern Horrors: Ida B. Wells’ Crusade Against Lynch Law,” with Dr. Michael DeGruccio

Lauren Squillante ’16, “Christine de Pizan, Dame d’Eloquence,” with Dr. Sheila J. Rabin

Shadman Hassan ’14, “An Analysis of American and Russian Involvements and Dynamics in the Middle East: From the Cold War to the Present,” with Dr. David W. Gerlach

Vanessa Vogel ’14, “1968 Convention Riots Radicalize the Streets,” with Dr. Jerome Gillen

Michele Lynn DeVries ’13, “Not All Smoke and Mirrors: The Growth and Development of Magic During the Renaissance in Europe,” with Sheila J. Rabin

Nicholas Paoletti Lynch ’12, “The Land that Weeps: The Roots and Causes of Instability in Modern-Day Zimbabwe,” with Dr. Eugenia Palmegiano

Chris Giorlando ’11, “The Great Revival: The Rise of the Universities in the Middle Ages,” with Dr. Sheila J. Rabin

Christopher Frakes ’11, “From the Negro Leagues to the Minor Leagues: How and Why Major League Baseball Integrated and the Impact of Racial Integration on Three Negro League Teams,” with Dr. Jerome Gillen

Maria Anna “Peaches” Dela Paz ’10, “Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: Contemporary and Modern Receptions,” with Dr. Jerome Gillen

John Massey ’08, “Machiavelli: The Man Who Could Not Be Courtier,” with Dr. Sheila Rabin

Matthew Abatemarco ’01, “Person or Property: Locke’s Effect on the Abolitionist Writings of the 1800s,” with Dr. Hermann Platt

Faculty Research


Dr. John Johnson, Jr., Assistant Professor

On February 25, 2020, Dr. John Johnson, Jr. was featured on “Think Tank with Steve Adubato” and discussed the issues of white supremacy and institutionalized racism in America. These are often topics of his research, as his continues to study race, class, culture, and urban geography in the 20th century United States. Dr. Johnson is presently working on a publication about the long history of the storied Weequahic Section of Newark. The work considers the larger impact of federally funded urban renewal on the city at large, looking closely at how highway construction and downtown development impacted the lives of Newark residents.

Dr. Maria Americo, Assistant Professor

Maria Americo, Ph.D. recently contributed two object histories to the upcoming second edition of the Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages (Bloomsbury). Her entries on two works of art from the medieval period will help tell the story of the interconnected, global Middle Ages. Dr. Americo often uses visual art in her courses to teach students about reading artifacts to glean information about the past.

Dr. Americo’s interest expands from the Greco-Roman history of science, to the medieval world of Islam. She is currently working on a manuscript proposal for a historical biography of Kadijah, first wife of the prophet Muhammad.

You can see an interview Dr. Americo did with her colleague from Harvard University, Dr. Kate Leach, for her course “Magic & Faith in Medieval Medicine.”

Dr. David Gerlach, Associate Professor and Chair

Now in paperback! David W. Gerlach, The Economy of Ethic Cleansing: The Transformation of the German-Czech Borderlands after World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

The Economy of Ethic Cleansing, Cambridge University Press

Winner, 2018 Radomír Luža Prize, The American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance and Marshall Plan Center for European Studies, University of New Orleans

David W. Gerlach, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at Saint Peter’s University, New Jersey. His current research explores restitution, reparation, and other compensation programs stemming from World War II, alongside the study of forced migration. He was awarded a Richard M. Hunt Fellowship for the Study of German Politics, Society, and Culture by the American Council on Germany in 2017, the R. John Rath Prize for Best Article in the 2007 Austrian History Yearbook, and the 2006–7 Best Dissertation by the Austrian Cultural Forum.