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About the Center

Center activities are enabled by a generous endowment from Northwestern alum and member of the university's board of trustees Nick CHABRAJA and his wife Eleanor. 

 In October 2022 we belatedly (due to the pandemic) celebrated the Center's 15th anniversary with a festive lunch and Prof. Henry Binford's lecture on the historical importance of ice cream (and yes, there was ice cream cake!). We are continuing an annual "Ice Cream Lecture" at the start of the academic year, at which a Northwestern historian gives a lecture on a broad topic of public interest. Have a look at our events.

Our Center associates—Chabraja Postdoctoral Fellows and the graduate  T.H. Breen Fellows and Quinn Fellow—teach History courses, conduct archival and digital research, and help organize conferences and workshops.  We had a phenomenal number of applicants for the undergraduate Leopold Fellowship (over 80!) and have thirty-nine 2023-24 Leopold Fellows working with History faculty on projects pertaining to the professors' research. 

The Center not only fosters academic excellence but also an interest in public history and historians' work outside the academy. Our 2023-24 Center associates include four Chabraja Postdoctoral Fellows in Public Service and in the summer of 2023, we funded fourteen graduate students working on a slew of public history projects.

Each academic year CCHS hosts:

CCHS also co-sponsors additional history activities on campus—see Co-sponsored Events. Through its Teaching and Conference Initiatives CCHS sponsors the development of new History courses and supports faculty conferences convened by History professors.

The blog Forays into the Past, and a number of filmed interviews and podcasts with guest speakers and History faculty are available at  Multimedia.

PostDoctoral Fellows:

The Center community is now strengthened by the Chabraja Postdoctoral Fellows competitively selected from among recent NU History PhDs. Two Chabraja Fellows teach courses in the History Department and participate in CCHS activities. In 2018-19 the first Chabraja Postdoctoral Fellowship in Public Service was established, allowing new historians to engage in public history at a non-profit institution, preferably in the Chicago area. In 2023-24 we have four Chabraja Postdoctoral Fellows in Public Service, joined this year by a new Postdoctoral Fellow in Material History from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow  from Nigeria.

Graduate Students:

The Center has much to offer graduate students in History. Each year the Center selects several graduate Fellows to form part of the CCHS community of scholars: the T.H. Breen Graduate Fellows and the Doris G. Quinn Fellow. Center Fellows help organize our faculty conferences; engage with Center global graduate exchanges; maintain the Center digital and social media presence; provide mentorship to the undergraduate Leopold Fellows.  The fellowships are named after the Center's founding director, eminent colonial American historian, Timothy Hall Breen. The Quinn Fellow joins Center associates under joint CCHS and Doris G. Quinn Foundation auspices.

In association with non-profit institutions in Chicago, Evanston and elsewhere the Center sponsors graduate summer research projects (see Graduate Fellowships).

An innovative program of global exchanges (international doctoral workshops) was initiated by the Center in 2008 and has included events in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and Hong Kong. We now have an ongoing graduate exchange with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Undergraduate Students:

Leopold Fellows present researchFor undergraduates (both History majors and across the university) the CCHS Leopold Fellowship program offers the opportunity and means to work closely with primary historical materials under the guidance of faculty, doing actual archival faculty research and learning how to transform raw data into historical interpretation. The first group of ten undergraduate 2008-2009 Leopold Fellows has grown to forty in 2023-24. The program has proven popular with faculty and undergrads, both History majors and others. The Center has hosted Leopold Fellows from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Schools of Journalism (Medill), Education (SESP), Communication, and Music, working on a wide range of projects in English and other languages.

In 2018 the Center initiated a new undergraduate course development grant for senior History faculty to create new classes aimed at non-History majors. The first course was taught by Professor Scott Sowerby and graduate student Youjia Li on "Pirates, Guns and Empire" in the Spring 2019 quarter, while in 2020 Professor Dyan Elliott offered a prescient Winter Quarter course on "The Black Death and Other Pandemics" with Marcos Leitao De Almeida. In 2020-21 Prof. Paul Gillingham and  Andrea Rosengarten designed a new  Winter 2021 course on "The End of Citizenship" and Spring 2022 brought a course on  “A Global History of Prisons and Camps,” designed by Prof. Benjamin Frommer and Katya Maslakowski, while in 2022-23 Professor Ken Alder and grad Colin Bos designed a Spring 2023 course on "The History of the Future."  In 2023-24 the program features two historians offering new classes: Prof. Deborah Cohen taught a class on "Entrepreneurship: A Global History" in the Fall  2023 Quarter, while Prof. Michael Allen will be conducting a course on "America's Wars" in Spring 2024.

SOCIAL MEDIA: To keep up with all of the Chabraja Center's activities, be sure to like our page on Facebook and to follow us on X/Twitter @HistStudiesNU. We post information about our events and activities.

The Northwestern campus sits on the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires, the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa as well as the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk nations. It was also a site of trade, travel, gathering and healing for more than a dozen other Native tribes and is still home to over 100,000 tribal members in the state of Illinois.