Center for Historical Studies

The Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies


The center was established in 1999 to create a flourishing environment for the study of history at the University of Maryland. In 2006, the center was renamed the Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies, to honor the generous endowment of two Maryland alumni who took a special interest in history.
The center brings together faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and staff within the university as well as scholars and teachers throughout the state of Maryland and the larger region to discuss important historical issues, both old and new, from ancient times to the present, and pertinent to all areas of the world, from the United States and Europe to Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Through such discussions, the center hopes to increase an appreciation of the importance of historical knowledge in the education of citizens, to underline the significance of universities in producing and disseminating new ways of exploring the world, and to generate excitement about the processes of intellectual inquiry, exchange and debate.
Every year the center runs a seminar series on its annual theme. It sponsors scholarly conferences and works-in-progress seminars with faculty members and it also awards research grants.
For more information,  please call 301.405.4299, or email

Karin Rosemblatt




The Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies at the University of Maryland presents the Spring 2021 schedule of events:


Part of the Miller Center theme of Difference

Friday, February 12, 12:00 Noon

Mary Mendoza, Department of History, Penn State University

Unnatural Border: Race and Environment across the U.S.-Mexico Divide

Discussant:  Chantel Rodriguez

This presentation will explain the causes, development, and legacy of fence construction along the international boundary line. Construction of the border fence began in the early twentieth century as a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative to stop the movement of a cattle tick—a non-human natural threat—and, by mid-century, grew into a multi-pronged effort to control the dynamic flow of human migration. As the United States and Mexican governments passed laws, built fences, and hired agents to police the boundary between the two nations, the border became an expression of human imagination rather than a geographical certainty. And while state-sanctioned efforts to control movement largely failed, the symbolic power of the border increased, creating and solidifying a highly contested and racialized landscape of power, difference, and exclusion by the end of the twentieth century.



Monday, March 22, 12 noon

Stanley Maxson, Department of History, University of Maryland

“Seek, and You Will Find”: The Spatial Politics of African Americans Petitions for Civil War Pensions

Stanley Maxson explores the spatial politics of African Americans who mobilized the resources of kin and community in their struggle for Civil War pensions.  He recasts African American interaction with the U.S. Pension Bureau as a question of competing information practices—the bureaucratic and the vernacular. Reconstructing a day in the life of Richard Blanton, a Black minister and pension sub-agent in Nashville, Tennessee, Maxson argues that African American struggles for pensions were based on the shared ownership of information, widely dispersed among people and across space.



Friday, April 16, 2021, 4:00 p.m.

Manu Karuka, Department of American Studies, Barnard College 

Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad

Empire’s Tracks reframes the history of the transcontinental railroad from the perspectives of the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Pawnee nations, and the Chinese migrants who toiled on its path, situating the railroad within the violent global histories of colonialism and capitalism. Through an interdisciplinary examination of legislative, military, and business records, this talk connects military occupation to exclusionary border policies, a linked chain spanning the heart of U.S. imperialism.



Book Events


Friday, February 19, 4 p.m.

Colleen Woods, Department of History, University of Maryland

Bradley Simpson, Department of History, University of Connecticut

A celebration of Colleen Woods's new book Freedom Incorporated: Anticommunism and Philippine Independence in the Age of Decolonization.



Friday, April 2, 4:00 p.m.

Alejandro Cañeque, Department of History, University of Maryland

Richard Kagan, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University

Erin Rowe, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University

A celebration of Alejandro Cañeque's new book, Un imperio de mártires: Religión y poder en las fronteras de la Monarquía Hispánica (Empire of Martyrs: Faith and Power on the Global Frontiers of the Spanish Monarchy)