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Berkeley: Departments and Programs

Health and Medical Sciences Program
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The first instruction in history at Berkeley was placed in the charge of William Swinton, whose primary faculty assignment was in English, but also included logic. Swinton, a former Civil War correspondent with an honorary A.M. from Knox College, Toronto, was a stormy petrel whose resignation was required by the Regents in 1874. For the next year several members of the faculty, including President Gilman, shared the work in history, but in 1875 Bernard Moses, a Michigan graduate with a Ph.D. from Heidelberg, took over as professor of history and political economy. Except for some assistance from the Department of Classics in ancient history, Moses carried the entire teaching load in these fields for many years. By the end of the 1880s, however, he had added two instructors to his staff. Economics became a separate department in 1902, and political science in 1903. History then stood alone with nine full-time staff members. During these years the chief departmental officer was known as its "head," but in 1919 the title was changed to chairman.

Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, instruction in history was very meager, but as a result of the rapid growth of the University in the 1890s a variety of courses in ancient, medieval, modern European, and American history began to appear, with each field taught by one or more specialists. Large classes became common, and with the years grew immoderately. Henry Morse Stephens, who taught at Berkeley from 1902 to 1919, regularly met with classes in modern European history of about 750 students.

The special interest of the Berkeley department in Spanish-American history began with Moses in the 1890s, and was further promoted by the acquisition of the Bancroft Library in 1905, and by the addition of Herbert E. Bolton to the history staff a few years later. Bolton and his followers, with substantial aid from the Native Sons of the Golden West, also gave much attention to early California and the other Pacific coast states. For undergraduates, the chief Bolton contribution was the History of the Americas, a beginning course that featured the whole American experience, including South as well as North America.

Lack of library facilities long hampered departmental efforts in non-American subjects, but Stephens used his influence to obtain important collections of western European sources, while Robert J. Kerner, who joined the department in 1928, did a similar service for eastern Europe and eastern Asia. The whole number of student enrollments in history grew from 1,269 in 1903-04 to 6,896 in 1964-65. A few graduate students began to appear in the 1890s, but the first Ph.D. in history was not granted until 1908. By 1965, the department produced a total of 475 Ph.D.s and taught 426 graduate students. From Moses's time on down, members of the department engaged actively in writing and research as well as teaching, and produced a steady stream of books and articles. In later years, such new interests as social and intellectual history and the history of science began to take their place in the curriculum. source

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Last updated 06/18/04.