Departments

History Department Mission

The History Department guides students through a deliberate and varied progression of discovery, analysis, and historical inquiry so that they will both have the skills and the understanding to pursue advanced studies and become involved citizens in a complex world.
"When you look at the electives offered in the History Department, you see a small, intimate school with serious ambition." Video by Alexa Green '09.

History Courses

List of 12 items.

  • World History

    This core class, traditionally taken in the ninth grade, spans more than 8,000 years of history and examines civilizations around the world. Students will learn how to take notes efficiently, read critically, research successfully, study effectively, and write eloquently. Over the year, they will have opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of history through individual and collaborative activities, which include seminars, debates, projects, presentations, simulations, and essays. History will come alive during a day of experiential learning on Ancient Greece first semester and Europe second semester. In sum, this class intellectually and academically prepares young students to handle the increasingly challenging courses at Miss Hall's and in the world beyond.
    Grade Level: 9-10
    (1 credit; full year) Required Course 
  • U.S. History

    Traditionally taken during the sophomore year, US History offers students an opportunity to examine the American past in a thematic context over the course of six focused units, including: Visions of Freedom; A Growing Nation; The Paradox of Progress; America and The World; and Bridging the Millennium. Each of these themes allows students the opportunity to more closely examine the past outside the overstuffed realm of one massive chronological past and emphasizes ideas of continuing relevance. Diverse methodologies, experiential and place-based learning, different text sources, and new technologies serve to provide a meaningful survey of the United States and to develop historical thinking skills. Completion of a lengthy research project is just one of the course’s many important challenges.
    Prerequisite: World History or an equivalent foundation course
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1 credit; full year) Required Course
  • U.S. History - Advanced Placement

    This intensive, year-long, college-level course has two primary and equal purposes: first, to provide students with comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the key events, ideas, and issues of United States History from pre-colonial times to the present; and second, to thoroughly prepare students to do well on the annual Advanced Placement examination in May. The course encompasses political, social, economic diplomatic, and cultural history. Through frequent essay writing, practice tests, document analysis, and content quizzes, students will develop both their content mastery and their historical skills in critical reading, writing, analysis, and synthesis. Students should be prepared for a rigorous pace, challenging readings, a substantial workload, and higher expectations. Students will be expected to read multiple textbook chapters and a 300-page monograph over the summer to prepare for this course in addition to significant writing.
    Recommendation required.
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Human Geography - Advanced Placement

    This full-year course introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of the Earth’s surface. Geographic concepts emphasized throughout the course are location, space, place, scale, pattern, regionalization, and globalization. These concepts are basic to students’ understanding of spatial interaction and spatial behavior, the dynamics of human population growth and movement, patterns of culture, economic activities, political organization of space, and human settlement patterns, particularly urbanization. A significant outcome of the course is students’ awareness of the relevance of academic geography to everyday life and decision making. This combination of the academic and the applied gives students a sophisticated view of the world in the context of domestic/foreign policy and international relations. All students earning course credit take the national Advanced Placement Examination in May. 
    Recommendation required.
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Advanced U.S. Government and Politics

    This full-year course introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of the Earth’s surface. Geographic concepts emphasized throughout the course are location, space, place, scale, pattern, regionalization, and globalization. These concepts are basic to students’ understanding of spatial interaction and spatial behavior, the dynamics of human population growth and movement, patterns of culture, economic activities, political organization of space, and human settlement patterns, particularly urbanization. A significant outcome of the course is students’ awareness of the relevance of academic geography to everyday life and decision making. This combination of the academic and the applied gives students a sophisticated view of the world in the context of domestic/foreign policy and international relations. All students earning course credit take the national Advanced Placement Examination in May.
    Prerequisites: Completion of World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Introduction to Economics

    This course is a one-semester survey that introduces students to key economic concepts and principles. The course offers historical overviews and takes a close look at micro- and macro-economic topics of relevance, including concepts such as supply, demand, business ventures, international trade, the role of government, fiscal and monetary policy, and market forces at work in today's world. The course also helps students to begin to negotiate their own economic world, developing financial literacy with different lessons relating to personal economics, such as student and consumer credit, investment, savings, and other subjects regarding personal financial fitness. Simulations, role-playing, and web technologies enhance and illuminate concepts.
    Prerequisites: Completion of World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Nazis and the Holocaust

    This one-semester course is not about World War II but rather focuses exclusively on National Socialism in Germany, from its origins in the aftermath of the Great War and ending with the destruction of the Third Reich in 1945. This will be an extremely dark class as we examine in minute detail the tenets of Hitler’s Nazi ideology and the way in which that racial world-view led to murdered millions upon millions of innocents in occupied Europe. We will be reading selections from Richard J. Evans' monumental and groundbreaking study of National Socialism and the Nazi regime, in addition to Primo Levi's heart-wrenching account of his time in Auschwitz. Prerequisites: World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Japan, China, and the Long War

    For most Americans, World War II in Asia began on the morning of December 7, 1941. But as students who take this course quickly learn, that morning assault has to be put into the much larger context of Japan’s interaction with and conquest of its Asian neighbors over the previous 50 years. That aggressive expansion cannot be understood without going back to the middle of the nineteenth century, when Japan emerged from centuries of isolation and was catapulted into the modern world. By reading advanced monographs by some of the foremost scholars in the field, students in upper grades get the opportunity to examine Japanese society before, during, and after a conflict that raged for decades.
    Prerequisites: Completion of World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Historical Bioarchaeology

    This one-semester course is a unique combination of history, science, and technology that will examine the human remains of past civilizations. The course will explore the prehistory of early human ancestors through the fossil record, and will span the major time periods in history including Egypt, China, Inca, Vikings, and North American colonization, to name a few—all through the lens of the bones they left behind. One component of this course will therefore be a strong focus on human anatomy. What can the bones tell us about the burial practices and religion in that time period? The diet? The lifestyle? The diseases? All of these aspects of human life manifest themselves on the bones—the key is learning to read the bones like one reads a book. Research methods in archaeology will also be considered by examining the role of technology in deciphering this history of bones. Students will evaluate the use of different imaging techniques and chemical testing that allow historians to arrive at their knowledge of the past using the greatest primary source of all—the human remains.
    Prerequisite: Completion of World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Introduction to Philosophy

    This one-semester course seeks to inspire students to question, debate, and wonder about what they think they know about our world. This semester elective explores the historical foundations of philosophical thought among the ancient Greeks, such as Plato and Socrates, then progresses to European thought, including the ideas of John Locke and Rene Descartes, among others. This study primarily encompasses the branch of philosophy known as epistemology, the study of knowledge, which studies how we “know” our so-called reality within various disciplines. Topics and debates in the class will include questioning the way we know the world—using reasoning, emotions, or senses. It also includes the areas in which we question knowledge, such as in history, ethics, science, and the arts. Each class session is primarily discussion-based and founded on daily written responses to a rich variety of readings. Projects may involve a combination of presentations and essays.
    Prerequisite: Completion of World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Introduction to Gender Studies

    This one-semester course will give students the tools to think critically about how gender operates as a social construct: how it affects our lives, our societies, and our cultures. We will explore such topics as the sex/gender distinction; the history of feminism; masculinity and femininity; heteronormativity; and the intersection of race and gender. While we will focus primarily on the social and political history of gender in the United States, we will also consider global counterpoints throughout the semester. We will rely on a wide range of texts, including works of feminist theory, queer theory, and women’s history as well as documentary, popular culture, and analysis of current events. Students will engage with challenging concepts through class discussions, group presentations, and the opportunity to design a research project on a relevant topic of their choosing.
    Prerequisite: Completion of World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • History of Race in the US

    In this one-semester course, we will examine the various ways race has been constructed in this nation through legal, political, and cultural processes. We will consider how citizenship laws, immigration policies, cultural representations, and more have been used to racialize groups of people in different ways. Students will also learn about the varied strategies adopted by people of color to challenge systemic racism, in both the past and present, and consider what the failures and successes of these strategies teach us about how to work for racial justice today. Our sources will include history texts, works of critical theory, autobiography, documentary film, and popular culture. Class will be discussion based and students will explore the complicated issues that pertain to racial identity through written work, projects, and presentations.
    Prerequisite: Completion of World History and US History
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)

History in Action

History Department Core Values

News from the History Department

Video by Alexa Green '09.

Meet the Faculty

List of 4 members.

  • Matthew Rutledge 

    History Department Chair
    Wesleyan University - M.A.
    University of Massachusetts - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Michael Alexander 

    History Teacher
    University of Virginia - Ph.D.
    University of Virginia - M.A.
    Vanderbilt University - B.A.
    Fulbright Fellow (Padua, Italy)
    Read Bio
  • Liza Burbank 

    History Teacher, Academic Support Specialist and Academic Coordinator
    Brown University - Ph.D.
    University of Massachusetts, Boston - M.A.
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Charlotte Green 

    History Teacher, Experiential Coordinator
    Yale University - M.A.
    Muhlenberg College - B.A.
    Read Bio
492 Holmes Road • Pittsfield, MA 01201  (413) 443-6401

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Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is an all girls private, college preparatory boarding and day high school for grades 9-12.
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