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History is a record of human activity. It is also a human reconstruction of that activity. History is a sequence of development over time. It is also a set of interrelationships at any given time. History is a way to understand and interpret present-day reality. If we don’t understand the past, we can't understand the present or make wise choices for the future.

At Calvin, history is not a dry recital of names and dates. It's an investigation into human society, both how it works and how it has shaped the modern world. We explore times and peoples that are different from us—yet familiar when we get to know them.

We practice history as Christians, aiming to present the data of the past in an honest and intelligible whole that gives insight into the diversity human experience, our cultural heritages, and our responsibilities to God and humanity.

Program flexibility

As a history major you will learn to look closely and dig deeply in areas of interest to you. Explore our global story, looking at history on every continent. A variety of minor programs also enable you to tailor your history degree to fit your vocational goals.

But you'll also learn to think critically and to see from a variety of perspectives. Take a wide range liberal arts courses including a foreign language. You can study abroad for a semester, or go abroad on a January interim trip. You'll receive a broad and deep education that will prepare you for life in a variety of endeavors.

Gifted scholar-teachers

Members of our department hold PhDs from major North American or European universities. Their expertise ranges from antiquity to the twentieth century, from the Wild West to the Far East, and from England to southern Africa. Several faculty members also teach in other departments, like classics, Dutch, Spanish, and Seminary.

Open doors

Imagine talking to an archeologist with years of experience working in the Middle East—in his office. Imagine having your survey courses taught by a full professor with over 20 years of teaching and research experience, and talking with him after class. In the Calvin history department, you don't have to imagine.

As a history major, you'll enjoy close contact with distinguished Christian professors. Talk to them at social events and in their open-door offices. Classes are small enough for faculty and students to get to develop personal relationships. Faculty and visiting scholars discuss their research at monthly colloquia, and students can do internships or collaborate on faculty research.


Calvin’s Hekman Library is the largest private academic library in the state. It has historical literature, journals, government documents, and other resource. There are also a plethora of online resources at students' disposal.

The library is also home to Heritage Hall, the official archive of Calvin University, Calvin Seminary, and the Christian Reformed Church. The collection includes personal papers, information about ministers and missionaries, and accounts of the Dutch migration.

The H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies houses one of the world’s finest collections of material on the Calvinist Reformation. history students also have access to the Colonial Origins Collection, a rich store of materials pertaining to Dutch emigration, the Christian Reformed Church, and related institutions.  

The Mellema Program in Western American Studies makes Calvin one of the best places in the Midwest to learn about the West. Learn about the Old West and the New. Learn about anything from indigenous peoples and cowboys to Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

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