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The study of history involves engaging with primary sources—everything from great works of political writing to bills of sale to court records to archaeological remains—in the context of their own time and developing methods for turning those sources into stories for use in the context of our time. This involves the industrious collection of material and information from sources as well as some intuitive sense for the weaving of those disparate shards into a coherent whole. Finally, the work of a historian involves turning these fragments of information, along with reflections on or responses to the work of other historians, into an argument or a narrative that is supposed to serve our understanding of the present, the future and, ultimately, ourselves.

Students studying history at Marlboro are encouraged to study broadly, to acquire language skills appropriate to their interests (either human or computer), to explore theoretical approaches that can deepen their comprehension of the past and the present, and to develop research skills and bibliographical competence. Students of history also need strong skills in both reading and writing. History is an information-dense discipline and requires large amounts of critical reading. Given this emphasis, combined with Marlboro’s emphasis on written work, all courses in history carry substantial reading lists, often based on primary source texts, and require routine written analysis.  That said, students can and have expressed their findings through other means, including data visualizations, mapping, or even artistic projects.

Students preparing for a Plan in history are recommended to include the following coursework and skills:

  • An ability to engage with the primary source material on which history is based and the capacity to interpret what those sources mean and how they fit together into a broader narrative of the past—these are the basic skills taught in the European History introductory courses.
  • Language proficiency appropriate to area of study—this is fundamental for using primary sources in virtually all areas of historical study.
  • Introductory courses in a related area of study, including Asian studies, American studies, Art History, Religion, or others.
  • Research skills, including library training, bibliographical competence and facility with organization and citation of compiled data.


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)