Matthew Moshen '92
Where do I begin? Undoubtedly, History was my favorite subject at VC. Not only was I a proud major, but I think I accumulated something like fifteen credits in four years. Moreover, my senior thesis discussed Vassar history itself: the origins of Vassar "Field Day" back in 1992. Obviously, Elizabeth Daniels and other members of the class of '42 (Frannie Taft comes to mind) as well as those in the Special Collections department of Lockwood were invaluable help. While I loved the subject matter, it was the collection of professors at Swift who made my history experience so special. James Merrell is a treasure; there's no other way to say it. I took Freshman History with him (the year-long course) and never looked back. I took every class he offered, despite his too-frequent sabbaticals. : ) Additionally, I think that all of us who took that course entered a kind of fellowship that lasted all four years. It was truly a special class. Of course, Mr. Merrell's Native American history course was wonderful as well; I still have his books on the Catawbas on my shelves! I am especially proud that Mr. Merrell and I have remained in touch via email. Ironically, I never got a higher grade than a 3.1 or 3.2 in any of his courses. I think I can count the number of "A" papers on one hand!
Along with Mr. Merrell, I have very fond memories of the late Rhoda Rappaport. She was a brilliant professor who had volumes upon of volumes of knowledge and historical wisdom at her fingertips. Plus, who can forget her clove cigarettes; the smoke filling up her office in a more libertine era. I recall many long conversations with her and her More cigarettes. Clyde Griffin was my thesis adviser, along with the visiting professor Michael O'Malley, who wrote an excellent book on the industrialization of time. In fact, as a history grad student at NYU, I took a cultural history course that he taught there. Mr. Griffin was a fantastic resource for all things Vassar, and I always loved the great "scandal" that he wound up marrying a student. My continuing love of history, in particular historical research, stems directly from the work I did at Swift. I will always remember my time in that little building with love and affection.
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