Lyon G. Tyler Department of History

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The Lyon G. Tyler Department of History at William & Mary is named for Lyon Gardiner Tyler, the College's seventeenth president. The History Department was created with Professor Richard Lee Morton its first chair in 1921. The department's graduate program offers a Ph.D. in American History, as well as Master's Degree Programs in American History and Comparative History. The department is currently (2010) located in James Blair Hall. The building was known as Marshall-Wythe Hall from its opening in 1935 until 1968 when the former library (today's Tucker Hall) was renamed Marshall-Wythe Hall when it became the home of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law.

According to Tyler, an historian, History was first taught at William and Mary in 1803. In an address by Tyler to the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa titled "Early Courses and Professors at William and Mary College", Tyler stated:

"The study of history has been long emphasized at William and Mary. As we have seen several of the pre-revolutionary professors wrote histories, but the first to whom the subject was formally assigned for class work was Hugh L. Girardin (sic Louis Hue Girardin), the friend of Jefferson and historian of Virginia, who, in 1803, was professor of "Modern Languages, History and Geography. We know nothing of the details of his lectures, but it is to be assumed that the history taught was very different from the old time religious history embraced in the curriculum of Harvard in 1646, and that of the College of New Jersey in 1756."

Heads of the Department of History

Material in the Special Collections Research Center


  • "Appreciating the Contribution of Early Americans to the Ideals and Culture of our Country: Professionalization of Teaching Social History Williamsburg, Virginia, 1927-1943" by Andrea Kim Foster and Professor James Horton (April 1986), "History Department" folder, University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • Tucker : an address to the Alpha Chapter of the PBK Society, call number LD6051 .W52 T8.
  • W&M Digital Archive, Catalogs Collection from 1829 - Present [1]

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The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.