My Most Important History Teacher

I was on the fence about where to go. Two schools had emerged at the top of my list, with good history programs. Then I heard about Chris. She’s the reason I chose St. Vincent College, in Latrobe, PA.

Dr. Chris Catalfamo was a professor of history who stood out.  She had a reputation for thinking outside the box and making her classes appealing- best known for dressing in historic clothing when covering certain time periods.

Dr. Chris Catalfamo

Yet I got more than I bargained for. Aside from making history fun, interactive, and interesting by dressing as a Civil War soldier or an antebellum woman, she broadened my understanding of the past. She showed this college freshman the complexity of events and brought a passion that resonated with me. Our classes showed new insights into the causes of the American Revolution, the immigrant population of the nineteenth century, and the culture of the Army of the Potomac. I thought I knew my history, I realized I had much to learn. 

Through her actions she showed that historians should be active. She was involved with historic preservation, she donated to local libraries, she crossed the line from academia to work with public history institutions.

Not only did she open my eyes to new ways of looking at the past, she guided my future as well. Chris had worked as a seasonal (part time) National Park Ranger. She shared stories of working at Harpers Ferry, and visits to Antietam and C&O Canal. She took our class on a fieldtrip to Gettysburg.

Up to that time I had been leaning towards studying European and Middle Eastern history. Time with her reignited my passion for American history. I immediately changed course and went full steam ahead into the nearby history around me in the mid-Atlantic. I still love European and Middle Eastern history, but I’m grateful for the direction I took.

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